You’ve decided that becoming a medical coding specialist is the right career path for you and that’s great!
Though they work behind the scenes, these professionals play a crucial role in the healthcare industry. Not only will you have a rewarding career, but one that comes with excellent pay and job security.
Now that you’ve decided to be a medical coder, you’re probably wondering which certification is the best and which you should get.
In this article, we’ll walk you through each certification, plus we also rank the best certification for medical billing & coding.
But before that, there’s one thing we would like to stress. If you want to start a career as a medical coder, it is important to focus on choosing the right training program. The right training program not only prepares you for a career as a medical billing & coding specialist but also helps you prepare for these top certifications.
If you want help choosing the right training program and want to learn how you can be job-ready as a medical billing & coding specialist in less than 6 months without taking student loans,
Then register for this free masterclass. It gives you a step by blueprint on how to start a career as a medical coding specialist in the next few months. Register Here
Okay, let’s talk certification…
Certification: Is it Really Necessary?
There are specific industries, healthcare being one, that require their workforce to meet certain standards. Many states in this country require medical coders and billers to be certified. And, even in those states that don’t (yet) require certification, employers typically prefer to hire candidates who have been certified.
In fact, in a recent nationwide survey, over 83% of employers required certification for medical billing & coding specialist they hire. So, once you complete your training, sit for your certification exam and get certified. That is the recommended path to start your career as a Medical Billing & Coding Specialist.
Now, before we give our verdict on the best certification for medical coders, let’s look at the top certifications individually.
1. CBCS Certification
What Does CBCS stand for?
Certified Billing & Coding Specialist
What is the CBCS Certification?
With the CBCS certification, candidates have shown they have obtained the knowledge and skills necessary to perform meaningful tasks in the healthcare arena. This certification will help you stand apart from other candidates when it comes time to look for a job.
Who offers CBCS? The National Healthcareer Association
The National Healthcareer Association (NHA) is an industry leader committed to improving patient care. Established in 1989 to help prepare medical billers and coders for a rewarding career in healthcare information, the organization has awarded more than 750,000 certifications to student and professionals to date.
With a goal of improving patient care, NHA focuses on advocacy, education and certification. As industry advocates, the organization continually engages with both regulatory and legislative bodies to promote certification for the industry.
The CBCS Exam
The exam will take place at either your school, or if you’ve taken online classes, at a PSI Testing Center near you. You’ll have two hours to answer 100 questions.
How Much Does the Exam Cost?
The CBCS exam costs $109 and this fee includes study materials. But remember, many programs will cover the cost of your exam.
Topics covered on the exam:
Some of the topics covered on the CBCS exam include:
- Regulatory Compliance
- Claims Processing
- Front-end Duties
- Payment Adjudication
- Apply Knowledge of Coding
Requirements to sit for the CBCS exam
The NHA requires that candidates who sit for the CBCS exam have a high school diploma or equivalent and have successfully completed a training program within the past 5 years.
To know more about the #1 training program that helps to prepare for the CBCS exam & certification, register for this free masterclass.
2. CPC Certification
What Does CPC stand for?
Certified Professional Coder
What is the CPC Certification?
The CPC certification is renowned throughout the world. Candidates holding this certification are highly sought after and well compensated. According to the organization’s website, passing the CPC exam elevates a candidate’s earning potential by more than $25,000 above annual salaries for people without the CPC certification.
Who offers CPC? The American Academy of Professional Coders
The American Academy of Professional Coders™ (AAPC) was founded in 1988 to provide education and professional certification to physician-based medical coders. The organization’s certification is considered the gold standard and demonstrate a candidate’s ability to support cleaner claim submission, faster reimbursement, fewer denials, and better run practices and facilities.
The CPC Exam
The CPC exam consists of 150 multiple-choice questions and candidates will have 5 hours and 40 minutes to complete it.
How Much Does the Exam Cost?
If you take the exam online the cost is $299, while taking it in a physical location will cost you $399. That is unless you have taken a training program that covers the cost of your certification exam.
Topics covered on the exam:
Candidates can expect to be asked questions on:
- Assigning accurate medical codes
- Coding guidelines and regulations
- E/M, anesthesia, surgery, radiology, pathology, and medicine
- Anatomy, physiology, and medical terminology
Requirements to sit for the CPC exam
Candidates should have a high school diploma, GED or equivalent and have successfully completed a training program within the past 5 years.
To know more about the #1 training program that helps to prepare for the CPC exam & certification, register for this free masterclass.
3. CCA Certification
What does CCA stand for?
CAA stands for Certified Coding Associate.
What is the CCA certification?
Since 2002, CCA certification has been recognized nationally as an achievement in the health information management (HIM) field. Professionals who hold this CCA credential have demonstrated coding competency and professional capability. And, because they have trained and passed the exam, they distinguish themselves from other candidates who have not been certified.
Who offers CCA? The American Health Information Management Association
The American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA) is considered one of the leading voices in health information. AHIMA’s mission is to empower people to positively impact health. Through their certification, AHIMA hopes to ensure that sensitive health data always remains accurate, accessible, protected and complete—at all times.
The CCA Exam
Candidates have two hours to complete roughly 100 questions. The exam is given in a computer-based format.
What is the passing score for the CCA exam?
The passing score for the CCA is 300.
How much does the CCA exam cost?
