Medical Billing and Coding Certification

Medical billing and coding combines financial knowledge with an understanding of medical terminology in order to bill patients, build accurate patient health records and create insurance claims. Employers on the hunt for medical billers and coders may have several things in mind during their search, including medical billing and coding certifications. These professional certifications signal to hospitals, private practices and clinics that you have taken the time to study the complexities of the medical billing and coding world.

What Medical Billing and Coding Certifications Are Available?

There are many different types of medical billing and coding certifications available that are administered by several major and respected institutions. Each certification has its own purpose and application, making them specific  to certain areas within  the medical billing and coding field.

Certified Professional Coder (CPC)

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

According to the 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)



The Certified Coding Specialist certification is offered by the American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA), a professional association with more than 103,000 members. The CCS certification demonstrates that you can accurately classify medical data as well as test your proficiency and measure data quality.

According to AHIMA, CSSs:

  • Review patient 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 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 you take a medical billing and coding certification exam, you should complete courses that cover the following topics in order to prepare for each examination:

Medical Terminology

Explore medical terminology by learning the foundation of words used to describe anatomy and conditions in patients, terminology for medical procedures, names of frequently prescribed medications and common abbreviations.

Health Services and Information Systems

Learn about current issues in the United States healthcare delivery system and explore the history of those issues and the system itself, as well as investigate the relationship between system operators and care providers.

Process Information

Discover how codes, categories, calculations, tabulations and audits are compiled and completed and learn how to verify data and information.

Document and Record Information

Learn how to transcribe, input and store patient information in written and electronic forms.

Health Insurance and Reimbursement

Explore patient reimbursement and payment methods, and learn about the relevant forms, practices and processes used by health information professionals in the U.S. healthcare system.


Medical Billing and Coding Certification Fast Facts

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:

  • CCA exam: $299 ($199 for AHIMA members)
  • CCS exam: $399 ($299 for AHIMA members)
  • CPC exam: $399

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Earning a Medical Billing and Coding Certification

Two respected healthcare organizations administer the major medical billing and coding certifications. The CCS and CCA are offered by AHIMA, and the CPC certification is offered through the AAPC.

To help prepare students not only for certification exams but also for a career in medical billing and coding, we offer an undergraduate Medical Billing and Coding program online that provides an extensive set of coursework. 

Both the Health Information Coding certificate path and the core Medical Billing and Coding curriculum can help you develop 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

Frequently 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, 37,100 jobs between 2020 and 20301, and you might find that some employers may prefer or even require 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.

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

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?

An online 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 certifications for medical billing and coding, you will typically pay a fee to sit for the exam. Here are the exam fees as of May 2022:

  • CCA exam: $299 ($199 for AHIMA members)
  • CCS exam: $399 ($299 for AHIMA members)
  • CPC exam: $399


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 fees3. If you pursue our Medical Billing and Coding - Health Information Coding Certificate path, the cost for one CCS exam attempt is included in your tuition and fees3. 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.



Is a Medical Billing and Coding Certification Worth it?

Earning a medical billing and coding certification can help demonstrate to employers that you have an understanding of many of the core elements of medical billing and coding. Professional certifications may also  help you pursue higher-level positions or posts that require a certification throughout your career.


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*The Health Information Coding (HIC) specialization requires 13 courses to complete, not considering any qualifying transfer credits. Additional program information may be found here.
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.