How to Get your First Medical Billing & Coding Job
After you've completed your medical billing and coding training, getting that first job can be challenging. After all, the industry is not only competitive, but it is increasing in popularity due to more people wanting to work from home, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. If you are lucky enough to land an interview, you may also find that many employers want at least two years of experience.
But despite the challenges, there are many things you can do to help set yourself apart and get that first medical billing and coding job. Take a look at the following suggestions and plan an approach for how to get ahead in your new career.
And always remember to stay aggressive and persistent! It may take some patience, but if you persevere, you will land your first medical billing and coding job before you know it.
9 Tips to Get Your First Medical Billing and Coding Job
#1. Join a Professional Association
Not only can professional associations help you find your first job, but they offer many additional career benefits you will use throughout your career, such as:
- Continuing education opportunities
- Networking events
- Job opportunities
- Specialty certifications
- Career training resources
- Up-to-date career news and industry changes
The two main professional associations for medical coders and billers are:
- The American Association of Professional Coders (AAPC)
- With over 190,000 members worldwide, AAPC is the largest training and credentialing association in the world. This organization offers the latest medical coding and billing industry resources, from classes on how to perfect your work skills to yearly healthcare conferences.
- American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA)
- AHIMA is a non-profit organization for health information professionals. The AHIMA website states that they are "the leading authority on health information." Becoming a member of AHIMA offers several benefits including staying current on industry news, networking opportunities, professional development, and career advice.
#2. Get Certified as a CPC/CPC-A
Becoming a certified professional coder, or CPC, is one of the best ways to set yourself apart from your competition and increase your job prospects. Certification as a CPC will help your expertise in medical billing and coding claims, payments, insurance, and patient billing communication.
One of the first things employers take into account when reviewing candidates is your certifications and education. Not to mention, it also shows that you have initiative and are serious about the job you are interviewing for.
Lastly, medical billing and coding certifications are recognized by medical offices and institutions worldwide as the "gold standard." Today, over 159,000 healthcare workers are certified through the American Academy of Professional Coders or AAPC.
#3. Take an Office or Front Desk Position in a Healthcare Facility
Working as a front desk receptionist within a healthcare facility is a great way to gain valuable experience working in the field. But if you are on the hunt for your next medical coding or billing position, it is also one of the best ways to break into a new career.
If you can show how professional and valuable you are as a front desk receptionist, you will be first in line to know when a medical or coding position becomes available. You can also form a relationship with the hiring manager, which makes getting an interview a whole lot easier.
#4. Work With a Temp Agency
Temporary, or temp, employment agencies are a win for both the employer and employee. The employer can hire needed staff quickly, without going through the effort to advertise the position and take several potential candidates through the interview process. While the employee is hired via contract for a short period of time (usually 6 months or less).
If you are looking for your first medical coding and billing position, a temp agency can help get you valuable work experience fast to start making money.
Most importantly, though, many temp employees offer something known as a temp-to-hire position. What that means is that when the contract is up, the employee has an option to come on full time with the company (as long as they have met or exceeded expectations within the position).
When you are starting a new career, volunteering can help you in one of two ways. First, it will help you fill in your resume gaps, which is especially beneficial if you have been looking for work for an extended period of time. Second, if you can volunteer in a healthcare facility you are interested in working at, it often puts you in direct contact with hiring managers!
#6. Job Shadow
Sometimes shadowing a friend or family member in the medical and coding industry can help propel you forward in your quest for a new job.
Not only does it help you learn more about a position you may be interested in, but because you probably already know the person you are shadowing, it can be a less stressful way to learn the business.
If you are lucky enough to have an opportunity to shadow someone in the industry, ask as many questions as possible and soak up as much knowledge as you can.
Job shadowing may also be an opportunity to let facilities know that you are on the job hunt and are ready to make a great addition to their team. Bring your resume with you and give it to the hiring manager!
#7. Start With an Internship
An internship allows you to gain hands-on work experience in the exact setting you will eventually be working. Some internships are paid; however, most are not.
If they are paid, they are generally much less than what you would make as a working member of the organization. However, there are many other benefits of doing an internship:
- On-the-job networking
- Earning valuable work experience that you can add to your resume (putting you ahead of your competition!)
- Put your education into action and fine-tune your skills
- Potentially transition into a new job when your internship expires
#8. Work as a Medical Records Clerk
Medical records clerks manage patient files within a healthcare facility. Working as a medical records clerk helps give you work experience within some of the exact healthcare facilities that also hire medical billers and coders.
If you can, it may be beneficial to work in medical records while you are going through your medical coding and billing education. You will already have a leg up on your fellow graduates!
You Got This!
Getting your first medical billing and coding job will take a lot of hustle and dedication. But if you stay focused and use one or more of the above methods, you will be sitting in your next career role before you know it. Best of luck to you on your job search!