I Want to Be a Certified Professional Coder!

certified professional coder

Q: I want to be a certified professional coder – where do I start?

A: The first thing you want to do is obtain a copy of the exam application packet from the AAPC (American Academy of Professional Coders) available at https://www.aapc.com or by calling 800-626-CODE. This four page form will explain exactly what is covered on the exam, how to apply and what you need to submit. Keep in mind the AAPC requires 6 weeks to process your application. Therefore an exam date of September 18th will require your exam application to be received no later than August 6th.

Q: What is the difference between the CPC and COC (formerly CPC-H) credential?

A: Because there are distinct differences in CPT coding for physician services vs. outpatient facility services, AAPC has two accreditation exams to meet this need. The CPC for physician coding and the CPC for facility coding (outpatient hospital).

Q: What is covered on the CPC exam?

A: The CPC exam covers medical terminology, anatomy, CPT Coding Guidelines, Use of Modifiers, ICD-10-CM (Vol. 1 & 2) Diagnostic Coding, E&M Coding, Anesthesia Coding, Surgical Coding and HCPCS Level II coding.

Q: What is the format of the CPC Exam?

A: There are 100 multiple choice or true/false questions as follows:

Evaluation & Management (6)
Anesthesia (4)
Radiology 70,000 series (6)
Pathology 80,000 series (6)
Medicine 90,000 series (6)
Medical Terminology (4)
Anatomy (4)
ICD-10-CM (5)
Coding Concepts (7)
10,000 series (6)
20,000 series (6)
30,000 series (6)
40,000 series (6)
50,000 series (6)
60,000 series (6).
Cases (10)

Medical Coding Training: How to be a Certified Professional Coder — VIDEO

YouTube video

Q: How is the exam scored?

A: The exam used to be scored in three sections but that is no longer the case. You need to get a 70% or higher to pass.

Q: Is the exam open book?

A: Yes you will use your CPT, ICD-10-CM and HCPCS manuals for the current year or the year you applied for. You are not allowed to use a medical dictionary. You can use any version of ICD-10-CM or HCPCS but you can’t use the expert version of CPT. Review application instructions carefully.

Q: I heard that only people with experience can take the exam, is that true?

A: The CPC credential indicates you passed the exam AND have met the experience requirements. If you don’t meet the experience requirement you can apply for the apprentice credential (CPC-A). You will take the same exam but will be awarded the CPC-A credential. When the required medical coding field experience is met, you can submit documentation and receive your official AAPC CPC designation.

Q: How much experience is required?

A: Two years experience is required for the CPC designation. One year is waived if you have taken an 80 hour coding course and six months is waived if you have taken a 40 hour course. If you do not meet this experience apply for the “CPC Apprentice” designation.

Q: Where can I take the CPC exam?

A: The exam is offered annually at the national AAPC conference and quarterly at local chapters throughout the US. The best way to locate an exam in your area is to go to the AAPC web site (www.aapc.com) and use their “exam finder” feature. Once you find an exam date and location make a note of the exam index number and proctor information to put on your application. It is a good idea to contact the proctor to make sure there is room available.

Q: How do I apply for the exam?

At least eight weeks prior to your desired exam date mail in your completed exam application form, letters of reference (not needed if applying for apprentice designation) and exam application fee ($285). You should also be a member of the AAPC and it is a good idea to apply for membership before applying for the exam so you are established in their system.

Q: Do I have to take a course before taking the exam?

A: No, the AAPC does not require that you take a course in order to sit for the exam. However if your experience is limited to only one or two specialties it is recommend you take a course or at the very least attend a review class.

The AAPC has several educational products to help your prepare. They have an independent study program (ISP), the Professional Medical Coding Curriculum (PMCC) which is a classroom course offered by approved curriculum sites, and a study guide. Also many local chapters offer review classes.

Other education sources to consider are local colleges and vocational schools. Make sure they are advanced courses designed to prepare you for the board exam. Check their syllabus against what topics are covered on the board exam.

Q: Besides taking a course how can I prepare for the exam?

A: A lot of preparing depends on what you already know. Multispecialty surgery coders seem to have the broadest base of experience and do well on the exam because there are 60 out of 150 questions on surgery. Many are not so fortunate and spend time studying each surgery sub-section along with the medical terminology related to that sub-section.

