Certified Coding Associate (CCA®)
Coding professionals who hold the CCA credential have demonstrated coding competency across all settings, including hospitals and physician practices.
Since 2002, the CCA designation has been a nationally recognized standard of achievement in the health information management (HIM) field.
- Exhibit a level of commitment, competency, and professional capability that is valued by employers.
- Demonstrate a commitment to the coding profession.
- Distinguish themselves from others as having passed AHIMA’s rigorous CCA exam.
Candidates must have a high school diploma or equivalent to sit for the CCA examination.
While not required, at least one of the following is recommended:
- 6 months coding experience directly applying codes;
- Completion of an AHIMA approved coding program (PCAP Program);
- Completion of other coding training program to include anatomy & physiology, medical terminology, basic ICD diagnostic/procedural and basic CPT® coding.
Apply to take Certified Coding Associate (CCA) exam.
Certified Professionals and Pass Rates
As of 12/31/19, there were 7,945 certified CCA professionals.
# First Time Testers
Pass Rate First Time Testers
*U.S. and Canada results only
The CCA is a timed exam. Candidates have two hours to complete the exam. The total number of questions on the exam range between 90 and 115 total items. The exam is given in a computer-based format.
AHIMA exams contain a variety of questions or item types that require you to use your knowledge, skills, and/or experience to select the best answer. Each exam includes scored questions and pre-test questions randomly distributed throughout the exam. Pre-test questions are not counted in the final results.
The passing score for the CCA is 300.
Competencies for CCAs fall into six domains. Each domain accounts for a specific percentage of the total questions on the certification exam. See the Exam Content Outline below for greater detail.
Magnet Recognition Program® designation
The CCA certification is included in the list of national certifications that may be submitted on the Demographic Data Collection Tool (DDCT) as part of the application for the Magnet Recognition Program® designation. Learn more about the accepted certifications on the American Nurses Credentialing Center website.
Certified Coding Associate (CCA) Exam Content Outline
Domain 1 – Clinical Classification Systems (30-34%)
- Interpret healthcare data for code assignment
- Incorporate clinical vocabularies and terminologies used in health information systems
- Abstract pertinent information from medical records
- Consult reference materials to facilitate code assignment
- Apply inpatient coding guidelines
- Apply outpatient coding guidelines
- Apply physician coding guidelines
- Assign inpatient codes
- Assign outpatient codes
- Assign physician codes
- Sequence codes according to healthcare setting
Domain 2 – Reimbursement Methodologies (21-25%)
- Sequence codes for optimal reimbursement
- Link diagnoses and CPT codes according to payer specific guidelines
- Assign correct DRG
- Assign correct APC
- Evaluate NCCI edits
- Reconcile NCCI edits
- Validate medical necessity using LCD and NCD
- Submit claim forms
- Communicate with financial departments
- Evaluate claim denials
- Respond to claim denials
- Resubmit denied claim to the payer source
- Communicate with the physician to clarify documentation
Domain 3 – Health Records and Data Content (13-17%)
- Retrieve medical records
- Assemble medical records according to healthcare setting
- Analyze medical records quantitatively for completeness
- Analyze medical records qualitatively for deficiencies
- Perform data abstraction
- Request patient-specific documentation from other sources (ancillary depts., physician’s office,etc)
- Retrieve patient information from master patient index
- Educate providers in regards to health data standards
- Generate reports for data analysis
Domain 4 – Compliance (12-16%)
- Identify discrepancies between coded data and supporting documentation
- Validate that codes assigned by provider or electronic systems are supported by proper documentation
- Perform ethical coding
- Clarify documentation through physician query
- Research latest coding changes
- Implement latest coding changes
- Update fee/charge ticket based on latest coding changes
- Educate providers on compliant coding
- Assist in preparing the organization for external audits
Domain 5 – Information Technologies (6-10%)
- Navigate throughout the EHR
- Utilize encoding and grouping software
- Utilize practice management and HIM systems
- Utilize CAC software that automatically assigns codes based on electronic text
- Validate the codes assigned by CAC software
Domain 6 – Confidentiality & Privacy (6-10%)
- Ensure patient confidentiality
- Educate healthcare staff on privacy and confidentiality issues
- Recognize and report privacy issues/violations
- Maintain a secure work environment
- Utilize pass codes
- Access only minimal necessary documents/information
- Release patient-specific data to authorized individuals
- Protect electronic documents through encryption
- Transfer electronic documents through secure sites
- Retain confidential records appropriately
- Destroy confidential records appropriately