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AAPC certification is one of the two major certification procedures for people in medical billing and coding. This field, also called health information management, is expanding as doctors become more specialized and the health care industry becomes more computerized. AAPC, along with AHIMA, or the American Health Information Management Association, provides certification through examination to show that individuals have a complete knowledge of various medical billing and coding practices.
The AAPC's website states that in studies of salary, people with AAPC certification make up to 20 percent more than their non-certified counterparts. AAPC certification demonstrates to potential employers that a job candidate has taken courses, worked in the field for at least two years, and passed a comprehensive exam. For people seeking new or better employment, this certification demonstrates an effort to go beyond the basic requirements since most jobs do not require certification. In addition, AAPC certification in a specialty, such as outpatient hospital care or dermatology, may be a way for someone in the health information management field to change career tracks.
The AAPC certification program
is expensive. The exam alone costs around $2,000, depending on the specific exam one is taking. The process also is not quick. Courses take about eight months, and the candidate receives only Apprentice designation until working in the field for two years. The health information management field is not as board-driven as other areas, such as nursing or phlebotomy, and many people can get jobs without this lengthy and expensive process.
Again, the AAPC claims a significant pay advantage for people who have their certification. Some health care fields require very specialized knowledge of terminology and procedure, and demonstrating an official certification from an established organization is one way to gain an advantage in the hiring process.
AAPC certification is not a guarantee of a job. Because the health care information management field is growing rapidly, many people will want to enter this field. The works tends to be solitary and detail-oriented. Being able to gain certification is only one indicator that you may be well-suited to this field, so take some time to consider your suitability before investing the required time and money.