If you’re here, you might be an aspiring medical coder searching for everything related to CPC certification, or you might just be interested in the career and looking to explore it further.

In any case, you’ve landed at the right place.

So, what exactly does CPC certification include? Well, it’s all about becoming a pro at medical coding and billing—the backbone of the healthcare system.

By obtaining CPC certification, you’re showing that you’re skilled in translating complex medical procedures and diagnoses into clear, standardized codes. This skill not only keeps the healthcare system running smoothly but also ensures accuracy and fairness for patients and providers alike.

Whether you’re just starting your journey in healthcare or looking to take your career to the next level, CPC certification is your ticket to success. It opens up a world of opportunities, where your expertise is not only valued but essential.

In this article, we will explore everything about the CPC certification, what it is, why you need it, how to get it, and so much more.

So, let’s get right into it!

What is a Medical Coder? And What Do They Do?

Let’s first explain what exactly a medical coder is, and what they do, before diving into the CPC certification.

A medical coder is like a language expert in the healthcare world. They’re responsible for translating all the medical procedures, diagnoses, and treatments into a universal code system that everyone—doctors, insurance companies, and healthcare providers—can understand.

Here is what their job duties include:

1. Translate Medical Information: Medical coders take complex medical information—like doctor’s notes, diagnoses, and treatments—and convert them into standardized codes.

2. Ensure Accuracy: They’re known for accuracy, making sure that each code matches up perfectly with the medical services provided. Precision is key to avoid billing errors and insurance claim rejections.

3. Follow Regulations: Medical coders stay up-to-date on healthcare regulations to ensure that their coding practices comply with legal and ethical standards. This helps minimize risks for healthcare providers and ensures fair billing practices.

4. Maintain Records: Every medical service needs to be documented, and medical coders are the ones responsible for keeping detailed records of procedures and treatments. These records create a complete medical history for each patient.

5. Facilitate Communication: They act as a bridge between healthcare providers, insurance companies, and patients. Their accurate coding ensures that everyone understands the services provided, facilitating smooth communication and billing processes.

What is CPC Certification?

Now, let’s dive into the CPC certification, and everything about it.

Firstly, what is CPC certification?

CPC certification, or Certified Professional Coder certification, is a professional credential awarded by the American Academy of Professional Coders (AAPC).

It signifies proficiency in medical coding, which involves translating medical procedures, diagnoses, and services into standardized codes used for billing and insurance purposes.

Why is it Important?

CPC certification holds significant importance in the healthcare industry.

Here’s why:

Career Advancement: Having CPC certification can open doors to better job opportunities and higher salaries in the field of medical coding and billing.

Credibility: Employers value CPC certification as it demonstrates a coder’s proficiency and commitment to accuracy and compliance with coding standards.

Industry Recognition: CPC certification is widely recognized and respected in the healthcare industry, giving certified coders a competitive edge in the job market.

How to Get CPC Certification

Now coming to the most common question, how to get the CPC certification? Does it involve a lot of steps?

Well, let us help you with that.

To obtain CPC certification, you will typically need to follow these steps:

1. Prepare: You must thoroughly study coding guidelines, medical terminology, and anatomy to prepare for the certification exam.

2. Apply: They apply for CPC certification through the AAPC website and pay the exam fee.

3. Take the Exam: The CPC certification exam consists of multiple-choice questions that test the candidate’s knowledge of medical coding principles, guidelines, and regulations.

4. Pass the Exam: Candidates must achieve a passing score on the exam to earn CPC certification.

5. Maintain Certification: CPC certification requires ongoing continuing education to maintain certification status and stay up-to-date with industry changes.

Exam Structure

The CPC certification exam is a test of a coder’s knowledge and skills.

So, here’s the deal with the CPC (Certified Proficient Coder) exam: you’ve got 100 questions to tackle, and you have to pass at least 70 of them. They break it down into different sections to check how sharp you are across various aspects of medical coding.

It typically consists of:

Multiple-Choice Questions: The exam features multiple-choice questions covering topics such as medical terminology, anatomy, coding guidelines, and healthcare regulations.

Practical Application: Some questions may require you to apply your coding knowledge to real-world scenarios, such as assigning codes to medical procedures or diagnoses.

Let’s take a look at the CPC exam’s structure in detail:

Eligibility Requirements

Now let’s talk about the eligibility requirements for the CPC certification exam.

While there are no specific educational requirements to sit for the CPC exam, you are encouraged to have a strong understanding of medical coding principles and guidelines.

Additionally, some may choose to complete formal coding training programs to enhance their knowledge and skills before attempting the exam.

More on why you should consider getting proper formal medical coding training later.

Cost and How Long It Takes to Get CPC Certified

The cost of CPC certification includes the exam fee, study materials, and any optional preparatory courses.

Exam fees typically cost $300, but it depends on AAPC membership status and other factors.

As for how long it takes to get certified as a medical coder, it depends on a number of factors.

Firstly, the type of formal training you take, which can range from an associate degree from a university to an online training program.

After that, you will need to dedicate sufficient time to study and preparation before attempting the exam. The length of preparation varies depending on your prior knowledge and experience in medical coding. Some may spend several months studying, while others may require less time.

Next comes taking the exam and passing it, failing which you will need to appear for a retake, which you will need to pay for again till you pass it.

Why Is Getting a Formal Training Important?

Formal training is like a guiding light for medical coders on their journey to CPC certification. These programs offer a clear roadmap, ensuring candidates cover all the necessary ground to ace their certification exam and excel in their coding careers.

