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2021 Medical Coding and Billing Salary Report

Medical Coding Salary

Every year, tens of thousands of health information professionals take the AAPC Medical Coding and Billing Salary Survey to give us an overview of compensation and salary trends within the industry. In 2021, our survey results showed healthy growth across the board — including a full rebound in areas affected by the pandemic — as well as promising indicators for the future of medical coding from home.

If you're considering a career as a medical biller or coder, AAPC’s 2021 Medical Coding and Billing Salary Survey isolates factors influencing compensation and will help you:

  • Assess your salary potential
  • Prepare for your job interview or salary negotiations
  • Plan your medical coding career path for greater financial reward

Table of Contents

How Much Money Do Medical Coders Make?

What State Pays the Most for Medical Coders?

Bigger Employer, Higher Salary

Experience Makes a Difference

Pay Trends for 2021

Is Working from Home Here to Stay?

Steps to Becoming a Medical Coder

Career Profile: Health information technician, a profession that encompasses medical billing and all types of medical coding, ranks high in job opportunities, career advancement potential, and work-life balance. The salary range is competitive and far exceeds the financial and time investment required to become a medical billing and coding specialist. What’s more, working with healthcare providers in the medical field offers a career path rich in personal rewards.`

How Much Money Do Medical Coders Make?

On average, medical coders (certified and non-certified) make $54,797 annually. Medical billers and coders without certification earn approximately $47,200 per year while certified coding and billing specialists make an average annual salary of $60,097 — 27% more than their non-certified colleagues.

The Medical Coding and Billing Salary Survey demonstrates again in 2021 that certification pays. The average salary for professional coders with two credentials rises to $64,712. Billing and coding specialists with three or more credentials earn approximately $69,942 per year.

AVERAGE MEDICAL CODER SALARY BASED ON CERTIFICATION

Credential Median Salary
Certified Professional Biller (CPB®) $56,652
Certified Professional Coder (CPC®) $58,055
Certified Outpatient Coder (COC®) $62,846
Certified Professional Coder-Payer (CPC-P) $60,753
Certified Inpatient Coder (CIC®) $57,936
Certified Risk Adjustment Coder (CRC®) $64,995
Certified Professional Medical Auditor (CPMA®) $70,320
Certified Documentation Expert-Outpatient (CDEO®) $73,723
Certified Professional Coder-Instructor (CPC-I) $74,822
Certified Professional Practice Manager (CPPM®) $70,895
Certified Professional Compliance Officer (CPCO®) $80,550
AVERAGE $66,504

In addition to competitive salaries and standard employment benefits, many employers also offer paid professional association dues and paid continuing education. Full or partial coverage of continuing education is particularly valuable, given the correlation between salary and medical coding credentials.

Other variables that weigh into the salary equation include experience, specialty/medical field, employer type, and location.

Average Medical Coding Salary IMAGE: Certified Professional Coder Salary, Regional Averages

What State Pays the Most for Medical Coders?

Salary averages across the 50 states and territories differ by 53%, with the highest average wages received in the District of Columbia and the lowest wages in Mississippi, according to the 2021 salary survey. A health information technician, or medical records technician, makes $11.82 more per hour in D.C than their counterpart in Mississippi.

This disparity in average state salaries for coding and billing professionals reflects differing state economies. D.C., for instance, has higher employment cost and consumer price indices than Mississippi.

AVERAGE MEDICAL BILLING AND CODING SALARY BY STATE

State Average Salary Average Hourly Salary
Alabama $48,169 $23.16
Alaska $57,883 $27.83
Arizona $55,937 $26.89
Arkansas $50,430 $24.25
California $66,224 $31.84
Colorado $59,614 $28.66
Connecticut $62,154 $29.88
Delaware $54,050 $25.99
District of Columbia $70,843 $34.06
Florida $55,823 $26.84
Georgia $55,106 $26.49
Hawaii $66,902 $32.16
Idaho $51,646 $24.83
Illinois $54,929 $26.41
Indiana $51,832 $24.92
Iowa $50,939 $24.49
Kansas $54,057 $25.99
Kentucky $51,043 $24.54
Louisiana $51,244 $24.64
Maine $57,566 $27.68
Maryland $66,310 $31.88
Massachusetts $67,260 $32.34
Michigan $53,273 $25.61
Minnesota $57,766 $27.77
Mississippi $46,250 $22.24
Missouri $54,229 $26.07
State Average Salary Average Hourly Salary
Montana $51,548 $24.78
Nebraska $54,142 $26.03
Nevada $54,956 $26.42
New Hampshire $62,967 $30.27
New Jersey $63,355 $30.46
New Mexico $53,867 $25.90
New York $61,700 $29.66
North Carolina $57,564 $27.68
North Dakota $51,955 $24.98
Ohio $54,242 $26.08
Oklahoma $51,986 $24.99
Oregon $60,830 $29.25
Pennsylvania $57,178 $27.49
Rhode Island $60,178 $28.93
South Carolina $54,073 $26.00
South Dakota $55,720 $26.79
Tennessee $54,352 $26.13
Texas $56,803 $27.31
U.S. Territory $51,374 $24.70
Utah $54,798 $26.35
Vermont $53,239 $25.60
Virginia $55,199 $26.54
Washington $61,806 $29.71
West Virginia $51,813 $24.91
Wisconsin $56,351 $27.09
Wyoming $56,950 $27.38

