How do I get a Medical Coding Certificate?

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  • Written By: Koren Allen
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 08 November 2018
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Medical coding is one of the fastest growing occupational fields, but it requires an initial investment in a solid training program. There is a mind-boggling array of training programs, both online and in traditional college settings, that offer medical coding certificates once completed. It is important to check out any training program thoroughly to determine if your time and money are wisely invested.

When choosing a medical coding training program, ask the admissions counselor how you can obtain a course outline. This will show you exactly what coursework you will be required to complete to obtain your medical coding certificate. The program should obviously include extensive training in CPT and ICD-9 or ICD-10 codes; these are the most important skills in the medical coder's toolbox. Other courses you should look for include medical terminology, anatomy and physiology, HIPPA regulations, and pharmacology.

Some programs offer additional coursework to supplement your medical coding skills. These may include computer and technology courses, basic English and math skills, and communication courses. If you are weak in any of these areas, or if you have been out of school for several years, this extra review of the basics will be extremely helpful when you complete your course and begin looking for work.


Whether your choose an online program or a traditional classroom program, always check the program's accreditation. This may seem like a frivolous step, but think of the frustration you'll feel after spending months or years, and hundreds of dollars, on a program that doesn't have the necessary accreditation to allow you to move forward in your career. Ask your admissions counselor about the program's accreditation. Once you have the name of the accrediting organization, a simple Internet search will give you information, both good and bad, about the legitimacy of this accreditation and whether it is sufficient for your particular career goals.

Remember, there is an important difference between a medical coding certificate and professional certification. A medical coding certificate simply shows that you have completed a training course, which is an important first step. Professional certification is obtained by submitting an application showing your completed training, and taking an exam to prove your competency. It is still possible to find a medical coding job without formal certification, but more and more companies are only hiring coders who are professionally certified. Professional certification tells the employer that you have at least entry-level competency before you are hired.

In the United States, there are two organizations that provide professional certification exams. The American Academy of Professional Coders (AAPC) and the American Health Information Management Association both offer professional certification exams. Both organizations offer entry level exams as well as more specialized exams, once you have obtained more experience. Contact these organizations to find out if your medical coding certificate will be sufficient to meet the educational requirements to obtain professional certification.



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