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A person in a gray shirt sitting on a chair and coding on two desktop monitors and a laptop.

Coding Certifications: Highest-Paying Certification, Exam Preparation, and Job Outlook

Coding certifications are a great way to increase your appeal within today’s highly competitive software and programming job markets. Adding the best certifications for coding to your portfolio can help you land lucrative software development, data science, health informatics, or cyber security jobs. 

Our guide will cover the highest-paying coding certifications for a variety of information technology sectors. Read on to find tips for choosing the best suitable coding certifications, lucrative jobs, and coding certification resources. 

What Is a Professional Certification?

A professional certification is an industry-recognized award offered by reputable third-party providers. They assess your abilities following parameters set by current industry standards. Professional certifications usually take the form of exams that test your skills in a particular field. 

They also have several eligibility requirements that cover professional experience and educational background. There is a wide range of coding certification programs offered to display your expertise in coding procedures and programming skills.

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What’s the Difference Between Certification and a Certificate?

The difference between a certification and a certificate covers their industry credibility, methodology, and eligibility requirements. Certificate programs are offered as educational programs meant to train you for specific skills. They are offered by accredited universities, online learning platforms, or for-profit companies. 

However, certifications are assessment tools that showcase your professional skill competencies. They are provided by not-for-profit organizations that follow industry-set standards to test your abilities. Certifications also typically have professional and educational background requirements for eligibility. 

Why Is Certification in Coding Important? 

A certification in coding is important because it enhances your chances of getting a high-paying job and showcases your expert knowledge of coding to prospective employers. The information technology industry is ever-growing and offers a wide variety of highly competitive jobs. Coding certifications will help you stay relevant, increase your annual salary, and accelerate your career trajectory. 

Best Coding Certifications by Salary 

Certification Provider Average Salary Cost
Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP) (ISC)² $120,000 $749
AWS Certified Solutions Architect – Associate Amazon Web Services $118,000 $150
Cisco Certified Network Professional (CCNP) Cisco $99,000 $400
Oracle Certified Associate, Java SE 8 Programmer Oracle $90,000 $245
Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA) Cisco $82,000 $300
CompTIA Network+ CompTIA $70,000 $348
Certified Risk Adjustment Coder (CRC) American Academy of Professional Coders (AAPC) $65,000 $299 (single attempt); $190 (with an individual annual membership)
Certified Coding Specialist (CCS) American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA) $64,000 $399 (non-member); $299 (member)
Certified Professional Coder (CPC) American Academy of Professional Coders (AAPC) $49,004 $399 (online exam)
Certified Coding Associate (CCA) American Health Information Management Association AHIMA $44,000 $299 (non-member); $199 (member)

Best Coding Certifications to Further Your Career

Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP) | (ISC)²

According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the job outlook for information security analysts is projected to be 33 percent between 2020 to 2030. This systems security certification will help you advance in this growing, lucrative field.

It is best suited for professionals with five or more years of cyber security experience. It will showcase your competency in asset security, risk management, software development security, and engineering security. 

Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP) Overview

  • Average Salary: $120,000
  • Cost: $749 for the exam; $125 annual membership fee for (ISC)² certifications  
  • Requirements: Minimum five years of paid professional experience in a minimum of two CISSP CBK domains. A four-year college degree or additional credential from the (ISC)² approved list will satisfy one year of required experience
  • Valid For: Three years
  • Exam Length: 125 to 175 questions in 4 hours 
  • Best Suited For: Cyber security professionals with five or more years of information security experience and experience in two or more CISSP domains who want to prove their information systems security skills formally

Potential Careers With Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP) 

  • Chief Information Security Officer: $170,271
  • Cyber Security Engineer: $98,391
  • Information Assurance Analyst: $79,073

AWS Certified Solutions Architect – Associate | Amazon Web Services (AWS)

If you have an in-depth understanding of coding systems and cloud architecture and want to get a job in cloud computing, then this AWS certification is for you. It also requires you to have Python, Java, data storage, and system security skills. It is best suited for professionals looking to enter the AWS cloud architecture platform.  

AWS Certified Solutions Architect – Associate Overview

  • Average Salary: $118,000
  • Cost: $150
  • Requirements: Recommended one or more years of distributed systems design experience. In-depth understanding of the AWS management, framework, and networking systems
  • Valid For: Three years
  • Exam Length: Fifty multiple-choice and multiple-response questions in 130 minutes 
  • Best Suited For: Professional systems architects or developers who want to formally prove their skills in AWS architecture

Potential Careers With AWS Certified Solutions Architect – Associate

Cisco Certified Network Professional (CCNP) | Cisco

Cisco certifications are highly valuable to software development and network security professionals. This enterprise certification is apt for individuals with intermediary networking skills and three to five years of in-field experience. It showcases your network architecture, security, assurance, and automation knowledge. 

