Online medical billing and medical coding programs are typically grouped together at colleges, but the skills learned in these programs are used for distinctly separate functions in the workplace:

Medical billing and coding degree programs fall under the umbrella of health information technicians, who perform a wide range of key functions in health care settings. Similar to medical billers and coders, the primary duty of a health information technician is to use classification software in assigning clinical codes for physician and healthcare services so that providers are reimbursed from insurance providers.

While these occupations differ from healthcare informatics, medical coders and billers do compile and analyze patient data on a smaller scale. However, healthcare informatics requires a graduate degree and is different from health information technology in that it focuses on patient records stored in electronic form as well as compliance, billing and coding for these records.

The sections below contain a wealth of data about the top medical billing online colleges, medical coding and billing profession, also known as health information technology, from commonly asked questions and projected job growth to enrollment requirements and how long programs usually take to complete. Keep reading to dive deep into this growing and important career path.

Frequently Asked Questions

Many well-known colleges and universities offer 100-percent online medical billing degree programs. However, programs that require an externship or supervised clinical experience to qualify for an industry certification may require you to complete these requirements in an approved setting.
Nationally recognized organizations that accredit top medical billing colleges include the American Health Information Management Association and the American Academy of Professional Coders.
No, although health information technicians do need to learn how to use coding software, as well as several highly complex diagnostic and procedural coding systems.
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Best Online Colleges for Medical Billing and Coding In 2019-20

The rankings below can help you compare and contrast 10 of the top medical billing online colleges. We compiled a wealth of information about each institution, including academic focus, key resources and program highlights so you can potentially find an online medical coding school that fits your needs, whether it's one of our top medical billing colleges listed below or not. Additionally, we targeted each top medical billing online colleges's online offerings to help you learn more about how classes are delivered and the level of support you can expect to receive from each institution.

1

Northwest Technical College

Tuition & Fees
$5,488
Distance Education Participation
73%
Location
Bemidji, MN
School Type
2-year

NTC's Academic Focus Focus: Northwest Technical College is part of the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities System, which includes 37 state colleges and universities. Students can take courses from NTC or one of many partner schools as they work to complete program requirements.

Featured Resource: NTC students receive no-cost online support seven days a week with extended hours. Resources include help with academic planning, registration, admissions and success coaching.

Medical Billing and Coding at Northwest Technical College

Certificate in Medical Coding

  • The online medical coding certificate course of study prepares studentsfor entry - level medical coding jobs
  • Most credits can be transferred to NTC 's diploma or associate degree medical coding programs

Diploma in Medical Coding

  • Students can expect a comprehensive examination of common coding systems and procedures
  • Coursework includes study of U.S.healthcare systems,insurance and medical billing practices and core topics such as pharmacology,anatomy,physiology and related topics
  • Most credits are transferrable to the A.A.S.program highlighted below

A.A.S.in Medical Coding

  • Prepares studentsfor medical coding careers through instruction in common coding systems and medical classification / diagnostic procedures
  • The well - rounded curriculum includes core topics such as anatomy,physiology,pharmacology,medical billing and insurance,as well as writing,psychology,public speaking,business communications and customer relations management
  • Up to 60 credits are transferable to Mayville State University 's online B.A.S. program in business administration
2

Wisconsin Indianhead Technical College

Tuition & Fees
$4,729
Distance Education Participation
69%
Location
Shell Lake, WI
School Type
2-year

WITC's Academic Focus: WITC is a highly regarded institution serving residents of northwest Wisconsin from multiple campus locations. Its career-focused degree and certificate programs are designed to help students quickly enter the workforce.

Featured Resource: First-year students work closely with academic advisors to help with scheduling, course sequencing, registration and more. Advisors also can assist with career opportunities and to answer any questions that may arise.

Medical Billing and Coding at Wisconsin Indianhead Technical College

Technical Diploma - Medical Coding Specialist

  • Program can be completed in one year
  • Prepares studentsfor entry - level coding positions at medical clinics,hospitals,physicians ' offices and other care settings

Associate Degree in Health Information Technology

  • Students can gain competencies in coding,health information data analysis,regulatory and legal standards and more through simulated learning activities and medical software applications
  • Graduates of the online health information technology degree program are eligible to sitfor the RHIT certification
  • Final semester includes professional practicum experience at a healthcare facility
  • 3

    Laramie County Community College

    Tuition & Fees
    $3,426
    Distance Education Participation
    39%
    Location
    Cheyenne, WY
    School Type
    2-year

    LCCC's Academic Focus: LCCC's main campus serves residents of Wyoming's capital city, but its online campus serves distance learners throughout the state and beyond. The college offers 85 programs that culminate in associate degrees and 29 certificate-based programs.

