Have you ever wondered how hospitals and healthcare facilities keep track of all the services they provide and ensure they get paid correctly?

Well, the answer lies in the world of medical billing and coding.

These professionals translate complex medical procedures and diagnoses into standardized codes, allowing healthcare providers to receive proper reimbursement from insurance companies.

If you’re someone who loves puzzles, has an eye for detail, and wants to play an important role in the healthcare industry, then a medical billing and coding degree might just be the perfect path for you.

In this article, we’ll dive into the nitty-gritty of what it takes to earn this degree, the job prospects, and the skills you’ll need to succeed in this exciting field.

Medical Billing and Coding Degree

One of the main ways to earn a degree in medical billing and coding is by earning an associate degree. A Medical Billing and Coding Associate Degree can open the door to a fulfilling job in the healthcare field.

This specialized program gives you the knowledge and skills you need to handle patient billing and coding for healthcare services.

Let’s break down what a Medical Billing and Coding Associate Degree involves, including its cost, duration, pros, and cons.

First, let’s talk about cost and duration. The cost of this degree can vary a lot based on where you go to school, where it’s located, and the financial aid options you have. Generally, tuition fees can range from $10,000 to $30,000.

As for the timeline, it usually takes about two years of full-time study to complete a Medical Billing and Coding Associate Degree. But if you have other commitments, there are part-time and online programs available that can extend the time it takes to finish the degree.

See: What is Medical Billing and Coding?

What are the Pros and Cons of a Medical Billing and Coding Associate Degree?

If you’re an aspiring Medical Biller and Coder, and you’re interested in going for an associate degree, you might be wondering about the advantages and disadvantages of getting one.

Let us help you with that.

1. Career Opportunities: This degree opens doors to various job opportunities in the healthcare industry, such as working in hospitals, clinics, insurance companies, and other healthcare facilities.

2. High Demand: The demand for medical billing and coding professionals is consistently high due to the growing healthcare industry and the need for accurate health information management.

3. Good Salary Potential: Graduates with this degree often earn competitive salaries, and there is potential for salary growth with experience and additional certifications.

4. Flexible Work Options: Many medical billing and coding jobs offer flexible work schedules, including the possibility of remote work, making it easier to balance work and personal life.

5. Foundation for Further Education: An associate degree can serve as a stepping stone for further education in health information management or related fields, potentially leading to advanced career opportunities.

6. Professional Certification Preparation: The program typically prepares students for professional certification exams, such as the Certified Professional Coder (CPC) or Certified Coding Specialist (CCS), which can enhance job prospects and credibility in the field.

7. Essential Skills Development: The degree program provides comprehensive training in medical terminology, coding systems, billing procedures, and healthcare laws, equipping graduates with the essential skills needed for the job.

Now, let’s also talk about the disadvantages of a medical billing and coding associate degree.

While a Medical Billing and Coding Associate Degree offers many advantages, there are also some potential disadvantages to consider:

1. Cost: The cost of obtaining an associate degree can be very high, with tuition fees ranging from $10,000 to $30,000. This financial investment may be a barrier for many.

2. Time Commitment: Completing an associate degree typically requires about two years of full-time study. For those with other commitments, such as work or family, this time commitment can be challenging, even with part-time or online options.

3. Job Market Competition: While there is a high demand for medical billing and coding professionals, the job market can be competitive. Employers often prefer candidates with experience or additional certifications, which may require further investment in time and money.

4. Continued Learning: The healthcare industry is constantly evolving, with updates to coding systems, regulations, and technology. This means that professionals must engage in continual learning and professional development to stay current.

5. Limited Patient Interaction: For those who prefer direct patient care, medical billing and coding may not be fulfilling, as it primarily involves administrative tasks rather than patient interaction.

6. Stressful Deadlines: The job often involves working with tight deadlines and managing large volumes of data, which can be stressful. Ensuring accuracy and compliance under these conditions can add pressure.

7. Certification Requirements: Although the degree prepares you for certification exams, obtaining these certifications can require additional study and exam fees. Some employers may also require specific certifications beyond the associate degree.

Read: Medical Billing and Coding Certification

Do You Need a Degree to be a Medical Biller and Coder?

Not at all!

You do not necessarily need a degree to become a medical biller and coder, but having one can be beneficial. This is simply because a degree evidently holds significant value in the job market.

However, as we mentioned before, the cons of getting an associate degree outweigh the pros, and that is why aspiring medical billers and coders are nowadays shifting to other ways of completing their training, such as:

Certificate Programs

One common route into medical billing and coding is through certificate programs. These programs are designed to be completed in less than a year, making them a quick and efficient way to gain the necessary skills.

Certificate programs focus on the essential aspects of medical billing and coding, including medical terminology, coding systems like ICD-10 and CPT, and billing procedures. This targeted training equips students with the specific knowledge required for entry-level positions in the field.

Online Training

Another viable path is online training programs. These programs are the most recommended and popular recently, simply because they offer flexibility, allowing students to learn at their own pace and on their own schedule.

Online training can be especially beneficial for those who need to balance their studies with other commitments, such as work or family. These programs cover the same fundamental topics as traditional certificate programs, including medical terminology, coding systems, and billing procedures.

