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FAQ - Medical Coding Certificate

FAQ - Medical Coding Certificate

FAQ - Medical Coding Certificate

What does a medical coding professional do?
Students in the medical coding certificate program gain a working knowledge of ICD-9-CM/PCS and CPT coding systems to code detailed health information for reimbursement and research. You will also learn to use computer software to code health information. You will learn medical terminology, anatomy and physiology, and reimbursement issues along with other courses that make you a valuable member of the coding team.

When will ICD-10-CM/PCS be added to the program?
ICD-10-CM/PCS will be added to the curriculum beginning fall 2011. Hospitals will implement ICD-10-CM/PCS in October 2013.

Where can I work after I complete the medical coding certificate?
Physicians' offices and insurance companies employ individuals with knowledge and skill in the language and science of medicine and its coding systems. Most hospitals in the Chicago Metropolitan area require their orders to have an RHIT credential.

What can I expect to earn?
$35,000 to $38,000 a year in the Chicago metropolitan area to start in an entry-level coding position. Certified credentialed coders (CCS) may earn more.

How is the job market?
Although we cannot promise you a job, our students have found employment after completing the program. We do have a job board in our HIT lab 2846 Des Plaines and help in Career Services. The health information profession is consistently named in the top 10 professions for this decade.

Do I have an interview before being admitted to the program?
Yes, an interview is required before acceptance into the limited enrollment programs including the medical coding certificate program. The interview process allows the student to gain an understanding of the coding profession and the the demands of the program. You will need to demonstrate good verbal and written communication skills essential to working in the health care field.

Are there any classes I can take before I start the program?
Before acceptance into the limited enrollment program you may be admitted to Oakton as a student and begin taking any prerequisites that apply. A good starting point is HIT 104 Medical Terminology, BIO 101 if you have not had a biology class recently and BIO 231 Anatomy and Physiology I.

Is there a time limit to completing the program?
Yes, because the health information technology field is dynamic and fast changing, frequent updates in the curriculum are required. To assure that students are current and prepared to work in the field, limited enrollment courses (HIT) in the daytime coding certificate must be completed within three years. The limited enrollment courses (HIT) in the coding certificate evening program must be completed within four years. It will be necessary to repeat limited enrollment courses that fall outside this guideline to complete the program. Limited enrollment courses are those with the HIT prefix. All limited enrollment courses require a minimum grade of C.

What certifications are available after completing this program?
After you graduate from the coding certificate program you may sit for the Certified Coding Associate (CCA) exam given by the American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA). After successful passing of the exam you may put the initials CCA after your name. After gaining some work experience you will be able to sit for the Certified Coding Specialist (CCS) exam given by AHIMA. These are recognized nationally as a coding professional.

Is there a clinical experience to the program?
No, there is not.

How can I find out more about the health information profession?
The national organization for HIT professionals is the American Health Information Management Association. Visit their website at

When are classes offered?
The limited enrollment (HIT) day courses are generally offered Monday, Wednesday and Friday the first year and Tuesday and Thursday the second year.
The limited enrollment (HIT) evening courses are generally offered one either a week, either on Tuesday or Thursday evenings. Biology (BIO) courses are generally offered day and evening Monday through Saturday.

Can I switch between day and evening courses?
Each program is designed for the needs of the students in that curriculum. The sequencing of the courses may not be the same. It is recommended that students stay in the program they are admitted to. A student must speak with the program chair before taking a course outside of the program they were admitted to.

If I know medical terminology do I have to take HIT 104?
An excellent command of the medical language is vital to success in the HIT program. Medical terminology courses must not be more than two years old at the time the first limited enrollment course is begun. You may take a proficiency exam to place out of HIT 104. The exam is administered by the Testing Center on the Des Plaines campus. The Testing Center can be reached at 847-635-1939 for information.

What is the difference between the medical coding certificate and the AAS in HIT degree?
As a medical coding certificate student you are prepared to work the area of medical coding and reimbursement. You may chose to go on to complete the AAS degree in health information technology since all coding certificate courses are part of the AAS degree program and transferable to the program.

How much time will I have to devote to the classes?
It is estimated that the student will need from 2-3 hours per class per credit hour per week outside of class time for studying. Some students require more time others less. It is important that you plan class, study, family, work, travel, and social time carefully to balance conflicting responsibilities during your educational career.

Student Profile

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Laura Stefany Diaz was 16 when she moved here from Colombia. Now she’s on a journey toward a career in teaching.



April 9
Registration opens for fall 2014 semester.

May 15, 16
Evaluation Days.

May 16
Last day of student attendance.

May 19
Grading Day
Faculty on campus and available to students at designated times.

May 19
Summer 2014 interim classes begin.

May 20
Faculty grading due.

May 20

May 26
Memorial Day holiday. College closed.

June 9
Classes begin for summer 2014 eight-week session.

June 9
Three-week First Summer Interim faculty grading due.

June 16
Classes begin for summer 2014 seven-week session.

Full Academic Calendar