2006 Medical Coding Salary Survey
Who Wins The Earnings Race?
Certification takes the gold medal in the race across the starting line for a coding professional looking for a satisfying job with enormous career potential.
Quickly disappearing are the days that an employer fills a coding position in the absence of accreditation or considers the position as simply one that focuses on the application of alphanumeric combinations for claims reimbursement.
Coding has arrived and certification, combined with education, is key to a career fueled by the growing number of regulations governing health care delivery and reimbursement and the focus on service accountability.
Experience becomes its own best negotiator.
Statistics drawn from the 2006 AAPC Salary Survey give resounding thumbs up to the value certification adds to the importance of an employee, and emphasizes the benefits of education in a career open to possibilities. The following results of the 2006 Academy salary survey give a brief look from the reports of our 6,500 respondents:
- The average salary across the board is 21 percent higher for a certified coder
- No matter what part of the country, a certified coder earns at least $5,000 annually compared to a non-certified coder
- The Northeastern and Western regions report the greatest salary differences between certified and non-certified coder
- While compliance officers, consultants and speakers continue to dominate the higher salary sectors, physician and facility based coders are advancing along the salary scale, as well (an increase of between $2,000 and $3,000 for certified coders compared to the 2005 survey results)
- A physician office coder earns, on average, $32,400 annually and an facility based coder earns, on average, $33,600 annually
- An educator can expect to earn a salary on par with an audit specialist or a reimbursement manager and all over $45,000 annually
- Apprentice coders (certified but with less than two years job-related experience) are finding well-paying openings, with an average annual starting salary of $30,000
- Experience accounts for increased earnings, although due to the relatively recent recognition of the profession most respondents averaged less than six years on the job
- A person with six years experience earned, on average, nearly $5,000 more per year than a person with one year’s experience
- Education continues to influence earnings
- A coder with a Master’s degree is likely to earn upwards of 30 percent more than a coder with only a high school diploma
- College degreed coders earn, on average, $45,000 annually
- An associate’s degree or some college (without obtaining a degree) puts earnings above those with a high school diploma or those completing a program offered through a technical school
- Continued education is gaining importance among employers, with an average of $1,850 spent annually to keep their coders on the mainline of knowledge
And, talk about job security – coding and related occupations continue to take top berth in U.S. Department of Labor job outlook and employment statistics. According to that office’s forecasts: Job prospects are very good and the industry is expected to grow much faster than average compared to other occupations through, at least, the year 2012. The fastest employment growth and a majority of the new jobs are expected in offices of physicians, due to increasing demand for detailed records, especially in large group practices. Rapid growth also is expected in nursing care facilities, home healthcare services, and outpatient care centers.
So, how do you break into the profession or into a higher-level position?
One sure way is the AAPC’s Career Edge, which is a free employment service open to membership, certified or non-certified. Members can post multiple resumes for positions in billing, coding, medical records, and medical transcription employers advertise as part of the online service. A broader search allows members to look at health care openings outside of coding in areas that include administration, marketing, public relations, nursing, dentistry and allied health professions.
Employers and applicants receive e-mail notification each time a candidate or job description matches the profiles provided. Job seekers also can target their search by preference such as geo-graphic location, job discipline or coding specialty. Actual con-tact is kept confidential throughout the interview and hiring process.
The AAPC’s Career Edge also walks employers and candidates through the entire process of finding a job to finding the ideal candidate for the open position. Online tools help coders build resumes and web sites that enhance the matchmaking job service.
Statistics show the current success of the Career Edge for our membership:
- Between May 21 and June 30, 2006, there were 99,716 contacts (hits) made to the Career Edge
On average, there are 428 user sessions each day (as opposed to separate users since a person can access the site multiple times per day)
During one recent week, 786 members accessed the site from the AAPC’s homepage, while 1,000 accessed the site through personal bookmarks