Medical billing and coding is one of the fastest-growing careers in healthcare. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the field is expected to grow 8% by 2029.
Taking a medical billing class is a great way to gain the fundamental knowledge you need in human anatomy, physiology, and healthcare technology to become a medical biller or coder. Such training allows you to practice real-world coding scenarios before entering the field professionally an helps you pass exams to earn in-demand professional certifications, which will give you a competitive edge when applying for jobs.
To help you determine which online medical billing and coding class best fits your desired career path, budget, and schedule, we researched over 30 different options. These are the best classes based on curriculum, cost, time commitment, instructor quality, accessibility, and student feedback.
The 6 Best Online Medical Billing and Coding Classes of 2021
Best Overall: AAPC
The American Academy of Professional Coders (AAPC) started in 1988 as a quarterly magazine for medical coding industry professionals. Since then, it has grown into a premier medical coding and billing professional membership organization that aims to elevate industry standards. AAPC now offers online courses, career development services, and 28 professional certifications.
We chose AAPC’s Certified Professional Coder and Certified Professional Biller courses as best overall because they not only help students prepare for an entry-level career in medical coding and billing, but also double a student’s likelihood of passing the AAPC’s Certified Professional Coder (CPC) and Certified Professional Biller (CPB) exams. Passing these exams is not required for all entry-level medical billing and coding jobs, but they are (along with the CCA certification from AHIMA) two of the most sought-after certifications by healthcare employers.
Every AAPC course is taught by Certified Professional Coders with at least five years of coding experience. Assignments can be completed at your own pace and on your own time, unless you purchase the live instruction option. After purchasing a course, you’ll gain access to its materials for six months. Credits earned from AAPC courses cannot be transferred to other schools.
Before signing up for AAPC courses, check job sites for medical billing and coding job listings in your area. You may find that healthcare employers in your region may prefer certification from AHIMA instead. Students planning to enroll in AAPC courses can get a discounted AAPC Student Membership for $90. Pricing for AAPC courses is as follows:
- CPC course only: $1,995 for members, $3,495 for non-members
- CPC course with online practice exams, exam review, and exam cost included: $2,195 for members, $4,428.85 for non-members
- CPC course with online practice exams, exam review, exam cost, and additional coding practice: $2,395 for members, $4,727.85 for non-members
- CPC course with test prep, exam cost, coding practice, and live instruction: $2,895 for members, $5,727.85 for non-members
- CPB course only: $1,295 for members, $1,995.00 for non-members
- CPB course with online practice exams, exam review, and exam cost included: $1,395 for members, $2,629.85 for non-members
- Medical Terminology and Anatomy courses (recommended prerequisites): $695 for members, $1,209.90 for non-members
- Pathophysiology course (recommended prerequisite): $475 for members, $633 for non-members
- Required textbooks for CPC and CPB courses: $229.99 for members, $249 for non-members
Runner-Up, Best Overall: AHIMA
Originally founded in 1928, the American Health Information Management Association, more commonly abbreviated as AHIMA, is a premier nonprofit membership association of healthcare professionals. Similar to AAPC, AHIMA administers exams to earn industry certifications in health information management, coding, and specialty coding. Although AAPC and AHIMA are both widely regarded as the top two certifications in the coding industry, we chose to rank AHIMA’s Coding Basics course as the runner-up because an AHIMA certification tends to be the preferred certification for larger hospitals.
AHIMA’s Coding Basics program consists of interactive courses in anatomy and physiology, medical terminology, computer basics, and basic ICD (International Classification of Diseases) and CPT (Current Procedural Terminology) coding. These subjects were hand-selected by AHIMA’s experts as the most relevant and helpful for entering the field and earning an AHIMA certification. Completing the classes, however, will not automatically earn you an AHIMA certification, nor will you earn credits that can be transferred to other learning institutions. You can only become an AHIMA Certified Coding Associate by taking and passing the CCA exam.
