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NHA Certifications vs. AAPC Certifications

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Many careers in the health care industry involve highly technical, hands-on work that requires specialized training. A wide range of professional certification programs are available to help healh care professionals develop knowledge and expertise specific to their fields. The National Healthcareer Association (NHA) and the American Academy of Professional Coders (AAPC) are two organizations offering these types of certifications.

Types of Certification

The NHA offers certifications for 10 health-related professions: pharmacy technicians, phlebotomy technicians, clinical medical assistants, electrocardiograph technicians, operating room surgical technicians, patient care technicians, medical laboratory assistants, medical administrative assistants, electronic health record specialists and billing and coding specialists. The AAPC offers certifications in medical coding, medical auditing and medical compliance.

Eligibility Requirements

To be eligible for an NHA certification exam, you must be at least 18 years of age and have a high school diploma, or an equivalent. In addition, you must have successfully completed an Allied Health training program within the last year, or alternatively, you must have worked within the past year in the certification field for at least one year. AAPC eligibility requirements vary from certification to certification. Most require or recommend that you have at least two years of experience in the field as well as an associate degree.

Examination Process

Both the NHA and the AAPC provide materials such as study guides and practice exams to help you prepare for certification exams. Classroom and online training courses are also available to help you prepare for AAPC exams. Exams for both NHA and AAPC certifications are administered at hundreds of locations across the country.

Maintaining Certification

In order to maintain your NHA certification, you must pay a recertification fee to renew it every two years, and you must complete at least 10 continuing education credits. Otherwise, your certification will expire. The requirements for maintaining AAPC certifications are slightly more stringent. Most AAPC certifications must be renewed annually, and require you to complete 36 continuing education credits every two years. Individuals with more than one AAPC certification are required to complete a higher number of continuing education credits.

Certification Benefits

Both NHA and AAPC certifications are nationally recognized by employers, medical societies and government organizations. These certifications demonstrate your knowledge and experience in your industry and your commitment to your career. Earning these certifications can give you a competitive advantage in your field, more job opportunities, higher pay and job security.


Megan Harman is based in Toronto, Ontario, and has been writing professionally since 2002. Her work has been published in "Canadian Business Magazine," the "National Post," the "Globe and Mail," "Investment Executive Newspaper" and "Journey Magazine." She has completed the Canadian Securities Course and holds a Bachelor of Journalism with a minor in economics from Carleton University.