Cisco Certified Network Professional (CCNP) Overview

  • Average Salary: $99,000
  • Cost: $400
  • Requirements: Recommended three to five years of experience implementing and administering Cisco solutions. You can also a free Cisco Learning Network membership for exam practice
  • Valid For: Three years
  • Exam Length: 120 minutes
  • Best Suited For: Network security professionals with three to five years of experience looking to formally prove their network security and Cisco system enterprise understanding

Potential Careers With Cisco Certified Network Professional (CCNP)

Oracle Certified Associate, Java SE 8 Programmer | Oracle

According to Statista’s most used programming languages among developers list, Java ranks among the top five most popular programming languages alongside Python and SQL. This certification is best suited for coding professionals with an ample grasp of the Java programming language.

You can also take online coding courses to ace this certification and increase your job placement chances across software or application development professions.

Oracle Certified Associate, Java SE 8 Programmer Overview

  • Average Salary: $90,000
  • Cost: $245
  • Requirements: Complete the beginner and intermediate Java SE 8 training. Earn 65% or higher
  • Valid For: Indefinite time
  • Exam Length: Seventy multiple-choice questions in 150 minutes
  • Best Suited For: Professional Java programmers who want to become Oracle Java Certified

Potential Careers With Oracle Certified Associate, Java SE 8 Programmer 

Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA) | Cisco

This Cisco network certification is great for entry-level networking or coding professionals who have a foundational or intermediate understanding of networking and programming concepts. It will prove your competencies in network security, system automation, IP connectivity, and network programming. 

Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA) Overview

  • Average Salary: $82,000
  • Cost: $300
  • Requirements: Recommended ample practice with CCNA exam study materials and training. Network and systems administration experience
  • Valid For: Three years
  • Exam Length: 120 minutes
  • Best Suited For: Associate network administrators who want to formally prove their network security skills

Potential Careers With Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA)

CompTIA Network+ | CompTIA

Coding certifications are a great career booster for network security and software development professions. You can use this CompTIA Network+ certification to prove your IT infrastructure and management skills. This can open up job possibilities across health information management, system management, or network management sectors. 

CompTIA Network+ Overview

  • Average Salary: $70,000
  • Cost: $348
  • Requirements: Recommended nine to 12 months of networking experience 
  • Valid For: Three years
  • Exam Length: Ninety multiple-choice and performance-based questions in 90 minutes
  • Best Suited For: Entry-level network engineers or systems administrators who want to formally prove their network security, troubleshooting, and CompTIA Network+ skills 

Potential Careers With CompTIA Network+

Certified Risk Adjustment Coder (CRC) | American Academy of Professional Coders (AAPC)

If you want to land a coding position in healthcare settings or at insurance companies, then this medical coding certification is for you. It showcases your expertise in diagnostic coding, risk assessment, medical billing, reimbursement methodologies, and patient records. 

Certified Risk Adjustment Coder (CRC) Overview

  • Average Salary: $65,000
  • Cost: $299 for one attempt
  • Requirements: Must have an AAPC annual membership. CRC training or equivalent experience. 70% or higher to pass the certification
  • Valid For: Two years
  • Exam Length: One hundred multiple-choice questions in 4 hours
  • Best Suited For: Medical coders with patient risk score coding and data experience who want to formally prove their risk assessment coding skills 

Potential Careers With Certified Risk Adjustment Coder (CRC)

Certified Coding Specialist (CCS) | American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA)

Getting this medical coding certification from AHIMA requires candidates to have an in-depth understanding of medical terminology and outpatient records, along with medical coding experience. You can take online medical coding classes or enroll in online medical billing and coding bachelor’s degrees to prepare for this certification. 

Certified Coding Specialist (CCS) Overview

  • Average Salary: $64,000
  • Cost: $399 (non-member); $299 (member)
  • Requirements: Recommended one year of coding experience and medical courses, 2 years of direct application coding experience, or CCA credential
  • Valid For: Two years
  • Exam Length: 115 to 140 multiple-choice and medical scenario questions in four hours 
  • Best Suited For: Coders with two or more years of direct application coding experience who want to formally prove their medical coding skills

Potential Careers With Certified Coding Specialist (CCS)

Certified Professional Coder (CPC) | American Academy of Professional Coders (AAPC)

This CPC certification is a great asset for aspiring health information management or medical billing professionals. It requires an AAPC membership and an in-depth knowledge of medical billing, outpatient settings, surgical procedures, and medical codes. 

