Medical Coding Training & Education
AAPC medical coding training courses will teach you the fundamentals of medical coding, prepare you for certification, and help you establish yourself in the industry. AAPC certification programs include many coding subspecialties — all of which are rated #1 among medical coding schools. And the best part is, you can launch your career as a certified professional coder in just 6 months!
Why Choose a Career as a Medical Coding Specialist?
Medical coding ranks third on the U.S. News and World Report’s list of Best Jobs Without A College Degree. Besides a competitive salary that towers over the investment to become a coding specialist, the profession ranks high for employment and career advancement opportunities, as well as work-life balance and the potential to work from home.
Medical Coding Salary
The average annual salary for a medical coder is $55,923 — 14.9% above the median salary of all U.S. occupations. Your earning potential rises to $64,890 when you add another certification demonstrating broader coding expertise. With three credentials, you can expect to earn upwards of $70K per year.
Favorable Job Prospects
The demand for medical coders is at a historic high. Fueled by the healthcare needs of an aging population, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics lists medical coding among the 20 fastest growing occupations. Job opportunities for professional coders are projected to grow 18.2% by 2028.
Work from Home
A growing number of healthcare organizations outsource their coding and billing, giving certified professionals the opportunity to work remotely. According to AAPC’s 2019 Medical Coding Salary Survey, 33.8% of respondents work from the convenience and comfort of home.
Which Coding Certification Course Is Right for You?
AAPC offers the full spectrum of certification training courses, and all boast pass rates unmatched by other medical coding schools.
For good reason the CPC Preparation Course is AAPC’s most popular medical coding training program. This course provides an education in physician-based coding, which is used in the majority of healthcare environments — medical offices, walk-in clinics, telehealth groups, labs. Students of the CPC Preparation Course will learn the proper use of CPT®, HCPCS Level II, and ICD-10-CM codes as they apply to these healthcare settings. Additionally, CPC training lays the foundation for advanced types of medical coding.
AAPC’s COC Preparation Course teaches the correct application of CPT®, HCPCS Level II, and ICD-10-CM codes used for coding outpatient facility services to insurance companies. Students who take this course gain the training they need to pass the COC™ exam and begin their medical coding careers in an ambulatory surgical center or hospital outpatient billing and coding department.
CIC training is critical to a career as an inpatient medical coder working in a hospital setting. Reporting inpatient tests, diagnoses, and procedures requires knowledge of two code classification systems not used in other healthcare settings — the ICD-10-PCS code set and Medicare-Severity Diagnostic-Related Groups (MS DRG). Students will acquire mastery of both in AAPC’s CIC Preparation Course.
Medical coders can take their skills to the next level with risk adjustment coding proficiency, which plays a high-impact role in provider reimbursement. In this course, students learn the Hierarchical Condition Category (HCC) risk adjustment model used by Medicare and several commercial payers, as well as the Health and Human Services (HHS) HCC model, and the Medicaid Chronic Illness and Disability Payment System (CDPS) risk adjustment model.
Why Enroll in an AAPC Medical Coding Program?
AAPC specializes in healthcare business education and has set the standards for medical coding and billing. Not only did we create the industry’s accreditations for coders and billers, clinical documentation specialists, medical auditors, healthcare compliance officers, and practice managers — but we’ve been teaching these programs for more than 30 years.
80% Pass Rate
Our experience means top-rated training. And the proof of our success is in our certification exam pass rates, which almost quadruple third-party programs averaging 22%.
When you study with the creators of the CPC and advanced coding certifications, you receive training with the same standard of excellence as the credentials themselves. What’s more, you’re ensured a comprehensive education that covers everything needed to pass your certification exam, earn your professional coding credential, and succeed in your career.
Best Education, Best Value
Colleges and universities charge between $4,500 and $19,500 for medical coding studies. But becoming a certified coder doesn’t require a 4-year college education — or even a 2-year college education. You can transition to this financially rewarding career for less than $2000 and in as few as 6 months with AAPC’s career-focused training.
We don't just train and certify at AAPC. We provide you with resources to help you gain employment — including a nationwide job database, a membership network of almost 200,000 professional peers, local AAPC chapters, and regional and national conferences, as well as our Project Xtern program.
AAPC supports you throughout the duration of your career as you work to achieve professional milestones. Our career counselors will guide your efforts to maintain cutting-edge expertise, help you understand your worth and negotiate your salary, give you advice on how to elevate your earning potential, and provide you with tips and strategies to advance your career in the business of medicine.
