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Medical Coding Salary: A Closer Look

medical coding salary

Medical coding salary varies according to a number of factors, but annual median wages is slightly over $34,000 per year in the United States according to 2012 United States Board of Labor Statistics data (www.bls.gov). Even more encouraging for those interested in pursuing their coding certification is the fact that entry-level coder wages have increased by an average of six percent per year since 2010.

In this article we will take a brief look at the variables that determine the salary for medical coders, as well as examine strategies you can follow to maximize your earning potential. So let’s take a look and maybe help you get better pay.

What Determines Coding Salary?

The exact salary one can expect to earn is influenced by such variables as: the person’s specific credentials, his or her score on the certification exam, the type of employer in question and, of course, the amount of experience the person has. A brief review of each follows.

Credentials

There are various types of credentials one can acquire by completing accredited programs at medical coding and billing schools. A few of the more common ones are the CPC (Certified Professional Coder’s Degree), CCS (Certified Coding Specialist Degree) and CMRS (Certified Medical Reimbursement Specialist Degree) but there are literally dozens of different credentials that can be earned.

These credentials represent the amount and type of training that an individual has completed. Holding one or more of them significantly increases the degree holder’s earning potential, as well as employment opportunities.

Test Scores

medical coding salaryIn order to become a Certified Coding Specialist, you must first register a passing score on a recognized certification exam. The major certification exams are the CPC and CPC-H (American Academy of Professional Coders) and the CCS (American Health Information Management Association). Employers are known to favor hiring people who posted high scores on these exams, and are also known to offer them better pay.

Type of Employer

The type of institution and field in which a person works has a massive impact on their actual salary as a coding specialist. Per the latest numbers from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, professionals who work at facilities like nursing homes and hospitals earn significantly more (20% on average) than those who work at physician’s offices and outpatient centers. The median pay also increases if the individual is employed in a highly specialized field.

For those interested in working billing and coding jobs from home, pay varies considerably depending on the type and number of clients serviced. It is quite common, however, for a self-employed medical coder salary to reach as high as $25 per hour.

The following chart reflects average hourly wages paid to medical billers and coders by different types of employers.

medical coding pay by job type

Experience

A strong correlation between experience and pay exists in almost every profession, and medical coding is no exception. On average, a specialist’s salary increases by an average of three-percent-per-year of experience that a person has in his or her field. Plus, as one gains more experience and knowledge in the field it is easier to try to move to another coding position that offers more money.

Maximizing Your Salary

If you want to guarantee yourself of the highest pay possible in the medical coding field, there are several steps you can take. These include acquiring a specialized credential, earning a degree rather than a certification, and looking for work near major metropolitan areas. Each of these three steps will lead to you earning the highest salary possible.

Medical Coding Outlook

Like most healthcare professions, the demand for medical coders is on the rise. The BLS projects an increase of medical coding and billing positions by as much as 21% through the year 2020. This is an increase of over 74,000 new jobs. It might not stop there though as the population continues to rely more on medical care we could see the growth of new medical coding jobs continue to inch higher beyond 2020.

For a comparison, we’ve created a graph that shows the projected growth (in percent) of billers and coders, medical technicians and all other occupations.

medical coding outlook

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