Outpatient Coder

Convert patient information into medical codes.
picture of Outpatient Coder

Quick Stats


Salary Range
$21,000 – $53,000

Data from U.S. Department of Labor

What do Outpatient Coders do?

“Mary suffered from a 531.3 with a touch of a 533.7, but after the 51.41, she’s feeling much better.” If you can utter those words in your day-to-day conversations (and know exactly what they mean), then an Outpatient Coder’s job is the right one for you.

Outpatient Coders turn everything—from a patient’s illness to their treatment plan—into a code, and enter it into the computer. No need to make the code up off the top of your head. When you’re an Outpatient Coder, they’re already typed out in an index for you.

Often, you specialize in a specific area of the body, such as the digestive tract or the heart. You memorize the codes dealing specifically with those body parts.

Coding types include ICD-9 diagnosis codes, CPT procedure codes, and HCPCS supply and service codes. Think of these as giant dictionaries of medical phrases. You could type “Mary had an operation using common duct exploration techniques for removal of the bile duct calculus,” but hitting 51.41 takes a lot less time.

Though coding isn’t hard, it requires medical knowledge to understand the complex medical terms found in patients’ reports. Skimming a few books on how to read a Doctor ’s handwriting couldn’t hurt either.

What it all comes down to is you’re a word lover of a whole different breed. Instead of writing flowing prose that takes 15 words to make a point, you reduce complicated statements into clean-cut numbers. It’s an art form, and you’re a master of it.

Should I be an Outpatient Coder?

You should have a high school degree or higher and share these traits:
  • Trustworthy: You are known for your personal integrity and honesty.
  • Flexible: You're open to change and think variety is the spice of life.
  • Independent: You enjoy flying solo and doing things your own way.

  • Also known as: Hospital Unit Clerk

    How to become an Outpatient Coder

    Most Outpatient Coders have no higher education and get on-the-job training. Think about earning a Certificate or Associate's degree to increase your competitiveness in the field. Chart?chd=s:9siaaa&chl=no+college+%2870%25%29|certificate+%2821%25%29|associate%27s+%2810%25%29|||&cht=p3&chs=466x180&chxr=0,70,70
    Schools close to

    You May Also Like

    Careers Similar to Outpatient Coder