3 Tips to Master Medical Coding and Make It Your Career

Wed, Jul 6, 2016 --

My Career

work from home medical coding career

There are a lot of ads out there these days that make medical coding look like an attractive career. It’s interesting work in the growing field of healthcare, and a lot of the ads start with the phrase “work from home.” But is that the reality? Here are some tips to help those considering medical coding as a career to make the right decision for them.

1. Talk to as Many Coders as You Can

Before making any career-change plans, talk to as many coders as you can. You can ask them questions like these to be sure the work that they do each day is what you want to do:

  • Where do you work?
  • What is your typical workday like?
  • What challenges and frustrations do you face?
  • What’s your favorite part of your job?
  • What skills and talents do good coders have?
  • How did you get from your decision to be a coder to where you are now?

2. Research the Type of Coding You Want to Do

As you’re talking to coders, be sure to talk to people in a mix of settings to help you get an idea of the type of coding you’d like to pursue.

If possible, talk to coders who code for physicians, inpatient facilities, and outpatient facilities to learn what kind of coding interests you most. You also can learn a lot about coding for these different settings by researching online.

3. Think About Your Ultimate Goals

If after everything you’ve learned, you decided that coding is right for you, congratulations! You’ve chosen an interesting career with a lot of possibilities. Good coders tend to be detail-oriented, concerned about accuracy, and good at research, and those traits will serve you well as you make plans for your future.

Goal 1, get started: Your first step may be to enroll in a training program. Be smart about your choice. Ask about pass rates for certification exams as well as post-graduation employment rates. How many people who graduate actually get coding jobs? If possible, find a school that offers help with internships or job placement because many starting coders find that employers are looking for real-world experience.

Goal 2, get involved:  Join professional organizations, like AAPC and AHIMA, and online forums that support your coding career goals. Make the most of your membership by reading publications and networking with members.

Goal 3, get to where you want to be: Think about what path you’d like your career to take. Do you enjoy the puzzle of coding and want to continue? Would you like to travel as an auditor or consultant? After you get some experience (you’ll usually need at least a year under your belt), would you like to work from home? Or would you like to use what you’ve learned to train others, or manage a practice or department? Be open to new work experiences because you won’t know if you enjoy something unless you try it.

What About You?

Are you a coder who has advice on how to start a career in coding? What challenges did you face when you got started? Or are you someone interested in coding as a career?

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Deborah works on a wide range of TCI SuperCoder projects, researching and writing about coding, as well as assisting with data updates and tool development for our online coding solutions. Since joining TCI in 2004, she’s covered the ins and outs of coding for radiology, cardiology, oncology and hematology, orthopedics, audiology, and more.

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