Medical coding ranks third on the US News and World Report’s list of the Best Jobs Without A College Degree. It demands a competitive salary and the job outlook is significantly better than most.
If this is your field and you are applying for a new job you’ll need a compelling resume that will help you stand out among all the other applicants.
We’ve got lots of tips and ideas, and we have compiled a full resume sample as an example to help you.
Resume objective for a medical coder
According to the US News and World Report, the world’s aging population is driving the increased demand for more health care professionals. This includes medical records technicians who abstract information and assign the appropriate diagnosis and procedure codes.
As they say, you need to be extraordinarily detail-oriented and motivated and should not be discouraged by continual change.
Medical coding is an ever-evolving profession that is driven by advances in technology, the migration to electronic rather than paper-based health records, as well as increased regulatory compliance.
So, you fit the bill and have been working in the industry for a while already. Now you want a new, better position, and you’ve found a job posting that appeals to you. You know you need a good resume, but how can you make it stand out so you get noticed?
Branford Hall Career Institute advises medical billing and coding specialists to ensure that their resumes are skills-based. They also urge applicants to highlight internship and job experience, education, and, of course, their technical skills.
They believe that a summary or objective is important, and should be positioned at the top of the resume under the applicant’s name and contact details. Like the rest of the resume, it should be largely skills-based.
Dedicated medical coding specialist with five years of experience in hospitals and physician’s offices. Passionate about healthcare. Trained in ICD-10 coding, data entry and management, and conversant with medical terminology. Eager to learn new skills.
Resume skills for a medical coder
Branford Hall ranks the top five skills or qualities needed to succeed in a medical coding career as detail-oriented, discretion, assertiveness, analytical, and technical, particularly when it comes to learning new software programs.
The US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) classifies medical coders with medical records and health information technicians. The skills they specify are similar to the above: analytical, detail-orientated, integrity, interpersonal, and technical.
ZipRecruiter has identified must-have resume skills for medical coders using their Career Keyword Mapper, gathering information from ZR job postings.
The top 10 job skills they list are medical coding, clinic, outpatient, ICD-10, inpatient, CPT, hospital, medical records, mental health, and surgery. These relate directly to coding rather than personal so-called soft skills like integrity.
ICD-10 is, of course, the tenth revision of the World Health Organization’s International Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems, which translates written descriptions of medical and health information into standard codes.
CPT refers to Current Procedural Terminology which is the accepted medical code-set that is used to report medical, diagnostic, and surgical services and procedures.
Just be sure that the skills you identify tally with what is required for the job.
Medical coding | Current Procedural Terminology | ICD-10 | AAPC certified | Verbal and written communication | Detail-orientated | Analytical | Technical
Medical coder work experience
The more relevant work experience you can cite on your resume the better. But it must be relevant!
If you haven’t had much experience add internships or externships if you can, even if they were unpaid.
According to the BLS, most medical records and health information technicians work in state, local, and private hospitals (37%) and offices of physicians (15%).
The rest work for administrative and support service providers, professional, scientific, and technical service providers, and in nursing (especially skilled) facilities.
In 2019, they held about 341,600 job positions – and these are expected to increase by 8% between 2019 and 2029.
According to the AAPC (American Academy of Professional Coders), the demand for medical coders is at an historic high! In fact, they maintain that it is among the 20 fastest-growing occupations.
But this doesn’t necessarily make it easier to get medical coder jobs.
We sampled dozens of job postings and found that even if minimal education was required (a high school diploma for example), most jobs called for experience of some sort, even if applicants are certified.
This can seem like a Catch 22, but it is possible. ZipRecruiter suggests working as an assistant to an experienced medical coder, or a clerical or data-entry position to get experience. Volunteering is another option.
Sample Work Experience
Washington County Hospital and Clinics, WA
Medical Records Coder, 2019 – 2020
Responsible for auditing, abstracting, and applying the appropriate diagnostic and procedural codes relating to individual health information for data retrieval, analysis, and claims processing.
- Worked according to the WHO International Classification of Diseases 10th-Revision, Clinical Modifications (ICD-10-CM), Procedure Coding System (ICD-10-PCS), Current Procedural Terminology (CPT), Healthcare Common Procedure Coding System (HCPCS), and the Diagnostic Related Group (DRG) coding system.
- Reviewed narrative records of patient treatments and surgical procedures to determine what information was appropriate for coding purposes.
- Prepared hundreds of case abstracts.
- Queried providers when code assignments weren’t straightforward or documentation was inadequate or not sufficiently clear for coding purposes.
Virtual Consult MD, IN
Outpatient Medical Coder, 2018 – 2019
Worked in an outpatient clinic that provided psychiatry, neurology, and therapy to children. Primary job responsibility involved accurate and compliant medical coding for outpatient services, diagnostic tests, and other medical services.
