How much does a Medical Coding make in the United States?
There hasn’t been a better time in recent memory to make a good medical coding salary.
First, the industry’s begging for more coders to make sure everything runs as it should. There’s no denying that Baby Boomers are an aging population. Healthcare will have their hands full with that generation for many more years to come.
Second, you can sprint up the corporate ladder as a coder by pursuing certifications. Getting only one accreditation makes a huge difference in the eyes of employers. Other coders realize this and established helpful study groups across the internet.
Third, you can work anywhere and make more money than you would if you came into the office every day. Working in a personal office has never been a more attractive option.
Finally, if you decide to be a full-time remote coder you can work for any organization. If money’s important to you, choose to work for one of the higher-paying places.
If you’re resourceful, pursue working for a healthcare company in Hawaii. As a coder, you don’t have to live there. You could be clear across the world on the US mainland and still get your work done. That way you won’t have to worry about a high cost of living, especially if you’re in a different state.
Medical billers and coders are critical to how medical settings function: Without their work of translating patient care into codes and then submitting those codes to payers, doctors and nurses wouldn’t receive reimbursements. If you’re interested in joining the field, you’ll want to know how much you can earn as a medical biller and coder.
These jobs fall under the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ category of medical records and health information specialists. The median pay for this field is $44,090 annually, according to the BLS.
Income varies, of course, and many factors can impact your salary. You’ll also find that the job outlook for this field is strong as demand for billers and coders is increasing as healthcare organizations grow to keep up with patient needs, says the BLS.
It helps to remember that medical billing and coding are distinct functions, though workers in these fields share similar skills, and they are reimbursed differently. In general, medical coders typically earn more than billers. Some positions entail one person working as both biller and coder, though that is less common and tends to occur in small markets or small medical settings.
What Factors Can Affect My Salary?
While the median salary for medical records and health information specialists—a category that includes medical billers and coders—is just over $44,000 a year, pay may vary from job to job. This range depends on many factors: where you work and live, how much experience you have, what certifications you have earned, your level of education, and the healthcare setting in which you work.
Where You Live
You know that real estate adage, “Location is everything”? When it comes to salaries for medical billers and coders, where you live and work isn’t everything, but it does have an impact.
When you break it down, the variance in pay according to location is due to a handful of reasons. First, the cost of living depends on where you live. Population—and therefore the concentration of people who need medical care—can also impact how much healthcare organizations are able to pay.
The West Coast (including Hawaii and Alaska) offers the highest median salaries for medical records and health information specialists according to BLS data, which includes billers and coders. The region that includes Alabama, Kentucky, Missouri, and Tennessee has the lowest median salaries for these positions. Take a look at salaries listed in highest paying state order.
Highest Paying Metropolitan Areas for Medical Billers and Coders
In general, jobs in cities pay better than jobs in rural areas. Among metropolitan areas, salaries vary.
Wondering which cities pay the best? You might be surprised. Check out this salary data.
|Metropolitan Area||Median Salary|
|Trenton, New Jersey||$70,430|
Where You Work
Even though the responsibilities and day-to-day work is similar for billers and coders no matter where they work, the type of work setting influences how much you are paid. After all, as a biller or coder, you may be qualified to work in all sorts of healthcare facilities. (Remember, you’ll need to tailor your education depending on where you want to work, since coding systems vary among healthcare settings.)
Health systems and hospitals tend to pay billers and coders the most. Medical and diagnostic laboratories salaries are around the middle of the pack. Median salaries are lowest in physician’s offices and outpatient care centers.
Health systems and hospitals tend to pay billers and coders the most.
Keep in mind that some medical billers and coders work from home. These positions can either be remote jobs for employers such as a hospital or clinic, working for an independent company that serves healthcare facilities, or as an independent contractor who works directly with healthcare organizations. Pay in these work-from-home environments may not directly match overall trends.
Before you make the leap to working from home, investigate how much others make doing the same thing in your area.
Earning certifications and credentials influence your pay in several ways. First of all, they provide evidence of your skills, potentially making you more competitive for jobs—including high-paying positions. “If you have coding credentials, that looks good on your resume,” explains Robyn Korn, MBA, RHIA, CPHQ, an adjunct instructor of medical coding at Purdue University Global. “They show you have a knowledge base employers are looking for, making them more likely to consider you.”
Secondly, certifications and credentials can move you up the pay scale, no matter the salary you started at.
Some credentials are very specific and demonstrate your ability to fill niche positions. For example, certifications in ophthalmology or gastroenterology are incredibly specialized, and not many coders earn these credentials. That usually translates into higher pay for positions that require this niche training and education.
