5 Steps to Become a Medical Billing and Coding Specialist

America’s overtaxed and rapidly growing healthcare system is burgeoning with thousands of unprocessed claims and outstanding medical bills waiting for skilled review and processing.

The need for skilled medical billers and coders is at an all-time high with an influx of patients seeking care that continues to tax this rapidly growing system.

America’s BLS anticipates that careers for medical billers and coders will grow faster than the average for all occupations.

This guide is for aspiring medical billers and coders seeking step-by-step guidance on how to jumpstart a new career as medical records technicians.

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Steps to Become a Certified Medical Billing and Coding Specialist

1. Meet Education and Age Requirements

Aspiring health information specialists like medical billers and coders will need to complete high school and reach the age of 18 before becoming eligible to apply for national certification-based training programs.

2. Enroll in a Medical Billing and Coding Certification Program

Once you’ve completed high school and reached the age of 18, the next step is to research medical billing and coding certification programs in your area or online.

Choose the program that aligns with your learning style, desired certification pathway, career goals, and budget.

Costs vary between programs, read about the different costs of becoming a medical biller and coder.

3. Apply for Medical Billing and Coding Certification

Graduates who complete certification-based training become eligible to move on to the next step of applying for certification.

The three well-known certification agencies for medical billers and coders include the American Academy of Professional Coders, the American Health Information Management Association, and the National Health Careers Association.

Try our practice test to make sure you’re ready.

4. Seek Employment with Local Healthcare Agencies

If you haven’t already found employment through an internship or externship offered by your medical billing and coding program, the next step is to seek employment with local healthcare facilities.

Certified medical billers can find work in a variety of healthcare-related environments.

Recent medical billing school graduates can find work in some of the following locations.

  • Hospitals
  • Doctor’s Offices
  • Dental Offices
  • Nursing Homes and Assisted Living Facilities
  • Insurance Companies
  • Home Health Care Agencies

5. Maintain Medical Billing and Coding Certification

Certified billing and coding specialists will need to complete a series of continuing education courses to maintain their credentials.

Visit your certifying authority website to learn more about what activities qualify for continuing education credits.

Licensing Requirements to Become a Medical Billing and Coding Specialist

US-based medical coders and billers aren’t required to have an occupational license to work as medical records specialists for insurance companies, hospitals, and private practice offices.

Today’s healthcare employers prefer to hire medical billers and coders who have consistently demonstrated competency in their role by earning an industry certification.

The top medical billing and coding certifications in the US include the following:

  • Certified Professional Coder (CPC) – American Academy of Professional Coders
  • Certified Coding Associate (CCA) – American Health Information Management Association
  • Certified Billing and Coding Specialist (CBCS) – National Health Careers Association

The CPC issued by the American Academy of Professional Coders is considered the industry gold standard.

Online Medical Billing and Coding Specialist Training Programs

US Career Institute

The US Career Institute certification-based medical billing and coding program allows students 5 to 12 months to complete core requirements and prepare for CBCS certification online.

USCI’s web-based training program makes announcements and mandatory classwork available on computers and compatible mobile devices where students can log in and complete their course requirements for CPT and ICD-10-CM medical coding.

Courses Offered

  • Introduction to Medical Coding and Billing
  • Medical Terminology
  • Medical Billing
  • Electronic Claims Submission
  • Medical and Legal Ethics
  • Physical Therapy Interventions

Contact Information

  • Address: 2001 Lowe Street, Fort Collins, Colorado – 80525
  • Website: Link
  • Phone: 866-250-6851

Estimated Program Costs: $1,869.00 – $2,269.00.

Tuition discounts are available for students who pay in full upfront.

Monthly payment plans are available.

American Academy of Professional Coders

The AAPC is not only the industry leader in offering medical billing and coding certifications nationwide.

They also offer their own CPC certification training online.

Their online prep course teaches future coders and billers the fundamentals needed to work independently as entry-level medical billers and coders in freelance roles, hospitals, clinics, insurance companies, and medical facilities across the US.

AAPC’s program allows students up to six months to complete immersive theoretical training in live instructor-led video sessions.

Students also have the option to complete mandatory coursework in a self-paced program.

Courses Offered

  • Medical Coding Skills for Professional Services
  • ICD-10-CM Medical Coding
  • HCPCS Level II Code Sets
  • Evaluation and Management Services
  • Body Systems – Musculoskeletal, Integumentary, Respiratory, Cardiovascular
  • Pathology and Laboratory

Contact Information

  • Address: Dallas, Texas – 75312
  • Website: Link
  • Phone: 1-800-626-2633

Estimated Program Costs: $2,490.00 + Books and supplies.

Oklahoma State University

Oklahoma State University operates a certification-based medical billing and coding program that trains students on the fundamentals needed to complete key medical billing and coding tasks.

Medical coders are trained to input industry codes for medical procedures using the latest coding technology.

Medical billing codes are then sent to insurance companies in a billable format for processing.

OSU trains entry-level medical records technicians on how to complete the billing cycle and prepares them to pass national certification tests administered by the American Academy of Professional Coders.

Courses Offered

  • CPT II Category Codes
  • ICD-10 Codes
  • CPC Exam Prep
  • Medical Terminology
  • Healthcare Law
  • Pharmacology for Coders

Contact Information

  • Address: 900 North Portland Avenue, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma – 73107
  • Website: Link
  • Phone: 405-945-3383

Estimated Program Costs: Please contact the program director for current pricing.

Southern New Hampshire University

SNHU delivers its online medical billing and coding class in a fast-paced 8-week format as part of its Bachelor of Science in Health Information Management program.

This entry-level training course instructs students in the latest medical terminology, classification, and coding systems.

This introductory online course teaches beginners the basics of how to use and interpret US medical coding and classification systems.

This self-paced course has no application fee and awards college credit upon completion.

Courses Offered

  • Health Information Management
  • Coding Classification Systems
  • Code Validation Procedures
  • Electronic Health Records Management
  • Modifiers and Terminologies

Contact Information

  • Address: 2500 North River Road, Manchester, New Hampshire – 03106
  • Website: Link
  • Phone: 800-668-1249

Estimated Program Costs: $330.00 per credit

Florida International University

Aspiring medical records technician trainees can get self-paced training with Florida International University online.

FIU offers a certification-based training course that prepares students for passing certification exams administered by the AAPC, AHIMA, and NHA.

Coursework includes fundamentals of body systems, medical classification systems, and coding systems used for billing.

This online medical billing and coding program includes a test voucher for the CPC, CCA, or CBCS exam of your choice.

Courses Offered

  • Introduction to Medical Terminology
  • Introduction to Medical Billing and Coding
  • Introduction to Health Insurance
  • Commercial and Government Payers
  • Managed Healthcare
  • Revenue Cycle Management

Contact Information

  • Address: 11200 SW 8th Street, Miami, Florida – 33199
  • Website: Link
  • Phone: 855-520-6806

Estimated Program Costs: $895.00 – $2995.00


America’s billing and coding specialists are classified by the BLS as medical records specialists.

Medical records specialists working in the US earn an average annual salary of $47,180.00 annually.

For perspective, the lowest-earning specialists earned just over $31,000 each year. T

op-earning medical billers and coders in the US can make as much as $75,460.00 according to the BLS.

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