Non-AHIMA members pay $299 while members pay only $199. Keep in mind, many certification training programs, including the ones we recommend, include a voucher to cover this expense.
What topics will the exam cover?
The CCA exam will cover a variety of topics, including:
- Clinical Classification Systems
- Reimbursement Methodologies
- Health Records and Data Content
- Information Technologies
- Confidentiality & Privacy
What are the requirements to sit for the CCA exam?
Candidates must have a high school diploma or equivalent to sit for the CCA examination. And, while not required, it is recommended that candidates have completed a training program and have at least 6 months of coding experience (don’t worry, we’ll show you how you can gain hands-on experience as a coder).
4. MCBC Certification
What does MCBC stand for?
MCBC stands for Medical Coding and Billing Certification.
What is the MCBC certification?
The MCBC certification is a stamp of approval that shows a candidate has demonstrated proficiency with the proper handling of sensitive health information. This certification is sought by many employers and gives the candidate a competitive advantage when looking for work.
Who offers MCBC? The National Workforce Career Association
The National Workforce Career Association (NWCA) was established in 2015 with the mission of providing a connection between learning, skills validation, and employment. Not only does this organization offer certification to medical billers and coders, they’ve played a critical role in creating the framework for assessing education achievements.
Working with over 500 colleges and universities, NWCA spent 3 years (and gave over 1,800 exams) to design an exam that would “translate what an individual knows into credentials that can be showcased to employers in an objective, standardized and meaningful way through digital badges.”
The MCBC Exam
The MCBC is a timed exam. Candidates have 90 minutes to complete 65 questions on medical coding and billing.
What is the passing score for the MCBC exam?
The passing score for the exam is 70%.
How much does the MCBC exam cost?
The exam costs $99. If you don’t feel like paying that much, look for certificate training programs that offer you a voucher for this expense. We’ll share some in a few moments.
What topics will the exam cover?
Topics include billing regulations, anatomy and physiology/medical terminology, CPT/HCPCS, ICD, Regulations/guidelines and types of insurance.
What are the requirements to sit for the MCBC exam?
Candidates must have a high school diploma or equivalent to sit for the examination. While not required, it is recommended that candidates complete a training program and have at least 6 months of coding experience under their belt.
To know more about the #1 training program that helps to prepare for the MCBC exam & certification, register for this free masterclass.
Ranked: Best Certification for Medical Billing & Coding Specialists
We’ve looked at the four main certifications – CCA, CBCS, MCBC and CPC – and learned a bit about the organizations that offer each one. Some certifications may offer a bit more clout than others.
This seems to be the case for the CBCS offered through the NHA, the CPC certification offered through The American Academy of Professional Coders, and CCA with Ahima. However, the CPC and CCA tests also cost about 3x what some of the others cost and will also take close to 6 hours to complete, as opposed to the typical 2-hour test given by most certification organizations!!
Budget and exam preparation could play an important role while choosing a certification.
Here’s our rank for best certifications for Medical Billing & Coding Specialist (2023 Updated) –
- CPC Certification by AAPC
- CBCS Certification by NHA
- AHIMA Certification (Recommended once you have some experience working as a medical coder)
- MBCS Certification by NWCA
Important Point – Focus on Choosing The Right Training Program
The right training will prepare you for ANY certification exam, whether it’s the CCA, CBCS, MCBC or CPC.
You see, in order to pass ANY of these certification exams, you first need solid training under your belt. So before you spend time deciding which certification to go with, focus on finding an excellent training program.
We recommend registering for this free masterclass, which gives you a roadmap on how to start your medical billing & coding career. In the masterclass, you also learn about a training program that helps you prepare for the major certifications.
How Do I Choose A Medical Biller and Coder Program?
We can help. To find the right program:
Choose an Authorized School
You would not believe just how many unauthorized websites out there with programs and training that have not been approved.
A program must meet the lifestyle needs of the adult student. Online education fits into an adult’s busy schedule. Learn on your own time, when it’s most convenient for you and from the comfort of your own home.
It Doesn’t Cost and Arm and a Leg!
There are medical billing and coding programs offered that costs tens of thousands of dollars. That’s simply not affordable for most adults who have families and other financial responsibilities. That’s why OnlineDegree.com has gone ahead and found excellent certification programs that are incredibly affordable.
In fact, many of the schools we’ve partnered with offer discounts and low monthly payment plans. Take the free quiz to see if you could qualify!
Make Sure Books are Included
Textbooks can get really expensive. The right program includes books in the cost of the program.
An Externship is Also Included
To sit for examination, you may be required to have had at least 6 months of experience under your belt. The right program will include an externship placement so you can get this critical experience!
Next Steps to Become A Medical Biller and Coder
OnlineDegree.com wants to help you get an affordable education that will set you up for a rewarding and lucrative career.
That’s why we’ve partnered with schools that could meet ALL of this criteria.
Take a few moments to take our quiz to connect with the right certification program that matches your career goals and life situation.
All it takes is five minutes and you could be on your way to a rewarding and exciting career as a medical biller and coder.
How to Be Successful in College in 2022 – 7 Simple Tips to Succeed
How Do Scholarships Work? Read This First…Truth is Shocking
7 Best College Majors 2022: What Should I Major In?
How to Choose a College – 10 Things You Must Consider in 2022
Why Go to College? Top 13 Benefits for Adult Students in 2022
Top 5 Best Alternatives to Community College for 2022