Medical Billing And Coding Salary, How Much Do They Make?

Professionals in the medical and health information sector work in a number of settings in the health services field. Specialists in the field work in a number of positions, such as administrative medical assistant or medical records and health information technician. The medical billing and coding salary is relatively competitive and people in the industry should enjoy good job growth prospects through 2020.

How Much Is The Average Medical Billing and Coding Salary?

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual wage for medical records and health information technicians was $33,310, as of May 2011. The lowest paid earners in the field were compensated $21,680 per year and the highest paid workers earned $55,170 annually during the same period. Most people in this occupation (25 to 75 percentile) earned between $26,280 and $43,410 annually.

medical billing and coding salaryMedical assistants were paid a median annual wage of $29,100. Those earned the least were paid $20,880, while those earning the highest salaries were paid $40,810 per year. Most people in this occupation earned between $24,670 and $35,080 annually, as of May 2011

The latest data released by the American Association of Professional Coders reveals that the medical billing and coding salary earned by specialists who had the appropriate credentials or certification earned $45,404 annually in 2010. Individuals who did not have credentials or certification earned $37,746 annually.

Entry-Level Education Required

Most employees in the industry possess an associate’s degree or a post-secondary non-degree award, such as a certificate in medical information management or a similar subject. Salary research conducted by the American Association of Professional Coders reveals that the level of education obtained and the certifications possessed by a specialist in the sector drastically affect salary.

Entry-level positions obtained by people who hold credentials typically pay more than non-credentialed job candidates. For example, a credentialed coder with two years’ experience may earn more than a non-credentialed coder with four years’ experience.

Many schools offer an Associate of Science in Medical Billing and Coding. The program provides the foundation knowledge required to obtain an entry-level position in a doctor’s office, hospital or long-term care facility. Programs usually combine a number of general education courses with core coursework in healthcare settings, billing claims cycle, medical basics and medical management systems. Graduates of the program understand how to accurately code, process healthcare claims and use the appropriate software.

Entry-level education plays a significant role on offers and long-term salary potential. For example, individuals without a high school diploma earned $27,500 annually compared to those who completed high school, who earned $36,764. People who achieved some post-secondary education earned $36,409 compared with those who attended technical schools, who earned $33,413.

In addition to achieving an associate’s degree or a post-secondary non-degree award, seeking the appropriate certifications offered a boost in earning potential.

Medical Billing and Coding Salary: Certification

The most common certifications sought by professionals in the industry are offered by the American Association of Professional Coders. The AAPC provides the Certified Professional Coder credential for different functions. For example, the Certified Professional Coder for a hospital outpatient facility (CPC-H) validates a different set of skills than the Certified Professional Coder for payer perspective coding (CPC-P). In general, professionals in the industry are more likely to receive a higher salary offer and earn more over the lifetime of their careers if they pursue the appropriate credentials.

For example, high school graduates who earned their certification earned $39,167 annually versus $27,500 for those who did not seek certification. Those with some post-secondary education in combination with certification earned $45,038 vs. $36,409 annually. Certified associate’s degree holders earned $43,868 vs. $35,807 for non-certified graduates.

In addition to obtaining certification to increase earnings potential, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that many employers prefer job candidates who possess the appropriate certification.

How Does Experience Affect Salary?

A combination of experience and certification play a significant role in the amount of money earned by specialists in the industry. Data collected by the American Association of Professional Coders shows that specialists in the industry nearly double their salaries after 18 to 19 years in the industry. Entry-level positions (for people with less than one year experience) usually pay $30,500 annually for those without certification. In comparison, entry-level opportunities for those with certification pay closer to $35,000 per year. After approximately 15 years of experience in the industry, a non-certified professional will earn approximately $46,500 vs. a certified professional who may earn $50,000.

What Do Medical Billers and Coders Do?

Medical billers and coders perform a wide range of tasks. Their primary job is to ensure that medical health professionals receive payment for the services they render. This job requires knowledge of current healthcare information systems, the billing and claims process and insurance companies. In addition, specialists in the industry must understand medical terminology and how to review patient medical records. Confidentiality is important and understand specific laws and regulations is also required.

The healthcare industry offers a number of work settings and like education and certification, each setting plays a role in the salary earned by professionals in the industry. Non-credentialed workers in the long-term care industry earned $37,500 per year vs. those in home health care, who earned $24,167 per year. Credentialed specialists in the same industries earned $39,881 vs. $37,965, respectively. The highest-paid earners worked in a payer capacity and credentialed specialists earned $54,100 vs. non-credentials specialists who earned $48,750.

As with all occupations, geography impacts salary. Employees in the Northeast earned less than those employed in the West. Some of the highest paying states included California, Hawaii, Connecticut and New Jersey.

Professionals in the industry provide an invaluable service to hospitals, doctors, nurses and long-term care facilities, to name a few. Gaining some post-secondary education or earning an associate’s degree has a significant impact on overall salary. In addition, seeking the appropriate credentials boosts earnings potential and may be required by some employers. The level of experience an individual has also plays a role in salary, but experience with a combination of credentialing pays the most.

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