How to Become a Medical Coder

Updated on December 21, 2021

Medical coding is becoming a very lucrative job opportunity for many people. Medical coders are responsible for some of the most important ground activities where they record crucial patient data and then translate them into codes. These codes are very important in transferring information and make the exchange of essential information very efficient.

Many candidates are flocking to the opportunity of becoming a medical coder. If you are one of them, here are the steps you need to follow to become a medical coder.

Step 1: Education  

If you want to become a medical coder, you need to make the decision quickly. As soon as you are done with your high school education, you will have three different options to choose from.


Getting certified is the quickest way you can start your career as a medical coder. You will only need a year to complete your certification. The certificate will require you to learn the human anatomy, the medical jargon most doctors use, and the different kinds of procedures they provide. In addition to basic medical knowledge, aspiring coders are also required to learn the basics of coding they may need to translate client information.

Some certifications may require you to learn how to use medical coding software. This is the best route if you want to enter your medical coding career early.

Associate Degree

An associate degree is when you enroll in a degree program. You can opt for an associate degree in healthcare administration and learn all the basics of medical coding. This degree will also arm you with soft skills that can come in handy further down your career. Soft skills are a crucial part of any job you apply for. An associate degree takes 2 years to complete. Once you are done with this degree, you can start working as a medical coder.

Bachelor’s Degree

Many people wish to have a bachelor’s degree, and if you want to become a medical coder, you should enroll yourself in a bachelor’s program right away. If you are looking for medical exposure to the field, your bachelor’s degree can give you that. Most high-end companies look for medical coders with this degree as they have the right skill set and education for the job.

Step 2: Credentialing

After choosing any of the above routes, you will need to get the necessary credentials. There are two credentialing exams that you need to pass before getting on with your medical coding career. Candidates can give these exams offered by the American Health Informatics Management association. The first credential is the CCA, which is locally recognized and requires a six-month work experience to appear. You can be exempted from the work experience if you have completed your education from a notable medical coding program.

The next exam is the RHIT. This credential does not require any kind of work experience, to begin with. You will, however, need an associate degree to appear for it. Both of these credential exams are based on MCQs and can significantly amplify your job opportunities greatly.

Step 3: Work Experience

As soon as you get the results of your credentials, it would be best if you started looking for job openings actively. One thing that can help you get the kind of job you want is socializing with the right crowds. Network with the kind of people you think can help you find a job. You can even ask around and see if any of your friends have connections with someone who can get you a job.

There are professional institutions you can try to see if they have the job you are looking for. You will not be able to move forward with your career if you do not have work experience. This is why you must look at different job openings.

Step 4: Additional Credentials

Medical coding is an ongoing education, and once you have completed your initial credentials, you must keep aiming for more. But you need at least one year of experience to get further credentials.

Here you have the option of choosing either CCS or CCS-P. These two courses are offered by AHIMA and are designed to help you improve your learning. The courses are centered on learning different coding manuals and the intricate medical details they need to be able to code properly. These courses also test candidates with the use of multiple-choice questions. Candidates who already have an RHIT credential don’t have to worry about the work experience required to appear for the examination.

Step 5: Further Education

There is always room for medical coders to get more credentials. Your credentials may become outdated over time, and it is a great idea to keep up. The AHIMA demands candidates to renew their certifications every two years. Candidates who have CCA, CCS, and CCS-P credentials must complete 20 education units and two annual coding self-reviews in every recertification cycle.

Make sure that you keep yourself updated with your credentials to move further into your medical coding career, and get better job opportunities. Once you have a job make sure to get the CDI pocket guide from Pinson & Tang to help your coding be more accurate. It is best to join a community that helps you learn all the different credentials and to the ideal time to take them.

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The Editorial Team at Healthcare Business Today is made up of skilled healthcare writers and experts, led by our managing editor, Daniel Casciato, who has over 25 years of experience in healthcare writing. Since 1998, we have produced compelling and informative content for numerous publications, establishing ourselves as a trusted resource for health and wellness information. We offer readers access to fresh health, medicine, science, and technology developments and the latest in patient news, emphasizing how these developments affect our lives.