Know your surgical suffixes like -otomy, -ectomy, -ostomy etc. like the back of your hand. This will help you read surgical scenarios accurately. If you’re weak in medical terminology purchase a medical terminology text book and consider making flash cards. You are not allowed to use a medical dictionary during the exam so it is very important you know your medical terminology.

I highly recommend using the professional version of CPT, study each of the guideline sections thoroughly and ask yourself what are 10 key things I could be tested on. When you’re in the guidelines you’ll see where they note additional guidelines that are found within the section instead of at the front. Go to those and make sure you understand the principles there.

Mark up your CPT books by highlighting key words especially in the guidelines area. You are allowed to make brief (one to three word) notes in the margin by your codes. Usually underlining a key word in a code is all that is needed to make it stand out compared to a neighboring code. Group families of codes together and underline or highlight the key word or phrase that makes that group different from the other groups in the same category.

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84 thoughts on “I Want to Be a Certified Professional Coder!”

  1. I live in a very isolated area and am on a limited income. I want to study to become a CPC . I have a nursing background (30yr). Any suggestions on how to find a training program as short as possible and as cheap as possible.
    thank you

    • Betty: I’m just now trying to get to know this after 26 years of nursing. You said very isolated. I assume, an Alaskan village? Am a traveler there to the remote areas. Maybe we could help each other. I see no.reply to your comment from ’11. Hope you had good luck.

  2. I have experience in coding from working in the medical field, offices of American Family care and went to a 6 week class on ICD-9 and CPT. I would like to get certified but I do not know where to start. Is there financial aide for this certification?

    • Hi Lisa – 6 weeks seems short – was it a full time school situation? At any rate you off to a good start. To get certified now you need to fill out an application at AAPC or AHIMA. For AAPC you need to become a member too. AHIMA doesn’t make you be a member but you pay more for the exam as a non-member. Then pick an exam date and send in your application and fee.

      To prepare I highly recommend my “Coding Certification Review Blitz” videos. https://www.cco.us/medical-coding-certification-review-videos and practice exams. I take a practice exam before the videos and note your areas of weakness. Then go through the videos and then take another practice exam to see how you did and go back over areas you’re still struggling with. Keep taking practice exams until you are getting 80% or higher. And take the exam like a real board exam – all at once and in a timed fashion.

      Best wishes!


      • Dear Laureen: I just watched your video on Youtube and from everyone I hear,they also think You are the way to go! I am a Laid-off Non-emergency Transportation Driver.I really like the Medical Field because I am fascinated by it. In my line of work I worked fairly closely with Doctors,Nurses and All Sorts of Medical personell and I was just going to be a Driver(because at the time of my Layoff I was Head Driver and (Children’s Special Health Care)enabled me to make a good living. Then Gov.Granholm cancelled C.S.H.C. and I was suddenly out of a Job.’I am a fairly good touch typist but need Medical Terminology and more. My question is: Do you think I can start learning with just This backround armed with BLITZ and what ever else you tell me to Buy? Oh and you mentioned Power Point in your Video! Do I Also Need Word and Point to even start? Any encouragement or information is Greatly Appreciated!-Hoping to Hear from You!-Chris Coleman-Dearborn,Michigan.

        • Hi Chris – thanks for your comment. Your exposure to the medical field will definitely help you in a medical coding career. However I think the Blitz may be too much of a review where you need a more in depth course like our 80 Hour Physician Based Medical Coding Course which included the blitz review by the way. For the course and blitz review you shouldn’t need word or powerpoint – most of the reader programs are free like adobe or a text editor. Let us know if you have any other questions. There is a “contact us” link at the top of the page here.

  3. Hi Laureen-
    I Am looking to get certified. I was in the medical field prior for 2 years doing coding and billing assisting- but nothing official. I went to a local Nursing School for Medical Admin. So I believe that I would just need the BLITZ film. Once I apply on the AAPC website for the the application I would select CPC-A correct? Or do I not even get that because I will not have 80 hrs, nor 40 hrs or course time just the 12 from BLITZ- what do you suggest here. I am using this certification to get back into the field , whats your advice on getting started and finishing so I can get the career I’ve been wanting- just never had the guidance until now. Thank you in advance.
    P.S. when can I get rid of the apprentice title once I get my new job?

    • Hi Kaity – There are changes regarding the apprentice designation. Basically Those taking the CPC exam after July 1, 2012 will have two ways to get their CPC credential:
      1. Have one year of coding experience prior to taking the CPC exam with proof given at the time of the exam, and then pass the CPC exam or
      2. Pass both the CPC exam and a clinical exam by coding 20 operative/office notes.
      On the job experience after taking the CPC exam will not be required. It does not matter in which order the two exams are taken.