Your Pay Structure
When you’re hired as a medical biller, medical coder, or both jobs, you may be paid as an hourly (non-exempt) employee or salaried (exempt) employee. When you work hourly, you will need to clock in and out to accurately log your hours.
Overall, coders and billers who work more than 40 hours a week are paid more—no surprise there. Some of this increase comes from hourly workers who earn overtime, which is often 1.5 times the hourly rate.
Employers prefer to avoid paying overtime, though, so this scenario is more likely to play out when an organization is struggling to hire enough billers and coders to fulfill needs.
Some billers and coders with salaried positions work more than 40 hours. Workplaces that have the expectation that salaried employees will put in more than 40 hours a week may compensate accordingly by offering a higher salary.
Independent billers and coders, and those who work for outsourcing companies that serve healthcare organizations, may be paid differently. Other common pay structures include per-case or per-claim or a set percentage of the amount you claim.
How Can I Earn More?
You can’t control some things that impact your pay: For example, you can’t fast forward in time so you suddenly have more experience. That said, billers and coders can take steps within their power to earn more.
Most important is to be thoughtful and strategic about which steps you take—and in what direction.
Not long ago, several people on Korn’s staff wanted to advance their careers, so they started a coding program. The problem: The program didn’t focus on the type of skills needed to grow their career in the way they wanted. “A program or certification only takes you where you want to go if it aligns with your goals,” Korn explains.
- Medical coders who have a basic credential, such as a Certified Professional Coder (CPC), generally earn more than those who have finished a training program but haven’t sat for a certification exam. You can also “stack” certifications, adding more throughout your career to potentially increase your pay.
- “When you network with other professionals in the field, you open yourself up to advance your career,” Korn says.
Job Growth and Outlook
The career outlook for medical billing and coding is promising: Employment in this field is projected to grow at 8% through 2029, much better than the overall average of 4%.
The BLS also says an aging population is partly driving the demand for medical billers and coders. As patients age and live with more chronic illnesses, health care organizations likewise need to grow to accommodate these changes. Facilities will need medical coders and billers to ensure they are properly reimbursed for this uptick in care.
Korn notes a trend of increasing use of electronic coding systems and auditing software. These tools are unlikely to fully replace professionals, though. An experienced biller and coder will likely be needed to manage the huge stream of electronic information, ensure the correct codes are used, and ensure an efficient flow of revenue.
The American Academy of Professional Coders (AAPC) offers ongoing education and workshops, professional networking, and certifications. “The AAPC focuses more on coding in physicians’ offices and clinics,” Korn says, so this is a particularly important resource if you’re interested in those settings.
The American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA) provides certifications, education, conferences, and advocacy. “If you’re not sure what setting appeals to you, you can rely on AHIMA because it gives you exposure to both physicians’ offices in addition to hospitals,” Korn says.
Average Medical Coder Hourly Pay
Avg. Base Hourly Rate (USD)
The average hourly pay for a Medical Coder is $19.08
What is the Pay by Experience Level for Medical Coders?
An entry-level Medical Coder with less than 1 year experience can expect to earn an average total compensation (includes tips, bonus, and overtime pay) of $16.49 based on 255 salaries. An early career Medical Coder with 1-4 years of experience earns an average total compensation of $18.18 based on 1,391 salaries. A mid-career …Read more
What Do Medical Coders Do?
Those working as medical coders are responsible for transferring diagnostic and treatment terms from doctors and other health professionals into coded form for record keeping, use of other medical professionals, and often for billing and insurance purposes. This is accomplished by reviewing and analyzing patient health records to determine relevant diagnoses and treatment plans for individual patients. In addition, this process often requires contact with the providers of a patient’s healthcare …Read more
Job Satisfaction for Medical Coder
Based on 475 responses, the job of Medical Coder has received a job satisfaction rating of 4.06 out of 5. On average, Medical Coders are highly satisfied with their job.
Prefer to self-define
This data is based on 1,284 survey responses. Learn more about the gender pay gap.
Common Health Benefits
Coding range medical salary
Medical Coding & Billing Salary Comparisons
Medical coding and billing jobs are increasingly popular for individuals seeking entry into an in-demand healthcare industry. Medical coders use ICD or CPT codes to translate patients’ diagnoses, tests, and treatments into numerical digits for reimbursement processing. Medical billers review this information to file insurance claims and collect payments from the carrier. Both jobs are essential for keeping healthcare organizations profitably paid for their medical services rendered. But are medical coding and billing specialists paid handsomely too?
