Somewhere nearby, probably closer than you think, someone is sitting at their computer looking at records of recently completed medical procedures—a laparoscopic appendectomy for one patient: 44970; a complete abdominal ultrasound for another: 76700. Their eyes scan page after page of medical terminology, converting procedures into codes that will then be sent to patients’ insurance companies. Their fingers fly over the number pad as they glance from one screen to another. That person is a medical billing and coding professional. And with the right training, that person could be you.
Luckily this training exists at your fingertips at the medical billing and coding schools in NJ that have spent years preparing professionals to bridge the gap between medical facilities and insurance companies. Whether you’re looking for a change, or you’re just starting to research different careers as you step into the working world, we hope you consider the profession of medical billing and coding and the opportunities it offers you to work from home, earn a competitive salary, and make the most of a flexible and predictable schedule. Below we highlight some of the most important things you need to know, including what a top medical billing and coding program looks like, the skills you need to succeed, pros and cons of the career, and so much more.
Profiles: Popular Medical Billing and Coding Schools in New Jersey
The journey of a thousand miles may begin with a single step, but the road to becoming a medical billing and coding professional begins with a certification course. Take a look at the following medical billing and coding schools in NJ to get a better idea of what a quality program includes. Pay attention to what appeals to you and use that to help you find schools that fit your preferences.
Fortis Institute is one of the top medical billing and coding schools in NJ. Fortis offers its certificate of medical billing and coding in a hybrid format—meaning some classes are offered online while others take place in-person. The program requires 62 quarter credits and can be completed in just under a year. Over the course of the program, students learn how to compile, compute, process, and maintain patient medical records and log their corresponding codes for billing purposes. Classes also cover topics in billing and coding like the CMS 1500 form, ICD-10 codes, CPT codes, and HIPAA confidentiality, as well as the legal aspects of the profession. The program also includes an externship that will help students apply the knowledge they’ve acquired in a real-life healthcare setting. In the final quarter of the program, students are required to take the National Certified Insurance Coding Specialist (NCICS) exam through the National Center for Competency Testing (NCCT).
New Jersey City University
New Jersey City University offers a flexible 100% online, self-paced Medical Billing and Coding Training course through its Adult and Continuing Education department. The course curriculum delves into topics in medical terminology, the Healthcare Common Procedure Coding System (HCPCS) and the CPT Category II and ICD-10 codes. Students also learn about insurance claims, pharmacology, healthcare documentation and providers, revenue cycles, collections practices, and the legal aspects of health insurance and reimbursement. An entire unit of the course focuses on choosing and preparing for the right certification exam. Upon completion of the 12-month course, students are fully prepared to pass the exam of their choice (CPC, CCA, or CBCS) and will have gained hands-on experience with medical billing and coding software. The course costs $3,000 and includes a voucher for the certification exam of their choice.
Students wishing to break into the medical billing and coding scene can take advantage of Rutgers University’s 21-credit online medical coding certificate. This part-time program is designed to be completed over the course of 2 years, during which time students follow a specific course sequence; this format may be perfect for those working full-time or juggling other obligations. The program is offered each fall, and students looking to continue their education can seamlessly transition—and transfer credits—to Rutgers’ bachelor’s degree program in Health Information Management. The program teaches students to classify and code medical data from inpatient, outpatient, and physician office records. Students also study medical terminology, disease pathology, International Classification of Disease (ICD-10-CM and ICD-10-PCS), Current Procedural Terminology (CPT), and U.S. reimbursement systems. Students need to have a high school diploma or equivalent and need to have completed Anatomy and Physiology I & II to be admitted into the program.
Medical Billing and Coding Skills for Student Success
Though hard work will take you far, there are certain skills that will make your job much easier if you take the time to cultivate them. Below we discuss some of the skills that medical billing and coding professionals need to be successful in their jobs.
Adaptability to Technology
Medical procedures, their corresponding codes, and the software used to input them are constantly being updated. Students looking to work in this field need to be able to adapt to these changes regardless of the form they take. This adaptability and willingness to keep learning is a must.
Attention to Detail
Medical billing and coding professionals need to pay particular attention to detail because they have to accurately translate medical terminology into billing codes. Mistakes can easily be made, and a single wrong number could mean a difference of thousands of dollars. To be successful, students need to learn to be efficient and accurate.
Commitment to Confidentiality
Can you keep a secret? Patient confidentiality is a serious matter, and there are laws in place to keep sensitive patient information safe. Medical billing and coding professionals need to be able to handle the information they are privy to with discretion to protect themselves, their employers, and their patients.