      Here is a link to a discussion about it on the AAPC discussion forum http://www.aapc.com/memberarea/forums/showthread.php?t=65697

  4. Im a medical biller for a hospital and I am interested in being a coder for the hosptial, but there are soo many ways to go. I need to go the most cost efficient and shortest time before my second child comes in August. I saw on HCPRo a online class but does not offer the ICD-10. Which is the best way I should go?

    • Hi Stormi – For hospital coding you’ll want to obtain the CCS credential. Unfortunately I don’t have courses/review classes for the CCS. HCPro is reputable and I’m sure they will have ICD-10 soon. I will be having a workshop on ICD-10 soon but it will be geared more toward passing the proficiency test for the AAPC. Best wishes to you.

  5. Hi Laureen,

    I have been in the medical billing field for almost 9 years. I’m currently seeking on getting my CPC certification. Does your 80 hour coding course count towards the AAPC requirements? If so do I get some kind of certificate in the end? I didn’t see it mentioned on the page. I plan on taking the test early June of this year. I fear that I may have problems getting a letter from my employer. At least I can get the course under my belt if that’s the case.


  6. Hi- I am a 29yr old mother with no experience in this field. I want to become a Certified Coder. I have no idea how much it will cost or where to begin. Please help.

    • Hi Cassandra,

      Since you have no experience I’d say you’ll want to start with a medical terminology and anatomy course. Then I’d take a coding course like our Physician Based Medical Coding Course followed by a

      te>CPC(R) Exam Review

      and a few practice tests. When you are scoring an 85% or higher on a TIMED practice exam you should be ready to take the real CPC(R) exam.

  7. Hi Laureen I am interested in getting my cpc certification but on the AAPC website the bundle for the exams,books and test are over$1,000.00 I have some primary care billing and coding experience and I am a Medical Assistance in internal med/peds Do you think I need the bundle to pass or is there other learning tools to help that are cheaper? I am also wondering what the salary of cpc’s are in the state of FL? I have tried to research this but havent found any clear results yet. Please Advise. Thank you!

  8. Hi Lauren,
    I have 4 years experience in a medical office. I have experience with medical terminology. I’ve been exposed to billing and coding. Will I need a Medical Billing and Coding certification first and then take the CPC exam? Would the certification be considered 80 hours? And are the Medical Billing and Coding programs that are offered from trade schools acceptable? Would you recommend it? I NEED HELP!!

    • Hi Kathy,

      You can take the CPC exam without a course but it is not recommended. Regarding trade schools – it think there are some good ones and some bad ones – you really need to know who is teaching it. Are they certified? How long have they been doing it? Will your instructor change mid-stream. Most important – what happens when you need help. That is where I’ve heard the most complaints – students don’t feel cared about and are just expected to do their reading, come to class and take their tests.

      That is why the coaching “personal touch” part of our 80 hour course is so important to us. If you didn’t see our 80 hour course page you can check it out here.

      80 Hour Coding Course

      And if you do decide to go with another school consider our review blitz videos just before you take the exam
      Review Blitz Video Package

  9. Laureen,
    I am current attending a technical college for the Medical Coding Specialist diploma. I am finding out that it is very hard to pass the CCS right out of school with no experience. I think I would rather try for the CPC. Does the schooling and internship count as enought experience to try for the CPC? Do I have to absolutely have working experience to take the CPC? I do have a medical transcription background also. How do you get the required experienced when the hiring requirements are a certification of CPC or CCS?

    I also am getting mixed feedback on the CCA or the CPC-A (apprentice/associate). Supposedly, that is still considered entry-level to employers and they don’t really qualify that creditial as much of anything. To me that is just a waste of time and money then.

    Lastly, how much billing information do we need to know for the CPC as the Medical Coding Specialist program spent very little on it?


    • Hi Sue, Yes the CCS is one of the most difficult coding exams in my opinion and they say right in their examinee handbook that it is designed for coders with several years experience. That is not to say the CPC exam is easy – but you can study hard and learn the coding principles and pass the exam.

      As far as the CCA or CPC-A – they do show you are new to the field but an employer can also figure that out by reading your resume. You don’t need experience to TAKE the CPC you need experience to get the A removed. To get the A removed from the CPC-A you need two years of experience or a certificate of graduating from an 80 Hour coding course + one year experience.

