Commonly Asked Questions Regarding Medical Coding

Do I have to have a medical background before taking Medical Coding courses?

No, but be prepared to intensively study medical terminology and anatomy and physiology.

Are there any prerequisites for the courses?

Yes, iIf you are new to this field, you should take the courses in the order suggested below in the recommended course sequence for Medical Coding.

The recommended course sequence is as follows:

  • Expanded Medical Terminology for the Health Care Professional

  • Anatomy and Physiology for the Medical Office Professional

  • Medical Coding I

  • Medical Coding II – (Traditional class only)

  • Medical Insurance and Billing

  • Electronic Health Records

  • AAPC/AHIMA Medical Coding Boot Camp is a suggested course to prepare for National Certification

Electives for Medical Coding I (Students may select from the following online/ or class-room courses as elective:

  • Communication Skills for Health Care Professionals

  • Online Introduction to Medical Coding

  • Medical Law).

What if I have taken prerequisite courses at another college? Or I have experience in the medical field?

If you’re interested in Medical Coding and have taken a course at another college, you are encouraged to carefully check our course descriptions, and only take the courses you need to meet the recommended course prerequisites.

May I take more than one online course at a time?

Yes. However, we strongly recommend that you start off by taking one course at a time if you are new to the field or if this is your first time taking an online course.

How much time do I need to take an online course?

You have to have at least 6-10 hours per week to spend on each online course. You’ll need the time to perform the required reading and writing. In addition, you’ll need to allow time for completing assignments and participating weekly in the Discussion Forum (if required).

How much does the program cost?


  • Registration Fee $125 – $180 (online) $184 (traditional)

ADDITIONAL STUDENT FEES (estimated cost of books)

  • 2014 Step-by-Step Medical Coding, 2014 Edition, textbook $91.95

  • 2014 Step By Step Workbook, $37.95

  • 2014 CPT Professional (AMA) $106.90

  • HCPCS Level II Professional $79.95

  • Taber’s Cyclopedic Medical Dictionary $40.80

  • Medical Abbreviations, textbook $28

You may incur additional cost. Please see the most current list of Medical Coding Textbooks.

How do I register for a traditional or online course?

Read the Continuing Education registration procedures. You must return your registration form and payment at least five business days before your course start date. If you return your required registration materials late, we can’t guarantee that we’ll be able to process your request.

More information about the online registration process, ordering textbooks, and logging into courses can be found in the online course registration section.

If an agency (Vocational Rehabilitation, JOCCA, or WIA) is paying for my class and/or books, what do I need to register?

You must provide a copy of the “authorization to pay” letter from the agency along with your registration form. Registrations are not accepted if we do not have the letter of authorization. If you are receiving assistance for your books, you will also need an “authorization to pay” letter to submit to the Durham Tech bookstore.

How long does it take to complete each online course?

Each course is designed to last 8-16 weeks. Most courses have weekly assignments. Some courses may allow you to complete the course before this time; however, it is important to finish the course before the end of the last week of course.

How do I access my online course?

Each online course description will contain a link to the following: registration information, textbook information, and your online course access instructions.

After we receive your completed registration form we will update the Durham Tech registration system. 

To log in to Sakai, you will need:

  1. Your 7-digit Durham Tech ID number

  2. To follow the instructions found on this "Getting Started" sheet at

PLEASE NOTE: If you have not received your student ID number by email at least three days prior to the class starting, please contact Denise Kimball at 919-536-7222, ext. 4314.

When can I access my online course?

Course sites on Sakai usually become available on the course start date to students who have registered and paid in advance. Course access may be delayed for students who register or pay late.

Detailed log in steps can be found at

Is there a certain time of day or day of the week that I should sign on to participate in this online course?

No, you can access the course any time of the day or day of the week, during the duration of the course. Your instructor will provide information concerning lecture, assignment, quiz or exam availability and deadlines. Students are strongly recommended to follow the weekly modules as suggested by the instructor at the beginning of the course.

What if I have a question or concern about the online course?

If you have a question about the course content, please email your instructor. If you have a technical issue or medical coding course specific concern, please feel free to email

Are there any textbooks or CD's required for these courses?

