10 Medical Coding Tips To Land Your First Medical Coder Job

10 Medical Coding Tips To Land Your First Medical Coder JobI often get asked for help to break into the medical coding field. Here are 10 medical coding tips to help you land your first job as a medical coder.

  1. Get educated. There are many online medical coding courses to choose from; do your research and make sure you connect with a group that will be able to meet your budget; time frame and specific medical coding training needs.
  2. Internships. Most people cringe at this idea, but they are a great way to break into the field. Perhaps there is a medical office nearby that could use some assistance, say one day per week. Volunteer. In turn, you can request some time with their medical coder to see what happen on a day-to-day basis. It may turn into a part-time or full-time gig.
  3. Entry level. When breaking into a new field, you typically have to start at the bottom. Don’t be dismayed. Entry-level coders can quickly rise to the top with the right skill set.
  4. Excel. Take pride in what you do. Ask questions. Get to know your supervisor. Volunteer to take on extra work if needed. It’s these things that will help you to quickly rise through the ranks.
  5. Relocate. Go where the jobs are. If you have the ability to move, research areas where medical coders are most needed.
  6. Certification. It’s not only important to get initial medical coding training and education, but it’s key to keep up certifications once you get them. They will help you to maintain your competitive edge.
  7. Network. Join medical coding forums; sign up for medical coding e-newsletters; get involved with medical coding associations. There many groups to be found on social media as well such as on LinkedIn and Facebook. Do a simple search for medical coding and see what comes up.  Many of these sites will also post jobs in the medical coding profession.
  8. Read. In addition to online resources, read books. Of course, you will need the essential such as the most current versions of the CPT, ICD-9 and HCPCS books, but also check out specific books in your specific medical coding specialty (i.e., anesthesia, on-gyn, etc.) There are also many books on compliance that may be useful in medical coding career. The more you know; the more valuable you will be.
  9. Write. Get your name out there. There are many article sites where people can write informative articles and submit them online for free. For example, Ezine articles is one such site. You can check them out at: www.ezinearticles.com. Once you begin to develop an audience, you will be more sought after in the medical coding industry.
  10. Be diligent. Don’t give up. This is a growing field and a great time to be seeking a career in medical coding. If you follow these steps, you will be well on your way to a successful medical coding career.

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14 thoughts on “10 Medical Coding Tips To Land Your First Medical Coder Job”

  1. Hi Laureen,

    Your ten steps I could not agree with you more but on number 2 about interships I have asked quite a few hospitals and private practice doctors if I could intern for some experiance or even just to shadow and the answer was always no because of the HIPAA privacy rule. I have never had the opportunity to work in a coding position as of yet but took my CCS exam in May and only missed by 2 points. But the problem once I do past it the next time (positive thinking LOL) is that I have no experiance. It is frustrating because I feel I have put alot of money and time in studying for over 2 years now and I still feel like I am hitting a brick wall. I am not giving up thou and now that both of my sons are off on their own I can move to where the jobs are, I just need that one chance to prove myself and I am 52 years old so working at the front desk is even more frustrating to think about I would not mind possibly starting in the medical records dept but since the EHR adoption I do not know it that would even pan out.. I live currently in a very small town in Colorado and are hospital just had a hugh turn over and consulting company from Florida came in just about fired everyone and all the coding is done in India, Even more frustrating Any ideas I was hoping to eventually work from home but with my age I would probaly be in a nursing home before that happens LOL Sorry bur like everyone else there was suppose to be this hugh shortage and jobs every where Ok where and I am packing up and headed that way Genia

    • Hi Genia,

      thanks for the comment. I feel your pain. It seem a lot of people are not passing by two stinking points! Are you married to the idea of inpatient hospital coding? Perhaps you could go for your CCS-P or CPC and go for jobs working at a physician’s office or outpatient clinic. Once you got some experience then you could apply for a remote coding position. –Laureen

  2. Volunteering in a physician’s office is not well accepted. I have been told many times that it would violate a privacy/security rule. Shadowing a coder has also elicited the same response…security issues! What the online schools need to offer are internships/externships. Even with certification hospitals and physician offices still want experience. I have contacted the state AHIMA and asked for assistance several times and have never received a response. Medical staffing agencies have also been a dead end for me.

    I was lured in to Medical Coding by the “high demand” slogan and have been very disappointed.

    – JoAnna

    • Hi JoAnna,

      Sorry to hear your experience with coding has not been what you expected. Coding is in demand but it is admittedly hard to get your foot in the door. I’d be happy to review your resume and give you some tips. I agree about the internships – that is a dream of mine to be able to provide that but would take a lot of capital to get set up.

