Enrolling Now For Upcoming Classes


Close this search box.

Do I Need a Diploma to Become a Medical Billing Specialist?

Some healthcare careers require years of education. Others, like medical billing, have more reasonable training requirements. Still, you’ll need to be prepared to fulfill the job responsibilities; medical billing demands unique skills that few people have without a formal education. Your training should reflect your career goals, but earning a diploma may be your best option. 


Do I Need a Diploma to Become a Medical Billing Specialist


A diploma isn’t required to become a medical billing specialist. However, it’s become expected among job applicants without extensive experience. Medical billing has become so complex over the years that without a diploma, your resume will likely be filed in the unqualified pile. 


Diploma programs offer lifelong benefits, including: 


A Comprehensive Education


Diploma programs cover various topics related to the healthcare system and medical billing practices. Not only does it prepare you for a medical billing career, but it also opens doors to other opportunities. The skills you’ll learn are relevant and transferable to many jobs within the healthcare industry, offering the potential for upward and lateral career moves. 


 Advanced Skills


Diploma programs include coursework that goes beyond the basics of medical billing. You’ll learn about health information systems, electronic health records (EHR), data security, medical law, and healthcare management. These skills make you a more valuable job applicant and lay the foundation for professional development.




The healthcare industry is dynamic, evolving continually as new billing methods and technology are introduced. However, keeping pace is easier said than done when you don’t know where to find education opportunities.


A diploma equips you with the skills to think critically and adapt proactively to changes in billing regulations, methodologies, and best practices. Continuing education is merely an extension of the learning process you started by earning a diploma. 


Certification Prep


Industry certification demonstrates your expertise in the medical billing field. Like a diploma, it’s not required, but it can make or break your climb up the career ladder. Certified billing specialists are a good investment for employers because they have proven skills and dedication to the field. Diploma programs help students prepare for certification opportunities by aligning course material with exam content. 


What’s the Difference Between a Medical Billing and Coding Diploma vs a Degree Program? 


Several critical factors set degree and diploma programs apart, including:




Diploma programs teach the essential skills and knowledge necessary to perform entry-level billing and coding tasks.


Degree programs offer a broader educational experience, including general education courses that bring depth to core classes.




It takes two years of full-time study to earn an associate degree.


Diploma programs are typically shorter and can be completed in as little as three months. 




Diploma programs require a high school diploma or GED. Less structured than degree programs, they may offer rolling admissions that allow you to begin classes at almost any time of year. 


Degree programs have stricter academic requirements. Some, for example, require completion of specific high-school courses. And schedules are divided by semester, so there may be a gap between when you apply and start classes. 




Diploma programs cover most of the material in a degree program but are less in-depth and have a more practical focus, emphasizing hands-on skills versus theory. Courses may be combined or streamlined to touch upon the same topics without exploring them in-depth. 


Let’s compare and contrast the curriculum of a degree program versus a diploma program.


What Do You Learn During a Medical Billing and Coding Diploma Program?


There are many essential classes you will take during your medical billing and coding diploma program. They include:


Introduction to PCs


This course offers you a basic understanding of computers and the Internet. Medical billing and coding specialists will use billing-specific software and Microsoft Office to perform job duties.


Microsoft Office


During this course, you will learn how to create documents with Word, spreadsheets with Excel, and slide presentations with PowerPoint. Medical billing and coding specialists use Microsoft Office daily to communicate and perform their duties in a medical office setting.


Business Math


Business math skills help billing and coding specialists interpret diagnostic reports and financial data. You’ll review basic arithmetic, fractions, decimals and percentages, unit conversions, and statistics. 


Medical Terminology


Medical terminology is foundational knowledge for a billing and coding specialist. In this course, students learn how to decipher complex terms by reducing them to simpler parts. Additional topics include medical abbreviations, common acronyms, and units of measure. 


Anatomy and Physiology 


Medical billing specialists need an understanding of body structure and function to select appropriate billing codes. Students learn about the different body systems and how they relate to medical procedures and diagnoses. 




Medical billing and coding specialists must complete billing forms and read doctor’s notes, so they need to understand common diseases. This course focuses on medical terminology and coding specialties for common diseases.




Another important topic for medical billing and coding specialists involves the drugs and medications that physicians prescribe to patients. Knowing about common medications will help medical billing and coding specialists read physicians’ notes and fill out insurance forms.


Medical Bookkeeping


Part of the role of a medical billing and coding specialist involves medical bookkeeping. Managing the medical reimbursement process from start to finish helps hospitals, doctor’s offices, and clinics stay profitable and help patients.


Basic Coding


The introductory coding class is your first in-depth look at coding volumes and guidelines. Topics include ICD-10 and CPT coding, code structure, coding conventions, volume structure, E/M coding, and coding modifiers. You’ll practice coding exercises, helping you relate what you learned in the medical terminology, anatomy, physiology, and pathophysiology courses to choosing accurate code assignments. 


Physician Office Billing


This course provides a targeted look at the billing processes unique to physician offices. In this setting, billing and coding specialists manage the many components of the billing process from start to finish, including patient registration, insurance verification, coding integration, claim submission, payment tracking, invoicing, and more. You’ll get a feel for the entire process and how it differs from billing in an acute care facility. 


Electronic Health Records


Electronic health records are the primary source of information for billing and coding specialists. You’ll discover how to access, enter, update, change, and share data as you learn navigational strategies.


Final Thoughts


Medical billing is a rewarding career with room for professional growth. Starting at the bottom doesn’t mean you can’t climb to the top. So, begin your education where it’s the most convenient, but never stop looking ahead.


Want to Learn More?


Did learning about the benefits of online medical billing and coding programs interest you? The Medical Billing Specialist program at Hunter Business School on Long Island prepares billing and coding students for entry-level employment specializing in medical-related billing and coding in physician’s offices. The online Medical Billing program is a 3-month diploma program available online.


Contact us today to find out more on how to become a medical billing specialist on Long Island campuses.