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Medical Office Specialist Certification and Training Program Info

Find out about a certificate-level training program for those aspiring to be a medical office specialist. Learn what is needed to enroll and what is studied in the curriculum. Get details about certification as well as job growth statistics and earnings for these professionals.

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Essential Information

Medical office specialists work in hospitals, clinics and other healthcare organizations. Their duties include keeping medical records, greeting guests, handling billing procedures and maintaining the front office. There are many different names for medical office specialists, including medical billing and coding specialists, medical office assistants and medical secretaries. They have similar duties, and educational programs may overlap. Individuals who aspire to the profession can enroll in a medical office specialist certificate program.

Students enrolled in a medical office specialist certificate program develop basic computer, keyboarding, business and filing skills. They also learn about various medical diseases and treatments, medical terminology, patient intake procedures and medical recordkeeping techniques. Most programs offer training in medical coding, which allows individuals to transform medical procedures into codes for billing and insurance purposes. Voluntary certification is available in this field.

Education Prerequisites

Any individual who is interested in enrolling in a medical office specialist certificate program through a community college or university extension department should first earn a high school diploma. Most schools also suggest or require incoming students to pass an English proficiency examination and have basic keyboarding skills.

Program Coursework

Certificate programs for aspiring medical office specialists and medical office assistants often contain courses that are practical in nature and provide specific step-by-step training in medical coding, recordkeeping and filing procedures. Some specific examples of common courses include:

  • Medical terminology
  • Introduction to computers
  • Medical billing procedures
  • Medical coding
  • Law and ethics in medicine
  • Business communication
  • Medical diseases and treatments
  • Customer relations

Employment Outlook and Salary Info

Physicians' offices, medical hospitals, dentists' offices and outpatient care centers employed over 500,000 medical secretaries and office specialists in 2012, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (www.bls.gov). These jobs were predicted to grow 36% from 2012-2022, which was much faster than average. The BLS reported that the mean annual salary for professionals in the field was $33,140 in May 2013. The highest-paying states for the medical secretary profession in 2013 were Washington, New Jersey and the District of Columbia.

Certification Options

Certification is not required. However, the Board of Medical Specialty Coding and the American Academy of Professional Coders both offer credentials in medical billing and coding. Such certifications can be useful to individuals who hope to work their way up to positions as health information technologists or health information managers.

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