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How to Become a Certified Medical Coder

Medical coding specialists work in doctor's offices, hospitals and clinics, gathering and coding data to get reimbursement from healthcare claims. Medical coders are responsible for ensuring that claims meet all legal and insurance regulations. Both doctors and patients rely on coding specialists for getting insurance reimbursements. Here's how to become a certified medical coder:

  1. Prepare in high school You'll need a well-rounded education to be a certified medical coder. Start by taking high school algebra, biology, data processing and health classes [source: Health Careers Center].
  2. Earn an associate's degree Most entry-level medical coding positions require the coder to have at least an associate's degree in medical coding. Coursework typically includes classes in medical terminology, anatomy, physiology, data analysis and database security and management [source: BLS].
  3. Certification Certified Professional Coder (CPC) is the official title for a certified medical coder. The American Academy of Professional Coders (AAPC) oversees and credentials certified professional coders. In order to receive certification, you must work as a medical coder for at least two years and pass a written exam administered by the American Academy of Professional Coders. Coders need to renew their membership each year by paying dues and by completing 36 hours of continuing education every two years. Additionally, the American Academy of Professional Coders offers several other more specific certifications for different areas in healthcare, that employers may require [source: Education-portal].
  4. Earn a bachelor's degree A bachelor's or even master's degree could lead to serious advancement in the field of medical record keeping. Certified professional coders with advanced degrees will become eligible for senior positions in medical offices and can move on to be health information managers [source: BLS].