The best online medical billing and coding programs offer you many options to move forward in your career. Whether you’re already a medical coder or looking to start a career as a health information specialist, find out more about the best degree programs. Use this Campus Explorer guide to navigate the degree types, salary expectations, and career pathways available. Take the next step in your career or see how an online program can help you make a convenient career change.
What Is an Online Medical Billing and Coding Degree Program?
There are many levels of training available for students wishing to learn more about medical billing and coding. The best online medical billing programs for undergraduate students offer a certificate, associate’s degree, or bachelor’s degree.
Many careers require a bachelor’s degree, but many professionals in the medical records industry make a competitive salary with a certificate or associate’s degree. Explore the requirements for your specific career ambitions in the industry before selecting the best medical billing and coding program.
As a professional in this industry, you’ll typically spend your day coding, organizing, and managing information. You can work in one of the following roles to help manage and secure confidential health records in the healthcare industry:
- Medical billing specialist
- Medical billing manager
- Medical records or health information clerk
- Medical records analyst
- Health information technician
Some of these positions don’t require any previous training, but a degree in medical billing and coding can help you create a competitive application for high-paying positions in the industry. When you enroll in an online course in medical billing and coding, you’ll take courses in coding, records management, medical law and ethics, and claims processing. A combination of computer science and healthcare courses prepare you to work in a medical setting.
If you’re passionate about helping organize systems, manage data, and improve the way healthcare information is stored and processed, then a career in this field may be right for you. Online degree programs provide the hands-on coding training you need and helpful tutorials in medical terminology and ethics. This rapidly growing industry offers many opportunities to launch a new career or improve your yearly salary. You can transition from a medical billing specialist to a manager or from a health information clerk to a coder with a highly rated online degree.
Why Choose an Online Medical Billing and Coding Degree?
Online learning offers flexibility in your study time and location. On-campus classes require you to be in the nearby location to attend classes multiple times every week or every day. When you learn online, you can compare highly rated programs around the country and enroll in one that best fits your career ambitions.
In many cases, an online program can be more affordable than an on-campus one. Costs of living on campus, textbook costs, and other fees add to the cost of in-person tuition.
As a medical records and health information specialist, you will likely work in a hospital. Other work environments include administrative offices and research centers.
Most of these positions are full-time and during normal working hours, but some medical billers and coders work weekends and evenings to complete essential services. There are part-time and remote positions available, but these are less common than full-time, in-person roles.
Work closely with other healthcare professionals to collect, organize and store medical records. You’ll work on ways to improve the healthcare experience for patients and improve the working conditions of doctors, nurses, and other essential healthcare workers. Some positions require you to communicate with patients and enter personal information for billing purposes.
If you’re looking for a rewarding career working in the medical industry, an online medical billing and coding degree program may be right for you and your ambitions. Review the coursework and career opportunities to find your role in the health information industry.
How Much Does a Medical Billing and Coding Degree Cost?
The cost of a degree program in medical billing and coding can range considerably. Some factors that affect the price include your school of choice, degree program, in-state vs. out-of-state tuition, and scholarships. You can start a career in medical billing and coding with a certificate, associate’s degree, or bachelor’s degree, so consider the average cost of these degrees:
- Certificate: Often the most affordable option, an online certificate can be completed in just one year and cost as little as around $1,700, like the Santa Barbara City College Medical Coding Specialist Certificate California resident tuition for 2021.
- Associate’s degree: If you wish to receive an associate’s degree, the program typically takes two years and costs around $3,600 per year, according to USA Student Debt Relief in October 2020. This is the average cost of both on-campus and online programs, so the cost of an online associate’s degree in medical billing and coding may be lower.
- Bachelor’s degree: Expect to pay, on average, between $38,500 and $60,600 for an online bachelor’s degree, according to U.S. News in January 2020. These courses typically take four years to complete.
Scholarships, grants, and other financial aid can lower the cost of tuition for your program. If you already have a degree or college credits, you may be able to complete your online degree program in less time.
How Much Do Medical Billing and Coding Majors Make?
The best online medical coding programs can help improve your application and give you the skills you need to apply for a position as a medical records and health information specialist. There are many positions in this industry, so salary figures can vary depending on your position and your experience.
Medical records and health information specialists earned a median salary of around $44,100 in 2020, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, or BLS. The highest 10% of earners in the industry earned more than $73,400.
