Top Certification For Medical Coders

As an individual with little or no experience, certification is the next step to take in developing yourself. Medical coders acquire various certifications to develop their skills and technical knowledge. As a certified coder, you increase your chances of landing a new job offer or getting that salary raise.

To become a certified medical coder, there are various certifications for medical coders and choosing the right certification that suits your organization, interests or area of specialization is crucial.

These are some of the major certifications to acquire as a coder, which are currently in demand by medical institutions.

  • American Association of Professional Coders

  • Certified Professional Coder

  • Certified Coding Specialist

The above are the few certifications for a medical coder, but the most important thing is that you don't necessarily need to be certified before you can work as a medical coder. However, it helps indicate your professionalism and opens you to new job opportunities or a raise in salary.

Briefly, let's examine the certifications.

American Association of Professional Coders

The AAPC is a billing certification to medical coders(entry-level and professionals) and is highly recognized in the US.


Being Certified as an AAPC indicates that a medical coder is equipped with the skills and technical knowledge to work effectively as a medical coder which includes working with code guidelines, diagnostic codes and medical terminology.

The AAPC is of various types which include; Certified Outpatient Coding(COC), Certified Risk Adjustment Coder(CRC), Certified Inpatient Coder(CIC) and Certified Professional Coder-Payer(CPC-P).

By opting to become a certified American Association of Professional Medical Coders, you should have experience working in a particular field. The Certified AAPC lasts for two years and is renewed by taking part in a 36 hours test.

Certified Professional Coder

The CPC exam is well-known in the field of medical coding and it is designed for coders working in an outpatient setting, which includes working as a physician, pharmacist or within the laboratory, without having any direct contact with patients within the hospital in most cases.

To take the CPC exam, medical coders are expected to have at least an associate degree as a prerequisite. The CPC is of two forms which are CPC-A and CPC, CPC-A refers to a Certified Professional Coder- Apprentice which indicates that the coder doesn't have professional experience before sitting for the CPC exam.

The coder must complete two years of professional experience in the field before being certified as a professional coder and is expected to renew his/her certification after two years by completing 36 hours of approved Continuing Education Units(CEUs) tests on expiration.

The CPC exam costs $80 for active students and $150 for non-active students. An overall score of 70 percent is required to become certified, but the good news is that the CPC exam is actually quite easy and there is a high chance of passing the exam during your first attempt.

Certified Coding Specialist

The CCS is developed for entry-level medical coders with the aim of developing their career at inpatient facilities such as the hospital.

While sitting for the CCS exam, medical coders are expected to have at least a diploma or degree from a medical coding training program, two years of experience and an existing medical coding certification(minimum of one year experience) as a prerequisite. You are also required to be a member of the American Health Information Management Association(AHIMA) in order to sit for the exam.

The CCS exam costs $175 for fresh members and $10 for non-certified coders and existing members. An overall score of 68 percent is required to become a certified coding specialist, and also the CCS exam tends to be more difficult than the CPC exam with less than 56% of people earning a pass on their first attempt.

The coder is expected to renew his/her certification every year by completing 20 hours of approved Continuing Education Units(CEUs) tests on expiration and also an annual coding self-assessment.


Working as a medical coder is an easy job for an entry level individual, but adding a professional certification exposes a coder to professional experiences. Also, this certification has its effects on your salary and it opens you to new job opportunities.

Read through the various certifications above, make your comparison and decide on what certification you can afford and which one suits you in the current position you are.