Are you considering a career in medical coding or looking to boost your credentials in the healthcare industry?

AAPC certification could be your ticket to unlocking new opportunities.

But what is AAPC Certification? And is it even necessary to get one?

In this article, we’ll dive into everything you need to know about AAPC certification in medical coding—what it is, why it matters, and how it can set you apart in this rapidly growing field.

Whether you’re just starting out or looking to advance your career, understanding the value of this certification is crucial.

Let’s get started!

What is AAPC Certification?

Let us first start by discussing what exactly an AAPC Certification is.

The AAPC (American Academy of Professional Coders) is a leading organization that provides top-notch training, certifications, and ongoing education for coding professionals.

Their certifications are widely recognized and respected by employers across the healthcare sector.

There are different types of medical coding certifications offered by the AAPC. Some of the most popular AAPC certifications include:

1. Certified Professional Coder (CPC): This is the main certification for medical coders who want to code professional services in an outpatient setting. It covers topics like anatomy, medical terminology, and the CPT, HCPCS, and ICD code sets.

2. Certified Inpatient Coder (CIC): This certification is specifically for coders working in hospital inpatient settings, focusing on coding for facility services and inpatient procedures.

3. Certified Risk Adjustment Coder (CRC): This cert is for coders who specialize in risk adjustment coding for Medicare Advantage and other risk adjustment models.

4. Certified Professional Biller (CPB): This certification is designed for medical billers, covering topics like claim submission, payment adjudication, and compliance.

To earn an AAPC certification, you’ll need to meet certain eligibility requirements, like having a specific level of education or coding experience.

Then, you’ll need to pass a rigorous certification exam that tests your coding knowledge and skills.

But it’s not just about passing the exam – AAPC also requires certified coders to complete ongoing education to maintain their credentials. This ensures that coders stay up-to-date with the latest coding guidelines and regulations.

Which AAPC Certification Should You Get?

This must be a prominent question in your mind after reading the many different types of certifications offered by the AAPC.

Let us make it simpler for you.

When it comes to choosing the right AAPC certification, the decision depends on your specific career goals and the healthcare setting you wish to work in.

Also, the most recognized and common certifications among these are the CPC and the CIC Certification.

Let us delve into each a little bit more:

1. Certified Professional Coder (CPC)

This is the core certification for medical coders in outpatient settings, such as physician offices, clinics, and ambulatory surgery centers.

If you’re interested in coding professional services like office visits, surgeries, diagnostic tests, and more, the CPC is the way to go. It covers coding for the CPT, HCPCS, and ICD-10 code sets.

More on: CPC Certification

2. Certified Inpatient Coder (CIC)

If your goal is to work as a coder in a hospital inpatient setting, the CIC certification is tailored for you. It focuses on coding for facility services, inpatient procedures, and the intricacies of coding for hospital stays.

This certification is essential for coders working in acute care facilities, long-term care hospitals, and other inpatient settings.

Among these two common AAPC certifications, the most common and widely pursued is the Certified Professional Coder (CPC).

The CPC certification is the foundational and most popular credential offered by AAPC. It is designed for medical coders who work in outpatient settings, such as physician offices, clinics, ambulatory surgery centers, and other healthcare facilities that provide outpatient services.

The CPC certification demonstrates expertise in coding professional services using the CPT, HCPCS, and ICD-10-CM code sets. It covers a wide range of topics, including medical terminology, anatomy, coding guidelines, and coding for various medical specialties.

This certification is ideal for those seeking entry-level coding positions or for experienced coders who want to validate their skills and knowledge in outpatient coding.

How to Prepare for the AAPC CPC Certification?

Now that you know which certification is ideal for entry-level medical coders, you might be wondering how to prepare for the CPC Certification exam.

We’re here to help you with that as well.

Preparing for the AAPC Certified Professional Coder (CPC) certification exam can be a challenging but rewarding journey.

This highly sought-after credential validates your expertise in medical coding and can open doors to exciting career opportunities.

Here are some effective strategies to help you prepare for the CPC exam:

1. Enroll in an AAPC-approved training program: Consider taking a comprehensive training course offered by AAPC or an AAPC-approved institution. These courses provide structured learning, covering all the essential topics, including medical terminology, anatomy, coding guidelines, and hands-on coding practice.

2. Study the official resources: The AAPC provides official study materials, such as the CPT, ICD-10-CM, and HCPCS coding manuals, as well as practice exams and study guides. Thoroughly review these resources, as they contain the most up-to-date coding guidelines and will be your primary reference during the exam.

3. Create a study plan: Develop a structured study plan that breaks down the exam content into manageable sections. Allocate time for each subject area, and set realistic goals to ensure you cover all the material before the exam date.

4. Practice, practice, practice: Coding skills can only be mastered through hands-on practice. Utilize coding practice examples, case studies, and mock exams to familiarize yourself with the exam format and reinforce your coding knowledge.

5. Focus on areas of weakness: Identify your strengths and weaknesses by taking practice exams or quizzes. Dedicate extra time and effort to strengthening your understanding of the areas where you struggle the most.

6. Stay up-to-date with coding updates: The healthcare industry is constantly evolving, and coding guidelines are subject to change. Stay informed about coding updates, regulations, and industry news by following AAPC’s publications, webinars, and online resources.