You can prepare for this computer-based exam with AAPC’s online training and practice questions. This certification is apt for professionals wanting to land lucrative coding jobs at pharmaceutical companies or in a hospital setting. 

Certified Professional Coder (CPC) Overview

  • Average Salary: $49,004
  • Cost: $399 for the CPC exam. $758.80 for the CPC basic prep and exam bundle. $1,107.80 for the CPC best value prep bundle. Price goes up if you pay for two attempts at the in-person exam
  • Requirements: CPC training or equivalent coding experience. Maintain annual AAPC membership. Proof of two years or equivalent medical coding experience with the CPC Apprentice credential. Score 70% or higher in the exam  
  • Valid For: Two years. 
  • Exam Length: One hundred multiple-choice questions in 4 hours
  • Best Suited For: AAPC-trained or experienced medical coders who want to formally prove their medical coding proficiency skills  

Potential Careers With Certified Professional Coder (CPC)

Certified Coding Associate (CCA) | American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA)

This medical billing and coding associate certification is great for entry-level medical coders who want to formally prove their programming language knowledge. It requires six months or more of medical coding skills and extensive knowledge of medical terminology and procedures. It can help you advance your career in the health information management sector. 

Certified Coding Associate (CCA) Overview

  • Average Salary: $45,000
  • Cost: $299 (non-member); $199 (member)
  • Requirements: Recommended six months of direct application coding experience, complete AHIMA-approved coding program, or complete other medical coding training program
  • Valid For: Two years
  • Exam Length: Ninety to 115 questions in 2 hours 
  • Best Suited For: Medical coders with foundational coding skills who want to formally prove their coding skills

Potential Careers With Certified Coding Associate (CCA)

How to Choose the Best Coding Certification for Your Career

When choosing the best coding certification for your career there are several factors to consider. The field of coding encompasses a wide variety of information technology professions. Some of these industries include healthcare, information technology, cyber security engineering, networking, and data science. 

It is important to choose coding certifications that assess and showcase skills relevant to your choice of coding profession. Below are some tips you should take into consideration while choosing the best coding certification for your career. 

Choose a Coding Certification That Accelerates Your Career Goals

There are countless coding certifications offered to enhance your candidacy chances across the healthcare, information technology, data science, or cyber security fields. It is important to choose a professional certification and a certification provider that will enhance your chances of finding a high-paying position with a reputable organization.

Find a Coding Certification That Matches Your Financial Preferences 

The journey to get and maintain coding certifications can be quite expensive. Depending on the certification, you might be required to pay annual organization membership, exam certification, and annual recertification fees. You should choose certifications that match your budget and financial preferences and provide you with the best return on investment. 

Choose Certifications That Match Your Current Coding, Industry, and Programming Skills

Coding certifications often have several eligibility requirements along with skills recommendations. It is important to attain that background and those programming skills to increase your chances of passing the certification exam. You can get in touch with the certification provider and take online courses to better prepare for these certifications. 

Which Coding Certifications Pay the Most?

The coding certifications that pay the most are Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP), AWS Certified Solutions Architect – Associate, and Cisco Certified Network Professional (CCNP). Other high-paying coding certifications are Oracle Certified Associate, Java SE 8 Programmer, and Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA). 

Pairing a reputable coding certification with an industry-standard education and in-demand skills will increase your job prospects and potential for landing high-paid positions. 

Highest-Paying Coding Certifications

  1. Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP): $120,000 
  2. AWS Certified Solutions Architect – Associate: $118,000
  3. Cisco Certified Network Professional (CCNP): $99,000
  4. Oracle Certified Associate, Java SE 8 Programmer: $90,000
  5. Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA): $82,000

Which Coding Certifications Are the Best for Beginners?

The coding certifications that are the best for beginners are Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA) and Certified Coding Associate (CCA). These certifications are great for introductory coders or entry-level professionals who have foundational or intermediate skills in programming. 

The CCNA is great for junior network administrators who want to advance into network management or security professions and have foundational coding and networking skills. The CCA is apt for medical billing newbies or junior medical coders who want to prove their understanding of medical terminologies, hospital procedures, and medical coding.

How to Prepare for Your Coding Certification Exam

There are several ways to prepare for your coding certification exam. You can attend online training sessions offered by the certification provider or watch their coding exam prep videos. Along with the training provided by the certification provider, you can also attend free online coding bootcamps and use other resources to prepare for these exams. 