Salary Averages for Medical Coders vs Median Household Incomes per State

We see a sharp distinction in state economies when we look at median household incomes. The variance between the highest and lowest household income is 88% (Maryland at $74,551 and Mississippi at $39,665).

This 88% gap, significantly exceeding the 53% gap we see in medical coding salaries by state, is worth noting if you’re considering a career in this industry. We see less variance in medical coding salaries because medical coding and billing professionals, for the most part, earn above their state’s median household income.

Medical Coders

In Mississippi, for example, coders and billers earn on average 16.60% higher salaries than Mississippi’s median household income. This trend holds for most states but does not apply to all states.

Three patterns become clear when comparing average medical coding salary and median household income by state, which you’ll see reflected in the table below.

  • 1.
    The average annual salary in 34 states exceed the state’s median household income.
  • 2.
    Coding salaries in 29 states are more than 5% above the median household income. This trend tends to occur in states with low median household incomes.
  • 3.
    Coding salaries in 10 states are more than 5% below the median household income. This trend tends to occur in states with high median household incomes.

COMPARISON: AVERAGE CODING SALARY & MEDIAN HOUSEHOLD INCOME (MHI)

State Salaries Significantly Above MHI State Salaries Significantly Below MHI
State Median household Average Coding Salary % Above Household Income State Median household Average Coding Salary % Below Household Income
West Virginia $41,751 $51,813 24.10% New Hampshire $66,779 $62,967 -5.71%
North Carolina $46,868 $57,564 22.82% Minnesota $61,492 $57,766 -6.06%
Arkansas $41,371 $50,430 21.90% North Dakota $57,181 $51,955 -9.14%
Tennessee $45,219 $54,352 20.20% Utah $60,727 $54,798 -9.76%
New Mexico $44,963 $53,867 19.80% Delaware $60,509 $54,050 -10.67%
South Carolina $45,483 $54,073 18.89% Maryland $74,551 $66,310 -11.05%
Oregon $51,243 $60,830 18.71% Connecticut $70,331 $62,154 -11.63%
Florida $47,507 $55,823 17.50% New Jersey $72,093 $63,355 -12.12%
Kentucky $43,740 $51,043 16.70% Virginia $65,015 $55,199 -15.10%
Maine $49,331 $57,566 16.69% Alaska $72,515 $57,883 -20.18%

Bigger Employer, Higher Salary

The average medical coding salary varies by type of employer, with larger healthcare provider organizations able to offer better wages. This trend, similar to salary variations by state economies, has proved consistent in 10+ years of surveying salary by workplace.

A typical health system comprises 3 to 10 hospitals, as well as physician groups, urgent care clinics, and rehabilitation centers. As the largest employer type, the health system pays approximately 19% higher salaries than the medical office of a solo physician. 

Coders and billers employed by hospitals earn the second highest salary, followed by professionals employed by large physician group practices.

Average Medical Coding Salary

In year-over-year comparisons, we see the least salary gains among smaller employer types, which likely represents financial constraints. But professional coders and billers have many workplaces to choose from.

Where Can a Certified Coder Find a Medical Coding Job?

A medical biller or coder will find job opportunities at an array of companies. Some of these potential employers fall to the category of provider organizations and some are part of the larger healthcare ecosystem.

Besides physician offices, hospitals, and health systems, other types of provider organizations relying on billing and coding staff include ambulatory surgery centers, walk-in clinics, assisted living and long-term care facilities, home health agencies, hospices, telehealth companies, labs, and imaging centers.

Companies outside of direct patient care include software and durable medical equipment vendors, insurance companies, government agencies, educational institutions, billing companies, risk adjustment vendors, healthcare consulting firms, and some law offices.

Experience Makes a Difference

It’s not surprising that certification is the No. 1 factor influencing medical coding and billing salaries. After all, professional certification is the litmus test of a job candidate’s value. Nothing gives hiring managers more confidence in a coder or biller’s proficiency than passing the certification exam. The next best vote of confidence — also the second biggest influence on salary — comes with experience.

Experience Makes a Difference

Every year on the job reinforces the medical billing specialist’s skills. The more time in the trenches of real-world reporting broadens the certified coder’s areas of expertise.

