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Medical Coding Certification Training Courses & Schools Online

The U.S. healthcare system depends on accurate information being communicated between patients, healthcare providers, clinics, hospitals, and insurance companies. To ensure that medical bills represent the precise care that patients actually receive, the healthcare system relies upon medical coding specialists to interpret diagnostic information and procedures provided by medical personnel. Coding specialists then convert this data into universally-recognized codes using the ICD-9 & ICD-10 CPT systems, so that medical billing specialists can provide information to insurance companies for payment.

Medical coding requires the skills to interpret and translate written descriptions of diseases, injuries, conditions, and medical procedures into established classifications set up by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the American Medical Association (AMA).

The codes used by medical coding specialists are standardized across healthcare services to provide information for the reimbursement of insurance claims, to collect statistics for research, and to track patient care. To develop a mastery of coding, medical coding students will learn about:

  • medical terminology.

  • pathology.

  • anatomy and physiology (the study of living systems).

  • basic pharmacology (the study of the therapeutic use of medicine).

  • the ICD-9 & ICD-10 coding systems devised by the WHO.

  • the CPT coding system developed by the AMA.

  • spreadsheets, database management, and specialized coding software.

  • finance and medical billing procedures.

The Differences Between Medical Billing and Medical Coding

The tasks assigned to medical billers and medical coders in hospitals, clinics, and healthcare organizations are closely related. These tasks may be performed by a single person with extensive knowledge of both fields, or there may be different people handling the various stages of documentation, research, and billing.

While medical billing specialists focus on collecting payments from patients and insurance companies, medical coding specialists translate medical, diagnostic, and injury-related information from medical professionals into appropriate codes. They use the ICD-9 and ICD-10 systems and CPT codes that refer to all medical procedures and diagnostics to complete claims with accurate information.

Become a CPC by Taking the AAPC Examination

In order to become a medical coding specialist, you need to pass the American Academy of Professional Coders (AAPC) exam to become a Certified Professional Coder (CPC). The AAPC offers the following certifications in coding:

  • Certified Professional Coder (CPC)

  • Certified Professional Coder – Outpatient Hospital (CPC-H)

  • Certified Professional Coder – Payer (CPC-P)

You can compare the different types of medical coding certifications on the AAPC site.

Prepare For the CPC Exam

The CPC exam includes questions on:

  • the CPT system, including an understanding of different medical procedures and treatments in detail.

  • the ICD-9 system.

  • the Healthcare Common Procedure Coding System (HCPCS) Level II.

  • the processes involved in anesthesia and radiology.

  • lab work and pathology that requires knowledge of chemistry, disease panels, and other forms of medical testing.

  • medicine, medical terminology, and anatomy.

  • coding procedures and guidelines.

  • coding regulations and compliance.

The AAPC has even more information on the topics tested on the certification exam.

FAQ About Medical Coding

Q: Do I need a degree to become a medical coding specialist?

A: A degree is not required when pursuing certification as a medical coding specialist. However, an associates or bachelor’s degree in science or medical technology can assist with the examination preparations. College degrees in these areas will likely open up additional career opportunities in the field.

Q: How important is certification?

A: Most jobs in medical coding require one of the certifications offered by the AAPC.

Q: How can I advance in my career?

A: With experience in medical coding, you can look for opportunities in health care management and administration. You might also consider a degree in science, business, or health care administration.

Q: Do I need to be certified for both medical billing and coding?

A: Though not necessary for a career in the medical coding field, certification in both fields will open up more potential job opportunities

Q: Does CPB certification allow me to start my own business?

A: Yes, once you have your certification you can either work for a healthcare provider directly or open your own practice and contract with hospitals or individual providers.

Free Guide to Medical Coding

Table of Contents
Ch. 01

Course 1: The Medical Claims Process

This course focuses on describing the medical claims process. It also includes an introduction of Current Procedural Terminology (CPT), the Healthcare Common Procedure Coding System (HCPCS), managed care plans, and public insurance.

