Note: Due to the 2020 coronavirus pandemic, many schools have migrated their traditional, classroom programs online. School websites will give you more information on the school’s situation.
Patient health information is critical in the accurate diagnosis and treatment of disease and illness. It’s not only clinical practitioners who rely on accurate and timely medical records, but medical coding and billing is necessary for the appropriate reimbursement from Medicare, Medicaid, and for-profit insurance companies.
The need for qualified, credentialed Medical Billing and Coding professionals is expected to grow at 11%, between 2018-2028, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. This job growth is much faster than average. In 2018, the median salary expectation for this career, per the BLS, was $40,350 annually. Of course, your salary will depend on where you live and work.
Best Health Degrees has researched community and technical colleges offering associate degrees in Medical Billing and Coding. These programs are accredited and will help you become a valuable allied healthcare professional.
Our Method: Ranking the 10 Fastest Medical and Billing Coding Associate’s Degrees
To rank the 10 Fastest Medical Billing and Coding Degrees for 2020, Best Degrees editors researched accredited, trusted programs of all kinds. From our initial pool, we ranked programs according to price, accreditation, reputation, and salary potential, using data from IPEDS and Niche, U.S. News and World Report, and other higher education rating publications.
1. Grantham University
To earn this AAS in Medical Billing, you’ll complete 60 credit hours, including general education and core degree credits, in about 24 months.
This program is accredited by the Distance Education Accrediting Commission (DEAC) and will give you the training needed to sit for the Certified Billing & Coding Specialist (CBCS) credentialing exam of National Healthcareer Association (NHA).
You’ll study topics in medical terminology, health delivery systems, reimbursement methods, diagnostic and procedure coding systems, as well as medical assisting. There’s a course in CBCS exam prep included in the curriculum. General education coursework will cover English, humanities, science, social sciences, etc.
Grantham University offers life experience credit, through its Prior Learning Assessment Program (PLA) which could include work experience, continuing education, volunteer involvement, internships, etc. You’ll want to talk with an admission advisor to see if you have experience that would qualify.
Fast Fact: Grantham University has been offering distance education since 1951 and now offers over 50 degrees online
Degree Awarded: AAS
2. Northwest Technical College
An AAS in Medical Coding from this Minnesota school will take 60 credit hours, or about, 24 months. Northwest Technical College is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission to offer this online associate degree.
This program is designed to provide you the professional skills to handle medical coding requirements from organization to reporting. You’ll take classes in Anatomy and Physiology, Pharmacology, Medical/Billing Procedures, CPT/HCPCS Coding, ICD-10 Coding, US Healthcare Systems, Business Communication, as well as an Internship. Other courses will help round out your understanding of medical billing and coding.
If you’ve attended a postsecondary school before, you may be able to have transfer credits applied to this program. You’ll want to talk to an admission advisor about possible transfer credits.
Fast Fact: Niche ranks NTC as one of its “Best Community Colleges in America”
Degree Awarded: AAS
3. Ozark Technical Community College
Located in Springfield, Missouri, OTCC has an AAS in Health Information Technology which will prepare you to sit for the Registered Health Information Technician (RHIT) exam. Having that certification will greatly help you in your eventual employment.
You’ll need 66 credit hours to graduate with this degree as well as a Professional Practice Experience. Among the HIT courses you’ll take are topics in medical coding, health records and records systems, legal concerns in healthcare, medical terminology, health information systems, and statistics. The program also requires you take courses in Technology and Digital Literacy and Computer Apps for Business. These courses are in addition to general education studies.
This program is offered online and is eligible for financial aid for qualified students.
Fast Fact: OTC adjusted online fees as a result of COVID-19
Degree Awarded: AAS
4. Southwest Tech
If you’re looking for a quick way to enter the healthcare field, a technical diploma may be a great option. Southwest Tech offers a diploma in its Medical Coding Specialist program.
This diploma can be obtained in one year and will qualify you to work in a number of healthcare facilities and roles from outpatient coder to coding and claims analyst. The 33 credit hour curriculum will acquaint you with coding requirements, medical terminology, basic or general anatomy, the foundational basis for health information management, revenue management, and ethics and law in healthcare.
Fast Fact: Southwest Tech has established a Cares Emergency Grant to assist students affected by the COVID-19 pandemic
Degree Awarded: Technical Diploma
5. Herzing University
You can complete this Associate or Associate of Applied Science degree in Medical Coding online and within 20 months. Additionally, this curriculum will prepare you to sit for the Certified Coding Associate (CCA) exam offered by the American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA).
Some of the required studies in this degree includes patient privacy, ethics, medical terminology, ICD-10 coding, pharmacology, and pathophysiology. You’ll also explore anatomy and physiology which will include studies in biochemistry, histology, cellular biology, etc. Additionally, general education classes are required in communication, math, science, humanities, and more.
You’ll also participate in a case study research project in coding and insurance billing; or, depending on the state in which you live, an insurance and coding internship.
Fast Fact: Herzing University began as a computer training school in 1965, the first of its kind
Degree Awarded: Associate and AAS
6. Central Texas College
Central Texas College provides a 60 credit hour AAS in Medical Billing and Coding degree you can complete online in four semesters.
