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How Do I Become a Certified Coding Specialist – Physician-Based ? Education & Career

Certified Coding Specialist

Certified Coding Specialist – Physicianbased (CCS-P®) 

Coding specialist – physician-based professionals perform coding in physician offices, group practices, multi-specialty clinics, or specialty centers. The CCS-P certification exam assesses mastery-level proficiency in coding of health services delivery beyond the hospital setting.


  • Review patient records and assign numeric codes for each diagnosis and procedure 
  • Possess in-depth knowledge of the CPT® coding system and familiarity with the ICD-10-CM and HCPCS Level II coding systems 
  • Are experts in health information documentation, data integrity, and quality 
  • Play a critical role in a health provider’s business operations, often as liaison to insurance companies or the government for expense reimbursement 

Eligibility Requirements

While not required, one of the following are recommended to sit for the CCS-P 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®, RHIT®, or RHIA® credential

Get Prepared for the Exam 

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

Apply for the Exam

About the CCS-P Exam

Certified Professionals and Pass Rates 

As of 12/31/2022, there were 4,283 certified CCS-P professionals.

Year Exam # First Time Testers Pass Rate First Time Testers
2022* CCS-P  282 35% 
2021*  CCS-P  260 42% 
2020*  CCS-P  292 63% 

*U.S. and Canada results only 

Exam Specifications 

The CCS-P is a timed exam. Candidates have four hours to complete the exam. The total number of questions on the exam range between 97 and 121 total items. The exam consists of two sections, a Multiple-Choice Section and a Medical Scenario Section (evaluation and management, surgery, medicine) 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-P is set at 300, as are all AHIMA exams and programs. 

Competencies for CCS-P fall into five 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. 

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