October 9th, 2017

How to Get Into Medical Coding at Home

How to Get Into Medical Coding at Home

Medical coding is one of those jobs that many people would love to do from home. It’s not easy to get into, however. Worse, there are scams out there aimed at people who want to do medical coding from home and just need a little help getting started. With the right training and experience, it is possible to get into medical coding at home.

Find a Medical Coding School

The first thing you need to do is find a reputable medical coding school. Don’t fall for promises of quick training and an easy path to a job. There are scams out there. Research any schools you’re considering. I suggest looking at schools approved by AHIMA. They have approved several online and local programs for you to consider.

For online courses, I recommend Career Step. I’ve recommended them for years for medical transcription training, but they also offer training in medical coding, as well as other programs. You can complete the course at home on your own schedule – just be aware that your initial enrollment lasts one year. Their program can be completed in as little as 4 months, but needing 8 months is not uncommon. They are on AHIMA’s list.

What Medical Coding Certifications Are Available?

There are several medical coding certifications available. Many employers will require specific certifications, while others are more flexible. Getting at least one certification can be a help in finding medical coding jobs. They are not required by all employers, but they qualify you for jobs you might not have qualified for otherwise.

You become certified by taking a test to show you are competent as a medical coder at the level required. AHIMA and AAPC offer certifications for medical coders. Qualification to test for a certification depends on a combination of training and experience.

You do not need every certification. As your career goes, figure out which ones will give you the most opportunities and ignore the rest. You will probably want one of the basic certifications, such as a CCA, but you do not have to get any if you find a job that doesn’t require them.

CCA (Certified Coding Associate) – CCA is a coding certificate suitable for new medical coders. It’s a two hour test, and you may be able to pass it right after you finish your training. It is offered by AHIMA.

CCS (Certified Coding Specialist) – The CCS certification is offered by AHIMA and is for coders with some experience. Usually, you need at least of coding experience after your training to get this certification. If you don’t get your CCA or similar credential, you will need at least two years of coding experience to qualify. Having a RHIA, RHIT or CCS-P also qualifies you.

CCS-P (Certified Coding Specialist – Physician Based) – The CCP-P credential is for coders who work in physician based settings, such as physician offices or specialty centers. This certification is for those who have mastered their coding skills, not for those who have just begun.

CPC (Certified Professional Coder) – The CPC certification is offered by AAPC. The AAPC says it is the most recognized medical coding certification in the industry. The full certification requires two years of coding experience, but there is an Apprentice level for those without sufficient experience. The exam takes 5 hours, 40 minutes.

RHIT® (Registered Health Information Technician) – A RHIT certificate (offered by AHIMA) is available for those who have completed a HIM program at an associate’s level. This certificate may be useful for medical coders or cancer registrars.

RHIA® (Registered Health Information Administrator) – A RHIA certificate (offered by AHIMA) has more rigorous academic requirements, requiring either baccalaureate level or master’s level completion of a HIM program. I’ve seen many medical coding jobs list a RHIA or RHIT as a qualification, even though they aren’t specific to medical coding.

The possible certifications go on. If you want to specialize in outpatient coding, you might want to get a COC. A CIC would be useful if you specialize in inpatient facilities. The certifications go on for the different specialties as you go through your career.

Be Ready To Specialize

Many medical coders specialize. It makes it easier to get a job within your specialty and can make you more productive. The most commonly used codes for your specialty will be familiar.

Specialties may include inpatient or outpatient coding, emergency room coding, obstetrics and so forth. You may find that you land in a specialty simply because that’s the job you found which hired you.

Don’t Assume Your First Medical Coding Job Will Be at Home

You’ve done all this with the intention of working at home, but now all the work at home medical billing jobs you can find require 2-3 years of experience, or even more. It’s frustrating.

There’s a simple reason for this. Medical coding requires a great deal of accuracy, and few employers are willing to take a chance on somebody entirely inexperienced working at home. They want to know that you can do the job with minimal supervision and assistance. Experience is the easiest way to prove that you can do the job.

