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Why You Should Consider a Certified Coding Specialist Certification

By DeVry University

The information presented here is true and accurate as of the date of publication. DeVry’s programmatic offerings and their accreditations are subject to change. Please refer to the current academic catalog for details.


September 30, 2022

3 min read

If you’re already working in the industry or working toward pursuing a career in medical billing and coding, then a Certified Coding Specialist (CCS®) certification may be a useful credential to have. This professional certification allows you to demonstrate your understanding and commitment to the medical coding industry as well as your determination.

In this article, we’ll talk about some of the reasons why you should consider a CCS® certification, its potential benefits for you and your career and more in the following sections:

What Is a Certified Coding Specialist Certification?

A Certified Coding Specialist certification (CCS) is a professional credential for medical billers and coders awarded by the American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA). It shows you have achieved a high level of proficiency with various skills essential to medical billing and coding, including data quality, accuracy and proficiency. During the exam you will be tested on reviewing patient records, your comprehension of the latest ICD codes and various medical terminology.

What Does a Certified Coding Specialist Do?

Certified coding specialists classify data, including medical services, diagnoses and procedures from patient records. Using their knowledge of medical terminology and coding conventions such as the International Classification of Diseases (ICD) and Current Procedural Terminology (CPT®), they play an important role in the health information technology field and the industry’s revenue cycle.

The information they generate is used to build claims that are then submitted to insurance companies and government-sponsored insurance programs to reimburse healthcare providers. In some cases, billing is submitted directly to patients.

Certified coding specialists often work in hospitals, but may also work in other healthcare settings, such as physician practices. In some instances, remote work opportunities may also be available for medical billers and coders.  

What Education Is Needed to Earn a CCS Certification?

While AHIMA does not outline any education requirements specifically, it does recommend you complete some of the following before pursuing the certification exam:

  • A minimum of 2 years of experience applying codes

  • Complete courses in anatomy, pharmacology, physiology and other healthcare subjects, plus a year of applying codes

  • Hold a Certified Coding Associate (CCA®) certification, plus 1 year of coding experience

  • Hold another coding credential from a certifying organization, plus 1 year of experience, or a CCS-P®, RHIT® or RHIA® credential

While formal medical billing and coding training might not be required, not having any might make it more challenging when it comes to preparing for and taking the exam. As you prepare to pursue your CCS certification, enrolling in a medical billing and coding program can help you develop many of the foundational skills you need to pursue a career in this field.

At DeVry, our Undergraduate Certificate in Medical Billing and Coding - Health Information Coding program offers hands-on learning experiences that give you the chance to practice with some of the technology and tools you’ll encounter in the medical billing and coding field, and has CCS certification exam prep built right into the curriculum. 

About the CCS Exam

Considered to be one of the more advanced medical billing and coding exams, the 4 hour, multi-section CCS certification exam consists of a range of 115 to 140 questions in a multiple-choice section and a medical scenario section.

Effective May 2024, the CCS exam will cover skills in 5 domains, with each domain accounting for a specific percentage of the total exam content:

  • Domain 1: Coding knowledge and skills (39-41%)

  • Domain 2: Coding documentation (18-22%)

  • Domain 3: Provider queries (9-11%)

  • Domain 4: Regulatory compliance (18-22%)

  • Domain 5: Information technologies (9-11%)

The passing score for the CCS exam is 300. In 2023 the pass rate for first-time CCS testers was 64%. The cost for the exam is $399. 

What Are the Benefits of a Certified Coding Specialist Certification?

While this list is not exhaustive, here are a few examples of how earning a CCS certification can be a very beneficial step in your medical billing and coding career:

  • Increases medical knowledge

    By studying and preparing for the certification exam, you will have the chance to not only deepen your current knowledge, but also learn new information that can expand your understanding of the field as you move forward.

  • Demonstrates initiative

    Actively pursuing a certification of this kind shows potential employers a forward-thinking, goal-driven mindset that might help you stand out.

  • Shows competency and proficiency

    A certification is a great measuring stick for how well you grasp the information that’s on the exam, and how well you can apply it.

  • Expands the types of jobs you can consider

    Certain jobs may require candidates to hold a CCS certification. Becoming a Certified Coding Specialist may help you pursue your career goals by broadening the list of jobs you might want to consider after graduation.

  • Boosts your confidence

    Earning a certification can serve as a reminder of your accomplishments and skill level, and boost your confidence for yourself, or when you want to advance your career. 

Prepare to Pursue Your CCS Certification with Help from DeVry

If you’re preparing to take the Certified Coding Specialist certification exam, DeVry can help. Our 100% online Undergraduate Certificate in Medical Billing and Coding - Health Information Coding program has CCS exam prep built right into the curriculum with a CCS review (CCS Exam) course. DeVry students who earn an 85% or higher in the course can earn a voucher for the CCS exam. The voucher code is valid for 60 days.

Each program at DeVry is taught by knowledgeable and experienced staff who work in their respective fields and are here to answer your questions and help guide you along the way. Classes start soon. 

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