Strong Communication Skills
Since medical billing and coding professionals act as crucial middlemen between the healthcare system and insurance companies, they need to be able to communicate with all parties clearly and professionally. The work they do is very detailed, and it needs to be recorded and communicated accurately.
Finding a Medical Billing & Coding Program in NJ: What to Consider
Have you decided to pursue medical billing and coding classes in New Jersey? If so, the next step is to find a program that fits your individual needs. Below we discuss some of the most important factors to consider when making your decision of where to go to school.
If a program has been accredited, it means they have met certain educational standards of quality. As a student, you want to attend medical billing and coding schools in NJ that have been accredited by organizations like the Commission of Accreditation for Health Informatics and Information Management Education (CAHIIM), which accredits health information programs (which include medical billing and coding classes) and the American Academy of Professional Coders (AAPC). Other organizations like Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools (ABHES), which offers accreditation to Fortis Institute, also lend credibility to schools and their programs. Receiving a certificate or degree from an accredited school will make it easier to find employment after graduation since your education will be recognized as legitimate.
Cost & Financial Aid
A big part of education is actually being able to afford it. But costs don’t just include tuition. You also need to consider school fees, the cost of textbooks, technology, transportation, and your time. The cost of a program will vary most significantly depending on whether you’re getting a certificate or pursuing a degree. For example, New Jersey City University partners with ed2go to offer a medical billing and coding certificate for a total of $3,000.
Curriculum & Certificate Preparation
Though medical billing and coding are often lumped together, they are actually two distinct jobs that require different skill sets. Medical billing requires the ability to work autonomously and serve as the intermediary between patients and insurance companies. Medical coding requires the ability to collaborate with providers and other healthcare personnel to properly code procedures. If you already know which path you’d like to pursue (billing, coding, both, or some niche therein), you’ll want to be sure you attend a program whose curriculum properly prepares you.
If you’re not a traditional student, attending a campus several times a week may not be an option. As you’re looking at medical billing and coding schools and classes in NJ, check the website’s information to see if the program is available online, in-person, or in a hybrid format that offers both online and in-person classes. For example, AIMS Education’s medical billing and coding program is delivered in a hybrid format, with students meeting online synchronously (at the same time each week) for lectures.
Weighing the Pros and Cons of a Medical Billing & Coding Certification
It would be misleading to say that medical billing and coding is for everyone. Like other careers, there are pros and cons that are worth considering. As you read through our list below, consider if the cons are enough to keep you out, or if you find yourself thinking that this career is definitely for you.
Answering FAQs About New Jersey Medical Billing & Coding Schools
Though we’ve covered a lot already, there is nothing wrong with asking more questions—just in case, right? Below we’ve pulled some of the most frequently asked questions that students like you need answers to. After all, we want you to be as informed as possible before you take the plunge.
Are medical billing and coding classes ever offered online or part-time?
Yes to both! The flexibility of medical billing and coding classes in NJ can start long before your certification exam. In fact, many programs are offered entirely online, like Camden County College’s medical coding certificate, while others are on-campus. Still others can be completed on a part-time basis, like the Healthcare Training Institute’s afternoon option.
Are there any prerequisites for medical billing and coding programs?
Most single-certificate or single-course medical billing and coding classes in New Jersey have minimal requirements. These typically include an age limit (18+), a high school diploma or GED, and sufficient computer skills. This is the case at Brookdale Community College.
How much do medical billers and coders make in New Jersey?
Like most careers, the amount of time and experience you have in a job can determine how much you make. In New Jersey, medical billing and coding professionals can make anywhere from $46,700 to $55,000 with the average coming in around $50,200. If you decide to earn additional certifications, you’ll likely qualify for higher paying positions.
What certification exam(s) do I need to take before I can start working?
The type of exam you take depends on what you want to do. If you want to work exclusively in medical billing, you’ll want to take the AAPC Certified Professional Biller (CPB) exam. Likewise, if you want to work exclusively in medical coding, you’ll want to take the AAPC Certified Professional Coder (CPC) exam. For those looking to do both, you’ll want to take the CBCS exam, administered by the American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA).
What is the process for applying to a medical billing and coding school?
Applying to an online medical billing and coding school in NJ is fairly straightforward. If you’re interested in a program offered outside of a university setting, applying may be as simple as hitting “Enroll Now” and completing any subsequent steps. If you’re planning to complete a course through a college or university, you may need to submit an application, complete with proof that you’ve graduated high school and meet any age requirements. You may also be required to complete prerequisite courses.