The Certified Professional Coder (CPC) is the gold standard for medical coding in a physician office setting. The CPC certification exam tests the competencies required to perform the job of a professional coder who specializes in coding for services performed by physicians and non-physician providers (eg, nurse practitioners and physician assistants). 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.
100 multiple-choice questions
Online or in-person options
AAPC offers online and in-person proctored exams. Choose to take the exam at home in a quiet, private location or through your local chapter or a licensed instructor. Learn more about the online proctored exam and how to prepare for the current exam.
In-person and online exams are administered in one sitting, with four hours to complete the exam.
Equipment required for online exam
A reliable internet connection and an external webcam that can be positioned to show your face, hands, keyboard, and the area around the keyboard (about 10 inches) are required.
A high-level knowledge of medical terminology, anatomy, and pathophysiology, along with understanding of the proper application of CPT® procedure codes, HCPCS Level II procedure and supply codes, and ICD-10-CM diagnosis codes.
If you don’t have medical experience or working knowledge of these subjects, we offer prerequisite courses to prepare you for the CPC certification training course. Learn more.
If you are already up to speed on medical terminology, pathophysiology, and anatomy, you can start right into our CPC certification training course.
Approved code books
AMA's CPT® Professional Edition (current year)
ICD-10-CM (current year), any publisher
HCPCS Level II (current year), any publisher
Note: Code sets are updated annually, so it’s essential to use the current calendar year's code books when taking the CPB certification exam.
Any officially published updates (errata) for the above code books may also be used.
Maintaining your certification
To maintain your credential, you must maintain your AAPC annual membership, and earn 36 continuing education units (CEUs) every two years.
One attempt for $399 or $499 for two attempts. Of note:
80% of AAPC students pass on the first attempt.
Students who train with AAPC are three times more likely to pass the certification exam.
Expertise in medical record review to abstract information required to support accurate coding.
Ability to identify documentation deficiencies and properly query providers for proper code capture. Ӏ Expertise in assigning accurate CPT®, HCPCS Level II, and ICD-10-CM medical codes for diagnoses and procedures.
Solid understanding of anatomy, physiology, and medical terminology required to correctly code professional provider services and diagnoses.
Proficiency across a wide range of services, including evaluation and management, anesthesia, surgery, radiology, pathology, and medicine.
A sound knowledge of medical coding guidelines and regulations including compliance and reimbursement – allowing a CPC to better handle issues such as medical necessity, claims denials, bundling issues, and charge capture.
Understanding of how to integrate medical coding and payment policy changes into a practice’s reimbursement processes.
The CPC exam is a test of medical coding proficiency consisting of 100 multiple-choice questions that assess 17 areas of knowledge.
Most questions present a coding scenario to test proper application of CPT® procedure codes, HCPCS Level II supply codes, and ICD-10-CM diagnosis codes — all of which medical providers use to submit claims to payers.
Whether you take the exam online or in-person, you must complete the CPC exam within four hours and answer 70% of the questions correctly to pass.