Certified medical coders are “more recession-proof” than others, according to the American Association of Professional Coders, a claim supported by the fact that salaries for certified coders rose 4 percent between late 2007 -- when the recession began -- through 2009. The average salary of an entry-level certified coder depends on other factors, including his level of education and the type of facility that employs him.
The entry-level salary for certified coders was $30,323 as of 2009, reports the AAPC. With one or two years of experience, that average rose to $33,584 annually, and by the time a certified coder had five years of experience, she earned an average of $39,770 a year. Overall, the AAPC states that “being certified adds more than $7,000 to the average salary over being noncertified.”
Coders may find employment with a minimum of a high school diploma, but higher degrees will help them earn a higher entry-level salary. The AAPC states that the average income of a certified coder with a high school diploma was $40,746 annually as of 2009, while an associate degree brought in $42,304 and a bachelor’s degree earned $51,820.
Coders have several options when seeking credentials. The most basic credential is the CPC-A, or Certified Professional Coder-Apprentice. This is the credential many entry-level coders possess, and it earned entry-level coders an average salary of $34,699 as of 2009. Coders with the CPC credential earned an average salary of $45,253, those with CPC-H (Hospital) credentials earned an average of $51,980, and coders with certification in multiple areas earned an average salary of $52,777.
Entry-level certified coders earn different starting salaries in different facilities. For example, small group practices with three to five physicians offered coders an average salary of $40,155 a year as of 2009, according to the AAPC, while large group practices with over 11 physicians on staff offered coders an average of $43,187 a year. In hospitals, the average income of a certified coder was $44,895 a year, and in government facilities the average was $46,795.