Making the Most of that Entry-level Coding Position

Making the Most of that Entry-level Coding Position

by Angela Gerbert, BS, CDIP, CCS, CIC, CPC-I

“Sorry, you do not have enough coding experience.” Are you tired of hearing those words? Are you frustrated because you know that if you were just given a chance you could prove yourself worthy of that position? I have been there and I know exactly how you feel.

That entry-level position is not what you applied for or what you want. You know you are destined for greater things. But I encourage you to keep a positive outlook. Get your foot in the door. Take that position and shine. Be the best you can be. Your attitude will determine ninety percent of your ultimate success.

Nothing we learn is ever wasted. I began my career as an inpatient coder which is not common today: most coders start their career working on Labs/Ancillaries, move up to ERs, then SDCs and Observation cases before attempting Inpatient. I took a few years off to raise my children. When I was ready to come back, even though I had six years of inpatient coding experience under my belt, I was told I had to start over. I had my CCS. I had the experience. Yet, I had to take the more entry-level position.

Eventually, I found my way back to inpatient coding but I don’t regret the long journey back to where I started. I am thankful for those years I spent coding the broad range of more basic cases. I learned so much I would have never learned had I stayed just as an inpatient coder. That in-depth experience left me better equipped to be an educator, to write coding courses, and to help students with questions. That’s the beauty of being a life-long learner: you use all your knowledge daily.

So if you are finding yourself discouraged, chin-up! Others have walked the path and paid their dues. You will find your way and it will be worth every step.


Certified Coding Associate (CCA) Exam Review
The CCA credential exhibits your commitment to the coding profession and demonstrates your coding competencies across all settings – including hospitals and physician practices. This course provides valuable study and test-taking strategies. Those who successfully complete this course are eligible for 8 AHIMA CEUs. For more information, click here.

About the Author

Angela Gerbert
Angela Gerbert applies a hands-on approach to her role as the Director of Education for Libman Education. Whether overseeing the work of subject matter experts including nationally recognized coding authorities; challenging instructional designers to deliver content in a way that is both engaging and memorable; or tapping her 25 years’ experience in inpatient, outpatient, and emergency room coding to write coder-friendly courses herself, Angela is responsible for ensuring that our training is accurate, easily accessible, and challenging.

2 thoughts on “Making the Most of that Entry-level Coding Position

  1. Janice Bury - December 20, 2018 at 4:23 am

    I graduated from an accredited HIT program a year ago, sat for and passed both the RHIT and CCA exams, and have kept current with the various annual coding updates. I apply for entry-level coding positions; most of these are asking for 3-5 years of previous coding experience and I am passed over.
    Also, most of the entry-level coding positions advertised are requiring the CPC certification from the AAPC; it is extremely rare that the CCA is listed as an acceptable certification. What is the real difference between the CCA and the CPC that would make the CPC preferable to employers?

    • Libman Education - December 20, 2018 at 11:40 pm

      Hi Janice,
      Congratulations on graduating from your HIT program. Welcome to the profession! Getting that first job is always hard but you have made a great start by earning both your RHIT and CCA. The challenge now is to get your foot in the door any way you can and then work hard to show your value. Without the requisite 3-5 years work experience as a coder, you will need to explain more about your skills, your course of study, and your other experience that may be relevant. Ask to take their coding test with the promise that you will impress them with your skills.

      Your CCA should be of interest to potential hospital employers though you may need to educate them on the credential. As to your question: The CCA (Certified Coding Associate) is an AHIMA credential and is focused on hospital coding, where as the CPC (Certified Physician Coder) is an AAPC credential and is focused on physician billing and coding.