A medical coder can earn more than a medical biller. The median annual salary of a medical biller is around $40,300 in July 2021, according to PayScale. Medical coders earn a median salary of around $43,500. Information clerks in the medical industry earn a median annual pay of around $36,900, according to BLS. Apply to these entry-level positions with a certificate or associate’s degree in medical billing and coding.
Typically, managers and specialists earn more than entry-level coders and billers. According to BLS, the 2020 median annual pay for medical and health service managers is approximately $104,300. Most management positions in medical and health services require a bachelor’s degree and up to five years of experience in a related occupation.
A degree, and the skills and knowledge it represents, can improve your application as you look for opportunities to move up in your industry. Most medical billing and coding positions require at least a postsecondary non-degree award. This means that a certificate, associate’s degree, or bachelor’s degree can qualify you for one of these positions.
Medical billing and coding knowledge can help you move forward in a number of careers in the healthcare industry. Consider an online degree program if you’re considering requesting a raise or applying for a new position.
What Is the Job Outlook for Medical Billing and Coding Degree Holders?
The job growth from 2019 to 2029 is considerably faster than the national average, according to BLS. The number of medical managers is expected to grow by 32%, and the number of information specialists by 8%. The number of information clerks is expected to decline by 3%, so a degree in medical billing and coding may help you move upward into growing, high-paying positions in the industry.
Scholarships for Medical Billing and Coding
Degree programs in medical billing and coding already cost less, on average, than other healthcare industry programs. Scholarships make it an even more affordable option for first-time students or professionals looking to make a career transition. Loans and federal grants are also available to help make the best medical billing and coding full-time or part-time degree programs a possibility for your financial situation.
Search for scholarships available from colleges, medical institutions, non-profit organizations, and private donors. Some medical employers are willing to pay for part or all of your online degree program to help you advance in your career. If you’re already working in the industry, scholarships help you take the necessary time off or study part-time to receive a medical billing and coding degree or certificate.
Start with these scholarships as examples of the available aid that may apply to you. Compare application requirements to see if you need to submit essays, CVs, or other documents. Apply to any application that fits your personal and professional situation to see how you can reduce the cost of your degree program.
- School of Allied Health Tuition Waiver Scholarship: If you’re an Alaskan resident, see if you qualify for this tuition waiver.
- Work Ready Kentucky Scholarship Program: Earn an associate’s or bachelor’s degree in Kentucky as a resident with this scholarship. Chosen applicants will receive up to $400 per year.
- Swedish Institute College of Health Sciences: Find institutional, departmental, professional, and alumni scholarships from the Swedish Institute. Successful applicants have contributed to the institution’s development or exemplify modern education ideals.
- Foundation for Seacoast Health: Residents in the Seacoast area are eligible for scholarships from the Foundation for Seacoast Health. The foundation has awarded 320 individuals with over 660 scholarships.
- Minnesota Workforce Development Scholarship: Similar to the Kentucky program, Minnesota offers workforce development scholarships of $2,500 to students as of Fall 2021.
- Cleveland Clinic Center for Health Sciences Education: See if you’re eligible for up to $5,000 in aid to cover tuition and fees.
- Mary M. Zannis Scholarship: If you’re a resident of New York with a GPA of 3.0 or higher, you may qualify for the Mary M. Zannis Scholarship and receive $1,000.
- American Health Information Management Association Merit Scholarships: Take at least 24 credits as an AHIMA member and maintain a GPA of 3.5 or more and you might receive between $1,000 and $2,500.
- Robert D. Kruse Memorial Scholarship Fund for Allied Health Professionals: You have the opportunity to receive $5,000 in aid if you’re a full-time student in your final year and maintain a GPA of at least 2.5.
FAQs About Medical Billing and Coding Degrees
- Certificates, associate’s degrees, and bachelor’s degree programs are available
- Programs typically take 12-48 months to complete, depending on degree type
- Degree programs can be completed fully online
- Standard and accelerated online programs are available
- Degree programs can be completed in full-time or part-time tracks
- Graduates with a degree in medical billing and coding are in high demand
- Prepares graduates for careers in rapidly growing healthcare fields
- Can be completed in 12 months
- Offers opportunities in coding, billing, and management
- Provides essential training for health information specialists and health service managers
- Certificate programs can cost as little as $1,700
- A high number of healthcare industry scholarships are available for students in medical billing and coding
- Program costs are highly variable depending on degree type
- Programs cost less than other medical industry options
- Online tuition is often more affordable than on-campus rates