A basic requirement is a 40-hour course in anatomy and medical terminology, normally completed over about eight weeks. Then comes an 80-hour course in coding, which takes 12 to 16 weeks to complete. Buckholtz also advises taking an optional 40-hour class in billing.
Community colleges and some four-year institutions offer the courses, which are also available online through the academy’s website. Training costs depend on location and facility, but Buckholtz says you’ll generally spend no more than $3,000.
Certification by exam is offered at 432 chapters of the academy. Once you pass, you’ll be an apprentice for two years. According to a 2008 survey by the academy, which Buckholtz says still applies for 2009, average starting wages are $14.73 an hour, or just under $30,000 for a typical full-time coding position. Average certified coder salaries range from $39,400 to $46,500, and most positions, except at very small offices, have full benefits.
“Jobs are good, despite the recession,” Buckholtz says. “Check the marketplace in your area and then find an appropriate school, either local or online. Make sure the instructor is certified.”
Internal revenue officer or agent
Have a bachelor’s degree, but no financial background or training? Any type of undergraduate degree—even art history—will qualify you for the job of internal revenue officer, or tax collector, with the federal government’s Internal Revenue Service. A background in collections or finance helps, but it’s not mandatory to start.
“Revenue officers work with taxpayers to collect delinquent taxes and resolve issues,” says Melkia Ames, a recruiter-coordinator with the IRS recruitment office.
A similar IRS job is internal revenue agent, the folks who audit and investigate businesses and nonprofit groups and even investigate money laundering. To qualify for this job, you must have at least a bachelor’s degree and 30 semester hours in accounting.
The lowest entry-level salary for agents or officers is $30,772, but with more experience or education, you’ll rate a higher starting salary. The basic salary table is on the federal Office of Personnel Management (OPM) site.
To be competitive, salaries are also higher in about 30 metropolitan areas, and those “locality adjustments” can be found at the same OPM website. Benefits for federal jobs generally are considered to be excellent.
The IRS is a charter federal agency member of AARP’s National Employer Team, which matches workers age 50 and older with employers who need and value their experience and capabilities. “We will really be focusing on leveraging our relationships with organizations like AARP to attract great people,” says Jacquenette Ward, a manager in the IRS recruitment office.
Revenue officer and revenue agent jobs are available now. To find out about these and other IRS jobs, go to the agency’s job site or to the federal government’s job site. The IRS is always hiring somewhere, and opportunities change daily, so if you don’t see something the first time you look, keep going back.
Water or wastewater utility operator