Medical Coding and Billing Salaries
On average, medical coding and billing jobs bestow an annual salary of $40,430. This is equivalent to a mean hourly wage of $19.44. Different job titles in this diverse field provide varying income levels though. According to Salary.com, the average base salary for medical billing clerks in the United States is $34,121. Medical coders reap mean annual salaries of $38,463. .Medical records coding technicians can expect an average salary of $48,909. The salary range for medical coding and billing goes from $24,190 to $61,400 and up. Let’s explore how important factors like work setting, state, and education can affect salary.
Median Salaries Based on Workplace
Collecting a healthy salary in medical coding and billing can depend on which healthcare organizations you apply to. The AAPC shows that workplace size plays a pivotal role in determining the dollar signs on your paycheck. Coders and billers employed at mid-sized practices with 11 to 49 physicians earn the lowest at $44,870 on average. Solo and small group practices with under 10 doctors give average yearly salaries at $45,722. Larger hospitals provide sizeable average income jumps to $47,773 (outpatient) and $50,925 (inpatient). Multi-site health networks gift the biggest average earnings at $51,389 per year.
Medical coding and billing positions can see pay increases or decreases based on type of healthcare facility also. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that ambulance services offer an average annual wage at $28,930. Skilled nursing facilities have below-average income potential at $37,550. However, medical coders and billers in specialty hospitals reap a mean salary of $43,060. Jobs with the federal executive branch grant $47,520 on average. Medical coding and billing specialists working for dentist offices bring home a mean yearly salary of $41,430. T hose who teach college students in academia have a high mean wage at $45,210.
Salary Potential by Location
How much you’ll make as a medical coder or biller will vary greatly based on where you live and practice. Salary averages by location show that the top-paying place in the United States for medical coding and billing is the District of Columbia. Jobs here earn an annual mean wage of $69,290! Following behind Washington, DC, are New Jersey, Alaska, and California where the average salary for medical coders and billers is $60,310, $52,040, and $48,590 respectively. States in the South typically have the lowest income level. For instance, medical coding and billing professionals in Louisiana make just $32,390 on average.
Medical coders and billers can find increased earning potential in certain cities too. In 2015, the top-paying metropolitan area was Newark, New Jersey, with an annual mean salary of $66,710. A close second went to San Jose-Santa Clara where coding and billing specialists earned an average income of $62,270. Other high-paying metros were Oakland, San Francisco, and Silver Spring at $58,830, $55,480, and $54,740 respectively. On the other end of the spectrum, some metropolitan areas have little room for salary growth. For example, medical coding and billing jobs in Davenport, Iowa, deliver an mean wage of $29,380.
Salary Increases with Education/Experience
Paying college tuition for a degree or certificate in medical coding and billing will prove fruitful. Employees with no college education typically start in the bottom 10th percentile with income under $29,130. The AAPC proves that studying pays off because coders and billers with an associate degree earned an average of $46,815. Technicians who had a four-year bachelor’s on their resume unlocked a mean salary of $54,552. Having higher education will also prepare you for assuming more advanced titles. For instance, those who assume leadership responsibility as medical billing managers earn $84,096 on average!
Coders and billers with past years of experience in the fast-paced healthcare arena are rewarded with higher salaries. Starting salary for trained medical coding and billing specialists with zero to one year of experience is around $32,000. After you get five to nine years under your belt, salary hikes to over $42,500 on average. Professionals with more than 15 years of coding and billing experience make a mean of $56,667 annually. From there, salary usually increases by 5 percent for every five years of additional experience.
AAPC Certification for Salary Growth
Medical coding and billing workers who take the extra effort to earn certification from the American Association of Professional Coders are rewarded with above-average salaries. The AAPC 2015 Salary Survey found that that certified members averaged a 2.6 percent pay increase. Certified Professional Coders (CPCs) obtain a mean wage of $51,454 each year. Certified Outpatient Coding (COC) specialists make a mean yearly salary of $58,822. The highest income average belongs to Certified Physician Practice Managers (CPPM) who bring home $64,666 per year. Having two AAPC credentials sparks a median salary of $58,399.
Investing your time into building a medical coding and billing career can pay off in spades in today’s market. It’s predicted that the healthcare sector will require more coders and billing specialists to organize a surplus of patient data. Increased medical demand will ignite faster-than-average job growth by 15 percent for over 29,000 new jobs through 2024. The AAPC also reports that unemployment rates have decreased by 0.5 percent for certified members in the last 12 months. Now that you’re more aware of salary comparisons in medical coding and billing, you can maximize your earnings in this rewarding healthcare profession.
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