Certification - American Academy of Professional Coders

Chapter 4

The American Academy of Professional Coders is another highly esteemed organization you'll become familiar with in your career as a medical coder. In addition to offering certification, the American Academy of Professional Coders offers study guides, local chapters throughout the United States and internationally, and workshops.

- Certified Professional Coder (CPC) - To be eligible to sit for the Certified Professional Coder exam, you must have worked as a medical coder for a minimum of two years. Furthermore, once you are certified, you are required to renew your certification annually.

You'll also be required to complete 18 continuing education credits per year which you can earn in a variety of ways, including: attending workshops or seminars, writing an article or paper that is published, attending meetings of your local AAPC chapter and watching an informational video and preparing a summary.

Certified Professional Coders work in a variety of settings, including doctors' offices, and will be tested on their knowledge of ICD-9 codes, CPT codes and HCPCS procedures and supply codes.

The fee for the CPC exam is $285, and it is only given to members. Membership is $100 for medical coders in the United States, $125 for international members and $65 for students.

- Certified Professional Coder-Hospital (CPC-H) - Medical coders who sit the Certified Professional Coder-H are required to have two years of experience, must renew their certification annually and undertake 18 continuing education credits every year.

Certified Professional Coders in hospitals may have a variety of responsibilities including providing coding for outpatient services, coding outpatient hospital services and using correct modifiers with codes for outpatient hospital claims.

The fee for the CPC-H exam is $285, and it is only given to members. Membership is $100 for medical coders in the United States, $125 for international members and $65 for students.

- Certified Professional Coder-Payer(CPC-P) - Those qualified medical coders who sit the Certified Professional Coder-Payer must meet the same eligibility requirements as for the CPC and CPC-H. Medical coders who pass the CPC-P must demonstrate their understanding of topics including medical terminology, human anatomy and a thorough knowledge of the CPT, ICD-9-CM and HCPCS coding manuals.

The fee for the CPC exam is $285, and it is only given to members. Membership is $100 for medical coders in the United States, $125 for international members and $65 for students.

- Certified Professional Coder-Payer-Apprentice (CPC-P-A) - For medical coders who have not yet gained two years of experience, the AAPC offers the Certified Professional Coder-Payer-Apprentice. If you don't have two years experience and pass the CPC-P-A, you'll still be required to complete 18 continuing education credits. Once you meet the time eligibility, you'll automatically earn a CPC-P.

- Specialty Credentials - Some medical coders choose to specialize in specific areas - including emergency medicine, cardiology and orthopedics - and the AAPC offers specialty credentials. Unlike the other certifications, you'll take the test electronically from your home or office. Once you buy the exam, you'll have seven days to complete it. To maintain your specialty credential, you must renew it every year. Alternately, if you fail to renew your CPC, CPC-H, CPC-P certifications, you will automatically lose your specialty credential. Therefore, it's vital that you keep your certifications current.

To learn more or to sign up for an exam, you can visit the American Academy of Professional Coders by clicking here.