    Featured Resource: LCCC students receive no-cost online support seven days a week with extended hours. Resources include help with academic planning, registration, admissions and success coaching.

    Medical Billing and Coding at Laramie County Community College

    Diploma in Medical Office Essentials

    • 100 percent online
    • Instruction includes study of medical office operations management,legal and ethical issues in healthcare operations and computer applications specific to the industry
    • Graduates can pursue additional study in coding,management and health information technology

    Certificate of Completion in Medical Claims Coding Assistance

    • Builds upon the diploma program mentioned above with additional study in coding and reimbursement practices,advanced medical insurance and reimbursement methodologies and electronic record keeping
    • Graduates are eligible for the Certified Professional Coders examination from the AAPC

    A.A.S.in Health Information Technology Management

    • Combines curriculum from LCCC 's diploma and certificate programs along with in-depth instruction in health information technology and healthcare leadership for students who want to enter administrative role
    4

    Rasmussen College-Florida

    Tuition & Fees
    $10,935
    Distance Education Participation
    92%
    Location
    Ocala, FL
    School Type
    4-year

    RC's Academic Focus: Rasmussen College has a large national footprint, including six campus locations throughout the Sunshine State so students can complete degree programs on campus, online or a blend of both. The college's flexible learning options include virtual and on-campus labs, field experience and interactive sessions with faculty.

    Featured Resource: Rasmussen College provides many ways for students to accelerate their certificate or degree programs, including competency-based education, credit for prior learning and self-directed assessments.

    Medical Billing and Coding at Rasmussen College - Florida

    Certificate in Medical Billing and Coding

  • Fully online
  • Can be completed in as little as nine months
  • 11 career - focused courses totaling 38 credit hours
  • Includes a built - in Certified Coding Associate exam through AHIMA
  • 5

    University of Alaska Fairbanks

    Tuition & Fees
    $6,657
    Distance Education Participation
    60%
    Location
    Fairbanks, AK
    School Type
    4-year

    UAF's Academic Focus: UAF's eCampus programs range from occupational certificates to online master's degree programs. The university's online programs have been recognized for their exemplary support for distance learners.

    Featured Resource: UAF's eCoaching department includes specialists in registration, financial aid, academic success, technical support and more to help students navigate different aspects of their academic journeys.

    Medical Billing and Coding at University of Alaska - Fairbanks

    Endorsement in Medical Billing

    • Asynchronous delivery through UAF 's eCampus
    • Foundational study in medical terminology,outpatient and inpatient care reimbursement practices and business computer applications.

    Occupational Endorsement in Medical Coding

    • Online asynchronous delivery
    • Coursework includes study in medical coding,common human diseases,medical terminology and business computer applications
    • Students learn how to analyze medical records and assign codes to index diagnoses and procedures so claims can be reimbursed by insurance providers

    Certificate in Health Care Reimbursement

    • May be completed in one year,based on full - time study
    • 100 - percent online asynchronous delivery
    • Builds upon curriculum mentioned above and prepares studentsfor medical billing and coding positions in a variety of healthcare settings
    • Graduates are eligible to take the Certified Professional Coders examination from the AAPC
    6

    Rasmussen College-Minnesota

    Tuition & Fees
    $10,935
    Distance Education Participation
    90%
    Location
    St. Cloud, MN
    School Type
    4-year

    RC's Academic Focus: Rasmussen's online programs emphasize the career-focused educational skills students need to enter the workforce. The college has campus locations in seven states, as well as its online campus.

    Featured Resource: Competency-based online health information technology degree programs offer credit for prior learning. Self-directed assessments can help students complete their educational requirements more quickly.

    Medical Billing and Coding at Rasmussen College - Minnesota

    Certificate in Medical Coding

    • Can be completed in just nine months
    • AHIMA Certified Coding Associate exam preparation is built into the program
    • Courses taught by experienced professionals

    Associate Degree - Health Information Technician

    • Can be completed in 18 months
    • Flexible asynchronous scheduling
    • Multiple start dates each year
    • Foundational skills set students upfor variety of health information technology careers
    7

    Alexandria Technical & Community College

    Tuition & Fees
    $5,416
    Distance Education Participation
    45%
    Location
    Alexandria, MN
    School Type
    2-year

    ATCC's Academic Focus: ATCC states that their retention, career placement and graduation rates all rank among the highest in public two-year colleges in Minnesota. Nearly half of all ATCC students live outside a 50-mile radius of the main campus in Alexandria.

