How Much Does a Medical Biller and Coder Make?

    June 1, 2021
    How Much Does a Medical Biller and Coder Make?

    If you’re looking for a healthcare career with a short runway from program to profession and plenty of advancement opportunities, look no further than medical billing and coding. 

    There are many different paths within these fields. However, they all involve handling medical records and ensuring they are accurate to facilitate the billing process. As the role of healthcare grows, trained professionals who perform these functions will become increasingly important. 

    In fact, the Bureau of Labor Statistics's (BLS) predicts 8% growth over the next ten years -- much faster than the average for all occupations. With 29,000 new jobs expected by 2029, now is a good time to investigate a career in medical billing and coding. 

    Anytime you're considering a new career, how much you can make is always a factor. This salary guide will explore the salaries for both medical billing and coding and how to maximize the salary of each position.

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    Part One What is Medical Coding

    Medical Coding is the process of taking medical terminology and information and translating it into a language that is universally understood by medical professionals and insurance companies alike. 

    The language is an established alphanumeric code. Medical coders apply it to diagnoses, procedures, medical equipment, and medical services. It's important because:

    1. Streamlines the billing process
    2. Creates a universal language for medical professionals and facilities
    3. Helps researchers track health trends and use data to analyze treatments

    Part Two What is Medical Billing? 

    Medical billing is the process of collecting payment for healthcare services. It includes compiling coded information into an invoice, sending it to insurance providers or payers, and collecting payment.

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    Part Three What’s the Difference Between Medical Billing and Medical Coding?

    Medical billing and medical coding are both parts of the healthcare industry’s system of collecting revenue for health services. However, the responsibilities of medical billers and medical coders are quite different. 

    1. Medical coders review medical data and assign the appropriate standardized code needed for billing.
    2. Medical billers take that information, compile it, and prepare claims for insurance companies and bills for patients. This role often requires following up with medical providers, insurers, and patients for clarification.

    Part Four Medical Billing and Coding Salaries 

    Salaries for medical coders and medical billing specialists vary based upon a number of factors. These factors include specialization, certification, location, type of workplace, and experience.

    With those variations taken into account, the Bureau of Labor and Statistics (BLS) found that the average median salary in 2020 for medical records and health information specialists was $44,090 per year, or $21.20 per hour.

    Certification Increases Your Salary Potential

    According to the AAPC, non-certified coders make an average salary of $42,015 per year while certified coders earn 33% more -- an average of $55,923 per year. Adding a second certification increases that average salary to $64,890. Additional credentials increase the average annual salary for billing and coding specialists to $70,608. 


    Most health information technicians also receive benefits packages that may include insurance, paid time off, sick leave, tuition reimbursement, and more.

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    Part Five Medical Billing and Coding Salaries by State

    Each of the United States has its own economy, cost of living, and average salary. Location is one of the greatest variables in determining medical billing and coding salaries. 

    The chart below shows the average salary of medical billers and coders in each state per the AAPC

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    Part Six Highest Paying States for Medical Billers and Coders

    According to the BLS, the states where medical billers and coders can earn the most money are:

    1. District of Columbia - $60,530 per year, $29.10 per hour
    2. Alaska - $58,620 per year, $28.18 per hour
    3. Washington - $56,890 per year, $27.35 per hour
    4. Massachusetts - $56,650 per year, $27.23 per hour
    5. Minnesota - $55,450 per year, $26.66 per hour

    Part Seven Highest Paying Cities for Medical  Billers and Coders

    In addition to state salaries, it's also important to consider how salaries vary by city. The five metropolitan areas with the highest annual mean salaries for medical coding and billing, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics are listed below. 

    1. Kokomo, Indiana - $71,470 per year, $34.36 per hour
    2. Trenton, New Jersey - $70,430 per year, $33.86 per hour
    3. Kennewick/Richland, Washington - $67,560 per year, $32.48 per hour
    4. Vallejo-Fairfield, California - $65,080 per year, $31.29 per hour
    5. Corvallis, Oregon -  $64,770 per year, $31.14 per hour

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    Part Eight Medical Billing and Medical Coding Salaries by Place of Employment

    Compensation for medical billers and coders is also determined by the type of care facilities they work in. For example, employment at large group practices often comes with greater reimbursement than positions in small physician's offices.

    While large health systems are likely to pay higher salaries and offer more generous benefits packages, salary is also affected by whether a health information specialist chooses to work within their employer’s physical location or prefers to telecommute. The latter is becoming increasingly popular as telehealth technology improves.  

    Below are the AAPC’s latest salary survey results, detailing average annual salary for common medical billing and coding workplace.

    1. Health System - $58,338
    2. Large Group Practice (50+ physicians) - $55,209
    3. Hospital Inpatient and Outpatient - $54,606
    4. Hospital Inpatient - $53,018
    5. Hospital Outpatient - $50,526
    6. Medium Group Practice (11-49 physicians) - $49.392
    7. Solo Practice/Small Group Practice (1-10 physicians) - $48,038

    Part Nine How to Increase Your Salary as a Medical Coder or Biller

    Changing location and facility are not the only ways to increase salary as a medical coder or biller. These healthcare professionals can also receive higher pay by:

    1. Gaining Experience
    2. Furthering Your Education
    3. Certifications and Credentials

    Gain Experience

    One of the many advantages of this field is that it’s quick to enter. Medical coders and billers can gain experience while pursuing further education and certifications in specialty areas. 

    Further Your Education

    Having a college education – whether an associate degree or some college-level classes – will add approximately 5% to your annual salary. A bachelor’s degree or master’s degree will add significantly more. 

    Add Certifications and Credentials

    Pursuing advanced credentialing is even more important than higher education. Professionals who pursue this level of validation of their knowledge provide their employers with confidence in their expertise and proficiency. 

    The AAPC reports that the average coder salary boost from increased credentials is 3.1%. However, coding specialists who have earned the Certified Inpatient Coder (CIC) credential reportedly earn over 11% salary increases. 

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    Part Ten Getting Started in Medical Billing & Coding

    In order to start a career in medical billing and coding, these are the basic steps you'll need to take:

    1. Earn a high school diploma or equivalent
    2. Gain experience
    3. Pursue continuing education
    4. Pursue certifications

    Getting a Degree

    Those interested in a career as a medical coder or medical biller can get started in the profession within a year. In-person and online programs are available on an ongoing basis and can often be completed full-time or part-time. This allows the flexibility to continue working while taking courses. 

    To become a medical coding career, all that’s required is a high school diploma or equivalent degree. Entry-level medical coder training is available through community colleges and standalone certification programs.

    Getting Certified

    There are significant benefits to earning certifications, including expanded career opportunities and higher salaries. After a few years of experience and exploring specialties within coding, it’s a good idea to pursue additional coding certification, such as taking the Certified Professional Coder (CPC) exam, to become even more valuable and pave the way for advanced coding jobs.

    After completing course work and earning certifications, the next step is to prepare a resume. Identify your strengths, experience, and education and apply to positions that suit your goals.

    Part Eleven Medical Billing & Coding Resources

    For more information on getting into medical billing and coding, check out our other helpful articles and guides!

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