Experience tells the employer that you know the ropes, can handle the day-to-day realities, and are prepared to succeed in the workplace. This is true for all occupations, but it carries extra weight in the healthcare industry. Employers are willing to pay for experience because experience means both accurate and optimal coding.

The starting salary for a CPC is approximately $45,456 per year. Experience, as an isolated influence on compensation, adds upwards of 60% to salary over the course of the CPC’s career. The biggest gains occur in the first ten years.

2021 survey respondents report a median 10 years in the industry. And with medical coding experience comes career advancement opportunities into high-paying healthcare business roles, such as practice management, medical auditing, compliance, and clinical documentation improvement.

CPC: EXPERIENCE-BASED SALARY INCREASES

Years on the Job Average Salary % Increase from Previous
1 – 3 $45,456 N/A
4 – 7 $50,490 11.07%
8 – 10 $57,769 14.42%
11 - 15 $62,324 7.88%
16 - 20 $66,060 5.99%
21 - 25 $66,200 0.21%
26 - 30 $69,834 5.49%
31+ $73,150 4.75%
  TOTAL (AVERAGE) 60.92%

Pay Trends for 2021

Medical coding salaries have maintained an upward trajectory over the past decade, aside from 2020’s bump in the road. In 2021, the AAPC Salary Survey showed an average 3.83% pay increase over the previous year — almost double the 2.7% increase across all industries, according to the 2021 General Industry Salary Budget Survey.

Medical Coding Salary Trends Based on Location

In 2020, 15 states and U.S. territories reported pandemic-related salary loss. Among these, the District of Columbia had been hardest hit. D.C. businesses had begun curtailing operations as early as March 7, 2020 — including Metro — and unsurprisingly, medical billing and coding salaries in D.C. fell by 17.24%.

Fast-forward to 2021. D.C. has come back strong with a whopping 29.59% lift in average salary. Five additional states that saw coding salary reductions greater than 5% — Utah, North Dakota, Idaho, California, and Kansas — have all rebounded and resumed the upward trajectory in 2021.

Four states did not see salary gains this year. These are Iowa, Wyoming, Mississippi, and Vermont. Interestingly, Vermont was among the states least affected by the pandemic and averaged a 2020 salary increase of 6.17%, the second highest of the country. The states with the largest gains in 2021 include:

Top 10 States with Biggest Salary Gains in 2021

  State 2020 Annual Salary 2021 % Increase 2021 Annual Salary 2021 Per Hour
1. Washington, D.C. $54,667 29.59% $70,843 $34.06
2. Maryland $58,590 13.18% $66,310 $31.88
3. Hawaii $60,824 9.99% $66,902 $32.16
4. Washington $56,371 9.64% $61,806 $29.71
6. South Dakota $50,960 9.34% $55,720 $26.79
5. Utah $50,115 9.34% $54,798 $26.35
7. New Hampshire $57,877 8.79% $62,967 $30.27
8. Maine $52,966 8.69% $57,566 $27.68
9. Hawaii $47,699 8.63% $51,813 $24.91
10. New York $47,627 8.44% $51,646 $24.83

Medical Coding Salary Trends Based on Credential

Certified professionals have established a reputation of excellence within the healthcare industry, one that is attributed to quality training and on-the-job experience. Underscoring the value placed on medical coding certification as a measure of proficiency, salaries have increased year over year.

In 2021, the biggest salary increases go to CICs, CPBs, and CDEOs. This news is especially welcomed by CICs, as they were most affected by the 2020 ban on elective and non-urgent procedures. The top paid certifications in 2021, as you can see in the table below, are CPCOs, CPC-Is, and CDEOs.

AVERAGE ANNUAL SALARY CHANGE BY CODING CERTIFICATION

 Credential 2020 2021 % Pay Change
Certified Professional Biller (CPB) $53,903 $56,652 5.10%
Certified Professional Coder (CPC) $56,164 $58,055 3.37%
Certified Outpatient Coder (COC) $61,435 $62,846 2.30%
Certified Professional Coder-Payer (CPC-P) $60,544 $60,753 0.35%
Certified Inpatient Coder (CIC) $53,811 $57,936 7.67%
Certified Risk Adjustment Coder (CRC) $62,916 $64,995 3.30%
Certified Professional Medical Auditor (CPMA) $68,172 $70,320 3.15%
Certified Documentation Expert-Outpatient (CDEO) $70,535 $73,723 4.52%
Certified Professional Coder-Instructor (CPC-I) $73,623 $74,822 1.63%
Certified Professional Practice Manager (CPPM) $68,744 $70,895 3.13%
Certified Professional Compliance Officer (CPCO) $77,186 $80,550 4.36%

Medical Coding Salary Trends Based on Education

Although certification carries the most weight with employers and does not require an associate degree or bachelor’s degree to obtain, our survey shows a modest influence of education on medical billing and coding salaries.

