What Education Is Required to Be a Medical Coder?

Education required to become a medical coder includes a high school diploma. It is highly recommended that anyone interested in becoming a medical coder completes a certificate program and obtains certification. Schools offering Insurance Billing & Coding Specialist degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Educational Requirements

High School Diploma

A high school diploma or G.E.D. is absolutely essential for a career as a medical coder, according to the Employment Development Department (EDD) of California (www.calmis.ca.gov). The American Medical Association (AMA, www.ama-assn.org) adds that additional training is also necessary. Some employers offer on-the-job training, but most prefer some college education.

Postsecondary Education

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS, www.bls.gov) most medical coders complete a certificate or associate's degree program. The EDD says courses in medical record coding, medical coding systems, medical terminology, diseases, and medications are required. Courses familiarize potential medical coders with codes and their creation, making them more effective on the job. Enrolling in a certificate program is highly recommended, however, in order to advance in the field of medical coding, earning an associate's, bachelor's, or master's degree or obtaining certification is advised. The American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA, www.ahima.org) has a list of schools with approved coding programs on its website.


The American Academy of Professional Coders (AAPC, www.aapc.com) states that certification is not necessary and fewer than half of all medical coders are certified. However, certification may make one more marketable and able to command a higher salary. The AMA adds that certification helps medical coders stay on top of changes in the industry, because every two years, certified coders need to complete a certain number of credits to retain their certification. Possible certifications include:

  • Certified Professional Coder (CPC) - Associate
  • CPC-Hospital
  • CPC-Physician
  • CCS (Certified Coding Specialist)

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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