How to Become a Medical Biller and Coder in California

Medical billers and coders hold important positions within the healthcare industry. In 2021, many of these positions can be done remotely from a computer.

The most common employers of billers and coders work for hospitals, outpatient care centers, and physician’s offices.

There is an going need for medical billing and coding professionals in healthcare facilities. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects a robust 9% job growth rate for medical billers and coders between 2020 and 2030, adding over 37,000 jobs in the next decade. Here are details on pursuing this stable career path.

What is a Medical Biller and Coder?

Medical billing and medical coding are two closely intertwined job positions that facilitate between insurance companies, health care providers, and patients.

Here is an encapsulated look at each position, and how they help medical offices run smoothly.

Medical coders transcribe a patient visit into a series of universally recognized codes that tell exactly what happened during a patient visit. These medical codes are used by medical facilities, hospitals, physician’s offices, and insurance companies to create a record of a patient’s visit and submit an accurate insurance claim. Each medical code has strict guidelines on how they can be used, so knowing which code corresponds to a detail of the patient visit is important.

Medical billers take the codes and the report they make up and submit this as a claim to the correct insurance companies. The biller also follows up with the insurance company and the patients to make sure the medical facility is compensated properly by each party. They also ensure that the patient is billed correctly and that timely payments are made on their account.

In the field, there is usually some overlap between medical billing and coding, but these are the basic duties each job entails. In smaller medical offices, one person may end up doing both jobs. In a large hospital, there may be separate people that do each job in tandem with one another.

Note: The Medical Billing and Coding program at MTI College trains students for both positions. After certification, you will be prepared to handle either position, or both.

How to Become a Medical Biller and Coder in California

There are some basic steps to becoming a certified medical biller and coder in California.

1. Choose a Medical Billing and Coding Training Program

If you want to pursue a career as a medical biller and coder, you must complete a training program and pass a certification exam. Different programs are offered by different schools in California. You must address some decisions in choosing a program. Do you want to take a certification, diploma, or degree program? How long will the program take to complete? What will the curriculum teach you? Once you have decided on a medical coding program, it is time to begin coursework.

2. Complete the Billing and Coding Program

The coursework in your training curriculum should cover physiology and anatomy, health insurance, claims processing, electronic health records, legal issues in healthcare, and CPT, HCPCS, ICD-10-CM and ICD-10-PCS coding. Your medical coding program should also prepare you for the certification exam. Some programs also provide an externship, where you can get hands-on practice in the field.

3. Pass the Certification Exam

There are different exams that each medical billing and coding program prepares you to pass. With the certification program at MTI College, you are prepared to take and pass either the Certified Medical Reimbursement Specialist (CMRS) or Certified Coding Associate (CCA) certification exam. MTI College is endorsed by the American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA) and American Medical Billing Association (AMBA). Once you pass the certification exam, you will be fully prepared to launch your career in medical billing and coding.

4. Apply for Jobs and Start Your Medical Billing and Coding Career

Employers are looking for qualified billers and coders with professional skills, experience, and knowledge. Put together a resume that highlights your training, experience, and skills. Visit job boards and apply to positions that meet your needs. If you know friends that already work in the healthcare industry, they may be able to let you know if their employers are looking for candidates. With certification and externship experience, you will be qualified for an entry level position in medical offices or hospital facilities.

Why Do People Choose Medical Billing and Coding as a Career?

Working with medical records, medical coding, and medical billing is a stable job with steady, predictable income. Many people choose to go into this career path because it allows them to build a solid career in a rewarding field. People in healthcare often want to feel like they are helping their communities, and choose this field as a means to help people in their everyday occupation.

Salary and Job Outlook

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, as of May 2020, the mean annual salary for medical coders and billers nationally was $48,270, and the mean annual for medical billers and coders in California was $55,020. California was also the state employing the largest number of billers and coders, 38,920, about 10,00 more than the next closest state.

