Medical Biller Careers: Salary Info & Job Description

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What are the pros and cons of a career as a medical biller? Get real job descriptions and salary info to see if becoming a medical biller is right for you.
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Pros and Cons of a Career as a Medical Biller

In a career as a medical biller, also referred to as a medical records and health technician, one must manage medical billing information for medical providers. Read on to find out more the pros and cons of this profession:

Pros of a Career as a Medical Biller
Bright employment outlook (jobs in the field are expected to grow by 22% from 2012-2022, nearly twice as fast the average for all other occupations during this period)*
Relatively little formal education required (entry-level positions may be obtained with a postsecondary certificate and professional certification)*
Good return on investment (medical records technicians may earn nearly as much occupations that require a master's degree; see salary section below)*
Good benefits (most medical records technicians enjoy benefits such as paid sick leave, health insurance and dental insurance)**

Cons of a Career as a Medical Biller
Stationary nature of work (technicians may spend entire working days at desks and in front of computer monitors)*
Lack of direct patient contact (technicians rarely interact with patients)*
Few opportunities for career advancement*
Extended work hours (in some instances, technicians may need to work evenings and/or overtime)*

Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS),**Ultimate Medical Academy

Career Information

Job Description and Duties

Medical records technicians classify and manage an array of medical information for billing, coding, treatment and reimbursement purposes. Technicians work with computerized coding software, scanners, microfilm machines, bar coders, word processors and electronic databases in carrying out a host of professional duties. These may include performing patient quality assessments, checking patient medical records to ensure their accuracy, designating clinical codes for insurance reimbursements and maintaining data security. The specific kind of information that technicians work with may depend on their specialty.

Job Prospects and Salary Info

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) offers a promising employment outlook for medical technicians that is, in part, due to the country's rising number of older individuals requiring increasing medical treatment and diagnostic exams. With this increasing volume of medical services comes an increasing need for people to process health data and insurance payments. The growth in the demand for technicians may be particularly beneficial for those applicants who have the appropriate computer skills necessary for working with increasingly advanced health information software.

In 2014, the mean annual wage of medical technicians nationwide was about $39,000. This is as much as the mean annual wages of some occupations that require at least a master's degree. For instance, in the same year, rehabilitation counselors, who are required to hold a master's degree and, in some instances, a license, earned a mean annual wage of about $39,000.

Career Paths and Specializations

Most medical records technicians work in hospitals and private doctor's offices. They typically specialize as either medical coders or cancer registrars. Medical coders have duties such as checking patient records for preexisting conditions and serving as middlemen between billing offices and health practitioners. Cancer registrars have a range of responsibilities, such as performing patient follow-ups, designating codes for classifying cancer treatments and organizing cancer patient databases.

Career Skills and Requirements

Medical records technicians are typically required to complete a postsecondary certificate or associate's degree program in health information technology. Courses may cover areas such as medical terminology, pharmacology, anatomy, physiology, medical billing procedures and medical coding. Although certification is not required, employers typically prefer applicants to hold professional certifications such as Registered Health Information Technician (RHIT) and Certified Tumor Registrar (CTR). In order to obtain these certifications, aspirants usually need to pass an exam and have accumulated sufficient professional coding experience.

Useful Skills

You'll need to rely on a number of hard and soft skills to successfully complete your professional tasks. These may include:

  • The ability to pay close attention to details
  • An adequate level of computer proficiency
  • The ability to efficiently manage work time
  • Reading proficiency
  • The initiative and integrity to monitor your own progress

Job Postings from Real Employers

A November 2012 search on the job site Indeed.com revealed a variety of postings, many of which called for applicants to have at least a few years of experience. More specific requirements varied depending on the employer. Here is a selection of actual postings from that search:

  • An ophthalmology practice in Encino, CA, looked for a billing and collections specialist to wok full-time. The successful candidate would be certified in ophthalmic coding and have an understanding of Medicare regulations.
  • A medical billing company in North Reading, MA, looked for a medical billing specialist with outstanding customer service skills and willing to initially work on a temporary basis.
  • A hospital in Addison, TX, sought a candidate with medical billing and collection knowledge to conduct patient follow-ups, among other tasks.