    • Hi, my name is Sheila and I am replying in response to both Genia and JoAnna’s comments. I live in Wisconsin and I too am finding it very difficult to get a job in coding. I took an online course and passed with a GPA of 3.92, I took the CPC exam soon after graduating and failed by only 1 %. I took the CPC exam again December 5th, this time I passed with an 82% and still cannot get a job, not even with the certification. I am feeling very frustrated and it is very upsetting and stressful to have gone through all of the schooling and hard work of studying for the CPC exam and still not find anyone willing to hire me. I also thought that there was going to be a huge demand for coders only to find out that everyone only wants people with experience. Well, how are we supposed to get experience if no one will hire us?? I checked with the AAPC and here in Wisconsin there are no opportunities even for externships, even more disappointing because I am at the point that I am willing to work for free to get some experience! So I am not sure what to do at this point and welcome any suggestions.
      Thank you

      • Hi Sheila,

        We feel your pain – truly. I think there is a mistaken belief that certification is a ticket to getting a coding job easily. Unfortunately it is like any other industry one is breaking into – you’re going to have a lot more no’s before you get that first “yes”. The main thing is to keep on putting your resume out there every day. I’ve coached a number of people on reworking their resume and how to interview better. The main thing is to highlight skills from previous jobs that can be translated to a coding position. Also many have gotten their start by taking a non-coding postion in a healthcare practice i.e.. front desk to get in the door and after a time ask to be more involved with the coding. Keep in mind every coder working today has a first coding job at some point. Yours is out there- don’t give up! Visit our discussion board for more encouragement there are a few who just landed their first job and share their stories https://www.cco.us/forum. Best wishes!!!

  3. I am looking at getting a coding/billing certification via Drexel University in Pennsylvania. I am a psychiatric nurse working in the Washington DC area. I have 20 plus years of experience in acute care (several specialties) with a BSN. But I am very concerned about getting that first coding job after graduation. It will cost me about $4,000 (plus books–expensive) to get the certificate at Drexel. I could “create” my own externship (possibly) by shadowing a
    coder in medical records at the hospital I currently work for. (It is actually a large system with several hospitals plus urgent care/ambulatory care/free standing ERs/etc.) Since I already have access to medical records in the hospital (i.e. the HIPPA issue)….this may give me an advantage. Do you know if Drexel has a good program (it is online and takes about 1 year to complete)? Can you give me any additional advice in my journey to becoming a coder? My ultimate goal is to work as a coder from my home–especially as I look at my retirement years. Your input would be very much appreciated. Thanks. Ruth.

    • Hi Ruth – I think I replied to this somewhere else but Drexel does have a good program. I was involved in starting it about 10 years ago.

      The initial goal should be to get certified. You can sit for the CPC exam without going to any school not that it is recommended. I say that only so you know you can choose less expensive alternatives and accomplish the same training goal. Of course I’m biased and am going to recommend our 80 hour coding course which now uses the PMCC (curriculum from the AAPC) as the base of the program. For more details go here https://www.cco.us/medical-coding-course-online/.

      Since you’re a nurse you don’t need medical terminology and anatomy. Best wishes in your pursuit of certification.

  4. Hello, I found this site in search for some information on requirements to become a medical coder. I have some care giving experience, but it’s minimal compared to most medical occupations. I’ve also had multiple jobs where privacy and security were very important, examples (bank teller, assistant property manager, head start, home health aide.) As a 30 year old woman with a BS in Elementary Ed. and diverse work experience, what would be a good outline of things I should do If I wanted to persue work in medical coding? I’m at a point in my life where failure isn’t an option I can afford anymore. Time has become very important. Any information you can give will be greatly appreciated and considered.

    Thank you,

  5. Hello. I plan on enrolling at Educational Institute of Colorado this week. Its just a certification program to learn anatomy etc.. All the books are in the package. I feel like I can make good with this field. I’m really willing to learn it and really hope to work from home. They also have a program that once you get certified, they will try and find you a job. IF you don’t get a job through them within six months, they will refund your money. That was what caught my eye. Here in Birmingham AL, we have so many hospitals and physicians offices to choose from. However..reading these last few comments it kinds worries me I wont be able to jump in so easily. Even though I haven’t enrolled, it was a wise thought from my husband to investigate the coding field. Any Ideas?

    Thanks for your time!

    • Hi Jhawkins,

      It is no different than any other field but we do have some new tools! We have a practicum using Practcode that allows you to practice you new coding skills on real cases just as if you were a remote coder. We can rate your proficiency by specialty and companies like Aviacode will hire you based on proficiency vs. how much experience you have. Medical Coding Practicum Course with Practicode

  6. Great tips, Laureen! Now that I have my CCA and CPC-A certifications, I try to spend my days on networking through social media (need to also go to some local Chapter meetings), coding, coding, and more coding (through your Practicode and other sources), learning everything I can, and realizing that it’s not easy to get my foot in the door and find the ultimate coding position. However, it can and will be done. It just takes time, knowledge, and hard work. And embracing change and a zest for continued learning.

    Oh, and your ebook on A Career in Medical Coding and your YouTube videos are awesome!


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