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What Is a Coder and How to Become One

What is a Coder?

The job title "coder" may refer to someone who works in software development or it may be administrative professional in the health care industry or it. A software coder helps write and develop applications using software coding languages, such as Python. A medical coder checks insurance and bills for medical services using insurance codes. Although medical coders need to be computer literate and often work with digital systems, they are not responsible for programming software. Conversely, a computer coder might be assigned to create software for the medical industry, but they probably are not familiar with medical insurance codes and procedures.

What Certifications Are Needed to Work as a Medical Coder?

If you want to work as a medical coder, you typically need to complete a postsecondary program in medical coding and pass a certification exam. A postsecondary program in health information includes training in human anatomy and physiology, medical terminology, and health data classification systems. After completing the program, most states require you to become a certified medical coder. You can seek certification as a Registered Health Information Technician through the American Health Information Management Association or a Certified Tumor Registrar through the National Cancer Registrars Association.

What Is a Medical Coder?

Medical coders, sometimes referred to as medical records technicians or health information technicians, perform a variety of duties related to collecting, filing, and researching patient medical information. In this role, your primary responsibilities include checking to make sure that all the data in a patient’s record is accurate and current, organizing patient data across multiple databases, and using medical codes to determine reimbursement for insurance billing purposes. Within the medical coding profession, there are also cancer registrars who specialize in reviewing records for cancer patients. Depending on the type of facility you work for, you may work at a hospital, medical insurance office, or at home.

What Do Computer Coders Do?

A computer coder, also called a computer programmer, designs, writes, and then tests code for computer software or mobile applications. Some programming jobs require you to know one specific programming language, while others may need you to know multiple languages. In this career, you work closely with developers, and depending on the nature and size of your company, you may have overlapping duties. Most computer coders have a bachelor’s degree in computer science, computer programming, or a closely related field, but a degree is not always necessary; many employers consider applicants who have significant programming experience and proficiency in coding without a formal education.