So You Want To Be A Coder
What exactly is coding?
Coding is basically data entry. You will be looking at documents that someone else has scanned into the computer and taking certain information from each document and entering it in the provided database so that people looking for a certain document can find it quickly. For example, a legal document usually has special numbers that specify the first and last page of documents, the date, the writer of the document, who it is addressed to, what it is about, and additional helpful information entered into the database. There are coders for other fields, as well. Coding is not the same as medical coding and billing, which is a very different field that deals with insurance.
Would you make a good coder?
You will need to be patient enough to scan many documents that can be quite dry for important bits of information. (Frankly, I’d make a terrible coder. I was surprised at how difficult it was for me to sit there and attempt this when I am used to poring over census and vital record documents for hours in search of one tiny piece of a genealogy puzzle.) You will also need to be very accurate. Your work will be checked by a quality control agent, who will make sure your coding is correct. You will need to look at documents that sometimes are blurry or hard to see, so you should have good eyesight.
Can I become a coder without experience?
It is certainly a lot harder. There are companies that hire new coders, though. Try thinking creatively when you apply to these companies. Sometimes you have some experience with something else that will help you stand out from the mob of people applying to the few companies that accept inexperienced coders. Did you create or update any databases for previous jobs? For instance, I created a job log and entered information about each job from the billing files for an employer. I also once volunteered to create a database of vital records using newspapers from the early 1900’s. If I was applying for a coding position, I would highlight these jobs in my cover letter.
What equipment do I need to code?
You will need a newer computer and high speed internet access. Most coding companies provide any software you need.