How to Stand Out

Professional organizations such as the American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA), the American Academy of Professional Coders (AAPC), the Professional Association of Healthcare Coding Specialists (PAHCS) and the National Cancer Registrars Association (NCRA) offer continuing education courses, certifications and other membership benefits. You may consider obtaining credentials and training in areas such as medical billing, medical auditing, medical coding and compliance. Other benefits may include an expanded network of professional contacts, access to professional literature and discounts on a variety of services.

Other Careers to Consider

Medical Assistant

If you'd prefer a career that allows you more direct contact with patients, you may consider becoming a medical assistant. These professionals are typically only required to hold at least a high school diploma. Training is typically gained on the job. Their duties may include taking patient vital signs, scheduling doctor's appointments and administering shots. According to the BLS, the national employment of medical assistants is expected to grow by 31% through 2020. In 2011, the mean annual wage of medical assistants nationwide was about $30,000.

Medical and Health Services Manager

Perhaps the salary of medical records technicians is insufficient for your. If this is the case, you may consider a career as a medical and health services manager. These professionals, who are typically required to hold at least a bachelor's degree, are responsible for managing medical practices, healthcare facilities and clinical departments. The BLS estimates that by 2020, the national employment of these professionals should grow by about 2%. In 2011, the earn annual wage of medical and health services managers nationwide was about $96,000.

Popular Schools

  • Online Programs Available
    1. Kaplan University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • Master of Health Informatics
      • Master of Health Information Management
    Bachelor's
      • Bachelor: Healthcare Admin
      • BS in Health Information Management
      • Bachelor: Health Science
    Certificate
      • Medical Billing and Coding Certificate
  • Online Programs Available
    2. American University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • Master of Science in Healthcare Management
  • Online Programs Available
    3. The George Washington University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • MSHS Clinical Operations & Healthcare Management
      • MSHS in Biomedical Informatics
    Bachelor's
      • Dual Degree: BSHS in Clinical Research Administration/MSHS in Regulatory Affairs
      • BSHS in Clinical Operations and Healthcare Management
  • Online Programs Available
    4. Penn Foster

    Program Options

    Certificate
      • Career Diploma - Medical Billing and Coding
  • Campus Locations:
    5. American National University

    Program Options

    Certificate
      • Medical Billing and Coding - Diploma
  • Online Programs Available
    6. The University of Scranton

    Program Options

    Master's
      • MBA - Healthcare Management
      • Master of Health Administration
  • Online Programs Available
    7. Regent University

    Program Options

    Doctorate
      • Doctor of Strategic Leadership - Healthcare Leadership
    Master's
      • Master of Arts in Organizational Leadership - Healthcare Management
      • Master of Business Administration - Healthcare Management
      • Master of Public Administration - Healthcare Policy and Ethics
  • Online Programs Available
    8. Northcentral University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • MS - Organizational Leadership: Health Care Administration
  • Online Programs Available
    9. George Mason University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • Master of Health Administration in Health Systems Management
      • Master of Science in Health Informatics
  • Online Programs Available
    10. Colorado Christian University

    Program Options

    Bachelor's
      • Health Care Administration, B.S.
    Associate's
      • Health Care Administration, A.S.

Featured Schools

Kaplan University

  • Master of Health Informatics
  • Bachelor: Healthcare Admin
  • Medical Billing and Coding Certificate

Which subject are you interested in?

American University

  • Master of Science in Healthcare Management

What is your highest level of education?

The George Washington University

  • MSHS Clinical Operations & Healthcare Management
  • MSHS in Biomedical Informatics
  • Dual Degree: BSHS in Clinical Research Administration/MSHS in Regulatory Affairs
  • BSHS in Clinical Operations and Healthcare Management

What is your highest level of education?

Penn Foster

  • Career Diploma - Medical Billing and Coding

What is your highest level of education?

American National University

  • Medical Billing and Coding - Diploma

What is your education level?

The University of Scranton

  • MBA - Healthcare Management
  • Master of Health Administration

What is your highest level of education?

Regent University

  • Doctor of Strategic Leadership - Healthcare Leadership
  • Master of Arts in Organizational Leadership - Healthcare Management
  • Master of Business Administration - Healthcare Management

What is your highest level of education completed?

Northcentral University

  • MS - Organizational Leadership: Health Care Administration

What is your highest level of education?