Higher education is an investment, and you should never make an investment unless you are confident that it is worth your time and money. Luckily, modern colleges and vocational schools provide their students with a wide range of choices, allowing them to choose the major that is most likely to help them succeed. A diploma in medical billing and coding will prepare you for a promising career, and by earning it online, you can keep all costs and inconveniences to a minimum.
Medical billing and coding is one of the fastest-growing career fields. The number of positions for coding specialists is projected to grow by 22% over the next decade. Medical billing and coding positions also have competitive salaries. The median coding specialist made $16 an hour in 2012, or $34,160 for the year. Thus if you’re seeking job security and a reliable income, becoming a medical billing and coding specialist is definitely worth it.
Although there are no formal training requirements for coding specialists, completing online medical billing and coding programs will make you much more likely to be hired. Formal training will make it easy for you to become licensed as a Certified Tumor Registrar (CTR) and as a Registered Health Information Technician (RHIT). These certifications will in turn make you a more competitive candidate. Given how great the variation in wages is in this industry– highly competitive coding specialists can make as much as $56,000 per year– undergoing training and certification is definitely worth your while.
Although medical billing and coding is a promising career in itself, many also see it as a stepping stone into higher-level medical fields, such as health services management. By training and working as a coding specialist, you’ll get a sense of how good you are at administrative and health services, as well as whether you will find the work enjoyable. You can then determine whether it is worth your while to return to school, get a bachelor’s degree in health services management, and advance even further in your career. You may also be able to transfer some of your credits from online medical billing and coding programs and thus get your bachelor’s degree more quickly.
Although there are many different ways to train as a coding specialist, and no one way is right for everyone, many find that online medical billing and coding programs provide the best training for their cost. The advantages of online programs include:
- More Flexible Schedules– If you have to work, take care of your children, or fulfill other time-consuming responsibilities, you can plan your online classes around these commitments.
- Personal Pacing– Everyone learns at a different pace. If you understand a concept better than the average student, online classes will allow you to quickly speed through that concept and move on to other material. Likewise, if you have trouble understanding something, you can take as long as you need to figure it out.
- Lower Cost– Online medical billing and coding programs often have lower tuition than in-classroom programs, and they also spare you from many indirect costs, such as transportation.
When deciding whether to study medical billing and coding, it’s important to go beyond costs and salaries and consider your own interests. A career as a coding specialist may be promising, but if you don’t enjoy that kind of work, don’t pursue it. For more on finding a job you will enjoy, contact the Southern Careers Institute.