Online Medical Billing and Coding Programs

Coding and billing represent two separate roles, but the professionals who fill these jobs work closely together. When a patient receives service from a healthcare provider, these specialists code and prepare an invoice, or claim, which is then sent to the patient’s insurance company. Coders translate healthcare providers’ services into numeric codes, and billers use the code to create claims.

The field is expected to grow considerably through 2024, meaning that billers and coders will remain in high demand. Professionals who succeed in these roles are detail-driven and have the people skills needed to communicate with patients on a daily basis. Medical billing and coding specialists keep the healthcare industry running smoothly with skills learned through medical billing and coding online programs.

Online Medical Billing and Coding Degree Overview

Degree Avg Degree Cost Avg Loan Default Rate Time Commitment Early Career Pay Mid-Career Pay Unemployment Rate
Associate $18,732 18.13% 2 years $28,600 $34,100 1.7%
Whether you are new to the field, or looking to advance in your current career, you should weigh the costs and time of getting a new degree against its benefits. There is no one-size-fits-all degree. The best choice for you will depend on your current educational background, financial standing, employment history, and area of interest. For instance, those with no experience may want to consider an associate degree, due to its shorter time commitment and lower cost. If finances are tight for you, then you should prioritize the student loan debt and default categories, as you will want to choose a degree that offers you the best chance of improving your financial standing with minimal risk. If your employer or someone else is paying for your education, then you might want to consider the degree that will offer you the highest salary. All salary information is sourced from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and/or PayScale

Medical billing and coding roles typically require an associate degree, which can be earned in two years through online medical billing and coding programs. Graduates who complete medical billing and coding programs online face very low unemployment rates and can expect an average salary of $28,600.

Choosing Your Medical Billing and Coding Career

Average Medical Billing and Coding Salaries

$29,960
$62,300
$35,900
$49,310

Medical Assistant

Salary: $29,960
Growth Rate 2014-2024 Number of Jobs: 2014 Degree Certifications
23% 591,300 Certificate None

Medical assistants typically work in a clinic and help physicians by filing patient information in medical recordkeeping systems. They may also collect samples of bodily fluids or tissue for lab testing, prepare physician tools and equipment, and check patient vitals. Medical assistants should be detail-oriented and should feel comfortable working with patients.

Health Insurance Adjuster

Salary: $62,300
Growth Rate 2014-2024 Number of Jobs: 2014 Degree Certifications
3% 315,300 High School Diploma or Equivalent License required in some states

Health insurance adjusters process medical claims while identifying fraudulent claims and inaccuracies on bills. They negotiate bills, gather additional information from patients and doctors, and authorize payments by insurance companies. Adjusters must be highly organized and possess strong communication skills.

Health Information Coder

Salary: $35,900
Growth Rate 2014-2024 Number of Jobs: 2014 Degree Certifications
15% 188,600 Associates Certified Medical Reimbursement Specialist Certification

Health information coders translate patient medical reports into numeric or alphanumeric codes, making the data easier to process for invoicing. Professionals should be familiar with the three main coding systems studied in medical billing and coding programs, including CPT, ICD, and HCPCS. Successful coders will be able to process large amounts of information quickly without sacrificing accuracy, and computer skills are a must.

Clinical Lab Technician

Salary: $49,310
Growth Rate 2014-2024 Number of Jobs: 2014 Degree Certifications
16% 328,200 Associates None

Clinical lab technicians analyze bodily fluids and tissue to diagnose medical conditions. They most often work in hospitals, doctor’s offices, and diagnostic laboratories. Clinic lab technicians must be comfortable handling sophisticated equipment and working with limited supervision. Since technicians don’t work directly with patients, people skills are less important for this role. For this career path, earning a higher degree generally equates to higher pay.

Online Medical Billing and Coding Degree

Associate

While not all the roles in this field require an associate degree, it can give professionals a competitive edge and accelerate their career advancement. A two-year associate degree earned through online medical billing and coding programs cost approximately $18,732, and job prospects for degree holders are strong.

Sample Courses
Anatomy, Terminology and Healthcare Payers, Introduction to Healthcare Computer Information Systems, and The Healthcare Claims Cycle
Common Majors
Associate of Science in Medical Billing and Coding, Associate of Science in Health Sciences: Medical Office and Billing Specialist, and Associate of Science in Health Sciences: Medical Administrative Assistant
Potential Jobs
Health Information Coder, Clinical Lab Technician, and Medical Billing Specialist
Average Income
$28,600
Employment Prospects
15% increase from 2014-2024

The Top 5 Online Associate Degrees in Medical Billing and Coding

Rank School Name School Logo City Cost
1

Frontier Community College

Fairfield
  • in-state tuition: $9,079
  • out-of-state tuition: $11,070
2

Renton Technical College

Renton
  • annually: $4,735
3

St Philip's College

San Antonio
  • in-state tuition: $5,550
  • out-of-state tuition: $10,740
4

Olney Central College

Olney
  • in-state tuition: $9,079
  • out-of-state tuition: $11,070
5

Central Maine Community College

Auburn
  • in-state tuition: $3,750
  • out-of-state tuition: $6,450

See full rankings

Professional Requirements

While certification is not required, it can greatly maximize job prospects for those who complete their medical billing and coding programs online. Not only are certified graduates of medical billing and coding online programs more likely to find employment, but they typically earn around 20% more than their noncertified counterparts.

Medical Coding Certification

Individuals can choose between several different coding certifications. The Certified Professional Coder (CPC) is the most common, and shows proficiency in coding and billing claims in a physician’s office. The Certified Outpatient Coding certification (COC) validates proficiency in coding and billing in outpatient hospitals or facilities. The Certified Inpatient Coder certification (CIC) covers coding and billing claims in inpatient hospitals and facilities, and the Certified Risk Adjuster certification (CRC) shows proficiency in applying diagnosis codes in risk adjustment payment models. The Certified Professional Coder – Payer certification (CPC-P) validates proficiency in coding and billing for health plans, Medicare, Medicaid, and other payer environments. Other specialty coding credentials exist to demonstrate advanced expertise in specific disciplines.

Is it required?

Strongly recommended

How long will it take?

4 months or less (though it varies per individual)

Medical Billing Certification

The primary medical billing certification available for grads who complete medical billing and coding programs online is the Certified Professional Biller (CPB) credential. A biller who earns this certification has demonstrated proficiency in all aspects of the revenue cycle, including various insurance plans, coverage determinations, coding guidelines, and the rules that govern the healthcare industry.

Is it required?

Strongly recommended

How long will it take?

4 months or less

Medical Auditing Certification

The primary medical auditing certification is the Certified Professional Medical Auditor (CPMA) credential. Auditors who graduate from medical billing and coding online programs earn this certification by demonstrating expertise in medical documentation; coding concepts; medical record auditing skills and abstraction quality; quality assurance and coding risk analysis; and communication of results and findings.

Is it required?

Strongly recommended

How long will it take?

3 months or less

Medical Compliance Certification

The primary medical compliance certification is the Certified Professional Compliance Officer (CPCO) credential. Professionals who earn this certification demonstrate expertise in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, laws surrounding health care fraud and abuse, self-disclosure protocols, and common risk areas such as conflicts of interest.

Is it required?

Strongly recommended

How long will it take?

3 months or less

Practice Manager Certification

The primary practice manager certification is the Certified Physician Practice Manager (CPPM) credential. Practice managers who complete online medical billing and coding programs can earn this certification by demonstrating expertise in HR management, insurance plan differences, medical office accounting and the revenue cycle, and corporate compliance measures.

Is it required?

Strongly recommended

How long will it take?

3 months or less