6 Best Medical Coder Certifications to Advance Your Medical Coding Job in 2021

You became a medical coder and now you’re telling yourself, “now what?” While you don’t need additional certifications in order to continue with your job, they can put you in the running for job advancement and salary raises.

The next step for you to further your career as a medical coder is pursuing additional coder certifications which put you in the running for higher pay. In this article, we will outline the best certifications to have under your belt in 2021. 

We rounded up the certifications that boost salaries the most from different websites and compiled them all here. Whether you’ve previously skimmed over other certifications or have no idea, read below to learn more:

Certified Outpatient Coder (COC)

This certification is for medical coders that have a passion for helping patients outside of an acute care setting, this was formerly the CPC-H certification. To receive this certification, you must first pass the COC exam. 

COCs have the following responsibilities:

  • Working knowledge of outpatient procedures
  • Knowledge regarding the healthcare spectrum and health insurance system
  • Proficiency and accuracy with medical coding rules and guidelines
  • The know-how to accurately complete a CMS-1500 form along with other applicable forms.
  • Fluency in medical terminology
  • Knowledge of ICD-10 codes

This test is administered by the AAPC or the American Academy of Professional Coders, and more registration and testing information can be found on their website

According to ZipRecruiter, the average salary of a certified outpatient coder is $52,313.

Certified Professional Biller (CPB)

CPBs are go-getters determined to file claims and follow up on claims in waiting – seeing what is holding up payment, potentially including managing collections accounts and moving the payment process along. 

Some skills and responsibilities that you would see on the job as a professional biller include:

  •  In-depth knowledge about health insurance plans and types
  • Be able to familiarize yourself with various payer regulations and policies
  •  Knowledge of the three major coding guides, ICD, CPT, HCPCS
  • Compliance with policies and procedures including HIPAA
  • Be able to follow-up on claims and resolve issues that may arise
  • Managing medical code lists including CPT, ICD, and HCPCS

The CPB test is administered by the AAPC, and they are the certifying body as well. According to the AAPC, certified professional billers earn $55,078. Get paid more, by helping healthcare facilities get paid!

Certified Coding Specialist (CCS)

Do you enjoy working in a hospital environment? Are you skilled in data entry and scanning for details?

Most CCS’s do and they perform a wide variety of tasks which include:

  • Parsing patient charts for appropriate diagnosis and procedure codes
  • Experts in using and remembering ICD-10 and CPT codes
  • Familiar with medical terminology, anatomy, and pharmacology

The CCS exam is administered by AHIMA, the American Health Information Management Association. CCS work is very rewarding in that the data that they gather is observed by researchers and scrutinizes the data for patterns and trends for new public health efforts. 

According to ZipRecruiter, the average certified coding specialist earns $57,417 per year.

Certified Professional Coder – Payer (CPC-P)

Do you enjoy the work of medical coding but want a change in pace, and want to work in the payer’s office instead of a provider’s office? A CPC-P is someone that understands the reimbursement and payment processes and procedures from the payer’s perspective. 

Some of the responsibilities of a CPC-P include:

  • Analyze, process, and review health insurance claims
  • Collaborating to make sure that claims get paid

The CPC-P certification exam is administered by the AAPC. In addition, certified professional coder payers are poised to earn on average, $62,612 according to the AAPC.

Certified Inpatient Coder (CIC)

Are you interested in coding for acute care communities like hospitals? Do you enjoy a fast-paced work environment, and a variety of diagnoses and procedure codes? 

Here are some responsibilities of CICs:

  • Adept at reviewing and parsing through patient records
  • Accuracy in picking ICD, CPT, and HCPCS codes
  • Understanding hospital reimbursement policies and patterns
  • Conforming to rule changes and regulation updates

CICs can work without the certification, however, taking the certification exam through AAPC increases your earning potential. 

On average, certified inpatient coders make $65,351 per year, according to ZipRecruiter.

Certified Billing and Coding Specialist (CBCS)

Do you enjoy working in a variety of settings? CBCS’s display a high level of regard for the work that they do, and you too, can work in a very rewarding field. 

Some of their responsibilities include:

  • Auditing the billing process
  • Selecting codes and billing information for payment
  • Verifying documentation before use

Certified billing and coding specialists are in very high demand, and there is a lot of reward in this type of work. The exam is administered by the NHA or the National HealthCareer Association. 

On average, CBCS’s earn $74,218 per year, according to Salary.

In Summary

Did you find a certification that you’re interested in learning more about? In this article, we went over the top six certifications to boost your career as a certified professional coder, or CPC. 

Those certifications included certified outpatient coder, certified professional biller, certified coding specialist, certified professional coder–payer, certified inpatient coder, and certified billing and coding specialist. Each certification comes with various specifications, salary ranges, and workplaces.

If you enjoy working on the provider side, COC, CBP, CCS, CIC, and CBCS are ideal. If you prefer working on the payer side, CPC-P is perfect for you. If you are looking for the highest payout, CBCS and CIC are the top 2. If you like working in non-acute settings, COC and CBCS are ideal for you. If you like working with acute settings, CIC and CCS are ideal for you. CPC-P and CPB allow for some freedom in terms of your work setting.

Happy certifying!


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