Medical Billing and Coding Certification

Medical billing and coding involves using both financial acumen and medical knowledge to bill patients, send insurance claims and create accurate patient health records. When looking for medical billers and coders, employers seek out candidates with medical billing and coding certifications to ensure that they’re qualified and experienced. These certifications signal to hospitals, private practices and clinics that medical billers and coders have taken the time to study the complex world of billing and coding.

What Medical Billing and Coding Certifications Are Available?

There are many different types of medical billing and coding certifications available from several major and respected institutions.

Certified Professional Coder (CPC)

Offered by AAPC, a professional association with more than 175,000 members, a CPC certification indicates that holders have proven mastery of all code sets, evaluation and management (E/M) principles, adherence to documentation and coding guidelines and more.

According to AAPC, CPCs:

  • Understand how to integrate medical coding and payment policy changes into reimbursement processes
  • Possess expertise in reviewing and assigning accurate medical codes
  • Are knowledgeable in anatomy, physiology and medical terminology

This exam consists of 150 multiple choice questions, and students are allowed 5.5 hours to answer.

Certified Coding Specialist (CCS)

Offered by the American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA), a professional association with more than 103,000 members, a CSS certification indicates that holders can classify medical data from patient records.

According to AHIMA, CSSs:

  • Review patients’ records and assign codes for each diagnosis and treatment
  • Can use ICD-10-CM and CPT coding systems
  • Are knowledgeable in medical terminology, pharmacology and disease processes

This exam consists of 97 multiple choice questions and eight medical scenarios, and students are allowed four hours to answer.

Certified Coding Associate (CCA)

Also offered by AHIMA, a CCA certification http://www.ahima.org/certification/CCA indicates that holders have demonstrated a certain level of commitment and coding expertise across all settings.

According to AHIMA, CCAs:

  • Are committed to the coding profession
  • Exhibit dedication, competency and professional capacity

This exam consists of 100 multiple choice questions, and students are allowed two hours to answer.

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What Is It like to Take Medical Billing and Coding Certification Exams?

Before taking a medical billing and coding certification exam, students should prepare for the exam by taking courses online or on campus that cover:

Medical Terminology

Learn medical terminology, including the foundations of words used to describe the human body and its conditions, terminology for medical procedures, the names of commonly prescribed medications and common abbreviations.

Health Services and Information Systems

Explore the history and organization of, and current issues in, the United States healthcare delivery system, including interrelationships among system operators and care providers.

Process Information

Compile codes, categories, calculations, tabulations and audits, or verify information or data.

Document and Record Information

Enter, transcribe, store or maintain information in written or electronic form.

Health Insurance and Reimbursement

Explore reimbursement and payment methodologies applicable to healthcare provided in various U.S. settings as it relates to relevant forms, processes, practices and the roles of health information professionals.


In order to pass a medical billing and coding certification exam, you must obtain:

  • CPC exam: 70%
  • CCS exam: 300 points
  • CCA exam: 300 points

To take a medical billing and coding certification exam, students must also pay for admittance to the exam. The exams cost:

  • CPC exam: $260 for AAPC members and $300 for non-members
  • CCS exam: $299 for AHIMA members and $399 for non-members
  • CCA exam: $199 for AHIMA members and $299 for non-members

Getting a Medical Billing and Coding Certification

The three major medical billing and coding certifications—CPC, CCS, and CCA—are offered through AAPC and AHIMA.

To prepare students not only for certification exams but also for a career in medical billing and coding, DeVry offers undergraduate medical billing and coding programs that offer an extensive set of coursework. Through our health information coding and medical billing and coding programs, students gain a deep understanding of:

  • Medical terminology
  • Health services and information systems
  • International classification of diseases coding
  • Health insurance and reimbursement
  • Information processing
  • Information documentation and recording
  • Procedural terminology
  • Medical data classification

Commonly Asked Questions about Medical Billing and Coding Certification


What are the benefits of earning a Medical Billing and Coding certification?

