By Morgan Chilson
The medical billing and coding job market is expected to grow explosively in the next eight years, offering opportunities and good pay for allied health professionals.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projected job growth of 22 percent between 2012 and 2022 for medical records and health information technicians, an increase that it labeled “much faster than average for all occupations.” The demand for qualified billing and coding professionals is expected to continue on that upward trend as the population ages.
A growing demand
“An aging population will need more medical tests, treatments, and procedures. This will mean more claims for reimbursement from insurance companies,” BLS reported. “Additional records, coupled with widespread use of electronic health records (EHRs) by all types of healthcare providers, could lead to an increased need for technicians to organize and manage the associated information in all areas of the healthcare industry.”
The accelerated growth in medical and billing jobs is evident in membership in the American Association of Professional Coders, a professional association that offers training and certification globally. From 2008, when the economy struggled with a recession, the organization grew from 60,000 members to 141,000 members today, according to its website.
Average salaries in the field
An AAPC survey from 2012 shows the average salary for a certified professional medical coders was $47,796. Individuals with a hospital outpatient specialty can earn upwards of $56,000. Those who continue their education and receive a certification for Professional Medical Auditor can see salaries nearing $60,000.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported lower average salaries, which include those medical billers and coders who are not AAPC certified. The annual median wage in 2012 was $34,160, which means half of those working in the field earned less than that amount and half earned more.
Professional growth opportunities
Other organizations also offer certifications that can be beneficial for people exploring the billing and coding field. BLS reported that such certifications include Registered Health Information Technician (RHIT) and Certified Tumor Registrar (CTR).
Specialization within the medical billing and coding profession is possible. The BLS reported an expected need for cancer registrars, for instance.
In addition, medical billing and coding experience can also be a strong base to pursue other health-care degrees. Medical and health services management, for example, requires a bachelor’s degree. People in this profession earned a median income of $88,580 in 2012, according to the BLS website.
Morgan Chilson is a business writer who specializes in health and science topics.