Don’t give up on the idea of being a remote medical coder. If the training is good enough, you might land that remote job as your first. Just don’t limit yourself to the home based jobs when you don’t have experience. Career Step has a list of employers who have hired their graduates, which is a great place to start.

Disclosure: Some of the links in this post may be 'affiliate links.' This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission.

August 18th, 2017

Don’t Let Your Work At Home Dreams Stand In The Way Of Your Success

Don't Let Your Work At Home Dreams Stand In The Way Of Your Success

People who want to work at home often have an image in their minds of what it will be like. The flexible hours. Time for family. A good income… maybe even a great one. The reality is rarely that simple. People get frustrated when working at home isn’t like their dreams, and suddenly success is farther away.

Don’t get me wrong. It’s good to dream. You should know what your ideal work at home day would be like, and have a plan for getting there. What you shouldn’t do is resent that it’s so difficult to get there or let the difficulties stop you.

Break It Down Into Steps

What will it take to get to your work at home dream? Rather than hope to reach it all at once, figure out the path to get there.

Consider the goal of flexible hours, for example.

If you have a work at home job, your hours may well be determined by the company you work for. It’s their needs you have to consider. While they may allow you to set a schedule for yourself, they may also insist that you keep to that schedule, even when things come up. Many work at home jobs are no more flexible than an outside the home job.

What you need to do is figure out how to get to a job or home business that will give you the flexibility you want. Your plans will usually include sticking with the less than ideal job until you can find your way to a better one.

Don’t give up because you don’t have the flexibility you wanted from a work at home job. Don’t give up because you don’t have some other part of what you thought it would mean to work at home. It’s a process. The not so good job may eventually qualify you for a better one. If not, there’s at least some money coming in. Odds are, you need the money far more than you need the flexibility or whatever else.

Reassess Your Dream

Sometimes the reality of working at home isn’t at all what you dreamed about. You may realize that some goals weren’t realistic. Your home business won’t succeed overnight. Your kids aren’t as cooperative as you’d hoped. Does the phone ever stop ringing?

Many of these problems are temporary, but they’re also good wake up calls.

Businesses grow. So do kids. The phone keeps ringing, but you can teach family and friends when it’s okay to call, and most of the rest you can learn to ignore.

What you should look at is where your expectations were unrealistic. You can’t predict how fast your business will grow, no matter how much good advice you get on running it. What works for someone else may or may not work for you.

Sometimes It Comes Crashing Down

Even when things have been going well, sometimes things will come crashing down. Layoffs happen. Your business slips. Someone in your family gets sick. Life throws some new challenge in your way, and now working at home isn’t working the way it used to.

Frustrating though that may be, that can happen even in an outside the home job. It has nothing to do with whether or not you’re meant to work at home or if you’re good at it. Take those lemons life is throwing at you, grab some more ingredients, and make a lemon meringue pie. Don’t give up. Keep working on making it happen your way.

Don’t Give Up

Just because things aren’t working out the way you hoped doesn’t mean you’re a work at home failure. That’s true even if you’re still struggling with the way to make any money at home.

Failure happens when you give up. If you’re still trying, you haven’t failed yet.

The challenge of finding work at home success sometimes involves working outside the home for a time, for example. You might work an outside the home job while building your home business or while trying to find a work at home job.

Maybe It’s Not For You

Sometimes the problem with the work at home dream is that working at home really isn’t for you. It happens. That’s not a bad thing.

Some people need more time around coworkers. More time to talk. More chances to bounce ideas off each other. More chances to show your boss you deserve that promotion.

Finding out that something isn’t for you isn’t a bad thing. It’s just a thing. Now you can move on and figure out what is for you. Your overall goals shouldn’t be completely tied to working in a particular place. They should be about accomplishing the things that mean the most to you.

Regardless of how things go, your work at home dream will change as reality sinks in. It won’t be exactly as you hoped. With luck, it will be better. But even if it changes, you may find it worthwhile.

Disclosure: Some of the links in this post may be 'affiliate links.' This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission.

