Difference between AMBA(CMRS exam) and AAPC

by Amy
(Gainesville, VA)

I’m trying to study for medical billing and coding certification. But i found two different organizations which are AMBA and AAPC, also different type of certifications. I’m not sure which one i should study in order to get certification in this field.

And which one is the common certification that most of employers required?

Anyone who knows this field, can you give me some advice?


They are both reputable organizations.

AMBA is the American Medical Billing Association. AMBA offers certification in Medical Billing called the CMBS – Certified Medical Reimbursement Specialist. It is awarded by passing an exam administered by the American Medical Billing Association.

The CMBS certification is only for claims management and medical billing.

The AAPC (American Academy of Professional Coders) focuses on medical coding certification and continuing education for coding professionals. Their standards and certifications are comparable to those of AHIMA.

AHIMA (American Health Information Management Association) is more concentrated on medical record keeping, clinical data, and health information.

So which certification should you obtain?

If you want to stay strictly in medical billing and reimbursement than the CMBS offered by AMBA.

Beginners wanting to concentrate on medical coding should probably aim for medical coding certification by either the Certified Professional Coding (CPC) credential from the AAPC or for the Certified Coding Specialist (CCS) credential through AHIMA. Employers for medical coding jobs do prefer CPC certification.

The CPC from AAPC and the CCS from AHIMA tests on the overall knowledge of anatomy, medical terms, reimbursement process, guidelines, and the three medical coding books. If you wish to specialize, you can then pursue specialty credentials.

The CPC (Certified Professional Coder) and the CCS (Certified Coding Specialist) are the two most recognized and sought after coding credentials in the coding industry. Many employers will require one of these certifications.

While both certifications are industry standards, the CPC and CCS have a different focus.

The AAPC CPC credential focuses primarily on coding practices in the physician office, out patient, and emergency room facilities. If you wish to work more in this type of setting then the CPC is probably more for you.

The AHIMA CCS is more concentrated on coding for facilities such as hospitals and other similar in-patient facilities. If you want to work for a hospital or in-patient type facility then you should probably pursue the CCS.

Another thought is to browse the classifieds in your area for medical coders. See what certifications they prefer in their job ad. This would also give you a good idea of employer preferences.

Most the people I’ve worked with in coding obtained the AAPC CPC certification – but probably because we deal more with physicians offices.

Thanks for visiting the site – hope this helps answer your question.

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