Is there a difference between a Coding Certification and an Associate Degree in Coding?

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wroberts1970 in Woodbridge, Virginia

81 months ago

Greetings INDEED Forum People!!!!

I have been going thru what seems like a ton of online schools trying to figure out which course will be best for me. I see some schools offer a coding certification in 4 months and others are saying become certified in as little as 18 months. Other than cost, what is the difference and what do I need to look for to start out being a coder and work myself up to a RHIT?! Also, any online school recommendations are hugely appreciated. I work fulltime with a long commute plus I am getting ready to become an instant step-mom very soon so attending school at night is not an option.

Thanks for your help and have an awesome day!!!! :)

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valentine2 in Salt Lake City, Utah

81 months ago

wroberts1970 in Woodbridge, Virginia said: Greetings INDEED Forum People!!!!

I have been going thru what seems like a ton of online schools trying to figure out which course will be best for me. I see some schools offer a coding certification in 4 months and others are saying become certified in as little as 18 months. Other than cost, what is the difference and what do I need to look for to start out being a coder and work myself up to a RHIT?! Also, any online school recommendations are hugely appreciated. I work fulltime with a long commute plus I am getting ready to become an instant step-mom very soon so attending school at night is not an option.

Thanks for your help and have an awesome day!!!! :)

In order to sit for the RHIT certification you MUST have at least an associates degree in HIT from an AHIMA approved school.

An associates degree is going to go more in depth and cover more Health Information, such as data analysis, reimbursement methodology and statistics. Where a certificate is just coding.

It depends on where you want your career to go, if you had the time and money, I would suggest getting at least an associates degree. There will be more opportunities, and if you find you prefer coding, you could always do that as well.

I would suggest NOT attending a private for profit school, but rather your local community or technical school. It will cost WAY less, many offer online classes and most credits should be transferable.

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wroberts1970 in Woodbridge, Virginia

81 months ago

Thanks to all of you who responded! Now I have a new thought, instead of throwing my 20 years of experience away and starting new as a coder (and taking the cut in pay)...maybe I should pursue an associate or bachelors in business admin with a major in healthcare management. I really would like to be in this field but having issues trying to find my exact fit. I would assume the same would apply on the fact I don't have any medical office skills but am hoping to get that while I am getting my degree. Guess my other question here is am I totally insane for trying to get a degree at 40 years old and have to deal with student loans for the next 10 years?

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lynn in Boston, Massachusetts

81 months ago

Just go straight for a bachelors degree. If you are really into business admin, try doing MIS or accounting or finance. You can still be involved in healthcare field if that's what you really want. I went back to one of those private for profit school for billing and coding and went nowhere,I'm just in debt and stressed . Now I'm going to another college working on a bachelors . Good luck!

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pizza1970 in Orlando, Florida

27 months ago

I have a simmilar situation and would like your advise.
I have a bachelor degree. Recently I've researching on classes for medical coding. I have seen associate options (24 mo most of them) and diplomas otons (some even for 4 mo ). I think ths is the carrer I want to pursue and specialize.
Should I go for the next level, like Master in the same field since i alredy have a bachelor degree? Would I be able to take the certification for medical coding?
Or should I just go straight for any class to prepare me for the certification?
Thank you.

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Jkbow in Antioch, California

17 months ago

So I am currently a vet tech, with an associates in science, would I still need to get another AS or could I do the certificate and get paid the same as the degree, I'm confused about how this would work.

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Barb24 in Wheaton, Illinois

17 months ago

You do not need another degree, (or any degree) just certification, usually CCA, CCS or CPC. Educational requirements vary, check with AHIMA and the AAPC, depending on which certification you want to pursue. For example, you need to have taken courses in the following areas to be eligible to sit for AHIMA's CCS certification:
anatomy & physiology, pathophysiology, pharmacology, medical terminology, reimbursement methodology, intermediate/advanced ICD diagnostic/procedural and CPT coding.

Your local community college probably has an associates degree that will prepare you for medical coding, but you will have to spend lots of extra time and money taking all the gen ed classes that go with the degree. Learning the coding is a lot of hours by itself, you don't want to add extra classes in there, especially if you already have an associate's.