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Ch. 02

Course 2: The Medical Billing Process

This course focuses on describing the medical billing process and the duties of a medical insurance specialist. This course also provides an overview of patient management starting with scheduling an appointment to collecting payments for the healthcare services.

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Ch. 08

Course 8: Medical Billing Errors

This course focuses on describing all the medical billing errors along with the ways to catch and correct these errors early. This course also highlights the differences between a denied and a rejected claim.

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Top Medical Coding Awards

Aims Community College

Greeley, CO More Info

Aims Community College offers the Medical Transcription and Coding Certificate. The comprehensive 32 credit hour program includes courses beyond the basics, offering study in medical law and ethics, office administration, business writing, and financial management. It covers merely three semesters, but for those in a rush, there is the two semester certificate program.

Allan Hancock College

Santa Maria, CA More Info

Allan Hancock College has an exclusionary policy regarding their Medical Assisting program. Prospective students interested in medical coding should consider the Medical Billing Certification option under the Medical Assisting program. This nights-only program is only available by application, but it covers the details of billing and coding in the medical field. Certification exams are offered through the National Health Career Association, ensuring standards compliance so graduates are prepared for employment anywhere in the country.

Allegany College of Maryland

Cumberland, MD More Info

Allegany College of Maryland has a certificate program in "Office Technologies - Medical Coding"". Strictly career preparatory

Asheville-Buncombe Technical Community College

Asheville, NC More Info

Asheville-Buncombe Technical Community College has an introductory Medical Coding Certificate that can help students with experience and lead to further study; national certification is entirely possible with some additional training. The 18 credit hour curriculum completes in three semesters, including courses on anatomy and physiology, medical terms, and coding for procedures and diagnoses.

Belmont College

St. Clairsville, OH More Info

Belmont Technical College offers a Medical Coding Certificate that can be completed in less than a year, on-campus or online. The curriculum contains 34 credit hours in total; it covers Health Insurance Privacy and Accountability Act knowledge, coding with the popular standards of ICD-9-CM, CPT-4, and ICD-10. In 2010, 75% of Medical Coding graduates in Saint Clairsville, Ohio were at Belmont Technical College. Of the 2012 year's Medical Coding graduates, 27% gained employment in related fields.

Blackhawk Technical College

Janesville, WI More Info

Blackhawk Technical College has the Medical Coding Specialist Program at the Monroe Campus for students with current or prior experience in the medical fields. As such, the curriculum skips the introductory computer lessons and fills the two semesters by focusing more on recognizing and processing the medical codes that will be used in this field. At $4700 for tuition and materials, this program is a great deal for those who qualify. Moreover, 40% of the graduates report finding jobs in related fields.

Blinn College

Brenham, TX More Info

Blinn College has a Medical Billing and Coding Specialist Certificate program through the Information Management department. The curriculum is designed for students seeking to enter the workforce immediately. For those interested in further study, however, the coursework may also be eligible for transfer to degree programs.

Blue Ridge Community College

Weyers Cave, VA More Info

Blue Ridge Community College offers several options relating to medical coding. Mainly, a Career Studies Certificate in Medical Coding for Hospitals introduces both ICD-9 and ICD-10 and requires a coordinated internship; the certificate program prepares students to take the Certified Coding Associate exam or Certified Coding Specialist exam. The Continuing Education department contains online programs for ICD-10 preparation alone, in addition to a completely online Medical Billing and Coding Specialist Certificate program that can be completed in just 14 weeks.

Coahoma Community College

Clarksdale, MS More Info

Coahoma Community College offers an Associate of Applied Science in Medical Billing and Coding Technology. The comprehensive degree program takes two years to complete; basic academics and the career technology core round out the 74 credit hours comprising the program. However, quality study options focus on accounting, behavioral sciences, and databases.