      For the physician based coding exams you don’t need to know much billing. You should be familiar with concepts such as HIPAA, compliance, OIG and general reimbursement concepts. You can learn a lot of that from the CMS website and from chapter 1 of Carol Buck’s “Step-by-Step Medical Coding” textbook which is what we use in our course.

      Let me know if you have any other questions. And be sure to join our list to be informed of our monthly Q&A webinar and new articles posted to this blog.

      –Laureen Jandroep, CPC, CPC-I

      • Hi Laureen,

        I wanted to start by thanking you for the information you have posted. Your site is an incredible resource for those interested in getting certified. My questions are, I have over two years experience entering charges at a doctors office, part of that has been in internal med and the other at peds. Would I be able to test for thr CPC or do I still have to go through the CPC-A. Being that I already have experience with terminology, cpt coding, and ICD-9 coding what test or certification would you recommend. Thank you for your help in advance.

        • Hi Teresa – thanks for the positive feedback! Yes anyone can sit for the CPC regardless of experience. If you don’t meet the experience requirements then you will use CPC-A (A for Apprentice) until you submit proof of two years experience or 1 year of a 80 Hour Type Coding Course and 1 year of experience.

          Based on your experience I’d reccomend the CPC exam – that is a great core credential and you can always add to it once you get your feet in the water and see what other speciaties you can get into. I think you may be able to get away with just the Blitz Video Review plus timed practice exams vs. a whole course.

          Feel free to email the helpdesk@codingcertification.org to request a phone call from me and I can help guide you better.

  10. Hi Lauren, my mom opened a homehealth agency business recently. I wanted to be able to help by being a certified coder. What course do I need to take? Should I take the CPC or the CPC-H? I will greatly apreciate your help.

  11. Hello there,
    I would like to become a medical coder. It doesn’t seem realistic to study and jump into the certification process. I would like to take a course possibly online or somewhere near me. I recently moved to Oahu and am unfamiliar with the reputation of the surrounding schools. How do I know if an online or brick and mortar course will teach me what i need to know? I am terribly afraid of paying for an online course just to have it be of no help and/or a scam. What is the first step?

      • Does most places hire new CPC? Or do you need a least couple years experience? I’ve been in the medical field for almost 10years and did billing here and there for couple years but not really did coding. I just became certified .

        • Most places will say they want experienced people. It’s like any other field the first job is the hardest to get but ther are jobs out there. Check our this free eBook “Get Your First Job in Medical Coding

          I’d recommend Practicode. Practicode is a platform that allows you to code real cases and get a score on how you did and a rationale. The system tracks your speed and accuracy over time called a proficiency score. The concept is you code one specialty – like cardiovascular or neuro until you become proficient ( a score over 93 is good). Then you can take the report on your score and a letter from CCO confirming your skills and use that on your job hunt.

          Why don’t you reach out to the Help Desk so we can go over your options.

  12. Hi Laureen,

    I’m very inspried in taken the CPC exam. My plans our to do self study, because I can’t afford a class at this time. I am semi knowledageable with CPT’s, due to I’m currently woking in a Billing Dept. for an Urgent Care Facility. I just found out about your website and what you have to offer to successfully pass the exam. Could you please give me your insight on if you think self study is the way to go, because I feel I can afford to attend a coding class? Also which of your blitz videos would you recommend for the CPC exam?

    Thanks for you help.

    Grace W.

    • Hi Grace – I self taught myself so I know it can be done. It’s good you have exposure to how coding works and fits in within the healthcare scheme of things. If your budget will only allow self-study I’d purchase a good medical coding textbook and workbook (make sure you can get answers to check your work).

      Then I’d get our review blitz videos and some practice exams. See this related post https://www.cco.us/cpc-exam-layout-and-cpc-exam-tips/

      And definitely join our discussion board – there is a lot of free help and advise going on over there. https://www.cco.us/forum

  13. Hi, i’ve been doing my homework and i live in MI metro detroit area and want to become a cpc coder but i cant find the right schools for cpc ? i’m a hands on person and like live instructors where do i find the training for cpc only not biller job coding job shooling training thankyou i need school because i dont have money and using fiance aid and fafsa aid

    • Hi Paul – I’m live ;-) Well my lectures are recorded but you see my face and gestures as I’m talking – we try to simulate the classroom experience while providing low cost convenient training.

