The medical industry is booming and with the graying of America, demand for support staff and office workers will only increase. In fact, economists expect the medical coding field to grow by more than 13 percent by 2026.
That makes it one of the fastest-growing careers out there.
But becoming a certified professional coder is not as applying for the first job you find. You’ll need to put in a little legwork before you can get to work.
Here’s what you need to know to do to get started in the medical coding field.
Understand the Job Itself
Medical coding is not for everyone. You need to have the right skills and passions in place to be successful in the field.
Medical coding requires incredible attention to detail, great customer service, and interpersonal communication skills. You may interact with doctors, patients, and insurance representatives throughout the day.
You also need to be comfortable working on a computer and have a decent typing speed. The job requires a lot of data entry. But you don’t need to be familiar with medical terminology.
It’s far more important that you have a passion for helping people with their insurance claims.
Get Your Prerequisites in Order
Most certified medical coders must have at least a high school diploma or GED before they can get started in the field. But some employers require a college degree, as well.
Regardless, you’ll need to get your prerequisites together before starting any type of training. Grab a copy of your high school diploma or GED. If you don’t have one at home, call the school or program and request a duplicate.
If you graduated from college, make sure you have a copy of your final transcripts. The registrar’s office can send you an official transcript in the mail.
These documents are necessary to enroll in training and certification courses.
Enroll in a Training Course
Becoming a certified professional coder requires industry knowledge and training. It’s not the type of job you can start without experience.
And the best way to get that experience is to enroll in a training course.
If possible, try to enroll in an in-person program at a local university or community college. These programs give you access to tutoring and office hours with your teachers and let you work with your peers to make sure you understand the training materials.
If in-person classes aren’t available or your work schedule can’t accommodate classes, online programs are an option. Use your discretion and only enroll in a reputable training program through an accredited university.
Get Your Certification
Once you complete the training course, you’re ready to enter the workforce. But if you do, you’re limited in the types of positions you can get.
Instead of rushing out to get a job, you’ll want to get certified. The certification helps you stand out from the competition and shows that you’re serious about the job.
The eligibility requirements depend on the type of certification you pursue. Most look at your education background to decide if you’re ready for the certificate.
Once issued, you’re ready to apply for jobs as a certified professional coder. And after a few years in the industry, you can pursue other certificates to show your knowledge and expertise in different medical fields.
Prepare Your Resume
Once you’re through your training programs and have the certificate in place, it’s time to start getting your resume in shape.
Include your relevant work history. This can be everything from the most recent customer service job you held to internships in the medical coding field. Any job that used similar skills (data entry, customer service, math, etc.) counts as relevant work experience.
Highlight your educational background and include the name of the program you graduated from. Do the same for any certifications you hold.
If you’re struggling to create a resume, don’t panic. Reach out to your school for help. Most programs have career development professionals and counselors on hand to help you prepare for the job search.
Interview for a Certified Professional Coder Position
For most applicants, nothing is more daunting than the interview itself. You only have a few minutes to prove to the hiring manager that you’re the best candidate for the job. But you can ace your interview as long as you prepare.
Before the interview, look at your resume and familiarize yourself with what you wrote. The interviewer will ask you about your job history, so make sure you’re ready to explain it.
During the interview, do your best to remain calm. Remember, you’re interviewing the practice, too. It’s your chance to see if you think they’d be nice to work with.
Don’t get caught up on selling your resume or experience to your interviewer. Instead, approach it as a conversation. Ask questions if you have them and answer questions asked of you honestly.
It’s tempting to exaggerate your experience. But doing so can get you in trouble if you do get the job.
If all goes well, you’ll be able to start your career as a certified medical coder.
Becoming a certified professional coder is a great way to enter the medical field. But it’s not for everyone.
Before you commit to a training program, make sure it’s something you’ll enjoy doing. You can expect to sit at a desk for hours at a time and may spend a good amount of time on the phone.
If you’re looking for a more active career or one that interacts with patients each day, you may need to consider a different field.
But if you’re looking for a stable job with lots of growth potential and enjoy helping others, becoming a coding specialist is a great option.
No matter what career you’re interested in, we’re here to help. Check out our latest posts for helpful tips on navigating your job search.