AHIMA's Certified Coding Associate (CCA) designation has been a nationally accepted standard of achievement in the health information management (HIM) field since 2002. The CCA credential distinguishes coders by exhibiting commitment and demonstrating coding competencies across all settings, including both hospitals and physician practices.
CCA examination candidates must have a high school diploma from a United States high school or an equivalent educational background.
Although not required, it is strongly recommended that candidates have at least six months experience in:
A healthcare organization applying ICD-9-CM and CPT coding conventions and guidelines, or
Have completed an AHIMA-approved coding certificate program or
Have completed other formal coding training program
Source: AHIMA 2011AAPC's CPC and CPC-H Certifications
AAPC's Certified Professional Coder (CPC®) credential is standard for physician office settings and held by more than 60,000 coding professionals. AAPC's Certified Professional Coder - Hospital Outpatient (CPC-H®) is held by professional coders working in hospitals and outpatient settings.
AAPC's Medical Coding Certification Requirements
An Associate's degree in Medical Coding is recommended.
Pay examination fee at the time of application submission.
Maintain current membership with the AAPC.
All exams will be reported with exact scores and areas of study (65% or less).
A CPC® or CPC-H® must have at least two years medical coding experience (member's with an apprentice designation are not required to have two years medical coding experience.) Membership is required to be renewed annually and 36 Continuing Education Units (CEU's) must be submitted every two years for verification and authentication of expertise.
About Accreditation: Currently, there is no industry wide accepted accreditation for medical coding programs. Although AHIMA offers a small list of AHIMA approved coding programs (40 in the nation), many schools and institutions offer quality medical coding education and training, so their graduate are well prepared to sit for coding certifications through AAPC or AHIMA and to pursue careers as coding professionals.
Medical Coding, Medical Billing Accredited online and campus based schools that offer medical billing and medical coding training and education.
Certified Coding Associate (CCA) Medical Coders and Coding Technicians
Alert: ICD-10 Transition
On October 1, 2014, the ICD-9 code sets used to report medical diagnoses and inpatient procedures will be replaced by ICD-10 code sets.
The transition to ICD-10 is required for everyone covered by the Health Insurance Portability Accountability Act (HIPAA). The change to ICD-10 does not affect CPT coding for outpatient procedures and physician services.
Pathways to HIM Careers
(provided by AHIMA)
Certified Medical Coder (CCA)
A Certified Coding Associate (CCA) is an entry level medical coder who has fulfilled the education and examination requirements to earn AHIMA's CCA credential. A medical coding associate assigns numeric or alphanumeric codes to identify medical diagnoses and procedures on patient records. This coding allows insurance companies to process claims accurately and make payments to providers, as well as reimburse individuals. The work becomes more complex every year as researchers identify more conditions and develop new medical tests and treatments.
The medical coding associate works from documentation provided by physicians, nurses and other health care personnel. The associates identify diagnoses and treatments from charts, laboratory results and notes and assign codes from the industry manuals. Sometimes coding associates must ask a physician for further clarification when there is no single straightforward diagnosis or procedure. After the classifications are assigned, the coder enters the information into a computer database.
Medical coding associates most often find jobs in the finance departments of hospitals, where they assign industry-established classifications to health insurance claims. They also work in clinics, private practices, dental offices, nursing care facilities, non-profit agencies, third-party billing firms and insurance companies. Some coders are employed by hospitals or clinics that allow them to work from home. In smaller practices and clinics, medical coding associates might perform general office assistant duties such as registering patients and scheduling appointments.
Importance of CCA Certification
The Certified Coding Associate (CCA) credential is a excellent way for a new coder to demonstrate competency in the field, even without much job experience. The CCA credential can provide a competitive advantage when seeking a new job, career advancement opportunities, and salary increase.
Getting the CCA Certification
Candidates can pursue the CCA credential with a quality coding program and less than a year of experience. AHIMA and AAPC strongly recommend a quality coding program which lasts at least a year and results in either an Associate Degree or Diploma. Students learn medical terminology, anatomy and physiology and how to analyze medical records and operate billing software. They also study the two standard code classification manuals. Although not required for eligibility, AHIMA also recommends having at least six months of experience in a healthcare organization applying ICD-9-CM and CPT coding conventions and guidelines.
Medical Coder Career Advancement and Salary Potential
Medical Coding provides opportunities for career advancement and increased salary potential. Coders can advance and broaden their careers by meeting additional education, experience, and certification requirements. >> Read Guide on Certification (pdf)
Medical Coding Career Outlook
The future for skilled medical coders is excellent. There are two major economic forces that cannot be ignored that will push the need for medical care -- the ARRA stimulus plan passed by Congress in 2009 is pushing the healthcare industry to become more data driven and the growing senior population in the US will require more healthcare services. Both will fuel the increase in demand for qualified professional medical coders. In fact, the US Bureau of Labor Statistics expects employment in medical records and health information to increase by 15% from 2014 to 2024, faster than the average for all occupations.