The total cost for all of AHIMA’s courses is $3,666, but you can purchase whichever ones you feel will be most helpful and relevant to your coding career. Each course in the Coding and HIM categories costs $299, and the biomedical courses cost $325 each. Once you’ve purchased a course, you will gain access to the materials for one year and can complete the course quizzes and final exams at your own pace.
For entry-level coders, it is generally easier to get a position at a physician’s private practice than a hospital, but this depends on where you live. So, it’s a good idea to check local job listings to see if coding positions in your area have a preference for AHIMA over AAPC before purchasing this course.
Best for Accessibility: Community Care College
If you’re looking to have highly supportive, hands-on instruction, look no further than the Medical Billing and Coding (MBC) online program at Community Care College (CCC). This 11-month program focuses on practical skills like reading patient charts, processing patient data, and managing payment requests. We chose this course as the best for accessibilty because its instructors are available by phone, email, or Zoom for tutoring sessions and career advice. Course graduates rave about their instructors’ accessibility, friendliness, and helpfulness.
While this course can be completed remotely, it isn’t totally flexible, as assignments are due each week on Wednesdays and Sundays. However, students receive access to every assignment upon starting the course and are encouraged to complete as many as they can ahead of schedule.
Course tuition is $13,000 and includes the cost of a one-year AAPC membership and the AAPC certification exam fee. Graduates of the MBC program at CCC go on to work at premier healthcare institutions such as Blue Cross Blue Shield, Oklahoma State University Medical Center, and the Union Pines Surgery Center. Students also have the option to continue their education and earn an Associate of Occupational Science degree in Business and Industry Management.
Most Affordable: University of Alaska Fairbanks
The University of Alaska Fairbanks (UAF) offers a top-rated, low-cost Medical Coding Occupational Endorsement program that prepares graduates for rewarding careers in medical offices, hospitals, and clinics. UAF charges a flat rate of $2,925 for the course, regardless of what state you’re located in, making it the most affordable course option of those in our review.
The course is taught by Certified Professional Coders with over 15 years of experience and consists of four classes: Computer Business Applications, Medical Terminology, Human Diseases, and Medical Coding. These classes are not self-paced; each one has assignments that must be completed by their weekly due dates. Upon successful completion of this program, students will be prepared to take and pass the AAPC or AHIMA certification exams. For students interested in medical billing, UAF also offers courses in Outpatient and Inpatient Health Care Reimbursement, but these must be purchased separately at the very low rate of $167 per credit.
Most Comprehensive: Drexel University
The College of Nursing and Health Professions at Drexel University offers a six-course online certificate program in medical billing and coding. We chose this program as the most comprehensive option because it rigorously covers coding and billing for all three major coding manuals and prepares students for higher-level specialty AAPC (CPC-H) or AHIMA (CCS or CCS-P) certification exams.
Required courses include sectional anatomy and medical terminology, as well as multi-course sequences in medical billing, medical coding for hospitals, and medical coding for physician offices. The billing and coding courses are taught by Certified Professional Coder and Biller Gina Yacovelli, who recently updated the official AAPC CPC test prep curriculum to help students pass their certification exam. The part-time program is designed to be completed over the course of one year, but students can complete each required course at their own pace. At $885 per credit, this is the most expensive class on our list by a significant margin, but the school offers special tuition discounts for online programs for qualified students.
Most Flexible Continuing Education Options: Wisconsin Indianhead Technical College
If you’d like to have the option to apply your medical coding and billing education toward a completed associate or bachelor’s degree, the Medical Coding Specialist (MCS) program at Wisconsin Indianhead Technical College (WITC) is a great choice. After successfully earning 29 credits through the program, students will be granted a technical diploma and have the option to put these credits toward an associate or bachelor's degree in Health Information Technology. MCS at WITC is the best path for students seeking the most flexible continuing education option to increase their annual earning potential.
The course is led by Amanda Abrahamson and Jolene Colburn, both of whom have held various roles in healthcare technology at small and large scale hospitals. The course curriculum includes classes on healthcare revenue management, ICD diagnostic and procedure coding, CPT coding, as well as general education courses on human anatomy and physiology. The MCS program offers part-time and full-time learning options, but is not self-paced. Full-time students can complete the course in a year with 20 to 25 hours of study per week.
