2010 Medical Coding Salary Survey
By Robison Wells, MBA and Brad Ericson, CPC, COSC
While coders aren’t immune to the ups and downs of the bumpy economy, this year’s salary survey indicates that being a credentialed coder has helped buffet the waves. Salaries of both credentialed and non credentialed coders increased from previous years, according to results compiled from the on-line survey of more than 10,000 coders this summer. How Much Are We Making? Credentialed professionals saw a 1.5 percent increase in average salary to $45,404. Non-credentialed professionals also saw a 1.2 percent increase to an average salary of $37,746, maintaining a gap we have seen since it was first compared in 2000. Instructors with the CPC-I® enjoy the highest average salary at $69,207; these professionals, because of their experience and knowledge, are often in senior positions or work as consultants in addition to teaching.
Our Education Level
The more education one has, the better the pay, just as in other careers. Regardless of the level of education, holding coding certification still provides more pay. However, it appears that education level doesn’t dramatically impact a coder’s salary until that coder achieves a bachelor’s degree. Note the $10,000 difference between having a high school diploma and having a bachelor’s degree. In addition, the number of respondents with an associates or bachelor’s degree increased this year while the number of coders whose education ended with a high school diploma decreased.
How do you fare compared to the average reported salary in your state? We’ve broken the average down below using the United States government’s Census Bureau’s breakdown of four major regions with nine sub regions. The Pacific sub-region— made up of Alaska, Hawaii, Washington, Oregon, and California—continues to have the highest average salary while the East South Central sub-region—made up of Kentucky, Tennessee, Mississippi, and Alabama—has the lowest average salary. California, Maryland, New Jersey, and Massachusetts have the highest salaries.
Work and Working
In a year of continued choppy economic seas, credentialed coders continue to do well. At press time, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics says 9.6 percent of the country’s workforce is unemployed, higher than in previous salary survey periods, yet coders have a lower rate of unemployment. Here is a breakdown of survey respondents’ experience in the last year. When respondents who had started a new job in the last year were asked how they found their job, 38 percent said through networking.
There are some things in our survey that indicate few changes from last year. Respondents who worked an average of 31-40 hours per week amounted to 58 percent, compared with 38 percent, who work 41 to 71 hours per week. More than 91 percent of you receive health insurance, 89 percent receive paid sick time, and 78 percent receive dental insurance as benefits, and over half of you find these benefits partially paid by your employer. Respondents reported a majority have some part of the decisionmaking role in their workplaces. Eighteen percent are ultimately responsible for some or all business decisions and 37 percent have input but don’t have decision making authority. The contribution of 55 percent of coders in decision-making underlines the contribution coders are making in our workplaces. Sixty-eight percent say their practices conduct chart audits and 58 percent of those do them quarterly. Nearly a quarter of respondents are in workplaces that have already started to prepare for ICD-10 implementation in October 2013. Sample size was 10,306 and margin of error is plus or minus 1.2%. More information can be found on AAPC’s website www.aapc.com
Robison Wells received his MBA from the Marriott School
of Management at Brigham Young University. He has
written articles for many newspapers, magazines, and
webzines, and is senior marketing specialist at AAPC.
Brad Ericson, CPC, COSC, is director
of membership and publishing at AAPC.