How to Plan for Medical Coding and Billing Job Training
Although becoming certified in medical billing and coding requires only that you pass a 5-hour exam, you can expect your training to take between one and two years. Then, following certification, you should plan on an additional two years of on-the-job training.
Time in the classroom
The amount of time you need to fully prepare for a billing and coding career depends upon your pre-existing knowledge of the field and the amount of education or training you need to prepare for a job.
In general, the greater the educational or training requirements, the longer the program. If you’re unfamiliar with computers or a bit rusty in your English and math skills, you may need additional classroom training to update your skill set in the basics. On the other hand, if you already work in a medial healthcare environment, you may find a program with less instruction in basic skill sets quite adequate.
Don’t shortchange yourself just because you want to get through the program quickly. If one program doesn’t offer training in all the skill sets you need to be successful, rule it out. Getting a little more training than you need is better than struggling because you lack the foundation necessary to process the class materials, and you’ll be the better prepared candidate when the time comes to interview for jobs.
The important thing is to find a program that meets your individual needs as well as your time constraints. Don’t be afraid to ask questions of school admissions counselors whose job is to find students who best fit their program. These counselors can also help you determine whether the school fits your needs in terms of time-to-degree.
Classroom instruction provides you with the tools of the trade, but on-the-job training teaches you how to use them. So remember to account for a year or two of this kind of training in your planning. The more experience you have in the healthcare industry prior to formal training, the shorter your post-program, on-the-job training period. For the novice with no healthcare experience, a minimum of one or two years of on-the-job training will likely be necessary.
On-the-job training is a great way to learn the nuances of billing and coding. Plus, you get paid to learn! Be sure to investigate programs that offer this as a post-grad option.
Some employers are willing to hire novice coders, but doing so can be a disservice to the novice if no onsite mentor is available. Before you say yes to a job offer straight out of school, make sure you inquire about the type of mentoring and support you can expect.