The two largest industry associations in the medical coding space are the American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA) and the American Academy of Professional Coders (AAPC). Both of these organizations offer a number of certifications.
There are eight health information management credentials offered by AHIMA. These certifications range from entry-level certification to more advanced certifications with experience and education requirements. Generally, AHIMA certifications are primarily focused on the inpatient specialty, but the organization also offers outpatient certifications.
AHIMA-offered certifications include:
• RHIA – Registered Health Information Administrator
• RHIT – Registered Health Information Technician
• CCA – Certified Coding Associate
• CCS – Certified Coding Specialist
• CCS-P – Certified Coding Specialist – Physician-based
• CHDA – Certified Health Data Analyst
• CHPS – Certified in Healthcare Privacy and Security
• CDIP – Certified Documentation Improvement Practitioner
AAPC offers four medical coding certifications as well as a number of specialty certifications, which enable medical coders to demonstrate a specific area of expertise. The AAPC certifications are primarily focused in the outpatient space.
AAPC-offered certifications include:
• CPC – Certified Professional Coder
• CPC-H – Certified Professional Coder – Outpatient Hospital
• CPC-P – Certified Professional Coder – Payer
• CIRCC – Certified Interventional Radiology Cardiovascular Coder
• Specialty – There are 20 specialty designations
There are other organizations that offer coding certification credentials, however, the AHIMA and AAPC credentials are the most recognized in the industry. It is highly unlikely that an employer will require or request certifications other than those offered through these organizations.