Difference Between CCA, CPC, and CCS Certification

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Difference Between CCA, CPC, and CCS Certification

CCA, CPC, and CCS are all important certifications that are offered when one wants to carve a career in medical coding. CareerStint outlines a detailed difference between CCA, CPC, and CCS certification.

Quick Fact:

The CCS certification includes 2 credentials: CCS and CCS-P. CCS-P is exclusively designed for those professionals who will be assigned to the physician’s office. Also, the CCS-P exam includes medical coding for 16 medical records, unlike the regular 13 medical records.

To understand the difference between the three certifications mentioned above, you need to first understand what medical coding is. Medical coding is an essential step that leads to the process of medical billing. A medical coding professional has to gather all the information about a patient from the documentation provided, assign the corresponding code, handle insurance claims, etc.

He must have a thorough knowledge of medical terminology and must be adept at using the computer as well. In order to become a medical coder, one needs take either or all the above certifications. A CCA vs. CPC vs. CCS certification comparison is given below.


  • It stands for Certified Coding Associate.
  • It is considered to be an entry-level program into this field, i.e., more of a basic coding certificate.
  • At best, CCA is a certification that distinguishes the new coders from the ones who are non-certified, in the existing job market.
  • It helps display your commitment for the job, shows that you are serious about pursuing a career in this field.
  • According to the BLS, there may be an estimated shortage of qualified HIM (Health Information Management) professional by 2015. A CCA certification will help you get a head start and secure a better position in this field.


  • It stands for Certified Professional Coder.
  • It is considered to be a physician office-level certification.
  • At this level, you will be expected to possess extensive knowledge about medical coding and related subjects.
  • It is highly recommended that you have at least 2 years of coding experience before taking this exam.
  • The exam consists of 150 multiple-choice questions.


  • It stands for Certified Coding Specialist.
  • It is considered a hospital-level certification.
  • Since you will be working in a hospital environment, sufficient work experience is highly recommended to obtain this certification.
  • After doing so, you will be considered a highly qualified medical coding technician, and will be required to function as an intermediary between the hospital and insurance companies, billing offices, etc.
  • Your exam will consist of 60 MCQs (multiple-choice questions) and 180 actual medical cases.

Factors of Differentiation

Eligibility (Qualifications)
♦ High school diploma or related post-secondary education. ♦ In-depth knowledge of CPT, ICD-9, and HCPCS ♦ Related courses in physiology, anatomy, pharmacology, CPT, pathophysiology, etc.
Eligibility (Experience)
♦ Six months of coding experience. ♦ 2 years of coding experience. ♦ RHIA/RHIT credentials
CCA+1 year experience
2 or more years of coding experience
Administered by
The American Information Management Association (AHIMA) The American Academy of Professional Coders (AAPC) ♦ The American Information Management Association (AHIMA)
♦ AHIMA members: USD 199
Non-members: USD 299
♦ AAPC members: USD 260
Non-members: USD 300
♦ AHIMA members: USD 299
Non-members: USD 399
Exam Duration
♦ 2 hours ♦ 5 hours, 40 minutes. ♦ 4 hours, in 2 sections

Some Other Vital Points

  • The syllabus for these certifications will include disciplines, like anatomy, physiology, basic CPT, etc.
  • Besides, you will need to know how to retrieve patient information, understand the diagnosis, assign codes, follow the stated rules and guidelines, submit claim forms, follow-up with insurance companies, analyze records, provide external auditing, assign discharge dispositions, etc.
  • The salary range for medical coders, irrespective of whether he is CCA, CCS, or CPC-certified, falls between a range of USD 30,000 to USD 80,000.
  • Your salary depends on factors like years of work experience, geographical location, education, basic credentials, workplace, etc.
  • Jobs in this field are projected to grow by 22% until 2022.

The job of a medical coding professional is considered as an entry into other lucrative medical-related professions. It takes a great deal of effort and training to obtain the above certifications. If, however, you are proficient at understanding the medical world and possess good computer skills as well, go ahead and prepare for your certification.

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