Collin County Community College District

McKinney, TX More Info

Collin County Community College District offers a certificate program online for medical coding. The "Health Information Management / Medical Coding and Billing Program"" is a 40 credit hour concentration based on the American Health Information Management Association's standards. Coursework branches out

Columbus Technical College

Columbus, GA More Info

Columbus Technical College offers a 24 credit hour Medical Coding program that will result in a certificate. It can be completed in three semesters and is available through the School of Health Sciences.åÊ

Massachusetts Bay Community College

Wellesley Hills, MA More Info

Massachusetts Bay Community College has a Medical Coding certificate program through the Health Sciences division. The one-year program covers 27 credit hours. The program is especially good because most of the instructors are professionals in the fields of study.

North Central Michigan College

Petoskey, MI More Info

North Central Michigan College offers a program concentrating in medical billing and coding. The Certificate of Development in Medical Billing and Coding is available through the Department of Nursing and Allied Health.

North Georgia Technical College

Clarkesville, GA More Info

North Georgia Technical College offers a Technical Certificate in Medical Coding. This non-degree program has a 68% on-time rate of graduation. Like most programs at this college, the medical coding program is eligible for PELL financial assistance.

Northern Maine Community College

Presque Isle, ME More Info

Northern Maine Community College has a 35 credit hour Medical Coding Certificate program. The program ranks highly, with an 80% rate of on-time completion for full-time students. The certificate can be attained in one year. Graduates are eligible to sit for the Certified Professional Coders certification exam which confers national competence and increases chances for gainful employment.

Nunez Community College

Chalmette, LA More Info

Nunez Community College offers a program for a Certificate of Applied Science in Medical Coding and Billing. The certificate program is part of the Business and Technology track that awards a degree as Associate of Applied Science. Simply compare the certificate program's 39 credit hours and the degree program's 60 credit hours; students can easily gain certificates that lead to immediate gainful employment and fully apply toward further education.

Odessa College

Odessa, TX More Info

Odessa College offers a comprehensive certificate program in Medical Office Skills. The curriculum covers medical coding, as well as medical billing, medical terminology, CPR training, and office procedures particular to healthcare. Courses ensure knowledge and compliance with the Health Insurance Privacy and Accountability Act. In total, completion of the program requires 128 hours.

Ouachita Technical College

Malvern, AR More Info

Ouachita Technical College offers a Technical Certificate in Medical Coding that comprises 31 credit hours. The certificate is part of the Associate of Applied Science in Medical Office Administration program. Both the degree and certificate programs are intended for students seeking immediate gainful employment. The provision of related degree and certificate programs allow students to enter the workforce sooner without compromising their education goals. All of the certificate programs count as full credit towards the Associate degree programs. Certificate program graduates are prepared to take the Certified Coding Associate exam through the American Health Information Management Association.

Owensboro Community and Technical College

Owensboro, KY More Info

Owensboro Community and Technical College has a Medical Information Technology Associate in Applied Science program with an optional Medical Coding Certificate. As part of a larger degree program, medical coding students can take advantage of this particular placement; credits are easily counted toward medical office administration and management, electronic records-keeping, and medical transcription.

Salem Community College

Carneys Point, NJ More Info

Salem Community College has a certificate program in Medical Coding intended for students seeking immediate employment in the field. The local area offers many opportunities for related work and reports higher mean salaries for health information technicians than in other states. The college has small class sizes of less than 50 participants, and the program can be completed in one year divided into two semesters.

Medical Coding Schools Directory

School Type

School Size

School Setting

Degrees Offered

School Name Location Type Setting
Academy College Minneapolis, MN Hybrid Suburb
Academy of Careers and Technology Beckley, WV Campus Town
Academy of Court Reporting and Technology - Pittsburgh Pittsburgh, PA Campus City
Academy of Court Reporting and Technology - Cleveland Cleveland, OH Campus City
Academy of Health Care Professions - Austin Austin, TX Campus City
Academy of Health Care Professions - Southwest Houston, TX Campus City
Academy of Health Care Professions - Northwest Houston, TX Campus City

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