How Can I Increase My Salary as a Medical Coder?
If you’re a medical coder at or near the top of your pay scale, you can increase your salary by pursuing higher-level jobs that incorporate your current coding skill set. These jobs can include:
- Advanced Specialty Certification Jobs
- Hospital Coding Manager
- Medical and Health Services Manager
- Health Information Manager
- Clinical Manager
You can also work towards increasing your salary by expanding your professional skill set through an advanced specialty medical coding certificate. This higher level of certification is typically earned through a combination of on-the-job experience and some additional formal education, as required by accredited certifying organizations such as:
- The American Health Information Association (AHIMA)
- The Board of Medical Specialty Coding (BMSC)
- The Professional Association of Healthcare Coding Specialists (PAHC)
- The National Cancer Registrars Association (NCRA)
Advanced specialty certifications include:
- Certified Coding Specialist — Physician-based (CCS-P) recipients are certified in a wider range of medical coding languages such as ICD-9-CM, CPT and HCPCS Level II.
- Registered Health Information Technician (RHIT) certification can expand options for medical coders with CCA and CCS certifications, which are specific to settings like hospitals or physician offices.
- Certified Tumor Registrar (CTR) is a specialty coding career certification offered by the National Cancer Registrars Association.
- Certified Interventional Radiology Cardiovascular Coder (CIRCC) certification is offered by AHIMA.
Other highly specialized medical coding certification areas include ambulatory surgical center, anesthesia and pain management, obstetric gynecology, and pediatrics. But if you’re seeking a significant increase in salary, you should consider aiming for a position as a hospital coding manager, particularly if you have an advanced specialty certification like the RHIT. To qualify, you should have advanced medical coding skills in languages like ICD-9-CM and CPT, and should also have some personnel management experience. It is this added experience that can promote you to a higher paying hospital coding manager position. Hospital coding managers may perform the following tasks:
- Hiring personnel
- Conducting performance evaluations
- Training new coders
- Maintaining coding system compliance standards
- Managing workflow
Medical and health services managers are also known as healthcare executives or health services administrators. Medical billers and coders looking for an increase in their salary may want to consider aiming for this higher paying job. However, keep in mind that this typically requires at least a four-year baccalaureate degree from an accredited college or university. Employees who hold master’s degrees can earn an even higher salary in this position.
Medical and health services managers plan and supervise the delivery of health care for hospitals and medical professionals. They can work as generalists accommodating all medical facility departments, or they can work as specialists in charge of one specific clinical department. Medical coding serves as a major part of a medical and health services manager’s skill set.
Another possible career path is that of a health information manager. A career in health information management requires excellent coding skills coupled with supervisory experience. HIMs must stay up-to-date with advancements in medical and other applicable software and hardware technologies. They must also keep up with laws and compliance regulations applicable to healthcare. Their primary responsibility, however, is the maintenance and security of all patient records. They also ensure that patient record databases are complete, accurate, and available only to authorized personnel. HIMs can work with a small group of doctors, typically 10-15; or in a large practice, typically 40 to 50 physicians.
Finally, another path is that of a clinical manager. Clinical managers serve a specific clinical area such as physical therapy. This position typically requires a bachelorís degree in health information administration or medical records administration from an accredited college or university. Medical coding is a key part of the curriculum for these degrees. Clinical managers implement and oversee policies and procedures at a clinic or clinical department in healthcare facilities. Besides medical coding responsibilities, they evaluate personnel and the quality of their work, as well as coordinate activities with other department heads if applicable.
Overall, advancement is clearly the key to an increase in salary in the medical billing and coding field. Individuals who are hoping to advance should work on their experience and education levels to stand out among applicants for these specialized positions.