AAPC recognizes that education is critical to advancing your career, and we’re committed to making your professional investments affordable. We offer several budget-friendly payment plans on our certification courses. You can even finance the required code books, membership, or any items you choose, as long as they’re in your shopping cart with your qualified course.
Online Versus Classroom Medical Coding Training
Once you select the coding certification course that most interests you and the school you’d like to attend — each of which will affect how long it takes you to earn your professional credential — you then need to decide whether online or in-class training is the best fit for you.
Learn Medical Coding Online
- Flexibility to study in the comfort of your home or office
- Expert AAPC-certified coaches on hand to answer questions
- Lower costs and freedom from the structure of a traditional university
- Pass rates 80% higher than third-party medical coding programs
- Self-paced, with option to accelerate your training
Benefits of Classroom Training
- Superior classroom education
- Taught by AAPC-trained and approved instructors
- Convenient locations throughout the U.S.
- Structured to keep you engaged and on track
- Personalized attention and guidance
- Student interaction and study partnership opportunities
Ultimately, employers look for job candidates with APPC coding certification. The completion of an AAPC certification program typically takes 6 months to a year, depending on how much time you’re able to set aside for your studies.
Online medical coding training packages provide the flexibility to study when and where you want. Many working adults with financial and family obligations prefer online training, but AAPC also offers superior medical coding education in classrooms located throughout the U.S.
Classroom students learn medical coding basics and develop reliable skills while working with real-world medical charts. Taught by AAPC-approved instructors trained in our exclusive Professional Medical Coding Curriculum (PMCC), you’ll receive the personalized attention and guidance needed to become exam-ready and career-confident.
If you prefer a classroom coding certification program, you can find a listing of medical coding classes near you with the classroom directory lookup tool.
Still Wondering What Medical Coding Is All About?
While medical coding becomes part of the patient’s medical record, and enhances the picture of the patient’s overall health, it is foremost the means by which physicians and healthcare facilities receive insurance reimbursement for services. As such, medical coders serve a vital role in the financial well-being of their employing organization.
Every patient encounter with a healthcare provider requires medical coding. It doesn’t matter if the patient goes to the doctor’s office, urgent care clinic, emergency room — or if the patient connects with a physician via telehealth services. Medical coding is the standardized, HIPAA-secure language spoken between providers and payers to convey reimbursement-related patient information.
The main task of a medical coder is to review clinical documentation written by the physician and then to translate the medical services and procedures, diagnoses, and equipment and supplies into CPT®, ICD-10-CM, and HCPCS Level II codes.
This responsibility may sound straightforward to the unacquainted, but coding is anything but straightforward. The challenge, in fact, is what certified professional coders find most rewarding. Many equate their jobs with being a sleuth, always with new and gratifying puzzles to solve.
But the complexity of the job is also why medical coders are well compensated and well respected. Increasing revenue pressures on healthcare organizations require them to invest in highly skilled certified professional coders. An intimate understanding of the code sets, claims process, appeals process, and anatomy and medical terminology equips these professionals to successfully optimize a practice's revenue performance.
What Do I Need to Start a Medical Coding Career?
The choice to become a medical coder doesn’t require you to have an associates or bachelor’s degree. In fact, the path for most certified professionals begins as a recent high school graduate who enjoys healthcare and anatomy and learning about medical records and the physician revenue cycle. But not all health information technicians start out that way.
Some people pursue a career in medical coding because of the potential to work from home. Others see the CPC credential as a perfect solution to launch a career because they can’t afford to spend a lot of money or time on a higher education degree. And still others start out in one career and later become a medical coder because that’s where their job journey led them, and it turns out to be a perfect fit.
While professional coders work independently for the most part, interaction with physicians, office and coding staff, and medical billers is essential. In a professional sense, most coders report enjoying the connection with providers and patients, as well as the versatility of the job.
All, it’s fair to say, find the competitive salaries and favorable job growth appealing, not to mention the short path to entry in the field. Training, of course, is crucial, but you can successfully join the workforce in as few as six months with the completion of an AAPC program.
Other factors influencing the time it takes to complete your training include which type of training interests you. Physician-based coding and facility-based coding have distinct timelines. Risk adjustment coding, for example, requires only four months for course completion. But risk adjustment coding, or CRC certification, first requires CPC certification — or ample experience working as a medical coder.