August 7th, 2017

10 Places You Can Work When You Work At Home

10 Places You Can Work When You Work At Home

One of the great things about having a work at home job or a home business is that you might have a lot of flexibility in where you work. It’s not necessarily all at home, depending on the kind of work you do. Sure, if you need a wired phone and internet connection you’ll be limited in where you work, but in many other cases, where you work is up to you. Here are some options.

1. Home Office

A properly set up home office is the best option when you can get it, even if you don’t want to be stuck in it all the time. It’s a place for all your work stuff. If you can close the door for privacy while you work, so much the better.

Your home office should have great internet connectivity, power, a setup you like, a good office chair and desk, and whatever else you need. You don’t have to worry about the space being taken over by someone else. If other people are too noisy, you can tell them you need quiet. They’re family or friends, after all. You can ask them to respect your work hours.

You may be able to take the home office deduction on your taxes if you maintain and use your home office. Check with your tax professional to see if your space qualifies.

Disadvantages

Isolation. If you want to be around other people sometimes, your home office can be very isolating.

If you have kids, it can also be a very frustrating place for them to have you work. They’ll get bored and want your attention, especially if they’re young.

2. Bedroom

Your bedroom is one of the other places to work at home when you need to close a door. It’s not ideal for most people, but it’s a possible solution. Hopefully you have the space to set up a desk and chair, rather than having to sit on the bed to work.

Disadvantages

It’s your bedroom. Some people find it very difficult to use their bedroom as an office. It makes it too easy to think about work when you should be sleeping.

3. Living Room/Elsewhere In The Home

Lots of people who work at home will work in shared spaces around the house, such as the living room. Sometimes you want to be a part of things; other times it’s because you have no better space available. Your productivity may take a hit, but at least you can work.

Disadvantages

It’s very difficult to get away from the noise of everyday life in the home if you’re in the same space as everyone else. It’s distracting.

4. Backyard

You get a beautiful, sunny, but not too hot day, and it will be tempting to work in your backyard. Fresh air, sunshine, and the feeling that you really are living the work at home dream. It’s a nice break from being indoors all the time.

If you have kids, it’s a chance to work where they’re playing. Don’t let them distract you too much, but enjoy the ability to all be together even when you’re earning a living.

Disadvantages

Patio furniture may not be as comfortable as what you have indoors. Your access to power may be limited. How good is the wifi in your yard? Hopefully it’s good enough.

If you have kids, they’re probably going to be noisy out there with you, and want you to join in the fun. Being productive can be a little more difficult.

5. Coffee Shop

Here’s the traditional office away from home office of the home based worker. Coffee shops have long been popular with people who work at home but aren’t limited to working specifically at home.

There are advantages to working at a coffee shop, such as snacks, drinks, and free wifi. Many coffee shops try to be comfortable for remote workers.

Disadvantages

Those snacks probably aren’t all that healthy. You might spend more than you should. The menu looks so good.

Coffee shops can also be noisy, as others come and go, and the employees call out orders. They often have music, which may be too loud for your tastes.

Employees won’t appreciate it if you take up a table for too long, especially if the other tables are all full. Pay attention to the crowds and try not to hog the space if the shop is busy.

6. Fast Food Restaurants

Like coffee shops, many fast food restaurants offer free wifi. So long as you don’t take up a table too long when all the others are full, most don’t mind if you work while enjoying your order.

Go to a fast food restaurant that features a playground if you have kids. They can play; you can work. The air conditioning isn’t too bad at most, so those days when the weather is too hot, cold or damp for them to play outside, you can still give them playtime.

Disadvantages

Fast food restaurants are usually noisy, especially if they have playgrounds. You may also need to fight the urge to get yet another snack as you work, even though the food is rarely all that good for you.

7. Beach

The beach is another of those dream places to work. Out in the sun and sand, it’s almost like a vacation while you work.

Disadvantages

There are no power outlets on the beach. Your internet connection depends on how good service is in the area, and probably depends on your cell phone provider.

Sand gets into everything. If you aren’t careful, that includes your laptop.

You can’t do all of the fun things you can do other times at the beach. You’ll get some sun, but you can’t work all that hard on a tan.

8. Park

The park is a good place to work when you want to get out of the house or if the kids need to get out and run. You’ll get fresh air and you can often find a bench or table to work at. If the park tends to be crowded, bring your own seating, and you’ll be fine.

