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Medical Coding at WGU

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Are You Interested in a Medical Coding Career?

You may have noticed that WGU doesn’t offer a degree in medical coding, but that doesn’t mean you have to give up on this kind of career goal. There are other specialized degree options that may help prepare you for a similar profession. Your interest in medical coding and a coding certificate can kick-start your educational pursuits and career, but it's not the only career path available to you. Exploring other degree options may present you with a role that is not specifically in coding for the healthcare industry, but is similar and fulfilling. Plus, if you’re already a medical coder looking for additional certificates, we have degree options available to you that can help you enhance your skills and take a step forward in your career. No matter which path you’re on, it all starts with the right degree program.

Pathways to Similar Career Options

There are numerous elements that make up a career in health coding. You’ll need a strong understanding of medical terminology and solid technological proficiency, with the ability to adapt to new technologies as they become available. An attention to detail is key, as are strong communication skills. It’s also important to be able to work independently, as many medical coders work remotely. As you think about your career path, consider other careers similar to coding that draw upon this kind of experience and expertise that may be more lucrative or provide more opportunities for career growth. Here are some degree programs that lead to careers similar to coding in healthcare.

Bachelor of Science in Business Administration - Healthcare Management

Getting a Bachelor of Science in Healthcare Management is the best way to prepare you for healthcare industry roles that require business leadership skills. Whether you work in a hospital or doctor’s office, residential care facility or related government organization, you’ll gain specific knowledge in accounting, communications, regulation, financial resource management and more. This can prepare you for roles similar to medical coding, including positions such as healthcare administrator or case manager.

Much like coding in a medical setting, these jobs require strong organizational skills, an understanding of technology applications in healthcare, project management skills, and an understanding of healthcare delivery systems, regulations, and compliance. This degree program covers these areas along with operations and supply chain management, industry-related financial resource management, and business management for tasks.

Career options related to becoming a coder in healthcare for those with a healthcare management degree include:

  • Healthcare Administrator
  • Case Manager
  • Healthcare Department Manager
  • Healthcare Finance Manager
  • Quality and Improvement Manager

 

 

Bachelor of Science in Health Information Management

To really dive into more technical roles that are related to healthcare coding, explore a degree program in health information management. The program is designed to give you the foundation you need for positions in the high-demand field of healthcare information technology and management, where you can use data to influence decisions and improve patient outcomes. You’ll also be prepared to act as the intermediary between medical care providers, the information they gather, the technology and data systems they use to track critical patient information, and patients themselves.

This degree program is designed to provide you with the skills and knowledge required for roles similar to becoming a coder in healthcare, such as data analyst or health information manager. Each of these jobs demand a strong understanding of computer information systems and technology for healthcare organizations, medical terminology, healthcare regulation, project management of health systems, databases, and security. Plus, this program offers you eligibility to apply for the RHIA® certification exam and gives you CompTIA Project+ certification as part of your coursework.

Career options related to medical coding for those with a health information management degree include:

  • Health Information Manager
  • Data Analyst
  • Medical Research Analyst
  • Clinical Systems Manager
  • Outpatient Coding Compliance Auditor
Man sitting at laptop

$44,090

is the average annual salary for medical coders.

Two business women wearing masks point at a laptop.

$104,280

is the average annual salary for health information managers.

Careers Related to Medical Coding

If you’re set on a career as a healthcare coder you’ll be required to obtain certain certificates including the AAPC Certified Professional Coder (CPC), the Certified Medical Coder (CMC), and the Certified Coding Specialist (CCS). After you obtain your certificate, you can officially start your coder job hunt. Just make sure to check with your intended employer if you have the certification they require or if you need to get a different medical coding certification.

But it’s worth exploring if another career path may be more fulfilling to you than medical coding. Pursuing a degree that can put you in a trajectory to a similar but more advanced and lucrative role may better meet your needs. Not only are the following jobs similar to medical coding, but they will also address your desire to combine helping others and technology. Other degree programs may offer you the same opportunity to pursue education online and even work remotely, which is a huge benefit for a medical coding career. Increasing your abilities could give you the same type of benefits in a more lucrative position.

What Does a HIM Compliance Officer Do?

A health compliance officer conducts investigations of electronic systems to assess risk and preserve patient health records. This ensures healthcare professionals can safely access the information but hackers or other unauthorized personnel are locked out. Some employers allow this work to be done remotely.

What Does a Revenue Cycle Manager Do?

Revenue cycle managers are in charge of a medical organization’s billing and revenue cycle, managing its technical functions and strengthening cash flow. They are also in charge of maintaining customer relations and improving them as needed. This is another role that can be done remotely, depending on the employer.

What Does a Electronic Health Records Implementation Specialist Do?

An electronic health records implementation specialist offers technical support for EMR/HER healthcare software and related HIM technologies. In addition to implementing health IT systems, you’ll also be in charge of maintaining electronic medical record programs, developing electronic templates for billing and coding, and reviewing existing paper documentation. This job may be done remotely for some employers or have remote flexibility.

What Does a Clinical Improvement Analyst Do?

Clinical analysts are in charge of installing, managing and optimizing computer systems for medical facilities such as doctor’s offices, hospitals and more. They make upgrades as needed, and ensure to monitor and maintain the systems accordingly. Some employers may allow for remote work with this role.

What Does a Health Systems Manager Do?

A health systems manager wears many hats, as they direct specialized clinical care organizations that focus on direct patient care. Specializations include emergency care services, mental health outreach, health and wellness center management, health education, student medical health services, and more. This is not typically a remote job, but COVID-19 has changed the landscape dramatically, making some organizations open to remote or flexible work options.

