CCS versus CCA – Which Credential is Right for Me?

CCS versus CCA – Which Credential is Right for Me?

by Pamela J. Haney, MS, RHIA, CCS, CIC, COC
Director of Training and Education for Libman Education

Healthcare is rapidly changing with increased pressure for accurate reimbursement, regulatory scrutiny for compliant claims, and the impact of ICD-10 implementation. Many organizations are requiring their coding staff to become certified to demonstrate coding proficiency. AHIMA’s Certified Coding Specialist (CCS) credential is considered the “gold standard” for facility coding.

Because of the mastery level of this certification, coders should make sure they have prerequisites completed to ensure success. These include an in-depth understanding of health record documentation, legal and regulatory requirements, medical terminology, anatomy and physiology, disease process and pharmacology as well as expertise in ICD-10-CM, ICD-10-PCS and CPT coding systems and guidelines.

AHIMA also recommends in addition to the in-depth coding training that applicants have a minimum of 2 years of related facility coding experience directly applying codes.

For those who do not meet the CCS exam requirements, AHIMA’s Certified Coding Associate (CCA) is a wonderful first step that distinguishes credentialed coders from non-credentialed coders by demonstrating coding competencies across all settings. The requirements to take the CCA exam are a formal coding training program to include anatomy and physiology, medical terminology, ICD-10-CM, ICD-10-PCS and CPT coding.

Taking the time to prepare and achieve a coding credential is a wonderful accomplishment and will enhance your professional value!


Pamela J. Haney, MS, RHIA, CCS, CIC, COC, is an experienced educator and an AHIMA approved ICD-10 trainer with over thirty years experience as a Director of HIM and Coding Services. She was a beta tester for the AAPC CIC exam and one of the first to receive the CIC certification. Pam is a recipient of the 2013 AHIMA Triumph Award in the Mentor category.

About the Author

Libman Education
Libman Education Inc. is a leading provider of training for the health care workforce offering self-paced and instructor-led online courses designed and developed by leading industry experts in Health Information Management (HIM) and Medical Record Coding. Our courses are specifically designed to improve individual skills and increase the efficiencies and competencies of health care providers and institutions. At Libman Education, we understand the needs and challenges of a well-trained workforce and offer the right-mix of online education to ensure that the health care professionals are prepared to meet the challenges of the changing workplace.

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