About Accreditation and Certifications: AHIMA and AAPC are the leading credentialing bodies for the medical coding industry. AHIMA also awards credentials for health information management professionals. AAPC offers their own coding courses and does not accredit coding programs outside of their organization. AHIMA offers a small list of AHIMA approved coding programs (approximately 40 in the nation). CAHIIM is the accrediting body of AHIMA for undergraduate and graduate level health information programs. While relatively few medical coding programs are officially AHIMA accredited, many schools and institutions offer quality medical coding education and training that prepare students to sit for certification exams and start their medical coding careers.
Salary and employment figures are based on a national median and may vary by location.
Online Schools offering Medical Coding, Medical Billing
Complete in Just 12 Months
Prepare for AHIMA Coding Certifications
This diploma program is the first step in launching your career in medical billing and coding. Graduates are prepared for entry-level positions as medical billing specialists, medical coders, and insurance claims analysts. The goal of this diploma program is to provide the student with a thorough understanding of the content of the medical record as well as extensive training in anatomy, physiology, disease processes, and medical terminology. This program will provide the student with the
knowledge and understanding to analyze medical records and assign codes to classify diagnoses and procedures while applying the principles of professional and ethical conduct. The program will prepare the student for an entry-level position as a medical coder in a hospital, clinic, physician’s office, or other healthcare facility. This program is designed to prepare students for the following AHIMA certifications: CCA Certified Coding Associate, CCS Certified Coding Specialist, CCS-P Certified Coding Professional (physician-based).
Complete in Less than 2 Years
Prepare for AHIMA Coding Certifications
This Associate level program offers the curriculum from the diploma program and adds the general education classes needed for an associate degree. This provides more career flexibility and better chances for advancement. The goal of this program is to provide the student with a thorough understanding of the content of the medical record as well as extensive training in anatomy, physiology, the disease processes, and medical terminology. This program will provide the student with the knowledge and understanding to analyze medical records and assign codes to classify diagnoses and procedures while applying the principles of professional and ethical conduct. The program will prepare the student for an entry-level position as a medical coder in a hospital, clinic, physician’s office, or other healthcare facility. This program is designed to prepare students for the following AHIMA certifications: CCA Certified Coding Associate, CCS Certified Coding Specialist, CCS-P Certified Coding Professional (physician-based).
Complete in Just 10 Months
Prepare to Sit for AAPC's CPC Certification Exam
The UMA Diploma program can be completed in less than 10 months and offers the core courses necessary for individuals seeking successful entry into the growing healthcare field. At 39 semester credits, the education and training focus is primarily on how to process healthcare claims, medical records, and the accurate coding of medical and surgical procedures using proper terminology. In addition, students will learn software systems used in the field.
Potential entry-level job position titles for Diploma graduates include Medical Billing Specialist, Medical Coder and Insurance Claims Analyst or other positions in private practices and healthcare providers or facilities. Students also prepare to take the Certified Professional Coding (CPC) exam offered through the American Academy of Professional Coding (AAPC).
Complete in Just 18 Months
Prepare to Sit for AAPC's CPC Certification Exam
The Associate of Science in Medical Billing and Coding degree program builds on the core courses of our Medical Billing and Coding diploma training program, adding further instruction in business, communication and healthcare to round out the career-focused curriculum. UMA’s associate degree program provides a comprehensive education that can prepare you to:
Process healthcare claims and medical records
Accurately code medical and surgical procedures using proper terminology
Understand the fundamentals of coding accuracy and their effect on cash flow
Apply financial and medical practice management skills
Use medical billing and coding software
Demonstrate ICD-9 diagnosis and coding procedures
Develop effective professional communication and time management skills
UMA’s Associate of Science in Medical Billing and Coding graduates may apply for entry-level positions as a medical billing specialist, medical coder or insurance claims analyst. Holding an associate degree may provide an advantage when applying for jobs and seeking future promotional opportunities in the field. Students also prepare to take the Certified Professional Coding (CPC) exam offered through the American Academy of Professional Coding (AAPC).
Ultimate Medical Academy's online Associate of Science in Health Information Technology prepares you to use computer hardware and software for the collection, analysis and maintenance of digital patient information. Electronic health records (EHR) allow patient information to be easily and securely shared among various healthcare facilities. Health information technology professionals work closely with Health Information Management (HIM) and Information Technology (IT) departments to ensure EHR quality. They document how information will flow between departments and are concerned about the privacy and security of patient data.
Qualify for AHIMA's RHIT Certification
Kaplan Commitment Program: Tuition-Free 3-Week Trial* Program Accepting Only Military Applicants
The CAHIIM accredited Associate of Applied Science in Health Information Technology program blends online coursework with on-ground clinical experiences. The objective of this degree program is to help prepare graduates with the knowledge, technical skills, and work habits required to pursue entry-level positions in the competitive and growing health information management field. Graduates of this program can be eligible to sit for AHIMA's RHIT Certification exam.
*Kaplan University is committed to providing quality education and serving your goals. With the Kaplan Commitment, students can enroll and attend classes for the first 3 weeks with no financial obligation beyond the application fee. Kaplan Commitment is available to new students, online or on campus.