Among the 60 hours of study, you’ll cover topics in medical terminology, coding and classification systems, human disease, health data content/structure, software applications, healthcare reimbursement, and more. Other required courses you can expect in this degree curriculum includes English composition, English for business, and speech. You’ll choose from electives in social sciences and humanities.
An internship is also necessary for graduation and you can learn more about the requirement by talking with an admission advisor.
Fast Fact: CTC is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCC)
Degree Awarded: AAS
7. Moraine Park Technical College
You’re able to take the 63 credit hours for this Health Information Technology AAS degree online. CAHIIM accredits this program which will allow you to sit for the RHIT credentialing exam.
This is a well balanced curriculum including studies in healthcare informatics, ICD and CPT coding, ethics, law, human diseases, quality management, a capstone project, and a professional practice experience. You’ll learn from faculty who are currently working in health information field and are able to take the program on a full-time or part-time basis.
The school recommends you consider job-shadowing in the healthcare information profession prior to applying for admission. You may want to discuss with an admission counselor the best way to do that.
Fast Fact: Moraine Park Technical College graduates have a 100% RHIM exam and have surpassed the national pass rate average for over 25 years
Degree Awarded: AAS
8. Southwest Tech
We included Southwest Tech again in this ranking because of its Health Information Technology/Management AAS degree, developed with the working adult in mind. It requires 61 credit hours and can be completed entirely online (except for a professional experience).
You may also be eligible to receive academic credit for prior learning, including transfer credits and military experience. Be sure to discuss this with an admission representative.
This curriculum was designed to meet CAHIIM accreditation standards and will qualify you to sit for the RHIT credentialing exam. You’ll study ICD and CPT coding, review foundational basis for HIM, become familiar with human diseases, management of resources, health informatics, medical terminology, as well as a capstone project.
Fast Fact: Forbes ranked Southwest Tech #1 in Wisconsin and #13 overall of its 25 two-year trade schools
Degree Awarded: AAS
9. Arapahoe Community College
This Colorado school has an online Health Information Technology AAS degree that you can complete in 64 credit hours.
Accredited by the CAHIIM, this degree will give you the skills necessary for an entry-level position in the health information field. You’ll be able to analyze, code, retrieve data, etc., in a wide range of healthcare facilities. Studies include topics in coding, data management, information systems, medical terminology, and a HIT capstone projects. There’s also a practicum experience required. Prior to the practicum, you’ll need to submit a criminal background check and vaccination records.
In addition to health information courses, you’ll take general education classes in English, psychology, as well as interpersonal communication.
Fast Fact: Arapahoe Community College opened in 1966 with over 550 students
Degree Awarded: AAS
10. Lehigh Carbon Community College
In only four semesters, you can earn an AAS degree in Health Information Technology from this Pennsylvania college.
The curriculum provides you the foundation needed to work as a HIT technician in a range of healthcare sites. Some of the topics you’ll study are anatomy and physiology, clinical documentation, health law, classification systems, HIT reporting, medical terminology, and ICD and CPT coding. The program places an emphasis on electronic health information that will allow you to provide accurate and timely health information records and reports.
As a CAHIIM accredited degree, once you graduate you’ll be eligible to sit for the RHIT exam. Lehigh Carbon Community College has a solid 91% first time, exam pass rate.
Fast Fact: CLCC has an enrollment in excess of 10,000 students and is located in Schnecksville, Pennsylvania
Degree Awarded: AAS
Will a Certification in Medical Billing and Coding Help My Career?
The short answer is yes. Credentials are a high priority in healthcare. Many employers will prefer to hire those who demonstrate training and expertise in coding and billing requirements which certification assures. Certification will also increase your earning ability.
Most schools offering Medical Billing and Coding programs are accredited by the Commission of Accreditation for Health Informatics and Information Management Education (CAHIIM) or the American Academy of Professional Coders (AAPC).
Accredited programs will prepare you to sit for credentialing exams of the Healthcare Information Technology (HIT) designation of the American Academy of Professional Coders™ or the Healthcare Information Technology Management (HIM) credential of the American Health Information Management Association .
This accreditation demonstrates that the program meets specific standards and can lead you to receiving professional credentials. Typically, you receive certification by sitting for the Registered Health Information Technology (RHIT), Certified Professional Coder (CPC), Certified Coding Specialist (CCS) or Certified Inpatient Coder (CIC) exams.
Can I Get Medical Billing and Coding Certification Online?
In preparation for the exam, you can enroll in preparation course, supplemental courses, and/or practice exams.
How Do I Get a Certification in Medical Billing and Coding?
It’s possible to earn certification without a formal education, but it’s difficult to do. Your best bet is to obtain a well rounded technical diploma or associates degree in the field. Additionally, an associates degree is great for entry level positions and is an excellent springboard to a bachelor’s degree, should you want to advance your healthcare career.
As mentioned before, certification is offered through professional associations by successfully passing exams. In most cases, you’ll need to join the association prior to taking the test.
Can I Get a Medical Billing and Coding Certification for Free?
We weren’t able to find any CPC or RHIT exams offered at no cost.
It might be possible, if you currently work in healthcare, that your employer may be willing to pay for the exam. You may want to check with your supervisor or HR department to see if that might be a possibility.
The AAPC certification exam costs between $399-$654.95 depending on the package you choose. Packages include the base exam only, online practice exams, study guides, or exam review.
The AHIMA exam costs $229 for association members and $299 for non-members.