In addition to learning how to assign proper diagnoses and procedure codes from operative reports and patient charts, you should have knowledge in the areas of anatomy and medical terminology. If you don’t have a background in the sciences, AAPC also offers online self-study courses that will give you the medical knowledge you need. These two courses are affordable and can be taken prior to or while you take your medical coding training course.
Steps To Becoming a Medical Coder
Who Hires Medical Coders?
Medical coders have many workplace options to choose from. In addition to health systems, hospitals, and physician offices, coding specialists are needed by ambulatory surgery centers, urgent and semi-urgent care clinics, labs, imaging centers, sports medicine and physical therapy centers, mental health practices, long-term care facilities, hospices, home health agencies, billing companies, telehealth providers, consulting firms, durable medical equipment and supply vendors, EHR software vendors, accountable care organizations, and insurance companies. Many medical coders also go on to teach at universities and colleges and other medical coding training programs.
Also, many employers hire remote CPCs to manage their medical coding online, making working from home an attractive option. According to AAPC’s annual medical coding salary survey, more than one-third of AAPC-certified medical coders and billers work remotely.
Which Companies Pay the Best Salary to Medical Coders?
The average medical coding salary varies, depending on the company — or employer type — you work for. Larger healthcare organizations offer higher compensation. Health information technicians, a term that includes medical billers and all types of medical coders, employed by health systems earn approximately 19.36% more than coders employed by solo physician or small group practices.
AVERAGE ANNUAL MEDICAL CODING SALARY BY WORKPLACE
Large Group Practice (50 or more physicians)
Hospital Inpatient & Outpatient
Medium Group Practice (11-49 physicians)
Solo Practice/Small Group Practice (1-10 physicians)
But where you’d like to work — or are qualified to gain employment as a medical coder — depends on your medical coding training. CPT®, HCPCS Level II, and ICD-10-CM are the most used code sets, applicable for reporting patient health information across all healthcare settings.
CPC training focuses exclusively on ICD-10-CM, CPT®, and HCPCS Level II coding and is the best place to start as a new medical coder. Because reliable working knowledge of these three codes sets is foundational to risk adjustment coding, outpatient coding, and hospital coding, the CPC Preparation Course is considered prerequisite for most medical coding certifications.
While many professional coders enjoy lifelong careers with their CPC credential, others choose to build on their coding education by pursuing specialty training or diversifying into hospital-based coding.
Medical coders working in hospitals perform inpatient coding, which requires proficiency in two distinct medical coding systems — the ICD-10-PCS code set and Diagnostic Related Groups (DRGs). Additionally, distinct ICD-10-CM guidelines apply to inpatient coding.
Likewise, working in an ambulatory surgical center or as an outpatient coder in a hospital requires coding specialist to understand the Hospital Outpatient Prospective Payment System, which requires CPT® codes to be reported through Ambulatory Payment Categories.
If you’d like to explore your salary potential based your medical coding credential — or on variable that include employer type, years’ experience, primary role and responsibilities, or the state in which you’re employed — you’ll find current values using our Salary Calculator.
Take the First Step to Your New Career!
Before you choose a medical coding program, do your homework. Look for training features you consider important and, above all, compare certification pass rates. How many graduates successfully attain their CPC?
Employers look for an AAPC credential because it demonstrates mastery of the skills they depend on. And at AAPC, the majority of our students pass their certification exam and earn the right to append “CPC” to their name. In 2019, according to our latest survey, 85% of these newly certified professional coders went on to secure gainful employment.
Your job awaits. Despite economic fluctuations impacting unemployment rates for most professions, the need for certified coding professionals will continue to climb. The U.S. Census Bureau estimate 78.0 million people age 65 and over will increase 55% by 2030. Given the rise in chronic conditions prevalent among this population, the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) anticipates a shortfall of nearly 105,000 physicians by 2030. This shortage extends to medical coders and billing specialists who support hospitals and physician-based practices.
Job security is just one reason why medical coding is a lucrative and rewarding career choice. It’s also achievable, requiring only a minimal investment of time and resources.
But if you’re trying to decide if the profession is right for you, you might find Work of a Coder: Survey Tells Us Who We Are helpful. And to better understand what a coding transaction looks like, check out the article What Does a Medical Coder Do?