What Does a Clinical Documentation Specialist Do?

With an aim to offer a full analysis of a patient’s health, clinical documentation specialists organize patient information for medical facilities or health organizations. They review medical records to make sure the correct medical codes have been used and document the specifics related to those codes to offer the full picture of a patient’s health. Depending on the employer, this role may offer a flex work option combining in-office and remote work.

Person sitting cross-legged, using a laptop

8%

career growth is expected by 2029 in medical coding professions.

Man at a laptop at home

32%

career growth is expected by 2029 in health information manager professions.

What Does a Clinical Data Analyst Do?

A clinical data analyst focuses on ensuring medical data is accurate and reliable. They manage databases for medical facilities and healthcare organizations, often in a clinical setting. They may also do this work during clinical trials. This is a role that can be performed remotely, if an employer allows for that flexibility.

What Does a Clinical Informatics Manager Do?

This job is ideal for people who have a passion for technology combined with a drive to improve patient care. Clinical informatics managers work with a health facility’s data to create actionable results in patient care, ensuring that each person is receiving the highest possible quality of support and assistance. This data is also used to inform healthcare professionals of opportunities to streamline their approach across the board, including areas such as billing and registration. Some employers allow for remote work in this position.

What Does a Health Records Manager Do?

A health records manager maintains and secures written and electronic data for health organizations and medical facilities, protecting the medical records department. In addition to supervising department employees, they also retrieve patient records for medical personnel. This is a job that can be done remotely.

What Does an Insurance Company Specialist Do?

In the healthcare sector, an insurance specialist explains insurance plans, either in connection with a specific carrier or a particular agency. They may also be in charge of assessing insurance claims or following up on accidents. Many insurance company specialists work remotely.

What Does a Healthcare Administrator Do?

Healthcare administrators are in charge of planning, directing, and coordinating health services. That may mean managing an entire hospital or facility, or coordinating smaller clinical areas or departments within a hospital. Some administrators are in charge of a small medical practice or group of physicians. Many employers allow for remote work with this position.

What Does a Pharmaceutical Firm Manager Do?

With duties such as creating status reports, evaluating project risks and establishing work schedules, pharmaceutical firm managers are keen organizers who keep medical firms on track. They’re in charge of research records and ensuring regulatory compliance, as well as managing timelines and gathering resources to ensure adherence to project plans. The opportunity to work remotely in this position depends on the employer—not all of them allow for this flexibility. 

Why choose WGU?

Why should you choose a health information management or healthcare management degree from WGU over a medical coding certificate somewhere else? There are several reasons a WGU degree is a great fit for students:

  • Low, flat-rate tuition means that you're charged the same amount per six-month term, regardless of how many courses you complete. 
  • Degree programs designed for online learning mean you can schedule your schooling whenever it suits you, and work remotely
  • Competency-based education means you can use your knowledge to your advantage, accelerating your program and graduating faster. Graduating faster also saves you money. 
  • We offer scholarships and financial aid to help with our already-affordable tuition, making college education accessible for even more students.
  • The coursework in our programs is career-focused, meaning the skills you learn are meaningful and will translate directly to your work post graduation.

Not only can you complete your degree program quickly, you’ll walk away with a bachelor’s degree and the required certification you need for the career of your dreams.

They're Prepared

95% said that their WGU graduates were prepared for their jobs

95% of employers said that WGU graduates were prepared for their jobs.

They're Top Candidates

96% said they would hire another WGU graduate

96% of employers said they would hire another WGU graduate.

They Wow

98% of employers said WGU graduates meet or exceed expectations

98% of employers said WGU graduates met or exceeded expectations.

Source: 2020 Harris Poll survey of 300 employers

Which Degree Should You Choose?

Healthcare Management – B.S. Business Administration

You can become a healthcare industry leader:...

You can become a healthcare industry leader:...

You can become a healthcare industry leader:


Compare with B.S. Health Information Management

  • Time: 70% of graduates finish within 35 months.
  • Tuition and fees: $3,720 per 6-month term.

Sample careers and jobs this business degree will prepare you for:

  • Health information manager
  • Community service manager
  • Clinical manager
  • Medical records manager
  • Social service manager

The online courses in this career-focused business degree program will prepare you with management-level skills and an up-to-date understanding of our healthcare delivery system.

Health Information Management – B.S.

A program designed for future leaders in HIM:...

A program designed for future leaders in HIM:...

A program designed for future leaders in HIM:

  • Time: 60% of grads earned this degree in 36 months or less.
  • Tuition and fees: $3,795 per 6-month term, plus a Health Professions Student Fee of $350.

Some careers and jobs this degree will prepare you for:

  • Director of informatics
  • HIMS chief
  • Information systems auditor
  • Outpatient coder
  • Health records manager

This CAHIIM-accredited program makes you eligible for the RHIA exam. 

Compare with B.S. Business – Healthcare Management

Frequently Asked Questions About Medical Coding

Non-certified medical coders can make $42,015 per year, and certified coders can earn an average of $55,923 per year. While those numbers are higher than average, there are other roles that are similar to medical coding that can earn you more. For example, health information managers average $104,280 annually.

It can take from 18 months to two years to complete a degree program to become a medical coder. By taking an online program with WGU that can prepare you for a similar role, you can complete your degree in a similar timeframe—and even accelerate your learning on your own schedule.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects an 8% growth rate through 2029 for medical coding specialists, but other related positions are in higher demand. By comparison, health information managers will experience 32% career growth by 2029.

Many healthcare facilities and organizations allow medical coders to work from home. Similar roles that are remote work friendly include electronic health records implementation specialist, healthcare administrator, and health records manager.