The United States Bureau of Labor Statistics projects the need for medical records and health information technicians will grow by 13% between 2016 and 2026. This rate is significantly faster than most careers in the country. These professionals earn an average of $39,180 per year or $18.83 per hour. The respectable pay and high demand make this career an attractive choice for many people. Furthermore, medical billing and coding specialists often feel fulfilled because they contribute to a system that helps people heal.
Medical billing and coding programs also attract those who want to change careers quickly. These programs often take about one year to complete, which makes it one of the fastest ways to start working in a new industry. An online medical coding certificate program does not have to be expensive. The following schools allow learners to make smart career choices without breaking the bank.
Cost of Attendance
Most employers require medical billing and coding specialists to have a minimum of a certificate or diploma in the field. The good news is that the cost of attendance to obtain a certificate or diploma is much cheaper than obtaining an Associates or Bachelors degree. Whether you pursue a certificate/diploma or a two year degree is up to you and your long range career plans.
If you’re currently working in the medical field and want to pursue a certificate/diploma, check with your Human Resources department to see if your employer offers a reimbursement program for employees advancing their education.
Federal Financial Aid
Certificate or diploma programs typically don’t qualify for federal student assistance; but, certain schools may offer scholarships or grants. Check with your admission advisor to see if such help is available.
Veterans, Active Military, Spouses and Dependents
More and more schools are offering attendance cost discounts for active or retired military personnel. Your admission counselor should be able to guide you through the steps to see if you qualify.
School accreditation helps you determine if the program you select is meeting the minimum educational requirements set by independent agencies that are acknowledged by the U.S. Department of Education. It’s helpful to know whether your school has met these requirements.
Best Medical Degrees has researched 5 online Medical Billing and Coding certification or diploma programs. Ranked according to tuition information on colleges and career school websites, school accreditation and other information (such as certification examinations) provided by the schools.
1. Penn Foster Career School
Learners complete the Penn Foster Career School’s online medical coding certificate program in just ten months. Not only do students learn the terminology and procedures they need, but they also complete virtual work experience simulations. This unique experience helps degree candidates prepare for real-world situations and improves their resumes. Students work through all of this coursework at their own paces. The institution gives each graduate a voucher for the National Healthcareer Association’s (NHA) Certified Billing & Coding Specialist (CBCS) exam. Successful learners can also choose to take exams from the American Academy of Professional Coders (AAPC) or the American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA).
Program Length: 10 Months
Estimated Tuition Cost: $799
2. Ashworth College
Instead of paying their tuition bills upfront or taking out costly loans, students in Ashworth’s online medical coding certificate program make interest-free monthly payments. This payment covers tuition, books, software, and access to the online student resource center. Graduates get to keep the reference books after graduation, which can help them in their careers. Furthermore, the included software is industry-standard, so degree candidates are ready for their new jobs. The fee also includes the preparation and exam costs for the NHA’s certification exam. The flexible, self-paced course structure allows students to work around their existing schedules.
Program Length: 4 Months
Estimated Tuition Cost: $858
Recommended Online Medical Billing & Coding Programs
3. U.S. Career Institute
This program combines two popular programs at the U.S. Career Institute and prepares learners to do both billing and coding in medical offices. Students learn basic anatomy and physiology, how to use medical terminology, and the software programs that professionals use. Thanks to the self-paced curriculum, certificate candidates can finish in as little as four months. With no in-person components or deadlines, busy workers and parents can fit the coursework around their schedules. Learners can also take advantage of the institution’s low monthly payment options, so student loans and massive tuition payments are things of the past.
Program Length: 4 Months
Estimated Tuition Cost: $1,369
4. Santa Barbara City College
Learners who complete this online medical coding certificate program sit for the Certified Coding Associate (CCA) exam. This certification allows candidates to make their resumes more attractive for employers. SBCC welcomes transfer students as long as they finish at least 20% of their classes at the school. Learners can determine how many hours to take each semester in this fully online program. The college encourages students to consider the time they will need to read the textbooks, complete quizzes, and watch lectures before deciding how many credits to take. California residents pay significantly discounted tuition rates compared to out-of-state students.
Program Length: 2 Years
Estimated Tuition Cost: $1,791
5. Fayetteville Technical Community College
FTCC offers both an online medical coding certificate program and an associate plan. Students working toward the certificate take two semesters with three classes in each term. Associate degree candidates take five semesters, including two part-time summer terms. Those learners also need an algebra class or equivalent before beginning. These students also complete work-based learning programs in real medical offices. This experience prepares them to excel in their new professions. In both programs, learners can choose between hybrid or online courses. Students who live outside North Carolina pay over three times what in-state learners spend in tuition.
Length of Program: 3 Semesters
Estimated Tuition Cost: $2,208 (NC Residents Only)