Below are the best courses and other resources you can use to prepare for your coding certification exams. They cover resources for medical, cyber security, and information technology coding certification exams. 

Best Courses to Prepare for Coding Certification Exams

There are several courses to prepare you for your coding certification exams. Be sure to choose a course that suits your learning, financial, and curriculum preferences. 

Total: CompTIA Security+ Certification (SY0-601) | Udemy

  • Cost: $84.99
  • Duration: 19.5 hours of videos 
  • Best Suited For: CompTIA Network+, Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA), Cisco Certified Network Professional (CCNP)

This certification is apt for individuals who want to prepare for CompTIA and other network security-based coding certifications. This course prepares you for the CompTIA Network+ certification but also covers network infrastructure, information security, and network security. 

AWS: Getting Started With Cloud Security | AWS on edX

  • Cost: Free for the limited audit track; $49 for the verified track 
  • Duration: Two to 4 hours per week for 4 weeks
  • Best Suited For: AWS Certified Solutions Architect – Associate

This AWS course is great for individuals who want to prepare for AWS cloud certifications and are looking to gain cloud architecture and networking skills. It is offered by AWS architects and has around 17,505 enrollees. You will learn the AWS responsibility model, network isolation, CloudWatch application, and cloud security. 

Introduction to Medical Software | Yale University on Coursera

  • Cost: $49 for graded materials and certificate
  • Duration: Thirty-eight hours over 4 weeks
  • Best Suited For: Certified Risk Adjustment Coder (CRC), Certified Coding Specialist (CCS), Certified Professional Coder (CPC)

This intro to medical software is apt for medical billing and coding newbies who want to get a foundational understanding of health information and hospital systems. It covers medical software requirements, medical coding, system testing, and software design. It has a 4.8-star rating. 

Introduction to Programming | The University of Pennsylvania on Coursera

  • Cost: $79 per month subscription 
  • Duration: Six hours per week for 4 months 
  • Best Suited For: Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA), Certified Risk Adjustment Coder (CRC), Certified Coding Specialist (CCS)

This Introduction to Programming course will help you master Python and data structures. Although it is best suited for data science certifications, learning Python is a necessity for coding certification exams. It will cover Java programming, Python syntax, data analysis, programming principles, and data visualization. 

The Software Architect Code: Building the Digital World | Universidad Carlos III de Madrid on edX

  • Cost: Free for the limited audit track; $129 for the verified track 
  • Duration: Two to three hours per week for eight weeks
  • Best Suited For: AWS Certified Solutions Architect – Associate

If you want to master system architecture and software development or clear professional software development-based coding certifications, then this course is for you. It will cover software architecture, software design, and career development tips for software architecture professionals. 

Other Resources to Prepare for Your Coding Certification Exams

Resources to prepare you for your coding certification exams include websites, online communities, or books. The types of resources will vary by the individual’s learning preferences. Below are the top resources to help you ace your coding certification exams and excel in your career. 

Medical Billing and Coding for Dummies: 3rd Edition by Karen Smiley

This medical billing book is a great introductory resource that helps you understand medical coding, hospital terminologies, and medical billing. It is a great tool for newbie medical coders looking to apply for junior or entry-level medical billing and coding jobs. 

Medical Billing and Coding for Dummies: 3rd Edition by Karen Smiley Overview

Type of Resource: Book

Cost: $17.29

Ideal For: Complete beginners who want to enter the medical billing and coding fields and pass medical coding certification exams 

CPT 2022: Professional Edition: 4th Edition by M.D. Synovec et al. 

This CPT coding exam prep book is apt for CPT certification candidates or other medical billing and coding aspirants. It covers medical billing, hospital procedures, and health information management topics. 

CPT 2022: Professional Edition: 4th Edition by M.D. Synovec et al. Overview

Type of Resource: Book

Cost: $103.99

Ideal For: People who want to pass the CPT or other medical professional coding certification exams

Codecademy 

Codecademy is a website that helps individuals learn to code for free. It offers ample coding projects, cheatsheets, challenges, and articles to help you master programming concepts. It also offers a paid membership option for unlimited access to learning resources. 

Codecademy Overview

Type of Resource: Website

Cost: Free with limited resources; $39.99/month or $19.99/month billed annually for unlimited resources

Ideal For: People who want to learn to code for free

Code.org

Code.org is an educational website that offers coding challenges and computer science courses as part of the K-12 educational journey. It has more than 67 million users, including students, educators, and individuals. 