    Featured Resource: Transfer specialists help students earn the maximum amount of transferrable credits. All Minnesota Transfer Curriculum transfers to any public four-year college or university in the state and are also widely accepted at private colleges as well.

    Medical Billing and Coding at Alexandria Technical & amp;Community College

    Medical Coding Specialist Certificate

    • May be able to complete in one - year
    • Online medical coding certificate curriculum focuses on instruction in medical terminology and its application to professional coding standards

    Medical Coding Specialist Diploma

    • Builds upon the certificate program through advanced instruction in applied medical terminology,healthcare systems and practices,legality and reimbursement issues and extensive coding coursework
    • Students seeking to transfer to a four - year university after earning this associate degree must complete additional general education coursework
    8

    Herzing University-Kenosha

    Tuition & Fees
    $14,000
    Distance Education Participation
    70%
    Location
    Kenosha, WI
    School Type
    4-year

    HUK's Academic Focus: Founded in 1965 as a small computer training institution in Milwaukee, this private nonprofit institution now has nine campus locations in Ohio, Georgia, Alabama, Louisiana, Florida, Wisconsin and Minnesota, as well as its online campus. The average student-faculty ratio is 14:1.

    Featured Resource: Online classes start throughout the year. Online curriculum includes personalized learning technology so distance learners can capitalize on prior learning to master content.

    Medical Billing and Coding at Herzing University - Kenosha

    Medical Billing

    Diploma

    • The eight - month program requires 28 credits to complete
    • Prepares studentsfor the Certified Billing and Coding Specialist exam

    Associate Degree

    • Completely online,though students can take on - campus classes in Atlanta or New Orleans
    • Prepares students to earn the Certified Coding Associate certification

    Medical Coding

    Diploma

    • Courses focus on inpatient or outpatient coding
    • Prepares studentsfor the CCA examination

    Associate Degree

    • Graduates are eligible to take the Certified Coding Associate exam and also pursue the Certified Coding Specialist certification after one year of work experience
    9

    Northcentral Technical College

    Tuition & Fees
    $3,553
    Distance Education Participation
    49%
    Location
    Wausau, WI
    School Type
    2-year

    NTC's Academic Focus: NTC has provided academic programs geared to meet employer needs in technical fields and careers for more than 100 years. The college operates six campus locations across central Wisconsin and serves distance learners throughout the nation from its online campus.

    Featured Resource: NTC's statewide Youth Apprenticeship program blends academic instruction with hands-on training for students who want to jump-start their careers. Apprentices work a minimum of 450 hours and take corresponding college coursework to enhance their on-the-job experience.

    Medical Billing and Coding at Northcentral Technical College

    Technical Diploma - Medical Coding Specialist

    • 100 percent online with multiple modes of delivery
    • Coursework focuses on digital literacyfor healthcare,human diseases,body structures andfunction,anatomy and physiology,medical coding and medical terminology
    • Credit offeredfor prior learning
    10

    Herzing University-Brookfield

    Tuition & Fees
    $14,000
    Distance Education Participation
    89%
    Location
    Brookfield, WI
    School Type
    4-year

    HUB's Academic Focus: Herzing University serves more than 6,000 students annually through nine campus locations in seven states and its online campus. The university's career-oriented degree and diploma programs provide the industry-specific skills and training students need to broaden their career opportunities.

    Featured Resource: Each student is matched with a campus professional in their area of study to provide individualized support throughout their academic journey.

    Medical Billing and Coding at Herzing University - Brookfield

    Health Information Management

    Associate Degree

    • Fully online
    • Curriculum focused on providing entry - level skills in all areas of health information careers
    • Graduates are eligible to sitfor the RHIT exam
    • Credits can seamlessly transfer to bachelor 's degree program

    Bachelor 's Degree

    • 100 percent online
    • Program provides instruction in medical records and coding,health information documentation,health sciences and general education,as well as accounting and management
    • Graduates are eligible to sitfor the RHIA certification exam

    Medical Billing

    Diploma in Medical Billing and Insurance

    • Fully online asynchronous delivery
    • Teaches the skills needed to work as an entry - level biller,coder or claims analyst in a variety of healthcare settings

    Associate Degree

    • Fully online asynchronous course delivery
    • Credits earn can be transferred into bachelor 's degree programs where students can add skills in business and management
    • Students are preparedfor the Certified Billing and Coding Specialist certification exam

    Medical Coding

    Diploma

    • Asynchronous online delivery
    • Optional focus on inpatient or outpatient coding
    • Prepares studentsfor the Certified Coding Associate exam

    Associate Degree

    • 100 - percent online and asynchronous
    • Provides students with comprehensive foundation in disease processes,anatomy and physiology,medical terminology,advanced coding principles,medical ethics and more
    • Prepares studentsfor the Certified Coding Associate examination and Certified Coding Specialist qualification after just one year of work experience rather than the standard two years
    • Graduates can transition into a bachelor 's degree in healthcare management

    Medical Billing and Coding Program Overview

    If you earn either an online medical coding certificate or associate degree in medical billing and coding you can expect to receive the proper training to enter the health information technology workforce.