- Reviewed patient medical records, including test orders, and accurately assigned ICD-10-CM diagnosis codes, CPT-4 E&M and procedural codes.
- Resolved medical record documentation deficiencies through healthcare provider queries and provided routine feedback to healthcare providers to correct deficiencies.
- Performed regular quality assessments of records, including verification of medical record documentation, both hand-written and electronic.
- Commended for my thorough understanding of the CPT guidelines for separate procedures, bundling, and add-on codes.
US Department of Veteran Affairs, VA
Medical Records Technician (Coder) Auditor (Outpatient), 2017 – 2018
Worked in the Health Information Management section of Health Administration Service. Performed prospective and retrospective reviews of the accuracy of ICD-10-CM diagnosis, evaluation and management (E&M) coding.
- Served as an expert on current coding conventions and guidelines related to professional and facility coding.
- Performed audits to identify areas of non-compliance in coding.
- Assisted the facility staff with documentation requirements to completely and accurately reflect the patient care provided.
- Consulted with the clinical staff for clarification of conflicting or ambiguous clinical data.
- Used computer applications with varied functions to provide a wide range of reports, to abstract records, and to review assigned codes.
Medical coder education
Some medical coder jobs require a bachelor’s or associate’s degree while there are employers who are happy to take on high school graduates with relevant education and training in the field, usually provided they have at least a year of experience in coding with ICD.
Typically, if a high school graduate is accepted, he or she needs to have a good grounding in anatomy, physiology, and pathophysiology, as well as a thorough knowledge of medical terminology.
More often than not they need to have at least completed a medical coding program during or after high school.
Other basic knowledge required includes an understanding of frequently ordered tests, familiarity with computers and the relevant computer programs used, medical record training, and an understanding of casemix, billing, and reimbursement systems like the diagnosis-related group (DRG) patient classification system.
Additionally, certification is usually required, which in itself means specific education and training is vital.
If an associate’s degree is required, this will usually be from an accredited college that is recognized by the US Department of Education. A major field of study in health information technology or health information management might also be required.
Associate of Science in Health Information Technology, 2018 – 2019
Medical Billing and Coding Certificate, 2018
Since many jobs are available to high school graduates who are required to have some sort of specialized education and training, medical coding courses are vital.
The AAPC has medical coding courses that are designed by healthcare professionals. They are favored because they teach the fundamentals of medical coding and show students how to dissect real medical cases and charts to extract the information they will be required to extract when they get a job.
Classes are all taught by specially trained AAPC-approved instructors throughout the US.
Additionally, AAPC offers a series of advanced specialty courses for medical coders who specialize. They also have numerous courses to prepare medical coders for certification exams.
AHIMA also offers courses as well as online learning, events, and conferences. The Journal of AHIMA is another useful learning resource.
- Medical Terminology
- Medical Billing & Health Insurance
- Medical Contracts, Ethics, and HIPAA
- Basic Coding Using ICD-9 and ICD-10
- Coding for Hospital Applications/Hospital Medical Billing
- Coding for Medical Office Applications/Physician Medical Billing
It was clear from the many job postings we sampled that most employers want their medical records technicians and medical coders to get a professional certification.
The AAPC, mentioned above, provides training and issues certification to medical insurance coders, medical practice managers, and medical auditors.
There are different levels of certification including the Certified Professional Coder (CPC), Certified Outpatient Coder (COC), Certified Inpatient Coder (CIC), and Certified Risk Adjustment Coder (CRC).
There are also more specialized certifications. But in general, unless the employer requires specialty credentials, it really isn’t necessary. And most times, they only want one certification.
That said, most employers consider AAPC certification a mark of competence in the medical billing, coding, and business support field – which makes it a worthwhile investment.
The American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA) also offers certification suitable for medical coders, including the Registered Health Information Administration (RHIA) and the Registered Health Information Technician (RHIT).
AHIMA has a Certified Coding Specialist (CCS) certification too, which is very popular with employers of medical coders.
- AAPC – CPC
- AAPC – CRC
- AHIMA – RHIA
- AHIMA – RHIT
- AHIMA – CCS
Complete medical coder resume sample
After we had sampled dozens of medical coder job postings, we chose an advert for a coder advertised by Agilon Health in Honolulu, Hawaii. We have tailored a resume around this posting to guide you when you write your own resume for whichever job you want to apply for.
You will see from the advert that they are looking for an HCC coder who will be responsible for CPT and ICD-10 coding.
HCC is hierarchical condition category coding, which is a risk-adjustment model that was designed to estimate future health care costs for patients.
More specific responsibilities are listed in the advert too.
