Programs such as medical billing and coding certification online have been on the rise over the past several years. In a digital era, it is completely possible to make a career switch and learn an entirely new field solely online. Of course, many people prefer to receive career training and certifications in person or even opt for a combination of the two. 

Online certification programs have some advantages, particularly when it comes to ease of accessibility and flexible scheduling. However, there are some disadvantages that must be considered as well. When it comes to career training, it is important to make sure you choose a method that not only works for you but is also accredited and meets minimum guidelines and standards. This article will address what you need to look for when considering some of the most common training programs. 

What to Look for in Online Certification Programs

There are dozens, if not hundreds, of options to choose from when it comes to certification courses. Each one will tout the program as the best one in its respective field, but how can you be sure it is a legitimate certification? Here is what you should look for when considering online certification programs:

  • Subject matter covered – Before enrolling in a program, make sure you understand exactly what material will be covered in the course. Some fields are quite vast, so if you are interested in specific career-type training, make sure it is discussed in the program.
  • Ratings and reviews – All online certification programs should have reviews available online. One of the most important places to check is the Better Business Bureau’s website. Additionally, you may want to check online review platforms and forums to hear what others are saying about the course. 
  • Accreditation or certification offered – Many job fields require you to have a certain type of certificate. For instance, there are three types of medical billing and coding certificates available. Research carefully to understand which type you need, and make sure the program offers that type.
  • Field experience – Some careers require having hands-on experience when receiving a certification. Find out how the program will offer this to you. For example, someone completing a dental hygienist program may be offered a chance to job shadow or intern with a local dentist to get hands-on experience.  
  • Job placement opportunities – Few programs guarantee job placement after you complete the program. However, it is important to find out what support and resources will be offered to you as you search for a job. This may include resume review, a virtual job fair or even interviews with companies the program has a partnership with. 

Now that you have an idea of what to generally look for, here are three of the most popular online program types, along with what you need for each one. 

How to Get a Medical Billing and Coding Certification Online

If you are searching for a steady field to enter, this is one of them. People will continually require health care, and insurance laws continue to evolve and change. This means medical offices will need to hire medical coders for the foreseeable future. 

A medical billing and coding certification comes in several formats. The three most popular types of certificates are the Certified Professional Coder (CPC), the Certified Medical Coder (CMC) and the Certified Coding Specialist (CCS). 

Whether you get a medical billing and coding certification online or in person, it is important to know which exact certificate you will receive. There are differences between each type, so make sure you to do your research. 

Once you choose the certification type you would like, begin researching online courses that have that program available. Be sure to note the application fees and course schedule, as some classes are self-paced while others are live streams. 

Types of Medical Assistant Certification Available

Those who are interested in a medical assistant position have a large number of specific fields available to them. However, in terms of medical assistant certification, there are three main types. 

The first type is a Clinical Medical Assistant (CMA). A CMA designation is only available to those who have achieved certification through the Certifying Board of the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). To receive this certification, a candidate must be educated and examined in a wide scope of duties including clinical and administrative. 

Secondly, a person seeking a medical assistant certification may get an Administrative Medical Assistant certificate. This is perfect for those who want to work directly with patients and handle the paper aspects of medical offices. In this role, you will answer phone calls and emails, schedule appointments and file insurance claims, among other duties. 

Lastly, there is a Registered Medical Assistant, which is also called a certified assistant. This means you have completed coursework through the AAMA or another accredited training board. You will need to take an exam to receive this type of certification. 

Dental Hygienist Programs

Another popular type of career training is a dental hygienist role. Those seeking a job in this field will need to attend an academic program that will take at least two years to complete. Once a person has finished his or her coursework, he or she will need to take both national and state exams to earn a full certification. 

Before you select a dental hygienist program, make sure it is approved by the Commission on Dental Accreditation. This is the only accepted certificate type in the United States, and it will be extremely difficult, if not impossible, to find a job without this. 

Dental Hygienist Salary

While the certification standards for a hygienist are strict, it is well worth the effort. While average rates will vary by state and even region, an average dental hygienist salary is $75,500, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Whichever path you choose, with a little research, online certification programs can be an excellent way for an individual to receive career training and succeed in a new job field.