7. Manage your time effectively: The CPC exam is timed, so it’s crucial to develop time management skills. Practice coding under timed conditions to simulate the exam environment and improve your efficiency.

AAPC Training Program and Exams Cost

The cost of obtaining the AAPC Certified Professional Coder (CPC) certification typically involves two main components: the cost of an AAPC-approved training course and the cost of the CPC certification exam itself.

Training Course Cost:

AAPC offers various training options to prepare for the CPC exam, including online courses, instructor-led classes, and self-study materials.

The cost of these training options can vary depending on the format and provider. Here are some examples:

1. AAPC Online Course:

– AAPC members: $2,095

– Non-members: $2,295

2. AAPC Instructor-Led Training (prices may vary by location):

– AAPC members: Approximately $2,200 – $2,500

– Non-members: Approximately $2,400 – $2,700

3. Self-Study Materials (books and practice exams):

– AAPC members: $400 – $600

– Non-members: $500 – $700

Additionally, it is worth noting that many community colleges, vocational schools, and other educational institutions also offer AAPC-approved CPC training programs, and their costs may differ from the AAPC-provided options.

CPC Certification Exam Cost:

As mentioned earlier, the cost of the CPC certification exam itself is:

– AAPC members: $399 for the initial exam, $299 for retakes

– Non-members: $555 for the initial exam, $455 for retakes

Total Cost:

Combining the cost of an AAPC-approved training course and the CPC certification exam, the total cost can be approximately $3,000 or more, depending on the training option chosen and your AAPC membership status.

Now, you might be wondering if investing a significant amount of your money on the AAPC program is worth it.

You might also be thinking: is there an alternative program that can offer the same perks but at a lower price?

Well, yes, there is!

Let us introduce you to

PREPPY’s Online Medical Billing and Coding Training Program

This is a comprehensive and exceptional training program designed specifically for aspiring medical coders and billers.

Preppy stands out from the crowd with its unique blend of affordability, flexibility, and quality.

Let us see how:

  • Partnering with Auburn University, PREPPY ensures that its curriculum meets the highest educational standards, giving you the confidence of a nationally recognized education.
  • Upon successful completion, you’ll receive an official Certificate of Completion from Auburn University – a valuable addition to your resume and a validation of your dedication.
  • But that’s not all – PREPPY’s program is designed with your convenience in mind. It’s 100% online and self-paced, allowing you to study from anywhere with an internet connection and on your own schedule. This flexibility is perfect for those juggling work, family, or other commitments.
  • Affordability is a top priority at PREPPY, and they’ve made their program highly accessible, eliminating the need for burdensome student loans or financial aid. You can pursue your career dreams without the weight of debt holding you back.
  • PREPPY’s comprehensive curriculum is crafted to prepare you for success in national certification exams like the AAPC’s CPC and AHIMA’s CCA. With a strong focus on essential knowledge and skills, you’ll be well-equipped to pass these exams and become a certified medical coder or biller.
  • Unlike traditional programs that can take years, PREPPY’s training can be completed in as little as four months, allowing you to jumpstart your career sooner.
  • To further enhance your experience, PREPPY offers externship opportunities, providing invaluable hands-on experience in real healthcare settings.
  • As a bonus, enrolling in PREPPY’s program comes with a free laptop, ensuring you have the necessary technology for online learning without additional financial strain.
  • Throughout your journey, PREPPY provides unwavering support. You’ll have access to a dedicated Student Coordinator for any questions or concerns, as well as 24/7 technical support, ensuring a seamless and positive learning experience.

Click to Know More About Preppy’s Online Training Program!


In summary, earning an AAPC certification in medical coding is the key to unlocking a rewarding and respected career in the healthcare industry.

With thorough training and industry-recognized credentials, you’ll be equipped for coding success.

Medical Coding FAQs

Is a career in Medical Coding worth it?

Yes! A career in medical coding is highly worthwhile due to its strong demand, competitive salary, and flexible work options, including remote opportunities.

It offers significant career advancement with additional certifications and plays a crucial role in ensuring healthcare accuracy and efficiency. For those who are detail-oriented and enjoy working with data, medical coding provides a stable and rewarding career path in the growing healthcare industry.

Is the AAPC course worth it?

While the AAPC course is well-regarded in the medical coding industry, it might not be the best option for everyone due to several drawbacks.

Firstly, the cost of the AAPC course can be quite high compared to other certification programs, making it a significant investment.

Additionally, some learners find the course material to be dense and challenging to navigate without prior experience in medical coding. The AAPC’s focus on a wide range of certifications may also be overwhelming for those who are just starting out and seeking a more streamlined and focused learning path.

The requirement to maintain membership and continuous education credits can add ongoing costs and commitments, which may not be ideal for all students.

So, while the AAPC course offers comprehensive training, its expense and complexity might make it less suitable for those seeking a more affordable and straightforward entry into the field of medical coding.

Preppy, for example, solves all of the above problems and offers additional perks.

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About the Author
Grant founded with a purpose-driven mission: make college accessible and affordable for everyone. After graduating college with an overwhelming amount of debt, he was determined to change how students embark on their education. He's a frequent speaker and author in higher education, and has been featured in Forbes, Bloomberg Businessweek, Business Insider, American Express, AOL, MSN, Thrive Global, Reader's Digest, Inside Higher Ed, Evolllution, EducationDive, and nearly 100 radio shows and podcasts.