Medical Billing

clinical coding

Clinical Coding: How To Be A Competitive Candidate

After the integration of advanced RCM procedures in the medical sector, the demand for staff required to conduct these processes is raised. One of the main applicants that plays a significant part in RCM is one who performs clinical coding.

These are the professionals that identify the codes for various diseases in order to prepare an accurate claim application.

Besides code capturing, the clinical coder executes other main tasks as well. They work in different phases of revenue cycle management to get as much revenue as possible.

But if you want to be a medical coder, what roadmap should you follow?

Don’t worry, as our guide will help you understand the career requirements of clinical coding along with the description of 5 steps that you can follow to be a perfect candidate.

What Salary Does A Clinical Coder Earn?

On average, a clinical coder may easily earn up to $26,426 per year and the range fluctuates between $27,000 to $29,122 per year.

However, this amount may vary depending on the state, size of health practice, and your experience. 

Here’s a table outlining the demand for clinical coding professionals in the United States:

YearNumber of Job OpeningsAverage Annual SalaryProjected Growth Rate
202075,000$45,000 – $55,0008%
202182,000$50,000 – $60,00010%
202290,000$55,000 – $65,00012%
202395,000$60,000 – $70,00014%
2024100,000$65,000 – $75,00016%

What Is The Role You Will Perform As A Clinical Coder?

Key Skills Required for Clinical Coding

The basic role of every clinical coder is to identify the code for each disease and convey it to the insurance companies.

This code then helps these companies recognize health services used by their clients, so they can pay according to their client’s insurance plan. 

However, besides this basic role here are other responsibilities as well that you will have to execute as a medical coder:

  • Study the medical records of a patient to know the services and medical procedures involved in the treatment
  • Rectify inaccurate patient records or information by communicating with them
  • Assign appropriate codes to the patient’s services based on the codes introduced by the World Health Assembly (ICD-10 or ICD-11)
  • Report to the hospital management about any deficiencies related to health services
  • Keep yourself updated on the internal coding system and keep an eye on any new code introduced by them
  • Work with other departments like computer and financing and collaborate with their team members
  • Act as a middleman in resolving matters among insurance companies and code- capturing processes
  • Maintain hospital financial health by collecting co-payments and deductibles from patients

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Furthermore, you must also possess the following personal skills in order to excel in clinical coding:

  • Ability to perform detail-oriented work
  • Concentrate on long-term projects for a lengthy period
  • Problem-solving and attention to detail skills
  • Able to communicate in an excellent manner
  • Be willing to work as an individual or as a part of a team
  • Keep yourself updated with upcoming clinical coding trends

Qualification Requirements For A Clinical Coding Career

To be a clinical coder, only getting basic skills and knowledge is not required. You must fulfill the qualification criteria of clinical coding which most hospitals demand. Lacking this may lead to missed opportunities for high-paying jobs:

  • A high school degree is a must, while a Bachelor’s degree is preferable
  • Credible and updated certificate of clinical coding
  • Have taken in-service training 
  • 2 years of minimum experience if you want a job with handsome pay
  • Have a prior understanding of medical terminology, especially in anatomy or physiology
  • Advanced computer skills, basically in data entry and coding i.e., Microsoft Office Suite
  • Be able to use Electronic Medical Record software to conduct clinical coding

5 Steps To Become A Medical Coder

Certification Pathways

If you possess all the skills and basic qualifications of clinical coding, then you are ready to step into the career.

But if you start from scratch and know nothing about the profession, you need a step-by-step guide to avoid wasting time on unnecessary procedures. Here are 5-step roadmap to follow to be a clinical coder and earn your dream income:

Step 1: Meet The Basic Requirements

First, you must have a clinical coding high school diploma or bachelor’s degree in hand. You can also get an equivalent medical coding certificate from a reputable institute.

One worth-noted thing is that candidates having a criminal background are usually not considered for job applications.

Step 2: Complete The Training

Though basic educational requirements make you valuable for clinical coding jobs, prior training can unlock more opportunities for you. Most health practices prefer candidates having basic training and a certificate in clinical coding. 

You can opt for a number of training programs online, which can teach you medical coding remotely. That means you don’t need to spend an outrageous amount on lengthy courses.

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    Step 3: Obtain A Credible License 

    Even after taking training programs in clinical coding, you must obtain an accurate license of your skills. It represents you as a credible candidate in front of employers.

    A license also proves your dedication and ability to perform your coding roles responsibly.

    Step 4: Obtain Skills Required In The Job Role

    When you are all prepared with a degree, training, and clinical coding license, analyze the top skills required for these kinds of jobs. Read multiple job requirements and list down the common skills demanded by employers.

    Now, head toward mastering these skills in order to be a perfect candidate. 

    One thing to remember is that there will be 2 types of skills mentioned in the job roles, technical and soft skills. You must be able to differentiate between them and analyze what skills you possess already and what skills you have to focus on further.

    Step 5: Apply To The Jobs

    Where Can I Find Jobs

    Once you do your homework, now is the time to apply for clinical coding jobs and start your journey. You can explore a number of websites that connect you with employers looking for a competitive candidate.

    Regularly send your applications. Don’t forget to follow up on your applications to get feedback from the employer. 

    Keep yourself prepared for the interview, as it could happen anytime. Read the job description carefully to answer the interviewer’s questions and dress up like a professional.

    At last, grow your connection network. As it may help you find the right opportunities or someone can also suggest you to any employer.

    Have a look at some challenges of the career so that you can be prepared to face these hurdles:

    Rapidly Evolving Coding GuidelinesKeeping up with frequent updates and changes to coding guidelines, including new code sets, regulations, and documentation requirements.
    Technological AdvancementsAdapting to advancements in healthcare technology, such as electronic health records (EHRs) and coding software, and ensuring proficiency in their use.
    Complex Medical TerminologyUnderstanding and accurately interpreting complex medical terminology, diagnoses, and procedures to assign appropriate codes.
    Compliance with Regulatory RequirementsEnsuring compliance with coding regulations and standards, including HIPAA regulations, Medicare guidelines, and coding specificity requirements.
    Coding Accuracy and Quality AssuranceMaintaining high levels of accuracy and quality in coding practices to minimize errors, reduce claim denials, and prevent fraud and abuse.
    Workload and Productivity ExpectationsManaging heavy workloads and meeting productivity targets while maintaining accuracy and thoroughness in coding assignments.
    Communication with Healthcare ProvidersCollaborating effectively with healthcare providers to obtain clarification on documentation and ensure accurate code assignment.
    Continuing Education and Certification MaintenanceCommitting to ongoing education and professional development to stay current with coding best practices, regulations, and industry trends.
    Remote Work ChallengesAddressing challenges associated with remote work, such as communication barriers, technology issues, and maintaining work-life balance.
    Career Advancement OpportunitiesNavigating the competitive job market and identifying opportunities for career advancement, such as pursuing specialized certifications or transitioning to leadership roles.


    By reading the above requirements and tips to be a competitive candidate for clinical coding, you can start your journey toward your goal now.

    With all the resources available at hand, nothing is stopping you to make a career in medical coding and live a prosperous life.