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, medical billers and coders are in demand . The industry is expected to add, on a national level, 29,000 jobs between 2019 and 2029,1 and you might find that many employers require or prefer job applicants to have earned an industry-recognized certification. Earning your CCS, CCA or CPC certification can be a great addition to your resume, as it demonstrates to employers that you have the knowledge and skills needed to perform specific tasks.


How long does it take to earn a Medical Billing and Coding Certification?

The length of time it takes to earn your CCA, CCS or CPC certification may vary, depending on whether you already possess the knowledge and skills needed to successfully pass the exam. However, the exam process itself can be as simple as applying for, scheduling and successfully completing the exam.

At DeVry, we have exam prep built into our Medical Billing and Coding Certificate program, which you can complete in as little as 1 year2 assuming full-time enrollment and no breaks. Depending on the program you choose, you can prepare for the CCA, CCS or CPC exams while you earn your undergraduate certificate, which can help save you time.

To pursue a CPC designation, you must have at least two years of medical coding experience.


Which types of jobs would a Medical Billing and Coding certification help me pursue?

A medical billing and coding certification can help prepare you to pursue various medical billing and coding jobs and healthcare career opportunities such as:

  • Medical coding specialist - Analyzes clinical statements and assigns standard codes to procedures and treatments.
  • Medical billing specialist - Prepares and submits claims on behalf of a healthcare provider for reimbursement.
  • Medical records clerk - Processes daily patient reports according to a medical facility's policies and procedures.
  • Health information clerk - Manages patient health files, assists in audits and collects relevant patient information.


As you gain work experience and participate in ongoing education, you may find potential opportunities to advance to other higher-level or managerial positions in the industry. 


What's the average cost of acquiring a Medical Billing and Coding Certification?

When pursuing a medical billing and coding certification, you will typically pay a fee to sit for the exam. Here are the exam fees as of May 2021:

  • CCA exam: $299 ($199 for AHIMA members)
  • CCS exam: $399 ($299 for AHIMA members)
  • CPC exam: $425 ($325 for AAPC student members)


As a student in our Medical Billing and Coding undergraduate certificate program, the cost of one CCA exam attempt is included in your tuition and fees.3 If you pursue our Medical Billing and Coding - Health Information Coding certificate, the cost for one CCS exam attempt is included in your tuition and fees.3 To learn more about the costs of our undergraduate certificate programs, visit our Tuition page.


What are the requirements for earning a Medical Billing and Coding certification?

To sit for the CCA certification exam, you must have a high school diploma or equivalent. Although not mandatory, AHIMA also recommends at least one of the following:

  • 6 months of coding experience
  • Completing AHIMA-approved coding program
  • Completing a coding training program with anatomy and physiology, medical terminology, basic ICD diagnostic/procedural and CPT coding basics


To sit for the CCS certification exam, you must meet one of these eligibility requirements:

  • Completion of courses in anatomy & physiology, pathophysiology, pharmacology, medical terminology, reimbursement methodology, intermediate/advanced ICD diagnostic coding and procedural coding and medical services (CPT/HCPCS)
  • Minimum of two years of related coding experience
  • CCA or other coding credential plus one year of coding experience
  • CCS-P, RHIT or RHIA credential


To sit for the CPC certification exam, you must:

  • Have at least two years of medical coding experience
  • Maintain a current membership with the AAPC

Can you obtain your medical billing and coding certification online?

The CPC exam is now offered virtually, allowing you to earn your medical billing and coding certification online. When taking the proctored exam online, your test will consist of two parts that are 2 hours and 45 minutes each. You are responsible for ensuring your technology works properly, including having a reliable internet connection as well as a webcam capable of showing your face, hands, keyboard and surrounding area.

The CCA and CCS exams, although administered in a computer-based format, can only be taken at an approved in-person proctored testing center.


More about Medical Billing and Coding


1Growth projected on a national level. Local growth will vary. https://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/medical-records-and-health-information-technicians.htm
2Not including breaks. Assumes year-round, full-time enrollment. Additional program information may be found on our Degree Programs page.
3Eligible students who register for and complete the exams may be reimbursed for one exam sitting.