Medical Coding Certification – A Difficult But Well Paid Job If You Get Certified
A medical coding professional has a difficult job.
They write out numeric codes that relate to patients’ surgeries, injuries, and procedures. They will also use codes when filing insurance claims or during routine office activities. The medical coding professional needs to understand the medical side of things, but they also must have a clear understanding of the business aspects as well.
For this reason, many clinics and hospitals only hire individuals who have a medical coding certification. Currently candidates can receive their coding certification through either the AAPC or the AHIMA.
The AAPC offers three separate coding certifications. The Certified Professional Coder (CPC) certification is the most common. This certification is tailored towards physician services and would be the best certification for someone wanting to work in a clinic. The CPC-H certification is for hospital coders and contains a great deal more information on procedures related to hospital work. The final certification is the CPC-P certification. This certification is payee related and deals primarily with fees and the insurance side of the business.
Candidates can take the AAPC certification exams by filing an application and paying a fee. The application goes over the candidates’ academic and work history. While the certification does not require a degree in order to qualify for application, candidates are required to have at least two years of work experience prior to applying. The work experience hopefully guarantees that the individual has the basic foundation of medical knowledge to perform well on the test. The AAPC charges a $300 fee to take the exam – reduced to $260 for those who are members of the AAPC. The CPC and other exams are administered at computer-based testing centers located nationwide. This should mean that candidates will be able to schedule their exam at a convenient location nearest to them after they have been approved.
The medical coding certification exams are lengthy tests that measure a candidate’s core understanding of medical terminology, body systems, anaesthesia, radiology, and other areas of medical education. The test also asks candidates to answer questions that are detailed and relate to specific scenarios.
All of the exam questions are ‘select response’ style questions and candidates have a set amount of time to complete the exam. The CPC exam has to be finished in less than six hours time – 5 hours and 40 minutes to be exact. This gives each candidate plenty of time to mull over the 150 multiple choice questions. The CPC exam is also an Open Manual exam which means that you can take certain, approved manuals into the exam with you and refer to them as you need. Don’t rely on this as a means to pass though – looking things up in text manuals always takes longer than you expect.
The exam is broken across three core subject areas and you need to score a minimum of 70% in all three areas to pass.
The medical coding certification is good for a period of five years, at which point the coder must prove they have ongoing education credits or retake the original exam.
The AAPC regulates the coding certifications and has become the most respected coding organization in the world. Professionals who seek out the CPC, CPC-H, or CPC-P certifications will have little to no trouble finding a job in the medical industry.
Indeed, some hospitals and clinics will pay for their employees to prepare for and take this certification. If you have that opportunity, we can only recommend taking them up on their generosity as quickly as possible.
Taking the medical coding certification exam and gaining your qualification is a must if you wish to enter / or progress in this field. The good news is that those who are qualified and continue to develop are paid accordingly!
The exam preparation step that seems to suit most people is to get a combined study guide, one that not only sets you up for the exam itself, helping you to understand what’s required and how you should approach it for the best results but also gives you examples questions and answers (with explanations) to help you prepare and revise. Check out our medical coding certification exam recommendations by clicking here.