While medical coding certification is not necessary to work in the field and there are no medical coder license requirements at this time, earning a certification will give you a huge advantage when you are on the job market. It allows you both more job opportunities and the possibility of a higher starting salary or a quicker raise.
Medical coding is a growing profession that needs well-trained professionals. Employers want to know from your resume that you have the skills and knowledge to do the job right from your first day, and if you indicate that you have passed the medical coding certification exam, this will help get you an interview.
There are a few professional organizations that offer medical coding certification. The American Academy of Professional Coders (AAPC) and the American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA) have strict medical coding certification requirements for their exams. If you pass, you will have earned the top certifications in the field and make yourself highly desirable to employers.
The AAPC offers several certifications. Again, while there are no medical coding license requirements in the field at this time, professional credentials signal to employers that you are on a certain level and can be trusted with top work. A few certifications you can earn include: Certified Professional Coder (CPC), Certified Professional Coder – Outpatient Hospital (CPC-H), Certified Professional Coder – Payer (CPC-P) and Certified Interventional Radiology Cardiovascular Coder (CIRCC), which is considered the most advanced certification in medical coding.
There are various medical coding certification requirements for each of these, including exams and experience. For example, for the CPC-P, you must have worked for 2 years in the field before you are eligible to take the exam. In many cases, the medical coding training that you receive on the job will prepare you for these certification exams. Otherwise, you can take offline or online medical coding courses through a medical coding professional association or at your local community college if you want to brush up on some of the knowledge and skills that will be included in the exams.
AHIMA offers the Certified Coding Associate (CCA), Certified Coding Specialist (CCS) and Certified Coding Specialist-Physician-based (CCS-P) certifications. Each certification has its own requirements, with the most difficult, the CCS-P, demanding that you first complete 3 years of work in medical office management before you can take the certification exam.
Lesser but still useful certifying organizations include the American Medical Billers Association (AMBA) and the American College of Medical Coding Specialists (ACMCS). Both of these associations offer respected medical coding certifications that will enhance your resume.
Certification is especially useful if you have obtained your educational qualification from an online program. While employers are less likely to discriminate against online degrees than they were even just a few years ago, it can still work against you in a competitive job market. Certifications prove that you have the skills to do the job. More than that, they indicate that you are proactive and serious about the profession, which will make you that much more desirable.
As the profession develops, it will likely develop a medical coder license requirement that may be national or regional. You can prepare yourself for that time by earning certifications. They will also help you gain recognition among your peers, so that you will be eligible to serve in the professional organizations themselves and help develop further certifications and license requirements.