One big perk of formal training is its comprehensive approach. It covers everything from the basics of medical terminology to the nitty-gritty details of coding guidelines and healthcare rules. This structured learning helps candidates build a solid foundation, making it easier to tackle the complexities of coding.

Accuracy is another key focus of formal training. Medical coding is all about precision, and these programs teach coders how to translate complex medical information into the right codes. Through hands-on practice and expert guidance, candidates sharpen their skills, ensuring they can accurately assign codes to various procedures and diagnoses.

When it comes to exam time, formal training programs are a lifesaver. They provide study materials, practice exams, and tips from experienced instructors to help candidates prepare effectively. This preparation boosts confidence and increases the likelihood of passing the certification exam with flying colors.

But formal training isn’t just about passing a test—it’s about preparing coders for real-world success. Instructors often share their industry insights and practical experiences, giving candidates a glimpse into the day-to-day realities of medical coding. This exposure not only enriches their understanding but also equips them to navigate the nuances of the healthcare industry with confidence.

You can complete your formal training via three common methods:

  • Getting an associate degree from a technical university.
  • Getting a diploma from a community college; or
  • Completing an online medical coding training program.

Online training programs are becoming more popular every year, and more and more people are leaning towards online training than the traditional methods of getting an associate degree or a diploma.

This is simply because of the many perks that online programs offer.

Let us take a look at some of them:

1. Flexible Learning: With online training, you can study whenever and wherever you want. No need to rush to a classroom or stick to a strict schedule. You’re in charge of your learning journey!

2. Comfort Zone: Picture yourself cozy on your couch or at your favorite café, studying away. Online training lets you learn in your comfy clothes, without worrying about commuting or sitting in a stuffy classroom.

3. Self-Paced: Online courses let you learn at your own speed. Whether you’re a fast learner or need a bit more time to soak in the material, you can go at your own pace and revisit tricky topics as needed.

4. Access to Resources: Online platforms often offer a treasure trove of resources like videos, quizzes, and interactive lessons. Plus, you can connect with instructors and classmates through forums or chats for extra help and support.

5. Cost-Effective: Online training can be more budget-friendly than traditional classroom courses. You save on commuting costs, and many online programs offer payment plans or financial aid options.

Now, you might be wondering, where and how can I find a perfect online program, that fulfills all your needs?

Well, we’re here to help you with that too.

Let us introduce you to:

PREPPY’s Online Medical Coding Training Program

We might be sounding biased, but it’s simply because of the number of perks Preppy’s training program offers, and how it fulfills every requirement and goes above and beyond your expectations!

Here’s how:

Partnership with Accredited University:

Preppy has established a partnership with an Accredited University, Auburn University, which ensures that its training program meets high educational standards and is recognized nationally. This collaboration also adds credibility to the program and assures students that they are receiving a top-notch education.

Certificate of Completion:

Upon successfully completing the training program, Preppy offers a Certificate of Completion from Auburn University. This certificate can be a valuable addition to your resume when seeking employment in the industry.


Preppy understands the financial constraints that many students face and therefore strives to make its program accessible to all. By offering the most affordable training option, Preppy ensures you pursue your career goals without having to lean on any student loan debt or relying on financial aid.

Online and Self-Paced:

Preppy’s program is entirely online, which means you can fully access course materials and lectures from anywhere with an internet connection. The self-paced nature of the program also offers the flexibility to study at your own convenience, making it ideal for students with busy schedules or other personal commitments.

Preparation for Certification Exams:

Preppy’s curriculum is designed to fully prepare students for national certification exams on top of their regular Medical Billing and Coding education, such as those administered by the AAPC, AHIMA, or the NHA. By covering the necessary knowledge and skills required for these exams, Preppy increases your likelihood of passing and obtaining certification.

Flexibility in Training Duration:

Unlike traditional educational programs that may require several months or years to complete, Preppy’s program offers flexibility in training duration. You have the option to complete their training in as little as 4 months, which means you can enter the workforce sooner and start your career.

Externship Opportunities:

Preppy also recognizes the importance of hands-on experience in the healthcare field and offers externship opportunities as part of its program. These opportunities are highly beneficial and allow you to gain practical experience in real-world healthcare settings, apply your knowledge in a professional environment, and network with industry professionals.

Free Laptop:

You read that right. As an added incentive, enrolling in Preppy’s program includes a free laptop for you to use during your studies and beyond. This perk not only reduces the financial burden on students but also ensures that they have the necessary technology to succeed in an online learning environment.

Continuous Support:

Throughout the program, Preppy provides continuous support to its students. This includes access to a dedicated Student Coordinator who can assist with any questions or concerns, as well as 24/7 support available to address technical issues or provide guidance. By offering ongoing support, Preppy aims to ensure that students have a positive learning experience and are well-prepared for success in their careers.

Want to Know More About Preppy’s Online Program? Click Here!


Can you take the CPC certification exam online?

Yes, the CPC certification exam can be taken via both in-person and online proctored ways.

Is CPC certification important?

Yes! CPC certification holds immense importance in the medical coding field, serving as a gateway to better career prospects and higher salaries. It establishes credibility and proficiency in coding principles and helps in gaining recognition from employers and peers.

Is a career in medical coding worth it?

Yes, a career in medical coding is worth it for many. It offers job stability, as the demand for skilled coders remains high in the expanding healthcare industry. With flexibility in work settings and schedules, as well as opportunities for career advancement through experience and additional certifications, medical coding provides a rewarding and fulfilling career path for those interested in healthcare and detail-oriented work.

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About the Author
Grant founded OnlineDegree.com 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.