Code.org Overview

Type of Resource: Educational website 

Cost: Varies by program

Ideal For: People who want to learn computer science and coding during their K-12 education journey

GitHub

GitHub is an open-source software development and coding community that is great for coding professionals looking to add projects to their portfolios. You can join the GitHub community to find the latest coding industry news and practice building scalable software systems. 

GitHub Overview

Type of Resource: Online community

Cost: Free

Ideal For: People who want to be part of an online coding community 

Coding Job Outlook and Average Salary

The average salary and job outlook for coding professions varies depending on your choice of industry and job designations. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the job outlook for software developers is projected to grow by 22 percent between 2020 to 2030. However, the job outlook rate will vary according to the specific coding profession. 

The salaries of coding jobs also vary. According to PayScale, the average salary for a medical coder is $45,291 per year. Your exact coding salary will depend on your professional experience, certification, and educational qualifications. 

Best Coding Jobs After Certification

Below are the best coding jobs you can get with coding certifications. These coding certification jobs cover the medical, cyber security, networking, and information technology sectors. 

Cloud Engineer | Average Salary: $91,409

Cloud engineers are responsible for developing, upgrading, and maintaining an organization’s cloud architecture. You need to master cloud architecture, storage systems, and popular cloud platforms. 

Best Certification for the Job Role

AWS Certified Solutions Architect – Associate. AWS is a popular cloud platform, and having an AWS certification will help you advance in your cloud engineering career. 

Information Technology Manager | Average Salary: $89,288

Information technology managers are tech leaders who are responsible for overseeing the projects, systems, and staff of a tech department. They oversee software upgrades, system security, and network management tasks. 

Best Certification for the Job Role

Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA). This Cisco certification is a great stepping stone to an information technology management position. It will help you showcase your network security and management skills. 

Medical Coding Auditor | Average Salary: $61,788

A medical coding auditor is responsible for overseeing the technical, billing, and compliance aspects of medical records. You need to master medical coding, billing systems, hospital procedures, and medical software systems for this job. 

Best Certification for the Job Role

Certified Risk Adjustment Coder (CRC). This risk adjustment certificate will display your medical terminology, medical billing, coding, and records assessment skills. 

Clinical Documentation Specialist | Average Salary: $76,815 

A clinical documentation specialist is a healthcare professional who works with medical records and data. They need to master data collection, health information technology, and medical record processing. 

Best Certification for the Job Role

Certified Coding Specialist (CCS). The certified coding specialist certification will showcase your mastery of medical record collection, medical billing, and health information management skills. 

Application Developer | Average Salary: $72,373

Application developers are responsible for designing and developing functional mobile or web application software. They need to master coding languages, software development, and front end development languages. 

Best Certification for the Job Role

Oracle Certified Associate, Java SE 8 Programmer Certification. Oracle’s Java programming certification is a great addition to your Android app developer portfolio. 

Best Coding Associations

The best coding associations you can join will enhance your coding career and help you stay updated regarding coding industry standards. 

Medical Association of Billers (MAB)

The Medical Association of Billers is a medical billing association and coding training provider. If you are an aspiring medical coder who wants to keep up with the medical coding industry and master your existing skills, then an MAB membership is for you. 

American Academy of Professional Coders (AAPC)

The American Academy of Professional Coders provides several industry certifications and training programs. Having an AAPC membership allows you to get certified in medical billing, medical auditing, healthcare compliance, or practice management. 

American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA)

The American Health Information Management Association is another medical billing and coding certification provider. It offers certifications, educational events, and business solutions related to the healthcare information and coding sectors. 

Are Coding Certifications Worth It?

Yes, coding certifications are worth it for anyone who wants to advance in a technological or software-based profession. Getting a professional coding certification can help you land lucrative jobs across healthcare, cyber security, or information technology fields. It will also help you qualify for high-paying jobs.  

Coding Certifications FAQ

What are the best coding certifications?

The best coding certifications are Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP), AWS Certified Solutions Architect – Associate, and Cisco Certified Network Professional (CCNP). You can also enter the medical coding sector with a Certified Risk Adjustment Coder (CRC) certification. There are several ways to get a job in coding, and acquiring a relevant certification is one of them.

How long are coding certifications valid for?

Coding certifications are typically valid for one to three years. However, the validation or recertification timeline will vary from one coding certification to another. 

What coding certifications pay the most?

The coding certifications that pay the most are Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP) and Amazon Web Services Certified Solutions Architect – Associate. Your professional and educational background also impacts your salary. 

What jobs can I apply for with coding certifications?

With coding certifications, you can apply for jobs in medical coding, cloud engineering, network security, data science, medical billing, or health information management industries.

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