The experience required is specified and, in addition to medical coding, they want to employ somebody who has recent quality management experience.
Although they will consider applicants with a high school diploma, they would prefer someone with a bachelor’s degree. An associate’s degree will likely be acceptable.
Coding certification options are given, though, strangely, they have not specified the AAPC’s Certified Risk Adjustment Coder (CRC) certification.
Experienced medical coder with an associate’s degree and Certified Professional and Certified Risk Adjustment Coder certification through the AAPC. Passionate about quality improvement initiatives.
HCC coding | CPT & ICD-10 | AAPC certified | Accurate | Analytical and problem-solving | Technical | Training | Coordination
Kaiser Permanente, HI
Outpatient Coder Specialist, 2019 – 2020
Assigned accurate diagnosis and procedure codes to patients’ health information records in accordance with the ICD-10-CM official guidelines. Communicated with physicians to get clarification for diagnosis and procedure information.
- Identified discrepancies, potential quality of care, and billing issues. Frequently commended on my accuracy skills.
- Researched, analyzed, recommended, and facilitated plans of action to correct discrepancies and prevent future coding errors. These reduced by 12% during my time at the hospital.
- Abstracted patient information into the computerized systems in a manner that ensured the accuracy and integrity of the system.
- Ensured quality standards by meeting (mostly beating) the required 95% coding accuracy and 98% completeness quality standards.
Kona Community Hospital
Coder 1, 2018
Responsible for coding assignments for reimbursement purposes and prompt transmittal of patient discharge data to the patient financial services department.
- Performed qualitative and quantitative chart analyses to ensure complete physician documentation and indexing.
- Analyzed medical records and performed arithmetic computations.
- Ensured compliance with record completion procedures.
- Released medical information to third-party carriers.
US Department of the Army, HI
Medical Support Assistant (Scheduler/OA), 2017
Developed and maintained a variety of templates and schedules for providers and technicians, Modified templates and schedules, and developed reports when requested.
- Booked patients into the appropriate appointment types using MEDCOM-defined systems.
- Scheduled patient medical appointments using a computerized healthcare system.
- Coordinated and communicated daily and unexpected changes in provider schedules.
- Provided assistance compiling statistical data to produce a variety of reports that reflected healthcare provider productivity.
- AAPC – Certified Professional Coder (CPC)
- AAPC – Certified Risk Adjustment Coder (CRC)
University of Hawaii, Leeward Community College
Associate in Science, Health Information Technology, 2015 – 2016
- HCC Coding for Insurance Companies
- Risk Adjustment Models & HCC Coding
- Corrective & Preventive Action for Medical Coders
When you write your medical coder resume it’s important to pay careful attention to the needs of the employer. This will usually be clearly stated in the job posting or on the company’s website.
- Generally, medical coding resumes should be skills-based and focused on what value you will add to the company.
- This is a position that is often open to high school graduates without a college or university degree, but specific education and training about coding are vital.
- Experience is also very important, and most employers want to hire medical coders with at least a year of experience. The way around this is via internships, volunteering, or getting jobs as an assistant.
Tips from Experts
“For students earning a medical billing and coding certificate, one of the most valuable preparatory tools at your disposal is your resume. While it may seem just like another piece of paper listing your credentials, your resume is actually far more important than you may realize. It’s your chance to separate yourself from a herd of other applicants with similar qualifications.“ – Carrington College Blog
“If I was hiring I would look for a resume that is no longer than two pages with no errors and no abbreviations. One really good cover letter that tells me about you and what skills you are going to be bringing to my company. How are you going to benefit me! Jobs that don’t showcase your talents don’t have to be there. Concentrate on what is pertinent to that position.“ – Bleu Garcia, Medical Coder and founder of Medical Coder with Bleu on YouTube
“I’m a firm believer that you can learn just about anything watching YouTube tutorials. There are lots of amazing, inspirational stories of people building houses, businesses, machinery, and more that were self-taught by watching YouTube tutorials. With the rising cost of education, countless people are looking into such alternatives to learn skills that don’t require formal education. Many people interested in medical coding are curious if they can self-teach these concepts. Is it possible? Yes. Is it easy? Absolutely not.“ – Victoria Moll, CPC, CPMA, CRC, CPRC, AAPC Approved Instructor, Fellow, and founder of Contempo Coding
Regardless of how many medical coding jobs you have had in the past, it’s essential to develop a compelling and convincing resume. Be sure that it caters to the needs of the job in terms of skills, abilities, experience, and education.
Medical coding jobs have a lot in common, but they also have differences. Pay attention to the tips we have suggested, and do your best to craft a resume that will get the attention of recruiters and hiring managers.
Keep it short and pertinent.