Each course has different requirements. Some courses require the purchase of a CD and other courses require the purchase of a textbook, online access code, or a coding manual. On average, the textbooks and cds cost between $50-$100 (usually each course has at least one required textbook or cd). Online access codes usually cost $35-45. The coding manuals cost $80-100 (each of the two Medical Coding courses requires a coding manual). View the list of Medical Coding textbooks.

How do you find out what CD’s or textbooks to buy, and where from?

Each online course description will contain a link to the following: registration information, textbook information, and your online course access information. But if you register less than 2 weeks before the start of the online courses, there could be a delay in purchasing your CD, textbook, coding manual or online access code.

Can I buy used textbooks/cd's or coding manuals for my courses?

Each semester the publisher issues an online access code (NOT a CD) that can be bought with the required textbook for these courses:

  • Expanded Medical Terminology, Medical Coding I, Medical Coding II and Medical Billing and Insurance.

You have three options:

  • Buy a NEW textbook from the Durham Tech bookstore with the online access code (make sure it is for the upcoming semester)

  • Buy a "new" textbook from a previous semester and call the Durham Tech bookstore to ORDER the online access code for the upcoming semester (costs $35-$45)

  • Buy a used textbook and call the Durham Tech bookstore to ORDER the online access code for the upcoming semester (costs $35-$45).

Do I have to take all six courses recommended for Medical Coding?

No. You may take any course by itself.

Does completing Medical Coding courses certify me as a Certified Professional Coder?

No. If you are inexperienced in the medical field, you can sit for the Certified Coding Associate (CCA) exam. In order to become a Certified Professional Coder (CPC), you must sit for the CPC exam and successfully pass it; or you can sit for the Certified Coding Specialist (CCS) exam or the CCS-P (Physican-based) exam and successfully pass it. While these courses are designed to prepare you for the exam, you may need additional work experience or education to be fully prepared for the exam. Each student comes from a different background and has a different level of experience.

Your readiness for the exam will depend on a variety of factors. You may learn more about becoming a CPC or CCA/CCS/CCS-P and about testing dates and locations by visiting the American Academy of Professional Coders (AAPC) at

How does distance learning differ from a traditional course room environment?

When you are in a traditional course room, you have face-to-face interaction with the instructor and other students. If you have a question, you have the ability to have it answered immediately. However, in a virtual environment, you will have to utilize email to communicate with your instructor. What makes a good distance learner? A student who is highly motivated and can work independently will do well in an online course. Online students must be "proficient" computer users (particularly in word processing, email, and web browser functions).

Are these online courses self-study, mentored by instructors, or instructor led?

These courses require strong instructor involvement, and are instructor led. Your instructors are experienced in the medical field, teaching, and online course development, and will post and grade discussion questions and answers, answer questions about your quizzes and exams, provide resources outside the course about the subject, and are available to ask questions about the medical field. Some courses require assignments that will be graded with instructor feedback provided; others require group assignments that your instructor will grade, still others provide virtual medical office assignments that will be graded.

How do you know if you’ll succeed in an online courses?

Ask yourself the following questions:

  • Do you like to take the initiative, ask questions, and join in discussions?

  • Do you like to complete your work ahead of time?

  • Are you task-oriented, self-motivated, and organized?

  • Do you enjoy reading and figuring things out?

  • Do you enjoy experimenting with new technology?

  • Do you enjoy helping others to learn?

If you answered "yes" to these questions, then you are well-suited for Internet learning.

Do I need to participate in an online course? What do I need to do?

Online learning is designed to be interactive both with the other students in the course and with the instructor. Online courses use a Discussion Forum to "have course." You don't have to be online at the same time, but you will need to visit the Forum on a regular basis several times each week. When you visit the Forum, you are expected to read the postings of your course mates and post follow-ups to their postings. The other way the course is interactive is through e-mail. You will be receiving e-mail from your instructor and from your course mates. Thus, it's very important that you check your e-mail on a daily basis to see if there is any response needed on your part.

What are the computer requirements for participating in online courses?

Will Durham Tech continue to offer the online Medical Coding courses?

Yes, we have over 200 students taking the online Medical Coding courses each semester.

Return to Medical Coding course page


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