- Education

How Is Medical Coding Different From a Medical Office Assistant?

Does a career in the healthcare field sound like a prescription for you? Not sure whether a career in medical coding or medical office assisting is the right choice? Although they’re in the same field, these career tracks are not one-and-the-same. In fact, they have different responsibilities, job outlooks, and more!


Medical office assistants (MOAs) handle the administrative aspects of running a medical office. Their many responsibilities may include scheduling appointments, filing, managing patient records, ordering supplies and processing insurance claims. Depending on the size of the practice, they may also perform clinical procedures such as taking vital signs and administering injections.

A medical coding program at Ashworth College prepares you to translate patient information into a form that health insurance companies can use. Professionals in this arena use universal codes to document diagnoses and medical procedures. To perform their jobs, coders usually have to transcribe physicians’ notes. Strict attention to detail is extremely important.

Job Outlook

The US Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the median annual salary for medical office assistants was $31,540, with average pay totaling $32,850 as of May 2016. Job growth was projected at 23% as of 2015.

For medical coders, expected job growth was pegged at 15% as of 2015, higher than most other sectors. In 2016, median pay for this occupation was $38,040, while the average annual salary was $41,460.

Do I Need a Certification?

Though it’s possible to become a medical office assistant through on-the-job training, employers prefer that candidates have a certification. Aspiring MOAs usually complete a diploma or associate degree program. Likewise, medical coders can complete a medical billing and coding certification or an associate’s degree in health informatics. Medical billing and coding schools cover three areas of coding:

  • Current Procedural Terminology (CPT) codes are assigned to various medical procedures so insurers know what services were rendered.
  • The Healthcare Common Procedure Coding System (HCPCS) is used for Medicare claims.
  • International Classification of Diseases (ICD) codes pertain to illnesses and causes of death.

These codes allow physicians and insurers anywhere in the world to understand patients’ medical information.

Just What the Doctor Ordered

If all the responsibilities involved in running a medical office leave you feeling a little green around the gills, but you have a knack for detail, a career in medical coding may be a wise choice. At Ashworth College, you can prepare yourself for the National Healthcareer Association Certified Billing and Coding Specialist exam, which is included as part of your medical billing and coding training. Contact us for more information or enroll today!

About Dr Roopa Rao

President Noble Institute of education society. Bangalore
Read All Posts By Dr Roopa Rao