Post Secondary

Health information technicians with no college education average $25.12 per hour, while a certified coding specialist with some college or an associate degree averages $25.81 per hour — 2.73% more money annually. The hourly wage rises to $26.74 for professionals with a bachelor’s degree.

Graph

Graph: Average Medical Coder Salary by Education

Health information professionals with a master’s degree earn 29.17% more on average than certified coders with no postsecondary education. This salary hike, however, has more to do with the professional’s role and job title than directly with education. To explain:

  • 1.
    We see minimal difference in salary averages for certified coders with no education and salary averages for certified coders with master’s degrees.
  • 2.
    We see significant difference in salary averages for certified coders (with or without a degree) and professionals in upper management roles that require a master’s degree to fulfill.

Coding specialists with master’s degrees — and in master-level positions such as coding director, compliance manager, HIM director, college professor, VP of coding, operations director, CEO, consultant — earn an average of $101,825 annually, according to the 2021 AAPC salary survey. This sum aligns with the median salary of $104,280 per year, or $50.13 per hour, for medical and health services managers, as reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

If you have your sights set on directing health information management, a four- or six-year degree program may be a wise decision. But if you’re a certified medical coder who bypassed the university and trained directly in a professional certification program, you’ll find a number of paths leading to leadership and its financial rewards.

Employer Trends in Medical Billing and Coding

Only 11.1% of respondents reported working for small physician practices in 2021. This number represents a tremendous shift from 37.2% in 2015. More than 50% of professional coders and billers now work for the largest employer types.

Where Medical Coding Work

As discussed earlier, the larger the healthcare facility or care setting, the more likely its employees receive a higher salary. As more doctors forgo private practice for the steady paycheck offered by health systems, the medical coding professional will make more pay. Ultimately, this trend will trickle down to affect salary ranges for small organizations, as entry-level positions receive compensation based on national averages.

Is Working from Home Here to Stay?

Home

Historically, remote coding opportunities have been reserved for experienced coders. For several years running, in fact, the number of health information technicians working remotely has held at 30 to 33%, according to this survey.

Employers insisted that apprentice coders gain job experience under their supervision where they could review their work and train them according to in-house guidelines.

But then came the 2020 shutdown. Companies had no option but to rely on technology. Coding and billing staff were sent home, and there they stayed for the remainder of 2020. Now one year later, 70.59% of survey respondents continue to telecommute in part or in full. Only 29% of respondents are back in their traditional onsite offices.

Has seeing technology in action inspired employer confidence? We have reason to think entry-level coders will see more telecommuting options in the future. At this point, however, it’s speculation.

More Good News Is on the Horizon

We may see above average salary increases in 2022, according to Willis Towers Watson who projects: “The buyout economy, long-term savings from hybrid work models and a booming job market have all led to forecasts for higher 2022 salary increase.”

SHRM confirms this outlook: For executives, management and professional employees, and support staff in 2022, U.S. companies project above average salary increases.

It’s reasonable to expect these factors to elevate coding and billing pay in 2022. Time will tell, but now may be a great time to seek a raise.

What is the Outlook for the Medical Coding Profession?

Considering that every patient encounter requires coded documentation submitted to insurance and federal payers, it's not surprising that medical coding and billing specialists enjoy favorable job prospects.

The demand for coders and billers was dialed up by the Affordable Care Act, which made medical care available to more people. This development, coupled with the U.S. aging population, means more medical services, which mean more claims for reimbursement.

The Occupational Outlook Handbook published by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports:

  • Employment of health information technicians is projected to grow 9% over the next decade.
  • Medical records and health information specialists will be needed to process the increase in health information data.
  • Common use of electronic health records (EHRs) by all types of healthcare providers continues to increase the need for medical record technicians.

How Much Does a Medical Coder Make Year Over Year?

If you’re interested in becoming a medical coding professional or medical billing specialist and want to review long-term salary trends, you’ll find historic details archived in AAPC Healthcare Salary Survey blog posts.

Steps to Becoming a Medical Coder


Why Choose AAPC for Your Billing and Coding Training?

AAPC is the world’s largest association representing medical billers, coders, auditors, compliance officers, documentation specialists, and practice managers. For more than three decades, AAPC-trained professionals have established an unwavering reputation of excellence. The titles of certified professional biller and certified professional coder come with high expectations and respect.

AAPC's billing and coding programs will prepare you to earn your credential — and help you to maintain your expertise with numerous resources exclusively available to our members. Additionally, you’ll become part of a large nationwide network of coders through our local chapters and online forums

Prepare for your certification exam today and get your future started!

Got Questions?

Visit our medical billing and coding training pages to learn more about a career in medical billing and coding — or contact an AAPC career counselor online or by calling 800-626-2633 for a free consultation.

Last Updated on December 29, 2021 by AAPC Thought Leadership Team

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