Certified Coding Associate Career Info and Education Requirements
A certified coding associate (CCA) translates information about diseases and procedures used by healthcare providers into numeric or alphanumeric codes. Results of the coding are used for purposes of reimbursement, the assessment of clinical care and medical research. The majority of certified coding associates work in hospitals, but they can also work in doctors' offices, ambulatory care centers and long-term care facilities.
Certified Coding Associate Education Requirements
Aspiring certified coding associates must have a high school diploma and at least six months of experience using ICD-9-CM and CPT coding conventions. Strong computer skills and a familiarity with electronic data management software are also a plus, as is familiarity with medical terminology. Those who wish to become certified coding associates can earn an associate's or bachelor's degree in health information management. Coding certificate programs are another educational option. These programs focus on the skills necessary for completing certification exams, such as coding guidelines, medical terminology and disease classification.
A certified coding associate must pass a national medical coding exam that measures one's understanding of medical terminology, disease processes, pharmacology, ICD-9-CM and CPT medical record coding. General coding certification is offered through the American Academy of Professional Coders (AAPC).
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicts faster-than-average growth for certified coding associates, with a 20% increase expected between 2008-2018 (www.bls.gov). Part of this growth is attributed to changing technology and an increased need for people who posses the specialized data management skills required to work as a coding associate. In 2008, the BLS also reported that the highest-paid coders were employed by the federal government, earning an average of $42,760 annually, while coders working in other sectors earned an average of $30,610 per year.
Certified coding associates seeking advancement within the field may obtain advanced specialty certification through organizations such as the Board of Medical Specialty Coding (BMSC), the Professional Association of Healthcare Coding Specialists (PAHCS) and the National Cancer Registrars Association (NCRA). Those who have or obtain a bachelor's or master's degree may seek positions as health information managers, who are in charge of the maintenance and security of electronic patient records.
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