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How Do I Become a Certified Coding Specialist (CCS)? Education & Career

CCS Test

Certified Coding Specialist (CCS®)

Certified Coding Specialists are skilled in classifying medical data from patient records, often in a hospital setting but also in a variety of other healthcare settings. The CCS credential demonstrates a practitioner’s tested skills in data quality and accuracy as well as mastery of coding proficiency.

The CCS certification is a natural progression for professionals experienced in coding inpatient and outpatient records. Coding specialists create coded data used by hospitals and medical providers to obtain reimbursement from insurance companies or government programs such as Medicare and Medicaid. Researchers and public health officials also use this data to monitor patterns and explore new interventions.


  • Review patients’ records and assign numeric codes for each diagnosis and procedure.
  • Possess expertise in the ICD-10-CM, ICD-10-PCS, and CPT® coding systems.
  • Are versed in medical terminology, disease processes, and pharmacology concepts.

Eligibility Requirements

While not required, one of the following are recommended to sit for the CCS examination: 

  • Complete courses in all the following topics: anatomy & physiology, pathophysiology, pharmacology, medical terminology, reimbursement methodology, intermediate/advanced ICD diagnostic coding, and procedural coding and medical services (CPT/HCPCS) plus one (1) year of coding experience directly applying codes; OR
  • Minimum of two (2) years of related coding experience directly applying codes; OR
  • Hold the CCA® credential plus one (1) year of coding experience directly applying codes; OR
  • Hold a coding credential from another certifying organization plus one (1) year of coding experience directly applying codes; OR
  • Hold a CCS-P®, RHIT®, or RHIA® credential

Get Prepared for the Exam

AHIMA has developed a flexible online course that can help prepare you for the CCS certification exam. Access the six brief lessons on your schedule, work through the content at your own pace, and revisit the lessons and material as often as needed.

Apply for the Exam

Apply to take the Certified Coding Specialist exam.     

About the CCS Exam

Certified Professionals and Pass Rates 

As of 12/31/2022, there were 30,111 certified CCS professionals.

Year  Exam  # First Time Testers  Pass Rate First Time Testers 
2022*  CCS 2,670 55% 
2021*  CCS  2,250 42% 
2020*  CCS  2,029 73% 

*U.S. and Canada results only 

Exam Specifications 

The CCS is a timed exam. Candidates have four hours to complete the exam. The total number of questions on the exam range between 115 and 140 total items. The exam consists of two sections, a Multiple-Choice Section and a Medical Scenario Section (inpatient, outpatient, and emergency department) that contains multiple-choice, multiple-response 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 pretest questions randomly distributed throughout the exam. Pretest questions are not counted in the final results. 

The passing score for the CCS is 300. 

Competencies for CCS fall into four 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. (The 2024 exam content outline effective on 05/01/2024 competencies fall into five domains.)

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