People become medical coders by earning a high-school diploma, getting an associate's degree or taking a certification course in medical coding and obtaining certification. A medical coder needs to be attentive to details, work well with numbers and computers, possess analytical skills and have the integrity to work with confidential information.
While in high school, prospective medical coders should focus on biology, health, math, algebra and computer science. Associate's degree courses in medical coding include such subjects as physiology, anatomy, medical terminology, health-care statistics, data analysis, health-care reimbursement methods and health-data requirements, standards, classifications and coding systems. To become a certified professional coder, or CPC, a candidate must have two years experience as a medical coder and take a written test given by the American Academy of Professional Coders. To renew membership and certification, medical coders take continuing-education courses and pay annual dues.
Although computer software handles a significant amount of the work a medical coder does, the job still requires hands-on data entry. Additionally, medical coders review patient information, access patient records and act as liaisons between health-care providers and insurance companies and other billing offices. The Bureau of Labor Statistics of the U.S. Department of Labor expects the need for medical coders to grow significantly in the decade of 2012 to 2022.