Difference Between AHIMA and AAPC (With Table)

Medical coding is an important employment option nowadays because of internet connectivity across the globe and if you want a good career as a professional medical code, you have to knowledge about qualifications or credentials. There are two organizations that were known for providing a certificate for medical coder: the AHIMA and the AAPC


The main difference between AAPC and AHIMA is that AHIMA provides certification which focused on coding and record handing staff workers in the hospital. On the other hand, AAPC is providing certification and credentialing normally for a coder in the physician’s office but it also gives credentials in hospital-based coding, medical auditing, etc.

Difference Between AHIMA and AAPC

AHIMA was established by the American College of Surgeons (earlier known as the Association of Record Librarians of North America) in 1928. The candidate who wants its certified coding professional certification must have two years experience in the field or a combination of certified coding association or another organization credentials with one year of experience in professional coding.

AAPC or The American Association of professional Coder was established in 1988. The candidate who wants its certified coding professional (CCP) credentials must have two-year of experience in the field and recommend an associate degree in medical coding or health information management (but does not require it).

Comparison Table Between AHIMA vs AAPC

Parameter of Comparison  AHIMAAAPC
CertificatesAHIMA provides certification for focused on mastery of in and outpatient codingAAPC certifies prospective model of coders for outpatient coding and certified coding professional credentials
CredentialsAHIMA offers candidates the CCS-P credentials for coders in physician offices and CCS for hospitalsAAPC offers to the candidate the CPC-H credentials for a coder in outpatient hospital coding and CIC for inpatient hospitals
PopularityAHIMA is generally popular in inpatient (patient stay in hospital for long term care) settingsAAPC is generally popular in outpatient (patient stay in hospital less than 24hour) settings
Apprentice statusAHIMA does not offer apprentice status as part of its credentialing process  AAPC does offer apprentice status as part of its credentialing process  
Pattern of examAHIMA exam consists of 97 MCQ (Multiple Choice type question) and 8 medical scenarios and the time period is 4 hours to complete the examAAPC exam consists of 150 MCQ (Multiple choice type question) and the time period is 5 hours and 40 minutes to complete the exam

What is AHIMA?

AHIMA is also known as American Health Information Management Association. It aims to improve patient care by establishing clear standard medical record keeping. AHIMA’s most popular credentials are CCS (Certified Coding Specialist). They generally provide certification and credentialing on coding and record management staff working in hospitals and inpatient settings but it widens their offerings by giving CCS-P credentials for coders in physicians.

Like AAPC, AHIMA does not offer apprentice status as part of the certification process. For AHIMA credentials and certification, you will sit for 4 hours examination in two components. The first part of the examination was 97 multiple choice questions you have to attempt. The second part of the examination takes 3 hours to aim for actual medical file coding.  AHIMA requires an annual membership payment of $165 to take a seat for the CCS-P exams.  

What is AAPC?

AAPC is also known as The American Association of Professional Coders. AAPC offers dozens of different certificates in medical coding in different specialties and facilities. Generally, they provide certification and credentialing for a coder in physician’s offices but it expands its scope of credentials in hospital-based coding, coding for payers, and other medical specialty fields.

For APPC credentials and certification you will need provisional credentials and one year of experience in medical coding to achieve full complete CPC (certified coding professional) credentials. For anyone who would like medical coding for a physician’s office, CPC certification is highly recommended. AAPC offers over 28 certifications in achieving high standards in chosen carrier path of candidates which will assist in their health care profession.

AAPC provides apprentice status to those who are without the required 2 years of coding experience. Till that they will be designated as CPC-A (apprentice). AAPC requires an annual membership payment of $120 for taking a seat for the medical coding certificate examination. In the examination, there is 150 multiple choice question and the time required to complete the exam is five hours and 40 minutes.

Main Differences Between AHIMA and AAPC

  1. AHIMA’s certification is better suited for a large organization like hospitals and inpatient settings whereas AAPC has a certificate that is relevant for auditing and management practice in a physician’s office.
  2. AHIMA gives a certificate that focused on mastery of in and outpatient coding whereas AAPC gives credentials and certification which focused on medical coders’ outpatient coding and CPC credentials.
  3. AHIMA does not offer apprentice status to their candidates whereas AAPC provides apprentice status to those who are without the required 2 years of coding experience they got CPC-A (apprentice).
  4. AHIMA certificates require a bachelor’s degree or associate’s Degree with field experience of two year in medical coding whereas AAPC has no formal requirement for its coder certification but must have field experience of two year in medical coding.
  5. In the AHIMA examination pattern of questions includes multiple-choice questions and medical scenarios with time period of 200 minutes whereas in the AAPC examination only multiple-choice question came with a time period of 340 minutes.


Both AHIMA (American Health Information Management Association) and AAPC (American Association of Professional Coders) give certificates in medical coding which is the most lucrative carrier nowadays. Earlier medical professionals have to keep records in written form through the introduction of technology like medical coding provide the easiest way to work.

AHIMA and AAPC give opportunity for a border range of information and it was well known as there is a lot of opportunities for health care business employee. Taking a long-term career plan, both give a good carrier path and direction with their certification and credentials in medical fields.


  1. https://www.ingentaconnect.com/content/asahp/jah/2004/00000033/00000003/art00002
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/pmc3392951/