Certified Coding Specialist (CCS) Exam and Class Facts

Earning certification as a medical coder can give you a leg up when looking for a job in the field. Read on to learn more about certification requirements and exam content. Schools offering Insurance Billing & Coding Specialist degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What You Need to Know

A Certified Coding Specialist (CCS) is a medical technician who converts medical information, such as patient treatment options or medical procedures, into codes. In order to earn the CCS credential, students need to take a four-hour exam covering different code types. While the minimum academic requirement for the exam is a high school diploma, students can pursue certificates or degrees that cover medical coding, or they can take individual classes.

Courses Anatomy, physiology and pharmacology, among others
Certification Certified Coding Specialists exam
Career Options Medical coders, medical records and health information technicians

What Is a Certified Coding Specialist?

The CCS credential provided by the American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA). AHIMA states that a CCS is a medical technician who converts medical information, such as patient treatment options or medical procedures, into codes. This coded language is used to communicate with the patient's primary healthcare provider, such as an insurance company or the government, so that reimbursements are given back to the hospital or doctor's office. CCS professionals also communicate with health researchers to monitor public health trends.

What Is the Certification Examination?

The CCS examination covers the basic coding program and language guidelines for many medical coders in the United States. Coding languages such as ICD-9-CM and CPT, with the CPT specifically guided by the American Medical Association (AMA), are covered on the examination. The exam consists of multiple-choice and medical scenario sections. The time limit for the exam is four hours.

How Can I Be Eligible for the Certification Exam?

AHIMA states that the minimum requirement for any candidate taking the examination is a high school diploma. However, the AHIMA recommends that Certified Coding Specialists hold at least three years of relevant job experience within a medical office. Preferably, the office experience should be an entry-level role in a coding department or medical billing department.

Course requirements include:

  • Anatomy and physiology
  • Pharmacology
  • Medical terminology
  • Reimbursement methodology
  • CPT coding

What Classes or Skills Are Necessary for Passing?

Besides the courses suggested by AHIMA, industry standards should also be followed. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, medical records and health information technicians (such as medical coders) need a strong understanding of mathematics, computer technology and office skills, including database entry, for the job.

Certificate programs in medical coding or medical coding specialist contain classes that cover the course requirements for exam eligibility. These programs are offered by the continuing education departments of some universities as well as community colleges. Some programs can be taken online.

Will I Need to Be Licensed?

There are no licensing requirements to become a medical coder. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) indicates that employers prefer candidates who are certified. Typically, certification must be renewed on a periodic basis; completion of continuing education credits is a requirement for renewal.

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