An online program like Career Step is AHIMA approved so you know you are getting everything you need to qualify for the exam and you can work at your own pace. If you already have a scientific or medical background, you will breeze through the anatomy, medical terminology, etc and will have more time to focus on the coding courses.
referral.careerstep.com/mc?ref=36530

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cjenger1 in Minneapolis, Minnesota

4 months ago

Ok, this is somewhat related, I have a diploma for Medical Coding Specialist. I am trying to figure out if I have to test out to become certified, what I should test for/can test for. CCS, CCS-P, or RHIT? Any advice is appreciated. I also have a degree for Medical Admin. Secretary, if that makes any difference. I have 3 years of experience working in an office as a Medical Secretary and have been thinking of changing it up a little. Just wondering what my options are. Any help is appreciated!

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nonefornow in Arizona

4 months ago

Look at www.aapc.com and I think you will find the right info.

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Barb24 in Wheaton, Illinois

4 months ago

cjenger1 in Minneapolis, Minnesota said: Ok, this is somewhat related, I have a diploma for Medical Coding Specialist. I am trying to figure out if I have to test out to become certified, what I should test for/can test for. CCS, CCS-P, or RHIT? Any advice is appreciated. I also have a degree for Medical Admin . Secretary, if that makes any difference. I have 3 years of experience working in an office as a Medical Secretary and have been thinking of changing it up a little. Just wondering what my options are. Any help is appreciated!

Can you be more specific? What is a diploma for Medical Coding Specialist, is it a certificate program or an associates degree? I'm surprised your school didn't tell you what certifications you can test for. In my experience, nearly all employers will require you to have the actual certification from AHIMA (for RHIT or CCS).
For RHIT exam you need an associate's degree from a CAHIIM accredited school in order to sit for the exam.
For the CCS exam you need to complete a program that includes courses in anatomy & physiology, pathophysiology, pharmacology, medical terminology, reimbursement methodology, intermediate/advanced ICD diagnostic/procedural and CPT coding. You can also qualify to take the test if you have 2 years on-the-job coding experience.

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cjenger1 in Rogers, Minnesota

4 months ago

Its more schooling than a certificate by one year less than a degree. I went to a tech school. I did email the school to find out what program they are accredited through. Otherwise, I know I have the requirements for the CCS, except pharmacology, they didn't require that at the time.

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michelle78 in Chicago, Illinois

3 months ago

cjenger1 in Rogers, Minnesota said: Its more schooling than a certificate by one year less than a degree. I went to a tech school. I did email the school to find out what program they are accredited through. Otherwise, I know I have the requirements for the CCS, except pharmacology, they didn't require that at the time.

Perhaps you should contact AHIMA to see if you program was complete enough without the pharmacology or maybe you can find a pharmacology course to take to complete your training? Also, if you did any coding while you worked as a medical secretary, you can qualify for the exam based on that experience, but I don't know how you get credit for it, you could ask them about that as well.

It can be difficult to get the right credentials when looking to train for the medical coding exams, especially because there is no "official" accreditation, but there are educational requirements for the exam. AHIMA does have a helpful list of "AHIMA approved" programs to help you choose. Many of them are community college programs, Career Step is one of the few completely online programs that is "AHIMA approved".
They have a good back to school special going on right now when you enroll by the end of the month:
referral.careerstep.com/mc?ref=36530

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kim74 in Kennedy, Pennsylvania

1 month ago

I have a CMMA and wanted to know what classes would be most useful towards what I already have. Should I just go for a billing and coding certification or do I need to do another two years of schooling? Also what certification is the best one to get. I took my first test through the NHA and took online classes at Ashworth College and was hoping to use the same school.

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Barb24 in Wheaton, Illinois

1 month ago

You may want to check with employers in your area, doing a search here on Indeed can be helpful, but in general most employers will require that you are certified through AHIMA or AAPC. Look at some job entries and see what their certification requirements are. I am not at all familiar with NHA, but I know in my area a certification from that organization will not get you hired as a medical coder anywhere.

Its important to do that kind of research because states don't have any certification requirements, you need to know what employers are looking for.
If employers in your area require certification from AHIMA or AAPC, you definitely don't need 2 more years of college to get that. Career Step's program is approved by AHIMA and also meets all of the AAPC's educational requirements. You can complete the program with 4-6 months of full time study, especially if you already have a medical office background.
referral.careerstep.com/ref36530

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