Certified Coding Associate (CCA)

Based upon job analysis standards and state-of-the-art test construction, the CCA designation has been a nationally accepted standard of achievement in the health information management (HIM) field since 2002. More than 8,000 people have attained the certification since inception. The CCA, the CCS and the CCS-P are the only coding credentials worldwide currently accredited by the National Commission for Certifying Agencies (NCCA).
The CCA credential distinguishes coders by exhibiting commitment and demonstrating coding competencies across all settings, including both hospitals and physician practices. The US Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates a shortage of more than 50,000 qualified HIM and HIT workers by 2015. Becoming a CCA positions you as a leader in an exciting and growing market. CCAs:

  • Exhibit a level of commitment, competency, and professional capability that employers are looking for
  • Demonstrate a commitment to the coding profession
  • Distinguish themselves from non-credentialed coders and those holding credentials from organizations less demanding of the higher level of expertise required to earn AHIMA certification.

How Does the CCA Compare with Other AHIMA Coding Credentials?

The CCA exhibits coding competency in any setting, including both hospitals and physician practices. The CCS and CCS-P® exams demonstrate mastery level skills in an area of specialty: hospital-based for CCS’s and physician practice-based for CCS-Ps.

Eligibility Requirements


  • High School Diploma or equivalent.

Exam Specifications

  • 2 hour, 100 multiple-choice item examination consisting of 90 scored items and 10 pretest items.
  • Candidates’ scores are based solely upon the number of scored items on the exam – pretest items do not affect the candidates’ score. Pretest questions are administered to evaluate the item’s difficulty level for possible inclusion as a scored question in future exams. These pretest questions are dispersed throughout the exam and cannot be identified by the candidate.


1. Interpret healthcare data for code assignment

2. Incorporate clinical vocabularies and terminologies used in health information systems

3. Abstract pertinent information from medical records

4. Consult reference materials to facilitate code assignment

5. Apply inpatient coding guidelines

6. Apply outpatient coding guidelines

7. Apply physician coding guidelines

8. Assign inpatient codes

9. Assign outpatient codes

10. Assign physician codes

11. Sequence codes according to healthcare setting


1. Sequence codes for optimal reimbursement

2. Link diagnoses and CPT codes according to payer specific guidelines

3. Assign correct DRG

4. Assign correct APC

5. Evaluate NCCI edits

6. Reconcile NCCI edits

7. Validate medical necessity using LCD and NCD

8. Submit claim forms

9. Communicate with financial departments

10. Evaluate claim denials

11. Respond to claim denials

12. Resubmit denied claim to the payer source

13. Communicate with the physician to clarify documentation


1. Retrieve medical records

2. Assemble medical records according to healthcare setting

3. Analyze medical records quantitatively for completeness

4. Analyze medical records qualitatively for deficiencies

5. Perform data abstraction

6. Request patient-specific documentation from other sources (ancillary depts., physician’s office, etc)

7. Retrieve patient information from master patient index



8. Educate providers in regards to health data standards

9. Generate reports for data analysis


1. Identify discrepancies between coded data and supporting documentation

2. Validate that codes assigned by provider or electronic systems are supported by proper documentation

3. Perform ethical coding

4. Clarify documentation through physician query

5. Research latest coding changes

6. Implement latest coding changes

7. Update fee/charge ticket based on latest coding changes

8. Educate providers on compliant coding

9. Assist in preparing the organization for external audits


1. Navigate throughout the EHR

2. Utilize encoding and grouping software

3. Utilize practice management and HIM systems

4. Utilize CAC software that automatically assigns codes based on electronic text

5. Validate the codes assigned by CAC software


1. Ensure patient confidentiality

2. Educate healthcare staff on privacy and confidentiality issues

3. Recognize and report privacy issues/violations

4. Maintain a secure work environment

5. Utilize pass codes

6. Access only minimal necessary documents/information

7. Release patient-specific data to authorized individuals

8. Protect electronic documents through encryption

9. Transfer electronic documents through secure sites

10. Retain confidential records appropriately

11. Destroy confidential records appropriately