Disadvantages

No power, and many don’t offer wifi. You have to provide your own internet connection.

Parks can be noisy, even if you go on your own. Kids play, dogs bark, and people walk by all the time. You can’t always find a quiet spot to work.

9. Coworking Space

A coworking space is a good way to get the advantages of a large office while working on your own terms. It should provide everything you need to have a productive day – wifi, phones, desk, printers, copiers and so forth. A good coworking space will have everything you need.

There will also be other people around, which can give you some camaraderie with the other people who use the space. You get people to talk to, so you’re less isolated.

Disadvantages

Cost. If you’re paying for it yourself, a coworking space can be on the pricey side. Some employers pay for coworking spaces for work at home employees if they want one, but it’s not a very common benefit.

10. Library

The library can be a very good place to work. You may not even need to bring your own computer, although if you have any privacy concerns, you probably should. Most libraries offer free wifi. The air conditioning can be pretty good too. Unlike coffee shops, they rarely care how long you stay during business hours, aside from any time limits on library computers.

Libraries may also offer other services, such as copy machines or a fax machine. If you need these services , it’s nice to have them right there.

Disadvantages

Libraries are thought of as being quiet places to work, but that’s not always true. Kids sometimes get noisy in there, as do other patrons.

Library hours can be very limiting. The one in my area, for example, is open 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. If you want to work outside those hours, the library isn’t for you.

In general, you should think carefully about where you work outside your home office. It’s nice to get away sometimes, get a little time around other people, but pay attention to what it does to your productivity. It might help, but it might not. Try working other places if your work permits it, but if you’re less productive, it’s probably not the right choice for you. You might be surprised at what works for you.

Disclosure: Some of the links in this post may be 'affiliate links.' This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission.

July 10th, 2017

Does It Matter Where You Live When You Work At Home?

One of the great appeals of working at home is the idea that you can work from anywhere. That’s the hope for many people. Yet many work at home job listings include a location. Does that location really matter?

For some work at home jobs, yes, it does. Why is that?

Training

Some work at home jobs have training done in office. These jobs will expect you to live close enough to come into the office for training. They won’t pay for your travel to training, and they won’t let you take on the expense of staying close enough for training. Considering that training can be a few weeks or even a few months, that cost would be prohibitive for many positions.

Staff Meetings

Not all employers are satisfied with the many ways to keep in contact virtually. They want face to face time with employees at regular staff meetings, and they don’t want to pay you to travel to them. It doesn’t matter if the meetings are once a week or once a year – they want you to live close enough to drive there and back on the same day.

Clients

If your job involves dealing with clients in person, it makes a lot of sense for you to live close enough that this is a simple matter. If your job involves working with clients, sometimes face to face interactions are preferred or even necessary.

Travel

Sometimes the job will require enough travel that your employer will want you to live in a particular region. You might have an area to cover for client support or sales, for example. They might also want you to live near an airport hub to make it easier to travel to other areas for work.

Taxes

Taxes are one of the big reasons employers want their employees to live in an area. Sales taxes may be affected by where employees live. It can also be more difficult for employers to handle income taxes for multiple regions.

Licensing

Some jobs require that you be licensed in a particular state for the job. Teachers, for example, generally need a teaching license for their state. Nurses and other health care providers also need licenses.

Phone Numbers

While VOIP makes it easy to have your phone number match whatever area code your employer needs, that’s not how all employers conduct business. Many prefer a hard wired, dedicated phone line. VOIP can have sound quality issues as well as security issues, and employers may find it easier to avoid those issues by insisting upon traditional, hard wired phone lines. They will probably also insist upon a wired telephone headset. Anything wireless has potential security issues.

Time Zones

Having their employees all in the same time zone makes things easier for employers. While they can tell you that work hours are in a particular time zone, having everyone in the same time zone ensures that no one gets confused about what the right time is.

Equipment

Some work at home employers provide equipment to their employees and handle technical support and repairs as well. If they don’t want to deal with the down time of having broken equipment shipped out and new sent to the employee, they need you to live close enough that they can send someone out to repair equipment when you have a problem.

