How to Become a Certified Medical Coder and Biller? Complete Guide

Updated on: June 12, 2024

Becoming a certified medical coder and biller is a rewarding career path that offers the opportunity to work in the healthcare industry without providing direct patient care.

Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you achieve certification and succeed in this field:

1. Understand the Role

Before pursuing a career in medical coding and billing, it’s essential to understand what the job entails. Medical coders and billers are responsible for:

  • Translating medical procedures, diagnoses, and equipment used in healthcare facilities into standard codes.
  • Submitting and following up on insurance claims.
  • Ensuring patient records are accurate and up-to-date.

2. Obtain a High School Diploma or GED

The minimum educational requirement to become a medical coder and biller is a high school diploma or GED. Focus on subjects like biology, health, and computer science to build a foundation for further studies.

3. Enroll in a Medical Coding and Billing Program

There are various educational paths you can take:

  • Associate’s Degree: Community colleges offer two-year programs that provide a comprehensive education in medical coding and billing.
  • Certificate Program: Many vocational schools and online colleges offer shorter programs that can be completed in a year or less.

4. Complete the Program and Gain Practical Experience

During your training, you will learn about:

  • Medical Terminology
  • Anatomy and Physiology
  • Healthcare Laws and Ethics
  • Insurance and Reimbursement Procedures
  • Coding Systems (ICD-10, CPT, HCPCS)

It’s beneficial to gain hands-on experience through internships or practicums.

5. Choose a Certification

Several organizations offer certification, but the most recognized ones include:

  • AAPC (American Academy of Professional Coders): Offers the Certified Professional Coder (CPC) credential.
  • AHIMA (American Health Information Management Association): Offers the Certified Coding Associate (CCA) and Certified Coding Specialist (CCS) credentials.

6. Prepare for the Certification Exam

Certification requires passing a comprehensive exam. Here’s how you can prepare:

  • Study Guides and Practice Tests: Utilize the resources provided by certifying bodies.
  • Review Courses: Consider enrolling in a review course to reinforce your knowledge.
  • Join Study Groups: Collaborate with other aspiring coders and billers to study.

7. Sit for the Certification Exam

Register and schedule your exam with the certifying organization. Make sure to:

  • Bring Necessary Documents and Materials: Confirm what you need to bring on the day of the exam.
  • Arrive Early: Give yourself plenty of time to avoid any last-minute stress.

8. Maintain Your Certification

Once you attain certification, you must keep it current by:

  • Earning Continuing Education Units (CEUs): Attend workshops, webinars, and courses to stay updated.
  • Renew Your Credential: Follow the guidelines provided by the certifying organization.

9. Seek Employment

With your certification in hand, you can start looking for jobs. Potential employers include:

  • Hospitals and Clinics
  • Physician Offices
  • Insurance Companies
  • Government Agencies

10. Consider Specialization

As you gain experience, you may choose to specialize in areas like:

  • Inpatient Coding
  • Outpatient Coding
  • Radiology Coding
  • Oncology Coding


Becoming a certified medical coder and biller requires dedication and a commitment to continual learning. By following this guide, you can embark on a successful career in medical coding and billing, contributing to the efficient operation of healthcare facilities and the wellbeing of patients.

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