I work at a career/trade school that has this program.
I'm going to give you the good, the bad and the ugly. I've been in Admissions for approx 8 yrs. I've worked at ITT-Tech outside of Chicago, The Banner Institute in Chicago and I've been at the school that I'm at now for almost 4 years.
What makes career/trade/for profit schools different?
Set schedules/block scheduling. Our students come to school 4 days a week, M-Th, 5 hrs a day. It doesn't change every grading period, they don't have to register every grading period. Once you're in, you know your schedule, unless you change it, which can delay graduation, you'll have the same schedule the 7 months you're here. Your extern schedule is up to you and the site. You have to do 20 hrs a week minimum extern hrs, and a total of 160.
The tuition is considerably higher, but the programs are a lot shorter, (7 months on site +1-2 months of extern/unpaid OTJ training= 8-9 months), which allows the graduates to be employable, and hopefully working and earning $ in their field over a year sooner than a community college graduate. For a lot of people, that is the deciding factor.
Books, uniforms/scrubs, supplies, CPR, HIPPA, OSHA and other certifications are usually included. At My school, Allied Health students maintaining a 3.25 GPA & 90% attendance, cumulative, will get 2 attempts at the AAPC- CPC cert, paid for by the school. If they don't meet those requirements, they can become a member while they're a student and pay the approx $70 membership fee (everyone pays that), and pay for the exam themselves.
Our MBC instructor has been the San Antonio chapter President of the AAPC in recent years and is still an active, contributing, and highly respected member. She has over 20 years experience in the field and also does consulting. She also has a study group that meets every other Saturday to study for the AAPC. She has sample tests and is also an approved AAPC proctor. People come to our school to take the different levels of AAPC certs, we're an approved test site.
Career/For profit schools are HEAVILY regulated, they HAVE to graduate and place a certain percentage of grads, DIRECTLY in their field to remain open. Community colleges are JUST starting to be accountable for graduation and placement rates. Usually the percentage is 70%, depending upon the Accrediting body and state requirements.
If there wasn't far more successes than failures at career schools, neither the Dept of Ed, not the VA would provide funding/Financial Aid. The VA pays eligible veterans and their families a stipend to attend school, while paying the school for the tuition. My school is also approved and regulated by the Texas Workforce Commission. They also have funding for people that are laid off due to their job being sent somewhere else or other reasons beyond that person's control.
The majority of the students that start at a career school, actually graduate. Usually in 9 months, depending upon the program. Many have attempted the community college " 2 year plan", but gave up once they realized that plan would be 4 years or more.
There are no "filler courses". If a person has a high school diploma/GED and can pass an Admissions Assessment, (usually The Wonderlic),does the person hiring them to draw blood, do billing and coding, or an EKG REALLY care that they took a college English or Statistics class? Do YOU care that the person drawing your blood took a college level Native American History class? There's your answer.
Unlike a CC and even unlike some other career schools, our students start their hands on the FIRST day. If you're in a program that entails Phlebotomy, be ready, you will likely draw blood the 1st or 2nd day. Expect to do 200+ blood draws and injections in the 7 months you're here.
We find our students externs in actual billing and coding companies, doctor's offices and hospitals. Some schools have sent out such ill prepared students that they lost their extern contracts. Their students have to find their own externs. At times, 50% of our graduates are getting hired directly from their externs. Finished school one day, started as a paid employee the next.
Most companies aren't going to waste time hiring someone who hasn't had any OTJ training when the can simply hire someone that does. Not saying it doesn't happen. I know I wouldn't.
I've seen so many people attempt an online MBC program and fail. This is a very detailed field. Mistakes in this field= lost $ for the medical provider. Not saying it can't be done.
We have had teachers , retired military officers, and people with various Bachelors Degrees do this program.
Most companies hire entry level graduates as billers before they become coders.
FY 2012, our completion rate for MBC was 65.12% & placement was 71.43%.
The highest ENTRY LEVEL salary I've seen in recent years was in the mid $30's. The lowest was minimum wage. Most grads get hired around $24k/yr. Surely that's higher in cities with a higher cost of living. lol
In San Antonio, Texas, that's not bad $. People making $30k a year, (and even less), regurlarly buy 2000+ sf ,brick homes in good neighborhoods.
This field does have opportunities for working from home/self employment, but it will take experience and attaining the different levels of certifications to do that.