What Kinds of Insurance Coding Certifications Can I Earn?

Medical insurance coders use various categorization systems to organize patient records. Insurance coding professionals can obtain several types of professional certifications that can demonstrate their expertise in this field. Continue reading to learn about a few certification options available to insurance coding professionals. Schools offering Insurance Billing & Coding Specialist degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Overview of Insurance Coding Certifications

Several professional associations offer certification for coding specialists. The American Academy of Professional Coders offers the Certified Professional Coder designation as well as three other credentials and a specialty certification program. You could also become a Specialty Coding Professional or Advanced Coding Specialist through the Board of Medical Specialty Coding. However, the most well-known certifying body is the American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA).

Important Information About Insurance Coding Certification

Prerequisites High school diploma; training or professional experience may be required
Continuing Education AHIMA certification requires renewal every two years
Key Skills Interpersonal skills, operating coding software and the health record system, analyze medical records and diagnoses
Possible Careers Medical billing and coding specialist, health information technician, cancer registrar

American Health Information Management Association Certification

AHIMA offers several different types of credentials for health information technicians, three of which are geared specifically toward coding professionals - Certified Coding Associate (CCA), Certified Coding Specialist (CCS) and Certified Coding Specialist - Physician-based (CCS-P). Eligibility for all of these certification programs entails only a high school diploma or GED, though AHIMA generally advises applicants to obtain some form of experience or education (www.ahima.org).

Certified Coding Associate

The CCA credentialing program is the most generalized coding certification offered by AHIMA. It demonstrates coding proficiency in all settings, from general hospitals to specialty clinics. To become certified, you must pass a 100-question multiple-choice exam on topics like classification systems, reimbursement methods and confidentiality. The AHIMA suggests that you gain at least six months of experience in coding or complete a formal coding training program before applying for this certification.

Certified Coding Specialist

CCS certification demonstrates your mastery of taking data from patient records and assigning the appropriate coding regarding illness and treatment, generally in a hospital setting. The exam that leads to certification is comprised of 101 medical record case and multiple-choice questions on topics like diagnosis and procedure coding and regulatory guidelines. While experience and training are not mandatory, the certifying organization strongly recommends that you have at least three years of experience coding a variety of illnesses and procedures in both inpatient and outpatient care facilities. It also urges applicants to complete coursework in anatomy, physiology and pharmacology.

Certified Coding Specialist - Physician-Based

CCS-P certification demonstrates an advanced command of specialty coding, particularly in physicians' practices like doctors' offices, group practices or multi-specialty clinics. The 109-question CCS-P exam assesses your expertise on diagnosis and procedure coding specific to physician settings. The AHIMA again suggests having at least three years of experience in coding in various medical settings and specialties as well as having completed coursework anatomy, physiology, pathophysiology and pharmacology.


Re-certification through AHIMA is based on continuing education units (CEUs). All three coding certification programs require you to earn 20 CEUs, which includes completing a self-review, every two years. This requirement is different for those who hold multiple certifications. For example, if you have the CCS and CCS-P credentials, you must earn 30 CEUs every two years. You can earn these units by attending educational seminars and conventions, attending formal education programs or publishing materials relevant to the field.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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