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Understanding Medical Coder Salary and Pay
Pursuing a career as a medical coder can offer excellent salary potential along with steady job growth in the thriving healthcare industry. However, medical coder salaries can vary significantly depending on a number of important factors.
How Much Does a Medical Coder Make?
According to BLS Data Here is an introductory overview of average medical coder pay:
- The average annual salary for a medical coder in the U.S. ranges from $35,000 for an entry-level position to $95,000 for an experienced, certified professional.
- Hourly wages typically range between $15 to $45 per hour based on factors like education, certification, experience, facility type and location.
- The top paying states for medical coders are California, Texas, New York, Illinois and Florida. Major cities with the highest salaries include San Francisco, Los Angeles, Chicago, Houston and New York City.
- The most lucrative industries for medical coding jobs are pharmaceuticals, insurance carriers, medical/diagnostic labs, outpatient care centers and specialty hospitals.
Let’s explore the key factors that impact medical coding salaries in greater detail.
What Factors Affect Medical Coder Salary?
Medical coder pay can vary significantly based on:
- Geographic Location: Region and cost of living have a major influence. Urban cities and coastal states tend to offer higher compensation compared to rural areas.
- Certification: Getting certified as a CPC, CCS, CRC or other credential through AAPC, AHIMA or other associations can boost salaries by $10,000 or more annually.
- Facility Type: Coders make more working in specialty hospitals, large physician practices, outpatient centers compared to public health clinics.
- Experience: Salaries increase steadily with more years on the job. Entry level coders can expect to earn 20-30% less than senior coders with 5-10 years of experience.
- Specialty: Coders focused on high revenue procedures like cardiovascular, neurology or oncology earn more than general coders.
- Overtime Hours: Taking on extra work hours like nights and weekends results in overtime pay and productivity bonuses.
- Work Setting: Freelance remote coders can command higher market-driven rates compared to in-house employees.
- Training & Education: Relevant bachelor’s degrees and advanced training can help negotiate higher starting salaries.
Clearly, not all medical coding jobs are equal in terms of compensation. Let’s break down average salaries in more specifics across states, cities, industries and settings.
Average Medical Coder Salary/Pay by State
Medical coding salaries can swing by $15,000 – $20,000 between the highest and lowest paying states based on the local job markets. Here are the top paying states for medical coders currently:
Top-Paying States for Medical Coders
- California – $71,000 average salary
- Texas – $69,000 average salary
- New York – $67,500 average salary
- Florida – $66,000 average salary
- Illinois – $65,500 average salary
List of States with Hourly and Annual median salary for Medical coders
For a complete overview, this table illustrates the average hourly and annual salaries for medical coders by state:
|State||Hourly Average Salary||Annual Average Salary|
Average Medical Coder Salary/Pay by City
When looking at specific metro areas and cities, medical coding salaries can swing by $25,000 or more based on demand and cost of living:
Top-Paying Cities for Medical Coders
- San Francisco, CA – $86,000 average salary
- San Jose, CA – $83,000 average salary
- Los Angeles, CA – $78,000 average salary
- Seattle, WA – $72,000 average salary
- New York City, NY – $70,000 average salary
List of Cities with Hourly and Annual median salary for Medical coders
Here’s a snapshot of average hourly and total annual compensation for medical coders in major U.S. cities:
|City||Hourly Average Salary||Annual Average Salary|
|Las Vegas, NV||$24||$50,000|
|Los Angeles, CA||$38||$78,000|
|New York City, NY||$34||$70,000|
|Oklahoma City, OK||$21||$44,000|
|San Antonio, TX||$24||$50,000|
|San Diego, CA||$35||$73,000|
|San Francisco, CA||$42||$86,000|
|San Jose, CA||$40||$83,000|
Additionally, it’s important to factor in cost of living differences between cities when evaluating salaries. Making $60,000 as a medical coder in Memphis, TN gives more purchasing power versus earning $75,000 in the high cost of living San Francisco Bay Area.
Average Medical Coder Salary by Industry
Salaries can also swing significantly based on the type of facility and industry medical coders work in. Typically, coders earn higher wages working in settings that generate substantial healthcare billing revenues.
Here are average annual salaries by top industry:
|Outpatient Care Centers||$62,000|
|Nursing Care Facilities||$48,000|
|Home Health Services||$45,000|
|Public Health Organizations||$43,000|
In general, medical coding jobs with pharmaceutical firms, insurers, large laboratories, ambulatory surgery centers and specialty hospitals offer the highest earning potential nationwide.
Job Responsibilities and Work Environment of a Medical Coder
Now that we’ve explored the earning potential of medical coders, what does the job actually entail and what type of workplaces do they operate in?
Medical coders are professionals responsible for reviewing electronic health records and assigning accurate medical codes that correspond to diagnoses, procedures, services and equipment. Their codes are used for medical billing, insurance reimbursement and public health data.
