One of the fastest healthcare careers to get into, and one of the most flexible, medical billing and coding is an extremely popular career choice. Fortunately, many colleges and universities offer medical billing and coding programs entirely online!
To help you decide which program is right for you, this guide will explain what medical billing & coding school is like, the courses you’ll take, and how to pick the right program for you. We’ll also include a list of the medical coding and billing schools with the highest graduation rates, so you can find programs that will give you a good chance of success!
Medical billers and coding professionals are involved in the process of reviewing patient information from medical records and using that information to draft bills and insurance claims.
To secure a medical billing and coding position, you’ll need to complete a certificate, diploma or associate’s degree. These programs take as little as 4 months or as long as 2 years to complete and prepare students to take and pass the National Healthcareer Association (NHA) Certified Billing & Coding Specialist (CBCS) certification.
A career in medical billing and coding requires just a certificate, but medical billing and coders enjoy good wages and job growth.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), medical records and health information technicians, including medical billers and coders, earn a median wage of $47,180 or $22.69/hr.
The BLS also projects an 8% job growth rate for this field from 2022-2032, which is faster than the average growth for all other careers.
Medical billing and coding students, particularly those who study online, may wonder about the quality of their program. Because students complete certificates, diplomas, and associate degrees to become medical billers and coders, determining the quality of any individual program may seem difficult.
To ensure the quality of a degree or program, check for accreditation. Accreditation means that a school and/or program meets standards set by an accrediting body or organization. Colleges and universities secure national or regional accreditation. However, prospective medical billing and coding students should only apply to regionally accredited schools.
Some medical billing and coding programs also receive programmatic accreditation. While not as important as regional accreditation, programmatic accreditation means that the program meets industry standards for education. Look for accreditation from the American Academy of Professional Coders (AAPC) or The American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA).
Students can earn a certificate, diploma, or associate degree in medical billing and coding online, and each option leads to careers in health information. However, depending on your long-term career goals, choosing an associate degree over a diploma or certificate may give you more career options.
Medical Billing and Coding Coursework
Online medical billing and coding programs teach students to work as an intermediary between patients and healthcare providers. This requires students to learn medical terminology and procedures, master associated computer programs, and the various administrative tasks associated with professional positions.
Ultimately, a medical billing and coding training program should prepare students for entry-level work and professional credentialing, such as the Certified Professional Coder certification.
While requirements vary based on the school and program type, potential courses include:
Introduction to Healthcare
Advanced medical office procedures
Legal and ethical aspects of health information
From certificate to associate degree, students have several medical billing and coding training options. While all options lead to an entry-level career in health information, the program you complete could impact your future career.
- A certificate in medical billing and coding takes one year or less to complete. This option also comes with the fewest course requirements.
- A diploma in medical billing and coding takes longer to complete, sometimes up to two years. Some diplomas allow you to roll over credits completed in a certificate program.
- An associate degree or associate of applied science in medical billing and coding takes at least two years to complete. This option is best for anyone planning on completing a bachelor’s degree and advancing their career at some point in the future.
Colleges and universities also use various names for their programs, from medical coding to medical administrative assistants. If you’re unsure whether the program leads to careers in medical billing and coding, just look for program outcomes on the diploma, certificate, or degree page.
Even with in-state tuition or discounted online tuition rates, students may wonder how to pay for their medical billing and coding program. The good news is that many students cover some or all of their expected tuition rates through financial aid like grants and scholarships.
A state leader in preparing students for future careers, Minnesota State Community and Technical College boasts a 77% job placement rate for recent graduates. Nearly half of the school’s students transfer out into a four-year school, though most end up graduating from Minnesota State. M State’s medical coding and insurance diploma requires 50 credits to complete and qualifies students for the Certified Professional Coder and Certified Professional Biller exams. Also, all online students can access in-state tuition, making this an affordable option.
Keiser University prides itself on educating work-ready graduates and focuses on programs that lead to high-employment careers. The medical administrative billing and coding associate degree prepares students for various careers within medical billing and coding and leads to licensure in any state. Despite being offered entirely online, the program gives students hands-on experience through online resources.
Another school located in Minnesota, Bemidji-based Northwest Technical College uses a streamlined admissions process to get students into courses faster. The college’s certificate in medical coding prepares students to either transfer into an associate degree or enter the job market with an entry-level health information position. The certificate requires just 30 credits to complete, so students can begin their careers in just one year of study.
Northland Community College, a Minnesota-based school with campuses across the state and online, prepares students for high-growth career opportunities. The community college’s online medical coding specialist associate degree requires 60 credits, all of which are available online. Upon graduating, students are eligible to take several national coding certification exams. The degree also allows room for elective courses, letting students explore other fields they’re interested in.
Established as a junior college in 1922, Cowley College primarily prepares students to transfer out and into a four-year school. However, Cowley’s programs, including the associate of applied science in medical coding, also lead to career opportunities. This 65-credit degree takes most students five semesters to complete and prepares graduates for various medical coding certifications. Aside from the in-state tuition rate, Cowley College charges an even lower rate for county residents, then tiers tuition to offer reduced fees to Oklahoma residents.
Southwest Wisconsin Technical College does an excellent job preparing students for future careers, as 95% of graduates are employed within a year. This is ideal for anyone who wants to start a medical coding career immediately after finishing the medical coding specialist technical diploma, though many graduates do choose to transfer to a bachelor’s degree. The diploma requires 33-34 credits, and SWTC estimates a $5,000 total tuition cost for online students regardless of where they live.
While many of Hazard Community & Technical College’s students choose to transfer to a four-year university, many choose a degree, diploma, or certificate that leads to an entry-level position. HCTC offers plenty of medical information technology tracks, including a degree in medical coding, a diploma in medical records, and a certificate in medical coding. This flexibility makes HCTC a good option for those with specific long-term career goals.
Located in Cheyenne, Wyoming, Laramie County Community College enrolls nearly 6,000 students, many of whom study online. LCCC’s online health information technology and management program offers several educational pathways. Students may earn a:
Medical Office Essentials diploma
Medical Claims Coding Associate certificate, or
Associate of Applied Science degree
Students can earn initial certification in one semester and then seek employment. Or they can continue on to earn the medical claims coding associate certificate, which takes about three semesters. The full associate’s degree takes two years. Every program is offered online or in person.
With two campuses located by the Mississippi River, Minnesota State College Southeast has plenty to offer on-campus students. However, the college has expanded online and now offers more than 30 different degrees entirely online. Southeast MN’s medical administrative assistant AAS takes two years and 60 credits to complete. The degree emphasizes technical and communication courses. All students pay the same expected tuition rate regardless of where they live.
Founded in 1906, Dakota College at Bottineau is nearly as old as the state of North Dakota. Located just south of the Canadian border, DCB offers the same tuition to U.S. and Canadian students as long as they study online. Students choose between a certificate in medical coding or a medical administrative assistant and coding AAS. The AAS program takes two years to complete, and graduates are eligible to sit for the Certified Medical Office Assistant exam. The medical coding certificate program only takes one year to complete.
We looked at accredited online medical billing and coding programs and ranked them based on student success, including graduation and transfer-out rates. Because many schools offer a range of medical billing and coding program options, our comprehensive ranking methodology utilizes the school’s overall graduate and transfer rates.
Want to learn more about how to build your career as a medical biller and coder? Check out our top 5 resources to get started today: