May 24, 2024

Which Medical Coding Certification Pays the Most

By Janine Mothershed

Are you someone who is looking to re-enter the job market or seeking a career change without a lot of formal education? If you’re craving the flexibility to work from home and manage your own schedule, then medical coding might just be the perfect fit for you. But there are many different certifications you can earn, so you may be wondering which medical coding certification pays the most.

In the dynamic world of healthcare administration, medical coding offers a rewarding career path that doesn’t require a college degree. With the demand for remote work on the rise, medical coding provides a unique opportunity for individuals to embark on a fulfilling career journey while enjoying the freedom and flexibility of working remotely from the comfort of their homes. 

Medical coding certifications are important qualifications that show how skilled professionals are in their field. Various organizations offer these certifications, each focusing on different aspects of medical coding, The AAPC CPC and AHIMA CCS credentials are the most sought-after. They are considered core credentials. They are two of the most popular certifications among employers.

Medical Coding Certifications

Let’s take a closer look at some of the main medical coding certifications and the typical salaries associated with them


  • Certified Professional Coder (CPC)
  • Certified Risk Adjustment Coder (CRC)
  • Certified Outpatient Coder (COC)
  • Certified Inpatient Coder (CIC)
  • Certified Professional Biller (CPB)



  • Certified Coding Specialist (CCS)
  • Certified Coding Specialist – Physician-based (CCS-P)

Certified Professional Coder (CPC)

A Certified Professional Coder (CPC) Individuals who earn the CPC credential have proven expertise in physician/non-physician provider documentation review, abstract professional provider encounters, coding proficiency with CPT®, HCPCS Level II, ICD-10-CM, and compliance and regulatory requirements for physician services. A coder who passes the CPC exam shows they know how to accurately assign codes to medical procedures, diagnoses, and services. CPCs work in various healthcare settings, making sure medical records are coded correctly for billing and insurance purposes.

On average, CPCs can make an annual salary of around $60,000 per year, depending on their years of experience, where they work, and how much they work. For example, a coder with one year or less of experience may start close to $45,000, but earn more the longer they work. Because so much of the job is done remotely, geographical location won’t play as much of a role–it more depends on where the work is generated from.

Certified Coding Specialist (CCS)

A Certified Coding Specialist (CCS) is a healthcare professional who specializes in coding medical records in hospital inpatient settings. They are experts in assigning accurate diagnosis and procedure codes using the ICD-10-CM and ICD-10-PCS code sets. CCS professionals ensure that medical records are coded right for billing, reimbursement, and statistical purposes. 

CCS professionals can expect to make near $46,000 per year on average, although factors can make the salary fluctuate, including how much they work and who they are working for.

Certified Coding Specialist – Physician-based (CCS-P)

Specializes in coding medical records in physician-based or outpatient settings, a Certified Coding Specialist – Physician-based (CCS-P) is skilled in assigning accurate codes for services provided by doctors and other healthcare providers. CCS-P professionals use coding languages like CPT and HCPCS Level II to ensure that medical procedures and services are correctly documented for billing and reimbursement purposes.

The average annual salary for a CCS-P coder is close to other certifications, right around $60,000 a year

Certified Outpatient Coder (COC)

The main difference between COC and other certifications, such as Certified Professional Coder (CPC) or Certified Coding Specialist (CCS), lies in the focus of their coding expertise. While CPCs and CCSs may work in various healthcare settings, COCs specifically specialize in outpatient facility coding. 

A COC certification demonstrates your mastery of outpatient hospital coding, including working knowledge of ambulatory payment classifications (APCs), payment status indicators, and Medicare severity-diagnosis-related groups (MS-DRGs). Coders who earn their COC credential go on to report outpatient services in a variety of settings, such as: 

  • Hospital emergency departments 
  • Outpatient hospital clinics 
  • Outpatient therapy departments 
  • Outpatient cancer centers 
  • Dialysis services 
  • Outpatient radiology departments 
  • Ambulatory surgery centers 

Compared to other certifications, COC coders are in line with similar credentials, at $50,000 a year

Certified Inpatient Coder (CIC)

A Certified Inpatient Coder (CIC) is a medical coder who specializes in coding medical records for hospital inpatient stays. They are skilled in assigning accurate codes for diagnoses, procedures, and treatments provided to patients during hospitalization. While CPCs and CCSs may work in various healthcare settings, CICs specifically specialize in coding for hospital inpatient stays. This certification validates mastery in abstracting information from the medical record for ICD-10-CM and ICD-10-PCS coding. It also represents extensive knowledge of Medicare Severity Diagnosis Related Groups (MS-DRGs) and the Inpatient Prospective Payment System (IPPS). Inpatient coding differs from physician-based coding in that it focuses on services provided by the facility, rather than the provided services by the physician.

CIC-certified professionals typically work in hospitals (acute care facilities), skilled nursing facilities (SNFs), critical access hospitals (CAHs), teaching hospitals, inpatient rehab facilities (IRF), and long-term care hospitals (LTCHs).

CIC professionals can make on average $55,000 annually, which ranks higher among other credentials.

Certified Professional Biller (CPB)

While not strictly a coding certification, the CPB certification, offered by AAPC, focuses on medical billing and reimbursement processes. CPB-certified professionals handle insurance claims, billing procedures, and reimbursement systems in healthcare settings.CPBs have proven knowledge of submitting claims compliant with government regulations and private payer policies. They follow up on claim statuses, resolve claim denials, submit appeals, post payments, and adjustments, and manage collections. The CPB medical billing credential is vital to the financial success of the professional healthcare services claims process.

CPB-certified professionals typically earn an average salary just under $40,000 per year, with variations based on experience, location, and employer.

As you can see, the highest-paying medical coding and billing certifications are all around the same average annual rate, although these salaries aren’t set in stone and depend on full-time work. If coders are in practice management, that could affect salary as well.

Many certified medical coders are on a part-time schedule by choice, so if they’re earning an hourly wage, they’ll make much less. And medical billers–on average–make less than coders. Although the two work closely, their positions are not interchangeable.

Take Charge of Your Career With Coding Clarified

If you’re looking for a new career, or want to take advantage of some of your free time to make some extra money, consider the Coding Clarified medical coding training courses. The program is completely online, self-taught, and will get you prepared to take the CPC exam and earn your certification.

Depending on your drive, determination, and flexibility, the program can be completed in as little as two months, or you can take a year to finish the courses. On average, students take around four months to take the program, followed by the exam, Practicode Module, and 3-4 months of internship work.

In all, you can be credited with two years of experience in less than a year–a pretty impressive stat to have on your resume. Are you ready to start making money? Reach out to Coding Clarified and put yourself in the position of having not just a job but a career to make the money you want to make, when you want to make it, and where you want to make it.

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