Projections from the BLS show that job growth for medical billers and coders will be 9% from 2020 to 2030.

Begin a Career in Medical Billing and Coding

Our classes teach you what you need to know to land the perfect medical billing and coding job. Whether you want to spend your time in a traditional medical office or you want to work from home, billers and coders have many options.

Selected Cities for Employment as a Medical Coder or Biller

Here are employment statistics for various cities in California for medical billing and coding (as of May 2020). Note: Mean average is calculated by adding up all wages/salary and then dividing by total number of wages/salaries.

Metro Area Total Employment Mean Salary Hourly Mean wage Employment per 1000 jobs
San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, CA 1,730 $62,590 $30.09 1.57
Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim, CA 13,880 $53,680 $25.81 2.38
Sacramento-Roseville-Arden-Arcade, CA 2,600 $63,880 $30.71 2.68
San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, CA 4,260 $63,460 $30.51 1.83
San Diego-Carlsbad, CA 1,760 $50,700 $32.00
Stockton-Lodi, CA 820 $64,250 $30.89 3.3
Vallejo-Fairfield, CA 600 $65.080 $31.29 4.54
Eastern Sierra Foothills (Mother Lode region) 130 $53,000 $25.48 2.34
Chico, CA 370 $44,620 $21.45 5.0
Yuba City, CA 40 $51,010 $32.01

Leading Employers of Medical Billers in California

Some leading California employers of medical billers and coders:

How Long Are Medical Billing and Coding Programs?

Degree or diploma programs at most junior colleges typically take two years to complete. The Medical Billing and Coding Certification program at MTI College can be completed in as little as 40 weeks, with an estimated program length of 54 weeks from the first day of the program to full certification.

Exams, Certifications, and Licensing in California

Though the State of California does have set education requirements for becoming a Medical Biller and Coder, most employers look for graduates of a program from an accredited school. Most employers in California look for candidates with a certification from a trusted certifying organization. Almost all look for a high school diploma or GED equivalent. A few employers may prefer candidates with an Associate’s degree from an accredited school.

You do not need to recertify annually as a medical biller or coder in California.

Some common medical billing and coding certifications include:

  • Certified Professional Coder (CPC)
  • Certified Professional Coder-Payer (CPC-P)
  • Certified Medical Reimbursement Specialist (CMRS)
  • Certified Coding Associate (CCA)
  • Certified Outpatient Coder (COC)

Finding a Job in Medical Billing and Coding

There are many job boards that list medical biller and medical coder jobs throughout California. Here are a few:

What to Look for in a Medical Billing Training Program

One important factor is to enroll in a program from a regionally accredited school. Those curriculums are vetted and approved by accreditation bodies and are recognized nationwide.

Another thing to consider is whether you want to enroll in a certificate or degree program. Degree programs usually take two years to complete, while certificate programs are generally less than a year.

You should consider what certification you are receiving at the end of the medical billing training program. Does the certificate seem to be wide accepted by employers?

How extensive are the training programs you are researching? What does their curriculum look like? Will you be learning everything you need to know for a medical billing job in California?

Lastly, check to see if programs from a prospective school offer online options. This is still a newer idea, though more schools are adopting online options to offer more flexibility to students.

Can You Study Online?

MTI College has an OnlinePlus Medical Billing and Coding program that allows students to complete coursework remotely via the internet with a few required in-classroom days per month.

Start Your Medical Billing and Coding Career Today

If you’re in the Sacramento area, MTI College offers a Medical Billing and Coding certification program that can be completed in as little as 40 weeks. This program is one of our OnlinePlus format classes, where the majority of the coursework can be done online, and in-person classroom attendance is minimal.

If you see working as a medical billing and coding professional in your future, contact our Admissions department today, and they can answer any questions you have about the course.

We’re here to help you start a rewarding career in healthcare.

Want to learn more about MTI’s programs?

Our admissions team will help you find the perfect program to meet your goals. Financial aid is available to those who qualify.

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