When you’re trying to get a job in today’s economy, you are up against a pretty momentous task in many cases. Whether you live in an urban environment or you’re out in the country, you can face the same uphill battle. Even though many small towns are emptying out as people move to the cities to find jobs, the few openings which are available in the cities usually are flooded with dozens of applications. One industry which is constantly in need of talented workers however and doesn’t have an overflow of workers is the medical industry. In particular, there are many openings for medical billing and coding specialists. Don’t know what medical billing and coding are all about? Read on to find out if this is a field you might be interested in getting into. The best part is that many of the positions available are entry level!
Getting Started with Entry Level Medical Billing and Coding Jobs
Medical billing and coding are both classified as health information technician jobs. Entry level medical billing and coding jobs allow you to dive right into working in the medical field with minimal education and experience. A lot of “entry level” jobs which you see advertised are looking for people with a little experience, but in the case of medical billing and coding, there really is no experience in a related field necessary. That isn’t to say you won’t need to get some education—but nothing more than a post-secondary certificate which states that you’re up to date on current medical billing and coding systems.
In order to qualify for an entry-level position in this field, you need to take a course which will teach you the alphanumeric codes that coders use, as well as other information relating to the administrative and clerical aspects of the field. You’ll need at least a basic knowledge of human anatomy as well. If you’re interested in expanding the opportunities which are available to you and maybe earning more money later, you can take additional courses to develop a specialty in a specific area of medicine. Or course, you may want to come back to that later after you’ve had some time to get your feet wet and see if this really is the job for you.
Medical coding and billing are technically two different positions, though they utilize similar knowledge. You probably will only need to take a couple of courses to qualify for either profession, and once you have that knowledge, you’ll find it easy to transition to the other role at a later time if you decide that you’d rather try billing instead of coding or vice versa. To get an entry-level position, you’ll need to pass a certification exam which demonstrates your knowledge is current and you’re ready to take on the responsibilities of your new position.
Where will you find entry level openings? Hospitals and clinics around the country have openings, as do insurance companies and occasionally government agencies. There are different advantages and drawbacks to each work environment, but there is work in rural and urban areas. You may also find opportunities to work online at the entry level. What’s excellent about that is that you will probably find work in your area, and if you want to relocate, you may be able to find an opportunity wherever you’re interested in going. If you work online, you can live wherever you want. So you’ll no longer necessarily be chasing jobs around the country. Instead, you may be able to go where you want and take your job with you.
Entry Level Medical Billing and Coding Jobs Salary Expectations
Since medical billers and coders are classified as health information technicians, it’s only possible to see information about their pay as an average of all health information technicians. According to statistics collected by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), health information technicians, including medical billers and coders, earned a median annual salary of $39,340 in 2010. This is notably higher than the total average for all occupations in the US, which was $33,840. The bottom 10 percent of technicians earned less than $21,240 while the top 10 percent earned more than $53,430.
This means that entry level medical billing and coding jobs aren’t going to pay you $50,000 and up, but you can expect to make around $20,000 to start with, and possibly higher. It shouldn’t take you that long to achieve the median pay, and depending on the choices you make as you shop for your next job, you may be able to make that figure higher. The longer you’re in your field and the more opportunities you take for advancement, the more money you ultimately may be able to make. Eventually you too might command a salary which surpasses $50,000 a year.
How can you earn more at the entry level than the minimum? Try to be selective about where you are going to work. You may find a higher rate of pay available in an urban area than a rural one. Doctors and nurses tend to make more in cities, which means that auxiliary staff members like coders and billers may also make more money. Another way you might be able to make more is by choosing your actual workplace carefully. You may make more money working at a big hospital than a small clinic. You may also earn more if you work in a specialized clinic instead of a general practice clinic. The more specialized your knowledge, the less competition there will be for job openings which you can apply for and which require that specialized knowledge. These jobs will typically pay more money.
As far as entry-level jobs go, there is less competition for medical billing and coding jobs than many others as well as a higher rate of pay. Perhaps most importantly, there is expanding opportunity. As the years go by, you should find more and more openings which may offer you better salaries and chances to take on greater responsibility.