The course costs $4,459. According to the program’s website, 88% of the program’s graduates find employment in the healthcare field and go on to earn annual salaries of $27,559 to $86,293.
What Are Medical Billing and Coding Classes?
Medical billing and coding classes designed to help you learn how to apply medical codes for submission of claims to insurance companies. If you’re looking to break into the medical billing and coding field and/or earn an AAPC or AHIMA certification, taking a class is a great way to gain foundational knowledge imperative to your success.
What Do Medical Billing and Coding Classes Include?
A quality medical billing and coding course includes instruction on different types of medical codes and how to properly apply them, as well as classes in anatomy and physiology, medical ethics, and computer literacy. Online classes typically contain assignments, quizzes, and final exams to test your knowledge. Most do not offer lifetime course access but generally provide you access to the learning materials for a period of six months. Some online courses require prerequisites in anatomy and physiology, but each course included in this list can provide training in these areas.
What Is the Cost of a Medical Billing and Coding Class?
Online medical billing and coding classes range anywhere from $3,000 at local community colleges to $30,000 at larger, more well-known institutions. Certification exams from the AAPC or AHIMA cost an additional $300. Once you’ve earned an AAPC or AHIMA certification, you will be required to take continuing education courses over a two-year period to keep renewing your certification, which can cost an additional $1,800.
How Much Do Medical Billing and Coding Professionals Earn?
Medical coding and billing salaries vary by state and geographic region. In 2019, a survey conducted by the AAPC found that the average was $54,890. Professionals in the Pacific states (Alaska, California, Hawaii, Oregon, and Washington) were the highest earners, at $62,837 per year. Those employed in the southern central states (Alabama, Kentucky, Mississippi, and Tennessee) earned the lowest per year, at $52,320. Medical coders who work remotely from home make an average of $56,380 per year, according to ZipRecruiter.
Certification in medical billing or coding is not always required for an entry-level position, but is usually required for working at larger hospitals or in order to be promoted to coding or billing manager positions. Coding managers earn an average of $69,768 annually. Earning more specialized certifications and completing more levels of education (such as a bachelor’s or master's degree) may bump your annual salary up to $60,000 to $75,000. According to AAPC data, coder salaries also increase anywhere from $500 to $3,500 with each year of work experience, with salary growth reaching a plateau after 10 to 15 years on the job.
Is Taking a Medical Billing and Coding Class Worth It?
Although completing a medical billing class isn’t technically required for a job in medical billing or getting AHIMA or AAPC certified, there are many advantages to taking a class versus self-teaching or self-studying. Most online medical billing and coding classes are designed for beginners who have no prior experience or knowledge in the field and prepare you for real-world scenarios that you may not be able to replicate on your own with self-study. Your class may also offer networking options and career placement assistance, which can be invaluable for landing your first job in the healthcare industry. Furthermore, earning a formal education may bring a slight boost to your annual salary.
How We Chose the Best Online Medical Billing and Coding Classes
We looked at over 30 different courses before narrowing it down to these top choices. While conducting our research, we considered course costs, curriculum, accessibility, time commitment, instructor quality, flexibility, student feedback, and graduate statistics. We felt these were the most compelling qualities to examine to determine our list of the best online medical billing and coding classes.
U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. "Medical Records and Health Information Technicians Occupational Outlook Handbook." Accessed December 3, 2020. 2020.
Medical Billing and Coding. "Getting Your First Billing and Coding Job." Accessed June 17, 2020.
AAPC. "Medical Billing and Coding Salary Survey 2019." Accessed June 17, 2020.
ZipRecruiter. "Remote Medical Coder Salary." Accessed June 17, 2020.
PayScale. "Average Coding Manager Salary." Accessed June 17, 2020.
AAPC. "2017 Salary Survey: Right on the Money." Accessed June 16, 2020.