Are you interested in a career in medical billing and coding? This career field is expected to grow tremendously in the next few years. In fact, medical billing and coding jobs are predicted to increase by 15% by 2024. This estimates to be an increase of 30,000 jobs. Like any career within the medical field, professionals are expected to receive a certification. This helps them to prove their mastery in their professional and receive a second thought from potential employers. For medical billing and coding professions, completing an AAPC certification is key to achieving a rewarding career.

This certification provided by the American Academy of Professional Coders (AAPC) is the industry standard for medical coders. Below, you’ll learn more about this medical coding certification and how it can impact the trajectory of your career.

What is AAPC?

Previously known as the American Academy of Professional Coders, the AAPC began in 1988 as a quarterly magazine for medical billing professionals.

Since then, the organization has grown to become the country’s largest certification provider for medical billing and coding professionals. Medical coders can join this association to stay up-to-date on industry trends and receive access to new jobs.

What is the AAPC Certification Exam?

The AAPC certification exam is the final step to receiving a CPC certification as a medical billing and coding professional. This certification is regarded as the industry standard for medical coders.

By passing this exam, you not only prove your mastery of medical billing and coding techniques, but you also earn the right to be considered as a qualified candidate for any industry job.

The AAPC certification exam has 150 questions. To pass, you must score at least a 70% score. This means that you must get at least 105 questions correct or 45 questions wrong.

The exam covers 17 areas of knowledge that are important for all medical coders to show mastery in. Some of these areas include:

  • Specific coding scenarios
  • Proper use of ICD-10-CM diagnosis codes
  • Use of HCPCS Level II supply codes and CPT procedure codes

Mastery of these knowledge areas will prove that you are skilled enough to help healthcare organizations file claims to payers. Test takers will have 5 hours and 40 minutes to complete their exam.

How to Prepare for the Exam

Achieving this certification can ultimately make or break your career. Therefore, it’s important to make sure you are properly prepared before taking the exam.

You can prepare for the AAPC certification test by taking these steps:

Step #1: Receive an Education

The best way to prepare for the medical coding certification exam is to educate yourself first. There are plenty of in-person and online courses you can take to familiarize yourself with the exam’s subject matter.

These programs are curated with some questions and information you’ll find on the real exam. Thus, you’ll be able to easily receive the tools to pass your exam.

Step #2: Apply for Supplementary Courses

If you’ve already educated yourself on the subject matter for the AAPC certification test, then you may be on the fast track to passing your exam.

However, many people will struggle with key aspects that can cause them to miss important questions on their exams. To avoid this, you should also consider applying for supplementary courses.

Doing so will help you to make up for areas where you’re lacking and achieve a greater overall score on your exam.

Step #3: Take Plenty of Practice Exams

There is never such a thing as being too prepared. After receiving your education and refreshing your knowledge in key exam topics, you should finally start taking practice exams.

Taking various practice exams will help you obtain the book and working knowledge, providing you with the confidence that you fully understand the material on your exam.

Why Do Employers Care About This Certification?

Healthcare organizations must be completely certain that they’re hiring the best people to fill important jobs. For medical coders, accuracy is important to achieve ethical reimbursement and quality treatment to patients.

Since 1988, the AAPC has built a strong reputation for excellence. Employers trust the AAPC because it requires test takers to:

Show Mastery of Assigning Accurate Medical Codes:

Test takers who receive an AAPC certification must show that they can correctly assign the right medical code depending on diagnoses provided by doctors and other medical professionals.

They must also show expertise in professional-fee coding in inpatient hospitals and other facilities.

Show Mastery of Coding Regulations and Guidelines:

Recipients of this certification must also show that they understand important coding guidelines to maintain compliance. This includes:

  • Determining the necessity of medical treatment
  • Using the right modifiers
  • Obeying bundling rules

Show Mastery of Other Medical Services:

Test takers must prove they are proficient in several medical services that include:

  • Medicine
  • Pathology
  • Radiology
  • Surgery
  • Anesthesia
  • Evaluation and management (E/M)

Show Mastery of Code Descriptors:

Medical coders must fully understand how code descriptors work by relying on knowledge in key medical terminology, anatomy, physiology, and more.

They must know how to read patient documentation to use the right code descriptors.

How the AAPC Certification Impacts You

Receiving a certification from the AAPC offers the following benefits to medical coders wanting to advance their careers:

  • Coders with an AAPC certification can increase their earning potential by more than $25,000
  • Coders with this certification can take home an annual salary of almost $58,000 that can increase every year
  • Having a certification can help you stand out from other candidates in this competitive industry.
  • This certification helps test takers reach their full potential to perform high-urgency, stressful jobs in the medical industry

Need Help With the Exam?

The opportunity of taking the AAPC exam is both a joyful occasion and a stressful one. Test takers should do all they can to make sure they are properly prepared before taking the next step.

At Healthcare Revenue Cycle Solutions, we can help you receive a medical billing and coding certification.

Contact us today to learn more about how we can help you take the AAPC certification exam.