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How to Become a Medical Coder – Earn Over $40,000 a Year

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The United States has a unique medical system in which patients have to pay for much of their medical care. The one good thing about this system is that you don’t just have to pay medical bills – you can actually earn money by helping to create them too. One way to do this is by learning how to become a medical coder.

Medical coding is a great online job well suited for a lot of people. Medical coding is often thought to be the same as the job of medical billing, but it is not. These are actually two different jobs.

Sometimes, though, the two are combined into one job called medical billing and coding. Likewise, the training required to do these jobs is often combined and called medical billing and coding. So it definitely can be a bit confusing.

If you’re interested in medical billing, read what I wrote about how become a medical biller.

This post will tell you how to become a freelance medical coder.

How to Become a Medical Coder and Earn Over $40,000 a Year


How to become a medical coder

What is a medical coder?

Medical coders take information gleaned from medical records such as diagnoses, procedures, treatments and equipment, and use a coding system to translate that information into alphanumeric codes. These codes are then used to generate medical bills.

Medical coder salary

According to PayScale, the average annual salary in the United States for medical coders is $46,470. The average hourly rate for medical coders is $20.03.

Medical coding has a very good future. This job is in the Bureau of Labor Statistics category of Medical Records and Health Information Technicians with a job growth outlook from 2019-2029 of 8%, much faster than the average.

Who makes a good medical coder?

Medical coding is a great fit for many people who have the right personal characteristics and skills. A successful medical coder will:

  • have an understanding of medical terminology
  • have an understanding of anatomy
  • have technical skills
  • have good focus
  • be detail oriented
  • be conscientious
  • be accurate
  • be ethical
  • enjoy computer work

Freelance medical coder at a standing desk with desktop computer, keyboard and other times

Medical coder classes

You definitely need training if you want to be a medical coder. There are several medical coding courses online as well as at community and technical colleges across the United States.

Top Medical Coding Schools has a list of the top cheapest medical coding schools at community and technical colleges in the U.S. here.

Three online courses which teach medical coding are:


Absolute Medical Coding Institute (AMCI)

US Career Institute

There are also many online courses which teach medical billing and coding together. If you’re interested in studying the two topics together, do an internet search to find a course that will work best for you.

Medical coder certification

Medical coding certification is not mandatory to work as a medical coder, but certification will help you get the best and highest-paying medical coding jobs.

There are several different medical coding certifications, each offered by a different organization. The three most common medical coder certifications are:

Certified Professional Coder (CPC)

Certified Coding Specialist (CCS)

Certified Medical Coder (CMC)

Medical coder jobs from home

There are lots of medical coding jobs out there and many ways to find them.
Your medical coding training should give you guidance in finding a good medical coding job.

The AAPC healthcare training program website has a job search function you can use to search for medical coder jobs here.

Top Medical Coding Schools has a list of the top 10 places to find medical coding and billing jobs here.

You also can find medical coding jobs on all kinds of job search engines such as:

  • LinkedIn Jobs
  • Indeed
  • ZipRecruiter

Now that you know how to become a medical coder you can get started freelancing in this promising career.

Images by Ernesto Eslava  LinkedIn Sales Navigator and  MedicalPrudens

Sabina Lohr is a lifelong freelancer turned entrepreneur who created World of Freelancers to help others discover how to work for themselves online and live the freelance lifestyle. She’s always really enjoyed the freedom that freelancing brings, including several years on and off of working online while traveling and living abroad.

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