      At any rate I understand you want a face to face school that can handle financial aid etc. I’d start with the AAPC – I think they have an arrangement with Phoenix University and Drexel University. 800-626-CODE or http://www.aapc.com Best wishes!

  14. Hello,

    I am a mother of three small children all under the age of 7. I have a business administration degree minor in
    marketing. The pass 6 years I have done everything from registration, collections, a/r insurance rep and now aniline
    coordinator. I want to make more money I heard it would be a great for me to get a CPC? I dont know where to start
    , and how long would it take??

    • Hi Stacy – every individual has different interests and needs the best thing to do is schedule a call with our helpdesk to get scheduled for a 15 minute enrollment discussion. No obligation. Use support link to the right.

  15. Hi, I was wondering if your program includes any text books or coding books? I noticed in the modules reading assignments it states reading assignments from medical coding text.

    • Hi Ellen – we include your textbook and workbook in the course price. You just need to supply your coding manuals. Thanks for your interest. Email our helpdesk (see support link to right) to schedule an enrollment call if you like.

  16. Hi, I would like to find a tutor for billing and coding in the Metro Atlanta area. Can anyone help? I will be starting my class in about 2 weeks.

  17. Hello, I am going to take the billing a coding course on-line, what you think of gatlineducation.com, are they accredited by either AAPC or AHIMA, and is that important ? thank you

  18. Hi, I am a medical assistant at a Michigan hospital and seen on our company website how much money coders can make and the bonus to being a coder. The problem is I don’t know what type of certification I need to get a job in the hospital, I seen RHIT, CPC, CCA AND RHIA. could you guide me one what i would need?

    and could I get a 2nd job at working at home with the same certificate as the hospital?

    many thanks!!

  19. I am currently in a graduate program for MHSA, however, I have limited work experience within the medical field. I have recently considered billing/coding as an opportunity for entry. Is your program mainly to supplement a coding program or can it act as the coding program itself? Basically what I’m asking is if I need to sign up for a program (such an as associates degree program) and then use this as supplemental or if I can dive right in to your program and attempt the test upon completion.

    • Hi Summer – we have full courses and review courses depending on your needs. We do not have an associates or similar program. The best thing is for you to reach out to our help desk and request an appointment with an enrollment specialist and we can guide you. Helpdesk@codingcertification.org or use the support tab on this page.

  20. I am torned apart of how I am going to prepare for the CPC… I already have my RHIT, and I’m not sure if I should get my training on ICD-10 first before I do the CPC exam. With what I have read so far from the website and all the questions/answers submitted by previous users, I can just study on my own.. what particular textbooks should I get when preparing for this exam, so i can refresh my coding? I already took note of the ICD 9 book and HCPC manual.
    Also.. are there any changes that’s going to affect the exams when they do the ICD-10 next year Oct. 2014? I mean, will I have to do anything such as submitted CEUs for ICD 10 training to keep the CPC credential?

  21. Laureen,

    I have been working for an Otolaryngologist for the past 20 years. As he nears retirement, I am feeling
    I need to be more educated in the field of coding to market myself as I am not near retirement. I work for a
    very old school physician who does the same procedures over and over. He never wants to change anything, wont make any steps towards EMR, ICD 10 etc….. I enjoy billing but even with 20 plus years experience, I don’t
    feel that I am at speed with someone else with my years of experience. I have a high interest in getting a CPC certification to possibly market myself better. Do you recommend I take the physician based coding course? Any other words of encouragement?


    • Hi Kathleen,

      I do think getting your CPC certification will make you more marketable when you decide to leave this current position. Once you start studying and interacting with other students you’ll probably find a niche you’d like like EM code auditing or compliance auditing and even a physician practice manager – there are credentials for all of that. But I do reccomend starting with the CPC as your core credential.

      Best wishes! And here is the link to the physician based coding course which I reccomend. https://www.cco.us/physician-based-medical-coding-course-2013 And if you need medical terminology you’ll see a link for that at the bottom of the page. –Laureen

  22. Laureen,
    Once a person successfully passes the CPC exam, what is the procedure for keeping up the credentialing. Are there continuing education credits? Do you ever have to take the test in the future? Just wondering….

  23. Laureen,

    I have done outpatient diagnostic imaging coding for the past 4 years. Will that count toward my CPC? I want to be able to take my exam and go right to work without having to be in an apprentice stage, or take an additional exam. I don’t test well. I’m the kind that freezes up taking exams. I have recently lost my job, and would love to find a job working from my home but of course all requires certification. Also, do you know when the exam will change to reflect the new ICD-10?

