What is Health Information Coding?

Entry-level coders analyze health records and assign the appropriate code to each diagnosis and procedure according to national and international guidelines. They perform research and rely on their knowledge of medical terminology, anatomy, and disease processes to determine the correct codes and sequences.

Coders then use a software program to assign the patient to one of several hundred “diagnosis-related groups (DRGs),” or “ambulatory payment classifications (APCs)”. Other coding systems used by the medical coder are known as encoders. Those who specialize in coding are called health information coders, medical record coders, coder/abstractors, or coding specialists.


For more information on the field of Health Information Technology, click on the health information management association links below.

American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA)

American Academy of Professional Coders (AAPC)

Employment Data
  Health Information Coding Specialist
Median Wage (MT)* $38,800 yearly - $18.66 per hour

Median Wage (US)*

$42,630 yearly - $20.50 per hour
Annual Job Openings (MT)* 100
Annual Job Openings (US)* 16,800
Expected Growth (MT)* 13.9%
Expected Growth (US)* 10.7%
*Montana Career Information System
Career Opportunities

Students that achieve the Health Information Coding Specialist Certificate can expect to obtain jobs in inpatient facilities, outpatient clinics, physician offices, or insurance companies as entry-level coders.

For more information related to career opportunities in this field, please visit AHIMA.org/careers

Why Great Falls College MSU

The Great Falls College MSU coding program is accredited through the American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA) . The Certified Coding Associate (CCA) distinguishes coders by exhibiting commitment and demonstrating coding competencies across all settings, including both hospitals and physician practices. Based upon job analysis standards and state-of-the-art test construction, the CCA is creating a larger pool of qualified coders ready to meet potential employers' needs. The CCA designation has been a nationally accepted standard of achievement in the health information management field since 2002. More than 8,000 people have attained the certification since inception. The CCA is the only HIM credential worldwide currently accredited by the National Commission for Certifying Agencies (NCCA) .

The successful completion of the Health Information Coding Specialist Certificate will assist the student in qualifying for the Certified Coding Associate (CCA) credential national exam; sponsored by AHIMA.


What Our Graduates Say

  • "Great Falls College MSU has given me the knowledge, skills and inspiration to succeed in the HIM field. The powerful HIT program I completed in 2011 has produced multiple, exciting employment opportunities. I could not possibly be happier with my HIT degree, RHIT certification and my chosen career field. Thank you Great Falls College MSU!"
    - Matthew Eby, RHIT
  • "The education I received from Great Falls College MSU paved the way to my dream job!"
    - Audrey Schanck, RHIT
  • "Great Falls College MSU’s online course allowed me to work full-time and achieve my goal of obtaining a degree in Health Information Technology. The education I received has prepared me for the exciting and challenging HIM field. Thank you GFC MSU!"
    - Kim Gordon, RHIT, CCA
  • "I am proud of my education I received from the school especially in my program. I have no complaints at all with the level of education I attained through my instructors. With an online program, I also feel it depends on how much effort the student is willing to delegate to the task of learning."
    - Mary McMann, RHIT, CCA
Figure Out Your Finances

Health Information Coding Specialist Program Estimated Costs

Figure Out Your Finances

Students seeking federal financial aid (which includes grants and loans) must complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) which online at fafsa.ed.gov. As a result of completing a FAFSA, an applicant will receive a federal Student Aid Report (SAR) in the mail or online. An electronic version of the SAR is automatically sent to the schools listed on the FAFSA. To list Great Falls College MSU, use our school code: 009314.

Students applying for financial aid may also be required to provide proper federal income tax information, completed verification materials, and any other information requested by the Financial Aid Office. Students must apply for financial aid annually.

Assistance is available to prospective students applying for financial aid. In addition, financial aid counseling for new students is an integral part of the admissions and orientation process. Once enrolled, students may receive counseling and assistance as needed. For assistance, please call 406-771-4334, or write to the Financial Aid Office, Great Falls College MSU, 2100 16th Ave S, Great Falls, MT 59405, or email finaid@gfcmsu.edu.

Great Falls College MSU also offers a wide variety of different scholarships to assist you in paying for your college. To view a list of current scholarship offerings, please see our scholarship page.

Scholarships are available through AHIMA and MHIMA (Montana Health Information Management Association).

AHIMA Foundation - Merit Scholarship Information

Explore Course Lists

Health Information Coding Specialist Program Course Lists

For the complete course list and for more information on pre-requisite courses, please visit the catalog page for this program.

  • For the General Education credits (Math, Writing, Comm, Soc, and Psych courses), we will accept them up to 25 years in the past. When the credits are over 25 years, the student must RETAKE all General Education courses.
  • For the Program Requirement credits (HIT/HICS core courses), we will accept them up to 10 years in the past IF the student has past or current job experience related to any allied healthcare field setting.

Testing out is allowed in the following methods:

  • Accuplacer
  • DSAT
  • CLEP

Our Health Information Coding Specialist Program at Great Falls College MSU is approved by the AHIMA Foundation’s Professional Certificate Approval Program. This designation acknowledges the coding program as having been evaluated by a peer review process against a national minimum set of standards for entry-level coding professionals. The approval time frame is March 31, 2019 and expires on March 31, 2022 with annual interim approval during these years.

The program is accredited by the American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA) .

The successful completion of the Health Information Coding Specialist Certificate will assist the student in qualifying for the Certified Coding Associate (CCA) credential national exam; sponsored by AHIMA.

Continuing Your Education

Students that complete the Health Information Coding Specialist Certificate can easily transfer into the Health Information Technology two-year degree program at Great Falls College MSU.

Health Information Coding Specialist Faculty


Kristine Hancke

Kristine Hancke
HICS Program Director