Medical coders do vital tasks for medical practices of all kinds, generally using their expertise to keep medical records up to date and file for insurance reimbursement accurately. They are in high demand as the health insurance system grows in complexity and the population ages.

With an average medical coding salary of $48,270 a year — and minimal education requirements — you can make a decent income (just under the national average) very early in your career.

How Much Does a Medical Coder Make in the United States?

Medical records and health information specialists, one of the official terms for medical coders, make slightly more than the median United States worker, $44,090 versus $41,950 for all occupations.

With many distinct responsibilities come opportunities for advancement in this role, increasing the potential for a medical billing and coding salary.

Salary Changes Throughout the Career Path

Average annual salary of $48,270

With a high school diploma or GED and either an exam credential or completing a medical coding certification program or degree, you can start out earning a decent salary.

Average annual salary of $49,435

Once you start your career as a medical coder, you can get a Certified Coding Specialist credential and advance your earning potential.

Average annual salary of $70,584

With a few years of experience in medical coding, you can advance to a coding manager. In this position, you will oversee medical coding staff, among other important job functions.

Average annual salary of $93,200

The next step on the career ladder is to become a medical coding director. Here, you will oversee all medical coding operations in a healthcare facility. Plus, you'll bump up your pay to nearly double what you made at the start of your career.

Medical coding skills are highly transferable and marketable throughout industries, meaning you don't have to work for a healthcare provider — or even as a medical coder. Some other jobs that might be well-suited for a medical coding skill set include:

Pay Difference By Location

State

Data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)

Career Opportunities and Job Growth

Because job growth is so strong in this field, getting a job is easier than you might think in some areas.

States with the greatest expected growth in medical coding employment: Cities with the most medical coding jobs:

Other Benefits of Becoming a Medical Coder

While medical coders can sometimes work on a part-time or contract basis, many medical coders hold full-time billing and coding salary positions that come with health insurance, dental insurance, and access to retirement plans.

One of the big benefits is that companies don't need medical coding done instantly or in-office. Insurance companies, private medical practices, or other organizations may offer flexible hours and work-from-home options. This makes medical coding a particularly nice option for people to work nights and weekends around caregiving duties or another job.

Salary for Independent Contractors

When you choose to work as an independent medical coder who receives a 1099, you get a few benefits and deal with a few drawbacks. To treat you as a contractor, your company should allow you to set your own schedule and amount of hours, which can provide excellent part-time work or flexibility if you have other demands on your time.

However, you won't receive benefits like paid time off, so you won't be paid for your time off work. You'll also often have a slightly higher pay rate per hour of work since you'll be responsible for the full share of your payroll taxes.

How Much Does it Cost to Become a Medical Coder?

Medical coding jobs can have entirely on-the-job training, but in many cases, you can get jobs by having credentials such as the:

Certification is often available after an associate degree or a shorter course, with a licensing exam through a professional organization. As a result, most online program costs are only a few thousand dollars or less, though in-person coursework to get more involved coding credentials could cost as much as $15,000 to $20,000.

Applying for financial aid can help get grants and low-cost loans to defray these costs. You might be able to draw an entry-level medical billing salary by working while also attending school to advance your skills.

Other costs could include purchasing computer systems if you work as an independent contractor, but otherwise, your company will purchase much of your equipment.

Salaries for Related Jobs

Medical Transcriptionist

  • Salary: $35,270
  • Cost to become: up to $5,000 for a one-year program.

Medical Assistant

  • Salary: $35,850
  • Cost to become: up to $5,000 for a one-year program or associate degree from community college, plus the cost of exam fees for a credential.

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Laura Leavitt
Contributing Writer

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