California Medical Billing and Coding Careers

Medical billing and coding specialists are responsible for making sure patients, health insurance companies, and others are being billed correctly and paid on time. They "code and categorize information for insurance reimbursement purposes, for databases and registries, and to maintain patients' medical and treatment histories," says the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Medical billing and coding specialists work primarily in doctors offices and hospitals. Other employment options include nursing care facilities, home health services, outpatient care services, and office administrative services.

Medical Billing and Coding Education and Training Programs

Medical billing and coding specialists usually hold a certificate or an Associate Degree in health information technology, medical billing, medical coding, medical billing and coding, medical assisting, or other related field. A medical billing and coding program may consist of course titles such as Introduction to Medical Coding, Medical Records Management, Computerized Insurance and Billing, CPT Coding for Medical Office Applications, CPT Coding for Hospital Applications, Medical Office Management, Anatomy and Physiology for Mechanical Structures, and Anatomy and Physiology for Visceral Structures.

Most programs also require the successful completion of an externship, which allows students to gain hands-on experience in the field. Upon completion of a certificate or degree program, graduates are eligible to apply for several  certifications offered through the American Academy of Professional Coders (AAPC), the American Health Information Management Association (AHIM), or the American Medical Billing Association (AMBA). Certifications include:

Certified Professional Coder (CPC)
Certified Coding Associate (CCA)
Certified Medical Reimbursement Specialist (CMRS)

Although states do not require certification, most employers prefer to hire individuals with one or more certifications.

Medical Billing and Coding Schools and Training Programs in California

California is home several dozen schools that offer top-tier medical billing and coding certificates, diplomas, and degrees. They include:

Alan Hancock College, Santa Maria, CA
Bryan College, Gold River, CA
Cabrillo College, Aptos CA
Canada College, Redwood City, CA
Carrington Career College (Formerly Western Career College), Citrus Heights, Pomona, Sacramento, San Jose, San Leandro, CA
City College of San Francisco, San Francisco, CA
Coastline Community College, Fountain Valley, CA
De Anza College, Cupertino, CA
Everest College, Alhambra, Anaheim, City of Industry, Gardena, Ontario Metro, Reseda, Santa Ana, West Los Angeles, CA
Heald College, Concord, Fresno, Hayward, Modesto, Rancho Cordova, Roseville, Salinas, San Francisco, Milpitas, Stockton, CA
Kaplan College, Chula Vista, Riverside, San Diego, Vista
MiraCosta, Oceanside, CA
MTI College, Sacramento, CA
Remington College-San Diego, San Diego, CA
San Joaquin Valley College-Bakersfield, Bakersfield, CA
Santa Barbara City College, Santa Barbara, CA
Skyline College, San Bruno, CA
West Valley College, Saratoga, CA

Note: Before applying for any medical billing and coding program, check to make sure the school is accredited by an agency recognized by the U.S. Department of Education.

Employment and Earnings Outlook for California Medical Billing and Coding Specialists

The Bureau of Labor Statistics does not offer employment and salary information for the occupation “medical billing and coding specialists.” It does, however, offer information for coding specialists or “medical records and health information technicians” in collaboration with The Big Book of Jobs.

With 17,650 employees, California has the nation’s largest population of medical records and health information technicians. It also offers the 4th highest salary in the U.S. at $42,270 per year. In 2008, the state was home to 15,040 records and information technicians, averaging $37,600 per year.

California is home to three of the nation's top ten highest paying metropolitan areas for medical records and health information technicians. They include:

#5: Oakland-Fremont-Hayward, 50,150
#6: San Francisco-San Mateo-Redwood City, $49,350 per year
#7: San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, $48,460 per year

The U.S. is home to 186,300 medical records and health information technicians averaging $34,160 per year. In 2008, the U.S. was home to 168,650, averaging $32,960.

Note: Several job search sites have published average salary information for medical billing and coding specialists as one occupation. Average salaries among these sites are $45,000 per year, $24,083-$54,718 depending on years experience, and $36,000-$44,000 per year.