Career Profile: Medical Billing & Coding

February 1, 2016

Article by Global Pre-Meds
Hospital doctor shadowing & global health experience programs.

See current opportunities

medical billing and coding

If you want to be a part of the fast-growing healthcare industry, but can’t see yourself bandaging wounds and setting bones, office work in medical billing and coding may be an excellent alternative. Instead of medical expertise, for this role, you will need to have good analytical skills, computer know-how and a flair for numbers. However, basic knowledge of anatomy, medical anatomy and biology are useful as it will help you have a better understanding of the medical information that you’ll be handling.

What is Medical Billing and Coding?

Billing and coding are important parts of the process of documenting medical procedures and requesting payment for medical services. While billing and coding are both entirely different jobs involving very distinct functions, in most settings the same worker performs both roles. Medical billing involves creating invoices for health treatments, whereas medical coding involves translating medical terminology into codes. Here’s a more detailed look at both of these fields:

Medical Billing

Billing deals with creating invoices for health treatments. For this, you need to be able to read, decipher and understand medical records and medical codes. Depending on the size of the facility, your duties may include sending out claims, entering details of charges and payment dates and following up with patients and insurance providers. In addition to making sure that all outstanding payments are received, billers must practice good public relations in accordance with accepted debt collection practices.

Medical Coding

There are a lot of documents generated when a patient receives care at any medical facility. Medical coders read these medical records to determine the diagnoses and services for each patient visit and then assign correct digits and letters to each procedure, service or type of supplies used during the treatment. These letters and digits are obtained by referring to a special book of medical code. To date, there are over 13,000 medical codes. The codes convey all the information needed to collect from patients and insurance companies. In addition to knowing how to read and apply codes, a coder must also have a thorough understanding of the different type of health insurance plans.

Working environment

As a medical billing and coding specialist, you may work as part of a hospital or private clinic team or with an insurance company. After some experience, you can also start your own business providing services on a consulting basis to smaller medical clinics and offices.

Education and training

There is no set education required to enter this career field. If you have strong knowledge of anatomy, physiology, medical terminology and biology, you can become a billing and coding specialist. Most billers and coders learn on the job, but larger healthcare facilities prefer to hire employees who have passed exams for professional certifications. Completing a post-secondary certificate or an associate degree programme will improve your employment prospects.

The curriculum typically includes training in medical vocabulary, physiology, computer systems, coding systems and health care reimbursement.

Salary expectations

Billers and coders who work in healthcare facilities in the UK earn an average annual salary of about £15,000. Those who work in the clinical research industry earn a higher salary of about £25,000 per year. After ten years or more experience, you could earn around £32,000 per year.

Chat with us on Facebook or Twitter, or email

Gap Medics provides year-round hospital work experience for people aged 16 and over. Our shadowing placements offer a unique insight into the work of doctors, nurses, midwives and dentists – helping students to focus their career aspirations before embarking upon medical training.