Job Duties

Various job duties will be better handled by being in the right location. A teacher may need to see students face to face periodically. A client may need some work done on site. You may need to meet with an employee that you supervise.

Familiarity

Some work at home jobs want you to know the area, and that’s simplest if you already live there. Some writing jobs, for example, want you to cover local events. A service in a particular area may want someone who knows the local region.

Does This Mean You Can’t Move And Keep Your Job?

If your employer specifies a particular location for a job and you later need to move to another area, you will need to check with that employer to see what can be done. For many location specific work at home jobs, moving out of that area means finding a new job just as you would have to seek work if you worked in a brick and mortar location.

If you’re lucky, you’ll move into another area they can allow you to work at, in which case you could continue with your job in a new location. It never hurts to check to see if there’s any way to keep your job before moving.

Why Are Locations Listed For Jobs That Don’t Care Where You Live?

Some employers will list a location on their work at home jobs, but won’t actually care where you live. Often, it’s where their office is. Even when a job listing shows a location at the top, read the entire listing carefully to see if it matters. If it’s unclear, you can always ask.

If a potential employer is clear that they’re only hiring people in certain areas, and you are not in that area or about to move there, don’t push them about it. They usually have good reasons to hire in the areas they specify. They aren’t likely to change their mind just for you, no matter how great your skills. They can probably find someone just as good who meets their location requirements.

Many employers won’t say in a job listing why they’re only hiring in a particular area unless it’s for training or travel purposes. Even if you can’t tell why they only hire in one area, respect that when you’re applying for work. If you move later and might not be in an area they usually have employees, that’s a good time to find out if the rule has any flexibility.

Disclosure: Some of the links in this post may be 'affiliate links.' This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission.

June 27th, 2017

How To Stay Motivated While Searching For A Work At Home Job

How To Stay Motivated While Searching For A Work At Home Job

Searching for a job – any job – has always been a frustrating process. It takes so long to find a job, and the entire time you’re wondering if you will fall for a scam. It can be discouraging, frustrating, and just plain tedious. You have to keep yourself motivated as you search for the right work at home job. Here are some tips.

Have A Schedule

Give yourself a schedule for your work at home job search. Start at a particular time each day and have a goal for how long you search each day. If it’s scheduled, you’re less likely to skip it for something else.

I like to use my cell phone alarm for all kinds of things in my schedule. I’m not job hunting, but I have alarms for when to get up in the morning, when the kids get out of school, and when it’s time to go volunteer at the local animal shelter. You can do the same if you don’t keep good track on your own for when it’s time to start your job hunt.

Set Goals

Set goals by the day or week for your job search. Keep them mostly under your control. A goal of a certain number of jobs applied to by day or week is better than setting a goal of a certain number of interviews. You don’t have control over who decides to interview you.

That said, if you aren’t getting interviews, it’s time to figure out why. You should be getting some.

Do not apply to jobs just to meet a goal. You should only apply to jobs that you are reasonably qualified for, even if you’re behind on your goals. Applying for a job you don’t want or aren’t qualified for only wastes your time.

Get Training

If you have the time, get training for jobs you would like to apply for as you search. This can be online classes through Udemy if you don’t need anything too official. If you need a degree or certificate, you can consider a local community college, university, or a certificate program such as those through Career Step. Improving your skills is always a good idea and gives you a break from the tedium of searching for a job.

Save Your Searches

Any time a job board will let you, save your searches on it. If the board won’t allow that, you can save your search as a bookmark or favorite in your browser. This way you don’t need to remember all the keywords you’re using in your search – you can go to your saved searches one by one.

Network

Network online and in person. Use LinkedIn to follow companies you’re interested in. Use Meetup.com to look for fellow job seekers. Join Facebook groups for job seekers. Seek out local organizations that get together that might be helpful. All these resources may help you find jobs you would not have heard about otherwise.

Face to face networking is the most difficult, but it can be the most rewarding. You’re more memorable in person than you are in an online chat. It’s harder to find work at home jobs locally, but they are often out there.

