How to become a Certified Billing Coder

By | August 26, 2023
How to become a billing coder
You will need to take and pass a certification exam to improve your status as a billing coder.

How to become a Certified Billing Coder

Are you a billing coder or someone interested in becoming one someday? If you are, then this post is useful to you.

It shows what you need to know to become a billing coder, including the training and certification exam you need to pass to get to the top of your career.

Read on:

Who is a Billing Coder?

Billing coders learn different coding system software programs for clarification of patients.

They do not function alone, but work in hospitals under a doctor, or in a nursing home under a nurse.

Billing Coders must possess both technical and analytical skills in order to succeed.

Getting certified in billing coding provides better job and skill acquisition opportunities, especially when you have attended further training programs.

Educational Requirements and Career Pathway

Most employers accept job applicants with associate degree from an accredited school, irrespective of the fact that billing and coding requires no special education.

Also, a postsecondary certificate will pave a way in the coding profession. Engaging in coursework such as medical terminology, computer science, health data requirements, math, healthcare statistics, and reimbursement, chemistry and biology can be helpful.

Billing coders must comprehend real medical terminology, and possess the ability to quickly interpret information recorded in medical term.

Communication skills can be necessary in filling the gap in the coding and billing system.

You must be thoroughly observant working with figures and learning new techniques everyday.

As a billing coder, you must keep all information secret, not intending to make it known to a non-staff member.

How to Obtain Certification as a Billing Coder

The American Academy of Professional Coders (AAPC) has a 4-month online certification program for around $1,500 and a CPC Preparation Course for physician-based coding, while the American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA) is for facility-based coding.

AHIMA has both certification program and degree program, and its online Coding Basics Program is 15-month duration.

To complete an online certification program in billing and coding, you should think of putting in less than one year; but for a degree, an associate degree takes two years to complete, while a bachelor’s degree is four years.

The degree program has both classroom and online sessions, giving you an opportunity to choose the one that is convenient to you.

Medical coding and billing certificate programs for AAPC and AHIMA students are to be short-term, preparing them for the certification exam.

In these particular programs, they can graduate and sit for the certification exam and, upon passing, gain access into the workforce as quickly as possible.

Choosing to complete an independent certificate program which is not affiliated with the AAPC or AHIMA will make available for you the basics of medical billing and coding.

The duration for these courses can range from 3 months to 12 months.

The courses are online-based, giving you a chance to study at your own convenience. But you must ensure that any billing and coding program offered through College or University is under an accredited school.

Obtaining certification is necessary in billing and coding career as this will assist in securing better job opportunities and equipping participants with skills and techniques.

The CMRS Certification

The Certified Medical Reimbursement Specialist (CMRS) certification covers the fundamental knowledge in anatomy, physiology and sciences.

Insurance procedures, billing and coding procedures, medical terminology and computer database management can be some other necessary components of the certification.

It takes about a period of nine to twelve months to complete this certification program.

AAPC’s CPC and AHIMA’s CCD Certifications:

AAPC’s CPC and AHIMA’s CCS certifications are the two most recognized certification programs in the billing and coding industry.

The American Association of Professional Coders or AAPC was established in 1888, while the American Health Information Management or AHIMA came into existence in 1928.

The AAPC’s certification stands for Certified Professional Coder (CPC), while AHIMA’s credential is called Certified Coding Specialist-Physician (CSS or CCS-P).

Both AAPC and AHIMA exams can be prepared using approved study manuals, which require that you send in your application forms four to six weeks before the date of the exam.

There are major exam centers in the U.S., and a few in foreign nations. Just look for a center within your community.

Licensure for Billing Coders

It is not compulsory for billing coders to obtain license in the state where they function, but they can go for the Professional Medical Coding Instructor (PMCC) organized and run by the American Academy of Professional Coders (AAPC).

To obtain licensure, instructors must become a member of AAPC and possess at least 5 years experience as a professional coder.

Job Duties and Responsibilities for Billing Coders

Job tasks of billing coders are numerous and must be recognized for achieving effective results:

The job duties and responsibilities for billing coders include:

  • Reviewing patient medical records
  • Assigning codes to a patient’s diagnosis and requesting for payments from the patient’s insurance company
  • Using CPT, HCPCS, and ICD-10 codes effectively
  • Calculating charges of bills of sales, receipts, or other financial records
  • Getting bills ready and recording amount due for billing and coding procedures
  • Verification of charges for accuracy.

Employment Opportunities for Billing Coders

Billing coders may seek employment in a doctor’s office or hospital. They help the administration achieve good healthcare billing and coding results by working longer hours.

The American Academy of Professional Coders (AAPC) offers job seekers the opportunity of looking into the different job categories based on area of specialization and location.

The Average Income for Billing Coders

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported the average income for billing coders to be $34,410 per year.

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, the middle 50% of medical coding and billing pros earn between $29,130 and $48,510 per year.

A 40-hour work a week for billing coders yield $15 to $18 of wage per hour. According to PayScale, the managers in this professional career earn above $46K.


If you are a billing coder or are thinking of getting into the career someday, you should be ware that getting a certification in addition to your academy training will open better job opportunities and career advancement.

So, you need to put the necessary plans in place to take the certification exam, and the information in this post will guide you through the process of becoming a certified billing coder.

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