Medical coders, also known as medical records coding technicians, are trained professionals who abstract clinical information from various medical records, documents and charts, and assign them a set of specific medical codes. The system of classification establishes a certain code for each procedure and diagnosis. The codes are used by health care providers, physicians' offices and ambulatory settings. The profession requires an associate’s degree and two years of experience in medical records or coding.
According to Salary.com, the median salary for a medical coder was $44,143 as of April 2011. Starting salaries for medical coders are typically in the bottom 25 percent of the profession, which would be less than $38,175. The bottom 10 percent of the profession made less than $32,742, while the top 10 percent of the profession made more than $56,256.
Certain locations have higher average salaries for medical coders than others. According to a report compiled by Salary Expert, the top-paying two cities of 10 cities surveyed were Boston, Mass. and New York, NY; with medical coders earning $47,765 and $47,420, respectively. Of the 10 cities surveyed, the two with the lowest salaries were Orlando, Fla., and Miami, Fla., with medical coders earning $36,266 and $37,962 respectively.
A medical coder is on the low end salarywise of most jobs related to record keeping in the medical field. As of April 2011, a medical records director earns an annual base salary of $100,525, according to Salary.com. A medical records manager can earn a salary of $78,498 on average. A medical records cording manager earns an average salary of $68,088 per year. Medical coders do earn a higher salary than some related positions, like a medical records research coordinator, who earns a median national average of $38,952 per year. Medical records clerks earn $27,015 per year and medical records clerks who work in home care earn $26,606, according to Salary.com in April 2011.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, medical coders earn more than the average of technicians in the medical records and health information industry. The median annual wage within the industry was $30,610 as of May 2008. Those working with the federal executive branch of the government earn the most, with an average salary of $42,760. Medical records technicians who work at general medical and surgical hospitals earned $32,600 while those in nursing care facilities earned $30,660. Technicians in the medical field earned $29,160 from outpatient care centers; those working in offices of physicians earned the lowest amount, averaging $26,210 per year.