Whether you are new to medical coding or have been around the block a time or two it’s never too late to add a new coding certification to your tool box. Obtaining a coding credential is an investment in yourself and your career with long-term benefits. When you’ve passed a certification exam, it demonstrates to your current and future employers that you have a high level of coding knowledge and are proficient in your field. In addition you can:
- Improve your chances for an increased salary
- Expand your education level
- Achieve greater success in your field
- Open doors for new opportunities
Before we discuss the credentials available, keep in mind the common phrase "it takes money to make money" as you justify paying the required fees for earning a coding credential. For coders working with a coding vendor, there are often additional educational opportunities provided by your employer that would traditionally be your responsibility in the provider setting. I recommend starting there first; ask your current employer what sort of education they provide and whether you will be paid or reimbursed for your training and training materials. The best companies know that investing in their employees is a top priority, especially as the field of medical coding becomes more competitive and robust.
For coders that are new to the profession I would advise having a minimum of 2 to 3 years of coding experience before taking these coding exams. Not that you have to be a rocket scientist to pass them, but you do need to have a good understanding of the coding guidelines and firsthand experience applying coding clinics to surrounding those guidelines. As Casey Kasem use to say “Keep your feet on the ground and reaching for the stars.” Stay motivated in obtaining those credentials no matter your reason; growth, incentive, power or fear.
So, what are a few of the Coding Credentials in the market place?
- Certified Coding Associate (CCA) – This credential distinguishes a coders commitment and demonstrates coding competencies in both hospitals and physician practices. AHIMA states that more than 8,000 people have attained this certification.
- Certified Coding Specialist (CCS) – This credential is usually designed for coders in a hospital setting coding both ICD-9-CM and CPT codes.
- Certified Coding Specialist – Physician based (CCS-P) – This credential is for coders that specialize in physician based settings.
- Certified Professional Coder (CPC) – This credential is for coding in a physician office setting and is held by 102,000 coding professionals. CPC’s typically earn 20% more than non-certified coders.
- Certified Outpatient Coding (COC) – This credential is for outpatient ambulatory coding jobs. This credential was formerly known as CPC-H. With this certification you can earn up to 61% more than non-credentialed coders.
- Certified Inpatient Coder (CIC) – This credential is for coding in an inpatient setting. With this certification you can earn up to 40% more than non-credentialed coders.
- Certified Risk Adjustment Coder (CRC) – This credential is for risk adjustment coding. With this certification you can earn up to 40% more than non-certified coders.
- Certified Professional Coder-Payer (CPC-P) – This credential is for coders in the payer environment. With this credential you can earn up to 66% more than non-credentialed coders.
Obtaining a coding credential increases your chance of being hired and retained in a competitive job market. Do you have an example of how a specific coding credential has enhanced your career? I’d love to hear from you in the comments.