    Both online medical billing degree programs cover highly technical subject matter and train you to perform accurate data entry. Online medical coding certificate and associate degree programs include topics such as:

    • Electronic medical record practices
    • Billing and payment policies
    • Commonly used classification systems
    • Government regulations
    • Anatomy, physiology and pharmacology
    • Computers and English

    However, there are some key differences between the program levels.

    • Certificate-based programs teach you the basics of coding and billing practices so you can quickly enter the workforce. Although online medical coding certificate programs are shorter than the top online medical coding and billing degree programs, many are more intensive than semester-based associate degree programs.
    • Associate degree programs typically offer a broader range of study. Additional topics include social and natural sciences, English composition and similar subjects. Lastly, some employers prefer students who've completed an A.A.S. degree program, and many important industry certifications require candidates to hold an associate degree or higher.

    Requirements to Enroll for Medical Billing and Coding

    • Certificate:
      Entrance requirements vary by program and school. Students may need to complete college-readiness courses in math and English if their skills are lacking in these subjects so that they can successfully complete college-level curriculum. Students also should have earned a GED or high school diploma prior to enrollment in an online health information technology degree.
    • Associate:
      Community and vocational colleges typically require students to earn a high school diploma or equivalent and take a placement test such as the SAT or ACT. They may also require you to submit proof of residency and oftentimes complete a short college orientation course.

    Time to Complete a Certificate or Associate Degree in Medical Billing and Coding

    • Certificate:
      Online medical billing certificate programs can be completed in a year or less depending on the program requirements. Some online medical billing certificate programs, however, can take up to 18 months to complete.
    • Associate:
      Associate degree programs, meanwhile, typically take two years, or eight semesters, to complete. Students who earn certificates can continue their education and complete an associate degree.

    Common Courses

    • Certificate:
      • Law, ethics and confidentiality in allied health
      • Medical billing and health insurance
      • Electronic medical records
      • Medical office procedures
      • Body systems and medical terminology
    • Associate:
      • Advanced medical coding
      • Medical computer applications
      • Diagnostic and procedures coding
      • Medical reimbursement procedures
      • Healthcare delivery systems
      • Core general education in English, anatomy, physiology and computers, as well as math and science

    What You Can Learn in a Medical Billing and Coding Program

    Student outcomes from both online medical coding certificate and online health information technology degree programs include a deep understanding of the following subjects:

    Medical Terminology for Medical Billing and Coding
    • Certificate:
      Students can expect to learn basic medical prefixes and suffixes, as well as other common medical verbiage.
    • Associate:
      A.A.S. programs focus on a building a more comprehensive understanding of terminology so that students can prepare for the Certified Professional Coder exam. Students can expect to become familiar with a host of diagnostic medical prefixes (dys, iso, hyper) and suffixes (algia, itis, opathy), as well as common surgical suffixes (ectomy, ostomy, oplasty).

    Medical Office Procedures for Medical Billing and Coding

    • Certificate:
      Coursework focuses on the processes involved with an office visit, from front-end duties such as patient registration and confirmation of insurance to back-end tasks such as preparing and transmitting claims.
    • Associate:
      Online medical billing degree programs move beyond basic medical office procedures and center around advanced study in patient management, office billing and reporting practices, as well as electronic data exchange, coding and billing reconciliation and other common office duties for medical coders.

    Laws and Ethics for Medical Billing and Coding

    • Certificate:
      Students can expect to take a medical laws and ethics course that covers basics such as the importance of accurate and consistent coding and reporting. Additional study includes the frequent ethical challenges coders face due to complex regulatory requirements.
    • Associate:
      Students in A.A.S. online medical billing degree programs delve deeper into medical laws and ethics as they pertain to healthcare. Students should be taught proper business practices that guide medical professionals and staff, the importance of exacting accuracy in coding and billing to avoid fraudulent claims, patient privacy laws, and the ethical standards of medical practitioners that ensure patients receive equitable care to avoid practitioner liability.