Look At People Who Work Where You’d Like To

Go on LinkedIn and find people who have the jobs you would like to have. What other positions have they held? Could that job work for you? Sometimes you will get ideas you may not have considered otherwise.

You can also ask for advice from people on LinkedIn. Some people are very willing to be helpful to those who want to get into the same field.

Be Organized

Figure out a system to track where and when you have applied for jobs, so that you don’t apply for the same job too often. Take notes on any information you have about the hiring process. If a company contacts you, add that to your notes and make sure you remember when any interviews are.

Celebrate Small Wins

Did you get an interview? That’s cause enough to celebrate a little, even if you doubt you’re going to get the job (and quit doubting yourself!). You got enough attention from a potential employer that they want to learn more. That’s wonderful. Whether you get that job or not, you’ve done something right. Celebrate.

Be Ready To Handle Rejection

Searching for a job means you will face a lot of rejection. Be ready to deal with it. Rejection never feels good, but it will be a significant part of your job search. Don’t let it get you down. Keep on searching, because eventually all those “nos” will take you to a “yes.”

vision board

Make A Vision Board

What motivates you in your job hunt? Make a vision board you can look at that shows you your reasons why you want a new work at home job. Kids, your home, income, places you would love to go on vacation once you have the money for it, whatever gets you going. Add in your career goals. Decorate it and make it fun to look at even beyond its motivational value.

Take Breaks

Don’t assume you can search for a job all day. You’ll run out of leads, for one thing. But even if you have plenty of job leads, you should take regular breaks to refresh your mind, focus your eyes elsewhere, stretch, and just relax a little. A good break will make you more productive.

Take Days Off

When you have a job, you probably won’t work seven days a week. Don’t search for jobs seven days a week either. Weekends are fairly easy to take off. From what I’ve seen far fewer jobs are posted on weekends than on weekdays, so it may be easy to catch up on what you’ve missed over the weekend when you start searching again on Monday.

Believe In Yourself

Believe that you have something great to offer the right employer. Your skills, determination, and experience all have value to employers.

Make Time For Things You Enjoy

No matter how desperately you need a new job, take some time for the things you enjoy. This will give you a break from the frustration of your job search. Work on a hobby, play with your kids or pets, do something fun with your spouse… anything.

Remember The Good Things In Your Life

Even if times are tight financially because you need a job, there are some good things in your life. Think about them when you’re tired of your search. You probably have a lot you can be grateful for.

Eat Right

Eat food that will help you have the energy to get through your job search each day. Go for the healthy stuff and try not to binge on unhealthy snacks, even when they’re tempting. You’ll have more energy and feel better when you eat healthy foods.

Avoid Isolation

Searching for a job can leave you feeling isolated if you let it. Don’t. Make time for things that will get you out and about. Go to the gym if you have a membership. Take walks as a family. Meet neighbors. Take your laptop to a cafe and search from there. Just get out of the house.

Don’t Assume You Have To Search For Eight Hours A Day

Sometimes people will say to treat your job search like a full time job. That was probably great advice when you would start with the newspaper, and then have to go to employers to see who was hiring. These days, you’re searching the internet and applying online – few companies want to see applicants in person before an interview. It’s incredibly difficult to make this stretch across a full eight hours, so don’t assume you have to.

Just don’t take that to mean that five minutes a day of searching is enough. It isn’t. You need to dedicate sufficient time to your search if you’re going to have results.

The time you need to spend each day may vary quite a bit. Some days, you may have trouble finding any new leads at all, and be done quickly. Other days, you’ll find lead after lead, and customizing your resume for each application takes time. You might have an interview which takes up a chunk of your day in preparation and in the interview itself.

Remember That Job Searches Often Take Months

It can be frustrating to know that a job search may take months, but it can also be motivating. It’s a reminder that you aren’t alone in these things taking so much time. Keep plugging away at your search, because the more jobs you apply for, the more likely you are to apply to the right one.

Find What Motivates YOU

If none of this advice helps keep you motivated, figure out what does. There must be something that will make searching for a job something you want to get done.

Disclosure: Some of the links in this post may be 'affiliate links.' This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission.

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