Medical coding salary ranges can vary depending on the setting in which you work as well as your experience. The following article shows you secrets from a pro about how to make the best medical coding salary possible.
By Kim Felix, RHIA, CCS, AHIMA Certified ICD-10 Trainer
Director of Education, Coding/HIM Consulting/EMR Abstraction Division, Green Bay, WI
In this article I will discuss the three things that you should focus on most to make the most money in your coding career.
The Coding Program
Make sure the program that you choose is an AHIMA (American Health Information Management Association) approved one. This proves that you have been schooled through a comprehensive certificate program that meets the national model curriculum and has been evaluated for compliance for faculty qualifications and program standards.
This program would include coursework on ICD-9-CM coding, CPT coding, reimbursement methodologies, and of course ICD-10. This will enable you to get the best-paying job right out of school as compared to other potential candidates who did not go through an AHIMA-approved program.
Depending on the type of coding you plan on doing will determine what credential you should get. The most recognized and respected credentials are those that are through AHIMA. To start off, the Certified Coding Associate (CCA) credential is a great place to begin.
The CCA credential distinguishes coders by exhibiting a commitment to coding and demonstrating coding competencies in both hospitals and physician practices, therefore putting you ahead of the noncredentialed candidate.
Once you know the coding track you will pursue, you should then pursue the next level of credential which would be either the CCS (Certified Coding Specialist) or the CCS-P (Certified Coding Specialist-Physician-based).
The CCS credential demonstrates that the coding professional has high data quality and integrity skills, and mastery of coding proficiency. Those who have some experience (6 months or more) in coding inpatient and outpatient records should consider obtaining this certification. The CCS-P credential shows to employers that you have been performing coding in a doctor’s office, clinic, or similar setting and that you have a mastery-level proficiency in coding this type of record.
With these credentials, you will set yourself up for a higher salary than someone who is not credentialed. Or if you already have a coding job, a financial incentive is usually given once you attain one of these credentials.
To begin your career, getting your foot in the door of a facility or physician’s office is typically the easiest place to start. This also gives you the coding experience to put you on track to climb the ladder of coding success.
Once you have a few years of experience, you may have an option to become a ‘lead’ or ‘manager’ in your facility/physician’s office. This should increase your salary by having more responsibilities and also with the coding experience under your belt.
With another few years of supervisory experience, the next career move that would give you the highest increase in salary is moving on to “coding consultant.” With your past coding and supervisory experience, you are an optimal candidate to be a consultant and because of the high demand for coders these days, with glowing references, you can almost name your price.
The coding consultant job is often more challenging but gives you a wide range of coding experience, perhaps some travel and a high medical coding salary to go along with these responsibilities.
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