How to Become a Medical Coder without a Degree

A medical coder – also known as a clinical coding officer, or medical coder – is a health information professional with the main duties to analyze clinical statements and assign standard codes using a classification system. Medical coders have an important role in the healthcare system.

There are no formal education requirements for a person to become a medical coder. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), most of the employers are seeking candidates with:

  • Postsecondary certificate
  • Associate degree

A person with one of these credentials can be a medical coder in the USA.

How to become a medical coder?

Medical coders play an important role whenever there is a doctor’s appointment, the physician, or the nurse’s records notes for the procedures that took place or the results of the diagnosis.

Medical coders use their knowledge of thousands of medical codes, payment policies, and government regulations. Medical coders use medical records and code them for billing, insurance, and several other purposes. You can become a medical coder by following 5 simple steps as given below:

Step 1. Meet the basic prerequisites:

First and foremost, to become a medical coder you need a high school diploma or an equivalent degree. You will need to pass a background check. If you have a criminal history involving drug offenses or sexual crimes, your application will be turned down.

Step 2. Medical Coding Training:

Next, you’ll need to start a complete coding training. This training is provided at different institutions in different tenures. Most of the time it is for 09 months or up to 01 year depending upon the institution.


Medical coding courses:

Following are the medical coding courses that you can study to be a fine medical coding professional:

  • Coding Foundations
  • ICD-PCS Coding
  • ICD-CM Coding
  • Ambulatory Care Coding
  • Revenue Cycle and Billing

A solid understanding of the field and gaining practical training will allow you to grip your profession as early as you enter the field and get your first medical coding job. Medical coding training is also available online to fit it into your busy schedule.

Step 3. Get your Medical Coding Certification:

Graduating from a Medical Coding Certificate program is required and after achieving this you need to be certified. This certificate shows the employers you’re a competent and dedicated medical coder who has demonstrated all of the important skills required to be a successful medical coder. You have a choice to select specialize in medical coding, but according to BLS states, it can have a positive impact on your job prospects.

Common Medical Coding Certificates:

There are a few certifications for medical coders to choose from which are given as follows:

  • Certified Professional Coder (CPC)
  • Certified Coding Associate (CCA)
  • Certified Coding Specialist (CCS)

After gaining some experience in the relevant field, you can decide you’d like to specialize in your coding career. Then you may consider pursuing specialty medical coding certification in an area such as:

  • Ambulatory care
  • Anesthesia
  • Family practice
  • General surgery

Step 4. Improve your in-demand medical coding skills:

You need to brush up on your medical coding skills before you start applying for coding jobs. You should have a better understanding of what employers are exactly seeking from a medical coder. You should prepare yourself accordingly and then apply for the job. Being a medical coder needs to keep a balance between hard and soft skills.

Top Technical skills for Medical Coding:

According to the Real-time job analysis software, after examining almost 30,000 medical coding jobs posted over the last year, the following technical skills are preferred by the employers:

  • Health information technology (HIT)
  • ICD-10
  • CPT coding
  • Inpatient coding
  • Customer billing
  • Anatomy
  • Outpatient coding
  • Physiology
  • HCPCS coding
  • Medical terminology

Top Transferable skills for medical coding professionals:

  • Communication
  • Computer literacy
  • Collaboration
  • Research
  • Microsoft Office
  • Attention to detail
  • Organization

Your medical coding training will help you out hone these technical skills to be a perfect fit for the job.

Step 5. Find a job:

The final step is to seek a medical coding job. The BLS Projects medical coding jobs are expected to increase 11% through 2028. There’re plenty of options for the medical coding officers seeking jobs in a variety of fields. After gaining some experience, you can begin considering future advancement opportunities.    

How much does it cost to become a medical coder?

Following are the estimated costs to become a medical coder:

Medical Billing and Coding Certification Costs:

National Average Cost$1,210
Minimum Cost$749
Maximum Cost$19,000
Average Range $749 to $1,985

You can get your medical coding certification online for as little as $749. For local trade schools and programs, you can get a certification by spending between $1000 to $2000 whereas accredited medical billing and coding associate programs at college cost between $8,000 to $19,000.

Medical coder schools in the USA

There are several prestigious institutions in the USA offering several courses for medical coding. The top 10 medical Coding and Billing Schools are listed below:

  1. Bowling Green State University
  2. St. Catherine University
  3. Alfred State College SUNY
  4. Keiser University
  5. Ferris State University
  6. Weber State University
  7. Dakota State University
  8. Washburn University
  9. Indaho State University
  10. Peirce College

Medical coding salary

There are several medical coders working in different fields of the healthcare system. The average salary for a Medical Coding Officer in the United States is $176,044 (as of November 2021). The average salary for a medical coder ranges between $29,928 and $322,161.  

Medical coding degree vs certificate

Some medical coders hold a two-year associate degree or a bachelor’s degree, but this is not always necessary to be a medical coder. A large number of schools also offer medical coding and billing paths that include diploma, certificate, and degree programs.  

A medical coding certification differs from earning a degree in medical coding. Certification occurs after an individual has completed a certificate or associate degree program from a registered school.

Medical coding training online free

Medical coding training is also provided free of cost through online sessions and webinars. There are several well-known schools and colleges in the USA offering free medical coding training online. Some of the best online programs and institutions offering this training are listed below:

  1. AI and Big Data in Global Health Improvement (Taipei Medical University) 
  2. Cybersecurity in Healthcare (Erasmus University Rotterdam)
  3. What is Medical Coding and Billing? (Udemy)
  4. Basics of Medical Coding & Billing (Free Medical Billing Training)
  5. Learn Medical Billing in One Hour (Youtube and Dr. Chronon)
  6. Medical Billing and Coding Certificate (Purdue University Global)
  7. Certificate in Business Process Management (Villanova University Online)
  8. Video Tutorials for Medical Coding & Billing (MB&CC: Medical Billing & Coding Certification)
  9. Medical Coding ICD 10 CM (Udemy)
  10. Introduction to Medical Coding (Youtube and Contempo Coding
  11. Foundations of Healthcare System Engineering (Johns Hopkins University)
  12. Free Monthly Webinar (Certification Coaching Org)

How to become a medical coder and work from home

Remote jobs in medical coding are increasingly common at the present age. According to a report from Health Information Management (HIM) Professional Census 202, coders working at remote jobs are more than 50% of the total coders while 17% are working from home. 33% of the medical coders have a hybrid arrangement with their employers. Working from home in the medical coding sector requires a certain amount of trust between employers and employees.  

Following are some of the essential steps to become a medical coder and work from home:

Step 1: Study Medical Coding and Billing from a Reputable School

Step 2: Pass a Widely Recognized Medical Billing and Coding Certification Exam  

Step 3: Start your search for Work from Home Medical Coding and Billing Jobs

About The Author

Hassan Zaka

I am an experienced technical writer with an ACCA qualification. I have written on various topics including finance, business, and technology. My writing style is clear and simple, and I am skilled in using infographics and diagrams.

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