What Is The Difference Between A Certificate And A Diploma in Medical Billing And Coding?

Medical billing and coding are important fields of the healthcare industry. Most folks consider learning these medical skills to enter the healthcare industry. When they do decide to embark a career in these fields, they sometimes fail to look into the difference between a certificate and a diploma in medical billing and coding.

Is There Really A Difference Between A Certificate And A Diploma In Medical Billing And Coding?

A quick answer to that is a big yes! So, what’s the difference between a certificate and a diploma in medical billing and coding?

In a certificate program, a person learns the basics of medical billing and coding. Once a person has learned these skills, it is a simple process to move up in his or her career by taking more classes and passing further exams. However, not everyone can sit for a certification exam, and not everyone interested in becoming a medical biller and coder should choose a certificate program.

The certificate program is the equivalent of a Bachelor’s Degree in Health Care or Medical Technology and can be issued from a community college, vocational school, or technical/vocational school. It is usually designed to equip students with knowledge of medical terminology, as well as enough computer know-how to perform office procedures such as entering data on patients, and some training in administrative and secretarial work.

On the other hand, a diploma program is usually called an Associate’s Degree in Health Information Technology. The term “degree” is commonly used.

Getting a medical billing degree or diploma is just like going to school for any other subject. (1) Students must also complete a number of elective courses, such as anatomy, physiology, medical terminology, medical law and ethics, and basic business skills.

When it comes to earning a degree, you will find that once you have your general education course completed, a variety of opportunities exist for those interested in pursuing a graduate-level in healthcare.

You may choose to enroll in a certificate program, which will allow you to take general education classes as well as medical courses. A Master’s degree is also available through many colleges and universities. Depending on your specific career goals, you may need one to two years of graduate-level study in order to achieve your goals.

Either a degree or a certification program will enable you to pursue advanced degrees in areas such as diagnosing and treating mental health conditions and diseases, working in the field of public health, and much more.

Span Of Time To Complete Medical Billing And Coding Certificate

For you to know the difference between a certificate and a diploma in medical billing and coding, you should be able to decipher the span of time it takes to complete either one.

Time is of the essence and knowing how long it will take to complete either a certificate or diploma program will make a huge difference in your decision.

Medical billing and coding certifications may be completed in as little as four months or as long as fifteen months. The length of medical billing training will depend upon field specialties and the amount of time that you can dedicate to classes each week. You can take courses online or in person. (2)  Most student populations opt for this route because it is simple to become certified after just a few weeks of training.

Certificate programs normally focus on a specific specialization or two, and students must complete at least two years of schooling in order to gain full CPC status.

Span Of Time To Complete Medical Billing And Coding Degree

Another difference between a certificate and a diploma in medical billing and coding is that the latter takes a longer time to complete.

Diploma programs typically take longer and allow students to pursue two specializations instead of just one. They typically take longer to earn the full credentials because of the additional requirements.

An associate degree in medical billing and coding is a two-year technical program designed to prepare students for entry-level careers in the growing field of health information. Online accredited medical billing and coding schools attract a variety of students, including high school graduates pursuing their first career-track jobs and adults looking to change occupations. (3)

Some folks might wonder why they would even need a medical billing degree if they already have a four-year degree? Well, there are actually some great career options for those who have these certifications.

Careers such as insurance claims processing or auditing can be very rewarding for someone with this type of credential. If you are interested in becoming an auditee, you will need to pass the certified medical billing exam.

Medical Billing And Coding Jobs

Now that you’re aware of the difference between a certificate and a diploma in medical billing and coding, it’s worth knowing that jobs you can consider once you have completed either one.

If you are looking for employment, both types of credentials are important for potential employers. The main difference, however, is that there are some medical professionals who only need to have a diploma for entry-level positions. Because there are so many medical codes and policies associated with patient care that change frequently, medical billing and coding clerks may be employed by hospitals or clinics and need to have both a degree and a certificate.

This is true not only for jobs working in healthcare facilities but also for those in the information technology field. Medical billing and coding clerks are required to pass comprehensive examinations in order to work in this industry and must be thoroughly trained in all areas of the job in order to be successful.

A certificate does not grant the same level of recognition as a diploma. A candidate who is seeking employment in a hospital or medical office should look into both options before deciding which route to take.

Some areas will look favorably upon those who have both training and certification, while others prefer those who only have certification. Also, some employers will hire a medical assistant who has the combination of a diploma and certification.

Those seeking entry-level positions may find it helpful to have both types of credential, as they will need to be able to effectively communicate in a clinical environment.

Some employers do prefer certified coders and billers over those who only have a diploma. Certified coders and billers are more likely to have higher salaries and have more opportunities within the healthcare industry.

Medical coders are needed to perform clerical duties, such as answering phone calls, filing paperwork, and other clerical duties. Billing clerks complete bills and file them with the appropriate offices. The certification also provides knowledge of health insurance, criminal law, electronic medical records, and patient rights.

Should You Opt For A Certificate Or Diploma In Medical Billing And Coding?

Now that you’re aware of the difference between a certificate and a diploma in medical billing and coding, you can make a better choice as to which one to go for.

It is worth noting that between a certificate and diploma, you may want to consider the certificate. This is certainly much more recognized especially if you take certification exams.

There is plenty of career opportunities available especially if you’re a Certified Professional Coder or CPC. Individuals looking for this type of certification should contact local schools or colleges to see if they offer courses in coding and billing.



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