  24. Hi I am a Medical Office Specialist and i have a Certification in medical billing and coding but i want to become a certified coder. do i need to take the online courses or any coruses to take my AAPC certification. Being that i went to college and recieved a Certificate for Billing and Coding and i work in a job where i do some coding already.

    • Hi Danielle,

      You’re what I call a “tweener” – you could benefit from a full course but may not need it. So only you can decide which way to go. If you want to try just using the Blitz review videos and practice exams see how you score on your first practice exam. If you get over a 70% then you don’t need a full course. If you score lower then you may want to take the full course. We reimburse you for the Blitz vidoes if you convert to a full student. https://www.cco.us/medical-coding-certification-review-videos

  25. I recently came across the medical coding field by talking to an adviser at my local community college, and decided to dive in – no questions asked, since I want to get into a healthcare profession. The only problem is the school’s pricetag. Just to get through the courses that prepare a student for the exam come out at around $3000, not including the ridiculous prices they set for their personal textbooks. I don’t qualify for financial aid, and my income won’t allow this amount of money to be dished out. Also, the pace for their program will take about a year, and I simply can’t afford that kind of time. Any advice on where I can go at this point? I have limited knowledge of this field. So far I’ve taken a medical terminology class, but nothing on coding or anatomy.

  26. Hi Laureen,
    I am having more than two years experience in HCC coding. It seems that I will be moved to Surgery coding team in few weeks in my office.
    I want to do certification now. I am highly confused to select the option from CPC & CPC-H. I want to do CPC-H.
    If I do this, will there be any contradiction with client’s requirements for above kind of coding?
    Is there any chance to refuse the CPC-H qualification in any kind of coding?
    How many ceu’s do I have to maintain, if i do both certification?
    Kindly help me to select the exam from CPC & CPC-H

    Arunkumar S
    Chennai, India.

  27. hai mam thank you mam this is very useful to me.i have one dobut mam.i have 9 month experience in medical coder in dell international company.but now i am resign my job.i want to write cpc exam.i am qualified for cpc exam or not?please kindly give the instruction

    • I reccomend a full course to fill in the missing areas in your knowledge base then the review blitz videos which focus more on how to take the exam and preparing your manuals and test taking skills, then timed practice exams until you are scoring an 85%. If you want to see if your’re ready now you can skip to the practice exams and see how you score. Best wishes!

  28. Hi Laureen,

    I stumbled upon this site and wanted to ask you a few questions. I recently began a coding course after being laid off. I’ve worked in medical settings since 2004 with my last position being a claims quality specialist. I reviewed claims for accuracy according to the contracts we had with facilities. The course I am taking now included both a medical terminology and anatomy portion along with the coding portion. Would this count towards my experience to become CPC or would I still need to test for a CPC-A? Any advice you could provide would be great!



  29. i am going to study CPC, but did no know what is cpc, for what purpose i am going to study this, what are the advantages of the CPC course.

    • The CPC exam if for those wanting to demonstration their proficiency in physician based coding utilizing the CPT, ICD and HCPCS coding manuals. It stand for Certified Professional Coder. Our course the Physician Based Coding (PBC) course uses the AAPC’s curriculum plus our own making it a thorough education preparing you for real world coding plus preparing you for the national coding exam.

      If you have more questions visit our forum at https://www.cco.us or email our helpdesk @codingcertification.org

  30. Whether I can write cpc exam after completion of my secondary school level…now im going for a medical coding diploma course..and tell me that the procedures for to apply for exam

    • To apply for the CPC Exam go directly to their site here https://www.aapc.com/certification/locate-examination.aspx and locate an exam date/site near you. Then you add it to your cart and follow instructions from there. There are no requirements to TAKE the exam there are requirements to not be considered an “apprentice” like 2 years of experience etc. So when you pass you will be a CPC-A. The A is for apprentice. See this page: Requirements for Removal of Apprentice Designation

      To remove your apprentice designation via on-the-job experience, you must obtain and submit two letters of recommendation verifying at least two years of on-the-job experience (externships accepted) using the CPT®, ICD-9-CM, or HCPCS Level II code sets. One letter must be on letterhead from your employer*, the other may be from a co-worker. Both letters are required to be signed and will need to outline your coding experience and amount of time in that capacity. Download our Apprentice Removal Template for easier submission. Letterhead and signatures are still required when using this template.


