Career Development

10 Certifications to Help You Advance in the Healthcare Profession

November 23, 2020

Healthcare is a field where you need to fulfill all education requirements before getting professional certifications. Once you complete the requirements, you can select a certification program that matches your desired career path. Be sure to plan and research the type of healthcare careers you're interested in first before beginning to pursue your career path.

In this article, we will discuss why medical certifications are important and go into detail about the healthcare certifications available to you and the eligibility requirements to get started.

Read more: Choosing a Career Path in 9 Steps

Why are medical certifications important?

Medical certifications show that you're qualified to perform the specified duties required for a particular position. It can also be important because it can be a way for you to enter the healthcare industry if you're still a student or you're looking to transfer from another industry. Most healthcare professionals need to be certified once they complete their education, but you can still get certified for positions without prior health industry experience in areas such as healthcare management and information systems.

Related: How to Develop Your Skill Set to Advance Your Career

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10 useful healthcare certifications

Here is a list outlining 10 healthcare certifications you can receive to help you become eligible for a position in the healthcare industry:
1. Certified Coding Specialist Physician-Based (CCS-P)
2. Certified Patient Care Technician (CPCT)
3. Certified EKG Technician (CET)
4. Certified Phlebotomy Technician (CPT)
5. Certified Clinical Medical Assistant (CCMA)
6. Certified Medical Assistant (CMA)
7. Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA)
8. Registered Behavior Technician (RBT)
9. Certified Professional Coder (CPC)
10. Certified Pharmacy Technician (CPhT)

1. Certified Coding Specialist Physician-Based (CCS-P)

This type of certification is intended for expert-level coders looking to get additional experience in a clinical setting. Professionals with a Certified Coding Specialist Physician-based Certification can work at physician and specialty offices in addition to group practices. You'll receive comprehensive knowledge of patients' records and assign codes for each procedure carried out to treat a patient and for the condition they have. You can also get in-depth knowledge of documenting health care records and the quality of data being processed at a practice.

Eligibility requirements: You need to meet one of the following requirements below to be eligible for this certification:

  • You must have two years of experience in applying medical codes.
  • You must have completed courses in anatomy and physiology, pathophysiology, pharmacology, medical terminology, reimbursement methodology, intermediate or advanced International Classification of Diseases (ICD) diagnostic coding and procedural coding and medical services.
  • You have a certification to be a Registered Health Information Technician (RHIT) or Registered Health Information Administrator (RHIA).

2. Certified Patient Care Technician (CPCT)

This certification is provided by the National Healthcare Association (NHA) and patient care technicians can be viewed as nursing assistants based on their work with patients. You'll need to perform various tasks to become a Certified Patient Care Technician like assisting with physicals on patients, administering medication when necessary, feeding patients and helping patients bathe and use the restroom. You'll answer patient questions on certain procedures and aid with lab work assigned by the practicing physician.

Eligibility requirements: You need to have a high school diploma to become eligible for the certification.

3. Certified EKG Technician (CET)

A CET certification is appropriate for you if you want to specialize in rendering EKG testing for patients. This test can determine if you have irregularities with your heart that can lead to a heart attack or heart disease. You're responsible for explaining all details of the procedure to the patient, checking their blood pressure and coordinating with cardiologists to set up stress tests and work around a patient's schedule to book an appointment. You'll be taking patient interaction courses during the certification program to improve your communication skills and enhance your ability to address inquiries promptly.

Eligibility requirements: You need to have a high school diploma to become eligible for the certification. Also, some employers prefer additional experience in the healthcare industry following your graduation, so consider becoming a nurse or EMT to increase your chances of eligibility.

4. Certified Phlebotomy Technician (CPT)

A CPT certification gathers all specimens for testing purposes regardless if they're related to blood. These specimens get reviewed in a clinical laboratory to see if a patient has an illness or the efficiency of medications prescribed by a practicing physician.

Blood can also be used at blood drives and blood donation centers, so it can be given to those in need of blood from a donor. You'll learn how to draw blood and interact with patients for specific procedures as well as working in a virtual setting to practice testing procedures.

Eligibility requirements: You only need the equivalent of a high school diploma to be eligible for this certification. You can get some work experience in the healthcare industry to give you a better understanding of the certification materials.

5. Certified Clinical Medical Assistant (CCMA)

A CCMA certification is similar to CPCT certification, so you'll complete tasks that include giving medication to patients, checking vital signs, recording patients' medical history, preparing rooms before an examination takes place and educating patients on preventatives they can take to avoid illness. You can be eligible for job placement programs once you complete this program.

Eligibility requirements: You need to have a high school diploma and one year of professional experience working at a medical practice to become eligible for the certification.

6. Certified Medical Assistant (CMA)

A CMA certification gives you the ability to administer medications, monitor in-office procedures and offer general medical advice. Most medical assistants work in health clinics, rehabilitation facilities or nursing homes.

Eligibility requirements: Most applicants for this certification usually complete a year of training either by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP) or the Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools (ACHES). However, there are several other associations to choose from.

7. Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA)

A CNA certification allows you to perform nursing activities such as taking vital signs, assisting MDs and RNs, helping with personal hygiene or performing basic medical procedures. This program requires individuals to complete at least 75 hours of training and pass a two-part exam consisting of a written or oral section and a skills demonstration.

Eligibility requirements: You need to have a high school diploma or GED equivalent and be at least 18 years or have a parent authorization to get this certification.

8. Registered behavior technician (RBT)

RBT certifications can help you notice patient disorders that can impact medical treatments. You need to work with patients and their behavioral needs while you're administering treatments, so you can maximize the effectiveness of their treatments. You must complete a background check and competency assessment on top of your training and the examination to get your certification.

Eligibility requirements: You need to have a high school diploma to be eligible for this certification.

9. Certified Professional Coder (CPC)

In a CPC certification program, you'll learn about concepts tied to the human body and certain principles of medical coding. You'll mainly learn principles associated with three coding books: CPT, ICD-10-CM and HCPCS Level II Programs can have a mixture of video instruction, textbooks and independent studies to help you advance your knowledge.

Eligibility requirements: You need to have a high school diploma, and it's recommended that you have an associate's degree before proceeding with this certification. You need two years of proven job experience as a medical coder, and you must have a membership with the American Academy of Professional Coders.

10. Certified Pharmacy Technician (CPhT)

The CPhT certification assists you in knowing the process of prescribing for patients. You'll know the methods of measuring the quantity needed to fill patients' prescriptions, along with packaging and labeling requirements. You can also have a clear understanding of how to work with purchases of prescriptions, inventory of what's available and processing insurance claims from multiple providers.

Eligibility requirements: It's recommended that you have a high school diploma to get this certification, along with some relevant experience in the healthcare industry.