    Career Outlook

    The aging population in the U.S. is expected to drive demand for trained and certified medical billers and coders. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment for medical records and health information technicians should jump 11 percent through 2028, an increase of 23,100 new jobs nationwide.

    As millions of baby boomers get older, they are expected to access health and medical services more frequently, resulting in a spike in claims. And increased use of electronic medical records means trained medical billers and coders are need to manage data for this key component of the healthcare industry.

    Here are some of the most common careers in medical billing and coding that you may begin after graduation. We'll discuss the requirements of each one as well as its job duties and responsibilities so you can determine your ideal career path.

    Medical Coders

    Job Duties:

    Medical coders typically assign diagnostic and procedural codes to services rendered so that they can be properly billed. They also serve as a link between physicians' offices and other care facilities and billing offices. Coders also review patient information for preexisting conditions in order to properly assign medical codes to their records.

    Expected Qualifications:

    Most employers prefer to hire those who have taken courses in medical coding and billing, including those who have earned at least a certificate or associate degree. Certification can often be earned after a medical coder has earned a certain amount of work experience in addition to higher education.

    Health Information Technicians

    Job Duties:

    Health Information Technicians typically record patient data and track patient outcomes to help generate quality assessments. They use one of the four main classification software systems to assign clinical codes to services so they can be reimbursed by insurance providers. They may work closely with registered nurses and other trained medical professionals to clarify diagnoses or ensure patient records are correct.

    Expected Qualifications:

    Most health information technicians need a postsecondary certificate or an associate degree, depending upon the employer's preference. Many employers prefer to hire those who hold certification.

    Medical Secretary

    Job Duties:

    Medical secretaries handle many responsibilities, including taking dictation for physicians, processing insurance payments, arranging care for patients, and recording simple medical histories. They must be well-versed in medical terminology, understand billing codes and medical records, and know the basics of laboratory procedures. A medical secretary also handles typical secretarial duties, such as taking calls, filing paperwork, preparing invoices, scheduling appointments, maintaining databases and the like.

    Expected Qualifications:

    Employers often look favorably upon candidates who have taken courses in related areas, such as billing and coding, or those who have earned an associate or bachelor's online medical coding degree.

    Medical Billing and Coding Certifications and Exams

    Students have five hours and 40 minutes to answer 150 multiple-choice questions during a proctored test that assesses 17 core areas of knowledge. A score of 70 percent or higher is required to pass the exam. Membership to the Academy of Professional Coders (AAPC) is required for renewal, and coders must complete 36 units of continuing education every two years to verify their expertise. Coders must also have two years of documented work experience to earn the full CPC designation; otherwise, they are classified as apprentices (CPC-A). Students can find additional details here.

    Eligible students have completed an approved associate degree program in health information management or are in their final semester of study. The 3.5-hour-long exam consists of 150 multiple-choice questions (20 pre-test and 130 scored questions) that gauge core competencies in three areas. Renewal every two years requires completion of 20 continuing education units. Find additional details here.

    Cancer registrars collect, document and manage cancer data to provide crucial insight into reducing the burden of cancer. Eligibility for the CTR credential includes completion of an associate degree program and a minimum of 160 hours of supervised clinical experience under the supervision of a registered CTR, completion of an associate degree and a CTR certificate program, or 1,950 hours work experience in cancer registry. The exam consists of 180 multiple-choice questions and takes approximately four hours to complete. During the two-year recertification period, CTRs, must complete a minimum of 20 hours of continuing education. Find additional details here.

    Professional Organizations for Medical Billing and Coding

    Membership in professional organizations can help you in online health information technology degree programs, as well as advance your careers through networking opportunities, continuing education and more. Here are some of the most prominent professional groups for the industry.

    AAPC has more than 190,000 members, making it the largest organization for coding and billing professionals. Membership includes networking opportunities, continuing education resources, industry certifications and other resources.
    The PAHCS provides support and communications to members to help advance best practices for the coding profession. Membership includes certification opportunities, regular newsletters, networking and informational updates regarding important changes in the profession.
    AHIMA membership for students or working professionals includes connections to more than 103,000 members, professional guidance, training and education, conferences and career resources.
    Membership to the HBMA includes certification opportunities, access to a 40,000-employee peer network, the email newsletter NewsWire and industry publication RCM Advisor, education and training opportunities and regular industry conferences.

    Related Rankings for Medical Billing and Coding

    We've tried to compile the most comprehensive information on the medical coding and billing profession, but we realize you also may want to explore other career options. Here are additional pages on our site to help you explore related career paths:

    Sources