      Submit proof showing completion of at least 80 contact hours of coding education AND one letter, on letterhead, signed from your employer verifying one year of on-the-job experience (externships accepted) using the CPT, ICD-9-CM, or HCPCS Level II code sets.

      Send proof of education in the form of a letter from an instructor on school letterhead stating the 80 contact hour course has been completed, a certificate/diploma stating at least 80 contact hours, or a school transcript.

      Once ALL apprentice removal requirements have been met, you may submit them via fax, mail, or scanned email. Please allow 2-4 weeks for processing.

      *Employers can only verify time spent coding with their organization.

  31. I want to know, to take AAPC exam this year 2014 end or beginning of 2015 which book I should use, for ICD 9 CM or ICD 10. Kindly give me aguidance… waiting for your reply


    • If you take the exam in 2014 use 2014 manuals. If you take the exam in 2015 use 2015 manuals. AAPC is not testing on ICD-10-CM until January 2016 as of this writing so you can use ICD-9-CM manuals from 2012 forward as there have been no changes in anticipation of ICD-10-CM.

  32. Hi Laureen

    I am studying medical coding, but I don’t know if I need to register CPC or CPC-H. I have no experience, just a student study online. So what is a good choice for me ? If I study CPC-H, do you think I can work in the Physician office as well ? Thanks.

    • Start with CPC – it is a solid core credential. The CPC-H will require additional outpatient reimbursement knowledge. You can do that later if you want to get into outpatient vs. physician based coding. And when you are ready you’ll have the coding knowledge and then can focus on just learning the outpatient reimbursement piece for the CPC-H. And yes if you did start with the CPC-H it would be good for physician’s office too because you will learn CPT and ICD coding well.

      To supplement the course you are taking consider our Medical Coding Review Blitz videos – they cover all you will need for the CPC Board exam and the coding portion of the CPC-H exam.


  33. Hi Laureen! I am 26 and 5 classes away from an AS in healthcare reimbursement. I wanted to know what would be my best plan of action after I’m done and also are there any jobs I can get now in that field before graduating? Thank you so much!

    • Hi Kendra – congratulations on nearing the end of your course work. You should be able to start applying for jobs in physician offices as a biller or data entry person and work your way up from there. Are you planning on sitting for any national billing or coding exams? It’s easier if you post a thread on our discussion board vs here. https://www.cco.us/forum

  34. Ms. Laureen,

    I have had the opportunity to read these questions and answers. A lot of my questions where answered but I do have a question. I am currently in school here at ATA College working on a 17 month degree in Medical Coding. I will graduate in Dec. 2015 with an Associates. I just started Aug. 4 of 2014 and I have four more weeks before I finish my first four classes…(Keyboarding, Medical Terminology, Anatomy & Physicology, Success Skills) I still have many classes to take but I don’t have any experience in this field and most places here in Louisville, Ky. to even be a medical receptionist they want you to have medical term. If I don’t get a job while I am currently inschool working towards my degree, does this mean I will still be concidered a CPC-A? Towards the end of my course I have to do 160 hours in an externship for which they will place me as well as help me to get a job when I graduate and pass my test. With me having si many hours if the externship will I still be a CPC-A?

    Thank you so very much for taking the time to read and answer my question,

    Dana D. Turner

    • Hi Dana,

      Your school work should waive one year of the two year experience requirement to get the A removed. Your externship may count as time toward that 2nd year but it’s best to confirm with the AAPC directly. 800-626-CODE. Best wishes!

  35. Laureen, I completed a course for billing and coding in Feb. 2013 and passed the exam and received a certificate for CBCS. I did not secure employment and gave up hope, my certification expired in March of 2015. I am going to pursue CPC certification, Do I need to have text books, work books and manuals. How do I need to proceed?Will my course work help me drop the Apprenticeship CPC? Thanks Diane

    • Hi Diane,

      For our CPC course (PBC) we include the textbook and workbook but you provide the manuals. And yes completion of this course will waive one year of the two year experience requirement. Why don’t you reach out to the Help Desk so we can go over your options.

    • They are submitted by each chapter so they come in piece meal. Most chapters get organized in January and put dates in around the month of February. Best advice it to keep checking the website or to reach out directly to the new officers on when they plan to offer exams in your area. Best wishes! –Laureen


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