The median average medical billing and coding salary is $46,660 per year or $22.43 per hour according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), but many things impact how much you can earn. Medical billers and coders in New Jersey, for example, earn $67,130 per year, much higher than average. And according to the AAPC, certified coders earn 27% more than non-certified coders. In this guide, we’ll dig into medical billing and medical coding salary factors including how much you can make in each state, the highest paying cities, and how salary changes for medical coders and billers depending on where you work.
Medical Coding is the process of taking medical terminology and information and translating it into a language that is universally understood by medical professionals and insurance companies alike.
The language is an established alphanumeric code. Medical coders apply it to diagnoses, procedures, medical equipment, and medical services. It’s important because:
- Streamlines the billing process
- Creates a universal language for medical professionals and facilities
- Helps researchers track health trends and use data to analyze treatments
Medical billing is the process of collecting payment for healthcare services. It includes compiling coded information into an invoice, sending it to insurance providers or payers, and collecting payment.
Medical billing and medical coding are both parts of the healthcare industry’s system of collecting revenue for health services. However, the responsibilities of medical billers and medical coders are quite different.
- Medical coders review medical data and assign the appropriate standardized code needed for billing.
- Medical billers take that information, compile it, and prepare claims for insurance companies and bills for patients. This role often requires following up with medical providers, insurers, and patients for clarification.
Salaries for medical coders and medical billing specialists vary based upon a number of factors. These factors include specialization, certification, location, type of workplace, and experience.
With those variations taken into account, the Bureau of Labor and Statistics (BLS) found that the average median salary in 2021 for medical records and health information specialists was $46,660 per year, or $22.43 per hour.
Certification Increases Your Salary Potential
According to the AAPC, non-certified coders make an average salary of $47,200 per year while certified coders earn 27% more — an average of $60,097 per year. Adding a second certification increases that average salary to $64,712. The AAPC found that, on average, medical coders (certified and non-certified) make $54,797 annually.
Most health information technicians also receive benefits packages that may include insurance, paid time off, sick leave, tuition reimbursement, and more.
Each of the United States has its own economy, cost of living, and average salary. Location is one of the greatest variables in determining medical billing and coding salaries.
The chart below shows the average salary of medical billers and coders in each state per the AAPC.
Medical Billing & Coding Salaries by State
According to the BLS, the states where medical billers and coders can earn the most money are:
- New Jersey – $67,130 per year, $32.28 per hour
- District of Columbia – $63,270 per year, $30.42 per hour
- Massachusetts – $58,950 per year, $28.34 per hour
- California – $57,950 per year, $27.86 per hour
- Connecticut – $57,480 per year, $27.64 per hour
In addition to state salaries, it’s also important to consider how salaries vary by city. The five metropolitan areas with the highest annual mean salaries for medical coding and billing, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics are listed below.
- San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, CA – $66,980 per year, $32.20 per hour
- San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, CA – $66,900 per year, $32.16 per hour
- Stockton-Lodi, CA – $65,990 per year, $31.72 per hour
- Trenton, NJ – $64,930 per year, $31.22 per hour
- Sacramento–Roseville–Arden-Arcade, CA – $62,730 per year, $30.16 per hour
Compensation for medical billers and coders is also determined by the type of care facilities they work in. For example, employment at large group practices often comes with greater reimbursement than positions in small physician’s offices.
While large health systems are likely to pay higher salaries and offer more generous benefits packages, salary is also affected by whether a health information specialist chooses to work within their employer’s physical location or prefers to telecommute. The latter is becoming increasingly popular as telehealth technology improves.
Below are the AAPC’s latest salary survey results, detailing the average annual salary for common medical billing and coding workplace.
- Health System – $57,862
- Hospital Inpatient – $53,614
- Hospital Inpatient and Outpatient – $55,437
- Hospital Outpatient – $50,541
- Large Group Practice (50+ physicians) – $54,967
- Medium Group Practice (11-49 physicians) – $49,987
- Solo Practice/Small Group Practice (1-10 physicians) – $48,641
Changing location and facility are not the only ways to increase salary as a medical coder or biller. These healthcare professionals can also receive higher pay by:
- Gaining Experience
- Furthering Your Education
- Certifications and Credentials
One of the many advantages of this field is that it’s quick to enter. Medical coders and billers can gain experience while pursuing further education and certifications in specialty areas.
Further Your Education
Having a college education – whether an associate degree or some college-level classes – will add approximately 5% to your annual salary. A bachelor’s degree or master’s degree will add significantly more.
Add Certifications and Credentials
Pursuing advanced credentialing is even more important than higher education. Professionals who pursue this level of validation of their knowledge provide their employers with confidence in their expertise and proficiency.
The AAPC reports that the average coder salary boost from increased credentials is 3.1%. However, coding specialists who have earned the Certified Inpatient Coder (CIC) credential reportedly earn over 11% salary increases.
In order to start a career in medical billing and coding, these are the basic steps you’ll need to take:
- Earn a high school diploma or equivalent
- Gain experience
- Pursue continuing education
- Pursue certifications
Getting a Degree
Those interested in a career as a medical coder or medical biller can get started in the profession within a year. In-person and online programs are available on an ongoing basis and can often be completed full-time or part-time. This allows the flexibility to continue working while taking courses.
To become a medical coding career, all that’s required is a high school diploma or equivalent degree. Entry-level medical coder training is available through community colleges and standalone certification programs.
There are significant benefits to earning certifications, including expanded career opportunities and higher salaries. After a few years of experience and exploring specialties within coding, it’s a good idea to pursue additional coding certification, such as taking the Certified Professional Coder (CPC) exam, to become even more valuable and pave the way for advanced coding jobs.
After completing course work and earning certifications, the next step is to prepare a resume. Identify your strengths, experience, and education and apply to positions that suit your goals.
For more information on getting into medical billing and coding, check out our other helpful articles and guides!