Online training often includes interactive elements such as virtual labs, forums, and webinars, providing a comprehensive learning experience. The ability to study from anywhere makes online training a convenient option for many aspiring medical billers and coders.

Learn More: Best 4-Week Online Medical Coding and Billing Course

Medical Billing and Coding Certificate vs. Certification

In the field of medical billing and coding, it is important to distinguish between a certificate program and certification.

Though they may seem similar, both serve different purposes and can significantly impact your career in various ways.

Certificate Programs

A certificate program is an educational course designed to teach the foundational skills and knowledge required for a specific career, in this case, medical billing and coding.

These programs are typically offered by vocational schools, community colleges, and online education providers. They are designed to be completed in a relatively short period, often ranging from a few months to a year.

Certificate programs focus on essential topics such as medical terminology, anatomy, health data requirements and standards, coding systems (ICD-10, CPT, HCPCS), and billing procedures.


Certification, on the other hand, is a professional credential that validates your expertise and competency in medical billing and coding.

This is obtained through passing an examination administered by a recognized professional organization, certifications are highly regarded in the industry. The most common certifications include the Certified Professional Coder (CPC) from the American Academy of Professional Coders (AAPC) and the Certified Coding Specialist (CCS) from the American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA).

To sit for these certification exams, you often need to complete a certificate program or have equivalent work experience. Certification exams test a candidate’s knowledge and proficiency in medical coding and billing practices, ensuring they meet industry standards.

Earning a certification shows a commitment to the profession and can significantly enhance your job prospects, credibility, and potential for career advancement. Many employers prefer or even require candidates to have relevant certifications, as it assures them of the candidate’s capability and expertise.

Differences Between a Certificate and  a Certification:

  • Educational Focus vs. Professional Credential: Certificate programs are educational courses that teach you the necessary skills for medical billing and coding, while certification is a professional credential that validates your expertise in the field.
  • Duration: Certificate programs typically take a few months to a year to complete, whereas certification involves preparing for and passing an exam, which may require prior education or experience.
  • Job Market Value: Certifications often carry more weight in the job market than a certificate program alone. Employers may prioritize certified candidates due to the standardized assurance of their skills and knowledge.
  • Career Advancement: While a certificate program can help you get started in the field, obtaining a certification can open doors to higher-paying positions and advanced career opportunities.

Can You Become a Medical Biller and Coder Without a Degree?

This is one of the most common dilemmas faced by aspiring medical billers and coders.

To answer simply, yes, you can become a medical biller and coder without a degree!

You can join short certificate programs or learn online at your own pace to quickly grasp the basics like medical terms and billing rules.

Some employers also offer on-the-job training, where you learn while working. Though not required, getting certified can boost your job prospects; you can prepare for certification exams through courses or self-study.

So, where can you find an online program that meets all your needs?

Well, let us help you with that.

Allow us to introduce:

Preppy’s Online Medical Billing and Coding Coding Training Program.

This isn’t your average online course. And here’s why we think it’s one of the best options out there for Medical Coding training.

  • Firstly, Preppy has collaborated with Auburn University, offering you a top-tier education recognized nationwide.
  • Upon completing the program, you’ll receive a prestigious Certificate of Completion from Auburn, which can give you an edge when applying for coveted positions.
  • Understanding the financial strain many face, Preppy has made its program highly affordable, sparing you from drowning in student loans or scrambling for financial assistance.
  • This program is entirely online and self-paced, allowing you to study whenever and wherever suits you best – even from your favorite corner of your house.
  • Additionally, Preppy’s curriculum is tailored to prepare you for important certification exams from recognized authorities like the CPC exam from AAPC and the CCA exam from AHIMA.
  • Unlike programs that seem to drag on forever, Preppy’s training can be completed in as little as four months, helping you land your dream job sooner than you might think.
  • Preppy also provides externship opportunities, enabling you to gain valuable real-world experience.
  • Plus, they’ll throw in a free laptop to streamline your online learning experience.
  • With a dedicated Student Coordinator and 24/7 technical assistance, Preppy has your back, ensuring you never have to face late-night study panics alone.

Read: How Long is Medical Billing and Coding School


Pursuing a degree in medical billing and coding can open the door to a rewarding and in-demand career in the healthcare industry. This specialized field offers the opportunity to work behind the scenes, ensuring that healthcare providers are accurately compensated and that patients’ medical records are properly maintained.

With a growing need for skilled professionals, obtaining a degree in medical billing and coding provides a solid foundation for job stability and career growth. Whether you’re just starting out or looking to advance in your career, this degree offers valuable skills that are essential in today’s healthcare environment.

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About the Author
Grant founded OnlineDegree.com with a purpose-driven mission: make college accessible and affordable for everyone. After graduating college with an overwhelming amount of debt, he was determined to change how students embark on their education. He's a frequent speaker and author in higher education, and has been featured in Forbes, Bloomberg Businessweek, Business Insider, American Express, AOL, MSN, Thrive Global, Reader's Digest, Inside Higher Ed, Evolllution, EducationDive, and nearly 100 radio shows and podcasts.