What you see in the world today is a lot of different paths to the same goal: online degrees, night classes, vocation schools, or even good old-fashioned on-the-job training.

Medical coding and billing are one of many career paths in the healthcare industry that don’t require education past high school — and yet, there are certifications are required to work in the field. While there are numerous ways to do so, there are three different methods in how to get the certification or degree you need to start your career in medical coding and billing.

Associate’s Degree

Much like what’s available for numerous nursing programs, two-year college curricula exist for people pursuing medical billing and coding careers as well. One of the ways you can accomplish this is by attending school toward an Associate’s degree in Health Care Administration, or even regular Business Administration, to start with. You could even achieve the same goal with an A.S. in Accounting, making you a preferred candidate in roles for medical billing especially. 

There are many institutions with programs focused specifically on medical billing & coding courses. When you seek out a two-year degree, and you’re already looking at this as a career, what better way to go, than to simply use the tools provided to get an education that’s specialized in the field? 

Best of all, these programs are increasingly offered online, such as at Ultimate Medical Academy, so you can earn an actual Associate’s degree in your preferred field from the comfort of your own home, or anywhere else.

Bachelor’s Degree

A four-year degree is always considered loftier and more advantageous when considering the job opportunities available in any given market, and the healthcare industry is no exception. While there are preferences usually given to those with work experience, a Bachelor’s degree, especially one in Medical Billing and Coding, could give you a leg up on the competition.

While likely more costly than an associate’s degree, by going this route you can also select a minor whose program gives your main education a slightly more competitive edge. For example, if a university allows you to select a major such as Medical Billing and Coding, while you take a minor in Accounting or Healthcare Administration, you’ll find yourself even more suited to many of the jobs that are on the market. You’ll even find that these added bonuses like your major, specialization or even the mention of your four-year degree can act as bargaining chips to push on top of requisites for a job.

There is, of course, one more major benefit to a four-year degree. In many cases and many disciplines, a university will require baccalaureates to take on some sort of practicum or internship in order to graduate. This means that if you choose to pursue a Bachelor’s degree, you can find a program that puts you in the position to earn work experience up to two years earlier! That’s a true bonus for anyone new to the workforce, healthcare industry or not!

Certification or Diploma Program

While they may not be “degrees” in the traditional sense, the certifications required to put you in the medical billing and coding field are still industry-specific and accredited — meaning that they distinguish you professionally for your career of choice. Like an Associate’s program, these diploma programs are popping up more frequently, helping people to enter the workforce without having to spend years in college beforehand. Consider this: a person getting certified for medical billing and coding can go through their courses in less than a year, with many students receiving their diploma from a curriculum in person or online in only 11 months.

There is one thing to remember: no matter if you’ve taken a diploma program, a two-year degree program, or even earned your Bachelor’s, there’s one requirement of medical coders that puts you at the top of the considerations. If you’re serious about medical coding and billing careers, you need to take the CPC exam (short for Certified Professional Coder). But with schooling from a diploma program, you can prepare yourself for that exam as part of the process!

It’s hard to give yourself the license to start over or to take that first big step into a career path, but you deserve the career you want. Don’t let the idea of schooling get in the way: there’s more than one way to get the education you need to become the medical professional you want to be!