Core responsibilities typically include:
- Reviewing patient charts and other records to identify relevant details
- Assigning codes from standard code sets that accurately captures diagnoses and procedures performed
- Using medical classification software to assign and validate appropriate codes
- Submitting claims to insurance companies for reimbursement
- Following up on rejected claims and appealing if necessary
- Maintaining knowledge on coding guidelines, regulations and updates in the field
- Protecting patient privacy throughout the coding process
Medical coders can work in a wide range of healthcare settings including:
- Physician practices and clinics
- Nursing homes
- Home health agencies
- Outpatient centers
- Public health organizations
- Insurance companies
- Pharmaceutical firms
- Health IT companies
They often work typical weekday office hours, although some coder jobs require evening or weekend hours to handle fluctuating workloads. Generally, medical coders work independently while analyzing patient records but collaborate within coding and billing teams. Strong attention to detail and communication skills are essential.
Job Outlook and Career Opportunities for Medical Coders
Pursuing medical coding as a long-term career offers excellent job stability and steady growth.
Job Growth Projections for Medical Coders
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment for medical records and health information technicians (including medical coders) is projected to grow 11% from 2021 to 2031, adding 43,800 jobs across the country. This is significantly faster than the average for all occupations as demand for healthcare services continues rising.
As the population ages and chronic conditions become more prevalent, the volume of medical testing, procedures and patient data will increase exponentially. This creates abundant opportunities for medical coding within nearly every healthcare setting.
Furthermore, the transition towards electronic health records and ICD-10 code sets have made accurate, specialized coding skills more important than ever. Automation also enables coders to take on expanded responsibilities for clinical documentation integrity, data analysis and quality assurance.
Emerging Specialties and Technologies in Medical Coding
Some emerging areas to keep an eye on include:
- Specialization – Coders are increasingly developing expertise in high-demand practice areas like cardiology, oncology, gastroenterology, neurology and orthopedics. Obtaining certification related to a specialty can boost earning potential significantly.
- Remote Work – More facilities are hiring remote medical coding professionals, leading to unique work-from-home opportunities nationwide. But it takes experience and strong attention to detail to thrive in a remote setting.
- Outsourcing/Offshoring – Lower cost coding functions are being outsourced to overseas groups in countries like India. However, complex coding still needs onshore expertise to ensure accuracy and maximize reimbursements.
- Technology – Natural language processing, analytics, AI are streamlining aspects of the coding process. However, human oversight remains essential so this can open up more abstract roles in the field.
- Leadership – With extensive experience, coders can pursue management roles as coding supervisors, directors and heads of HIM departments. Six-figure incomes are attainable for executive positions.
Advancement Opportunities and Career Paths
Besides obtaining advanced certifications related to a specialty, medical coders can progress their careers in a few other ways:
- Transitioning into other related roles like Clinical Documentation Improvement (CDI) specialists, auditors, HIM consultants or cancer registrars
- Moving into training and education for new medical coders
- Joining software companies involved in the medical coding or revenue cycle management space
- Taking on leadership roles managing a team of coders or overseeing a facility’s entire HIM coding department
- Opening an independent consulting or medical coding services agency for other organizations and providers
- Obtaining additional credentials related to compliance, ethics, project management or healthcare quality to reach senior-level positions
Overall, medical coding provides excellent long-term career stability and opportunities to take on additional responsibilities over time for top performers.
Conclusion: Is a Career as a Medical Coder Right for You?
To recap, here are some key points to keep in mind as you evaluate becoming a medical coder:
- Average salaries range from $35,000 for entry level to $95,000 annually for experienced coders, with top earners making over $100,000
- Geographic region, certification, facility type, experience and specialty focus impact earnings significantly
- The field is projected to grow 11% over the next decade fuelled by healthcare demand
- Coders can specialize in high demand areas, work remotely, leverage new technologies and pursue management roles
- Strong attention to detail, communication ability and competency with classification systems are essential to success
Clearly, medical coding offers promising salary potential along with excellent job stability and a vital, in-demand role in healthcare. The complex regulations and constant learning can be challenging, but it’s a rewarding long-term career for those with the right skills and attention to precision. Be sure to thoroughly assess your interests, qualifications and earning goals when considering this career path.
For further education and resources explore medical coding programs, certification options and industry associations like AAPC and AHIMA. Reach out to current medical coding professionals to gain additional insights as well. Best of luck with your career journey in this essential healthcare services field!
What is the starting salary of a medical coder?
– Entry-Level or Starting salary/pay for a medical coder is $31,710.
– The average hourly salary for medical coders is $24.56.
– Medical coders in the bottom 10% earn $15.25 per hour or $31,710 annually.
– Those in the bottom 25% earn $18.04 per hour or $37,510 per year.
– The median or average salary for medical coders is $22.69 per hour or $47,180 annually.
– In the top 25%, US medical coders make $28.93 per hour or $60,170 per year.
– The highest paid medical coders in the top 10% earn $36.28 per hour or $75,460 annually.
What is average salary/pay of medical coder/coding
The average hourly/per hour salary for medical coders is $24.56.
The average annual/yearly salary for medical coders is $51,090.