9 Healthcare Administration Certifications

Healthcare administration may be a rewarding field for those interested in operations and finance in the medical and public health industry. The job outlook for healthcare administration will grow much faster than other occupations with an 18 percent growth rate from 2018 to 2028 in the United States, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. 

Many who are interested in becoming a healthcare administrator start by earning a BHA degree or MHA degree. Another effective way to earn qualifications, credentials and competitive skills may be with certifications in healthcare administration.

We compiled a list of certifications for healthcare administrators and other professionals in similar fields, along with some Scroll to frequently asked questions, below:

Healthcare Management:

IT and Informatics:

Finance Skills:

Quality Control:

Fellow of the American College of Healthcare Executives (FACHE)

The FACHE certification is offered by the American College of Healthcare Executives (ACHE). It is best suited for those interested in management, IT, finance and operations. This healthcare certification demonstrates competency in areas of healthcare management as well as commitment to change and improvement in the industry.

FACHE Eligibility Requirements:

  • Have three years tenure as an ACHE Member, Faculty Associate or International Associate.
  • Earn a master’s degree (or other post-baccalaureate degree).
  • Hold an executive healthcare management position and have a minimum of five years of healthcare management experience.
  • Obtain two references including one Fellow (must be a structured interview). The second reference may be from a senior-level executive (vice president or higher) in your organization or a second Fellow.
  • Complete a minimum of 36 continuing education hours related to healthcare management and administration.
  • Complete four volunteer activities within the three years prior to submitting an application.

Testing:

After meeting the requirements above, you may apply for the Board of Governors Exam in Healthcare Management. This exam, consisting of 200 questions to complete in six hours, is the last step to earn your FACHE certification. Exams are immediately scored and candidates will know if they pass the exam upon completion. This exam can be taken as many times as needed during their two-year application eligibility period, with a 60-day waiting period between attempts. 

Certified Medical Manager (CMM)

The CMM certification is offered by the Professional Association of Health Care Office Management (PAHCOM). It recognizes healthcare office managers who have the knowledge, skills and experience necessary to manage today’s ever-changing medical practices.

CMM Eligibility Requirements:

  • A minimum of two years experience in the healthcare field. Must be in support of patient care, as in a medical practice or other clinical environment.
  • Twelve college credit hours in courses pertinent to healthcare or business management. The educational credit requirement is reduced by one hour for each year experience above the two year minimum.

Testing:

The three-hour CMM exam consists of 200 multiple-choice questions that test your knowledge and skills in healthcare management. The examination evaluates the candidate’s knowledge of 18 areas of medical practice administration. Core concepts include:

  • Revenue management
  • Risk management
  • Human resources
  • Finance
  • Contract management
  • Business management
  • Technology and data management
  • Clinical performance reporting
  • Patient clinical education
  • Practice marketing

In addition to receiving your CMM certification, those who pass are included in a list of successful examinees in the PAHCOM’s annual report at the beginning of every year.

Certified Healthcare Administrative Professional (cHAP)

The cHAP certification is issued by the Association for Healthcare Administrative Professionals. It is best suited for administrative professionals who work within healthcare organizations. This public certification demonstrates healthcare administrative skills, knowledge and experience and can help differentiate professionals from others in the field.

cHAP Eligibility Requirements (PDF, 1.2 MB):

Those who are interested in taking the cHAP exam must meet certain requirements in education, professional experience and elective activities. Your level of education and healthcare administration experience will determine whether you proceed through the Fast Track Program or the Traditional Program. 

The Fast Track Program may better suit experienced administrative professionals to sit for the cHAP exam. Candidates need to:

  • Have been an administrative professional in a healthcare setting for seven or more consecutive years
  • Hold an associate degree or higher from an accredited college or university.
  • Have been a member in good standing with AHCAP for at least five years.
  • Currently a member in good standing with AHCAP. 

The Fast Track Program candidates can have less than seven years of work experience, but still they need to meet criteria in three categories: education, professional experience and elective activities; for a minimum total of 100 points.

Testing:

The cHAP exam is composed of multiple choice questions, true/false questions and fill-in-the-blank questions. Exam questions measure the candidate’s knowledge in five areas of administrative experience: 

  • Clerical: 18% 
  • Grammar: 15% 
  • Healthcare governance: 22% 
  • Healthcare regulatory: 22% 
  • Software: 22%

This healthcare administration certification must be renewed every three years.

Certified Professional in Healthcare Risk Management (CPHRM)

CPHRM is a public certification issued by the American Society of Health Care Risk Management. It is one of the highest certification in healthcare risk management and considered to be a prerequisite for many top jobs in the field.

CPHRM Eligibility Requirements:

Please note that you must meet one of the educational requirements in addition to the risk management experience requirement. 

Education and Healthcare Experience Requirements:

  • Hold a baccalaureate degree or higher from an accredited college or university plus five years of experience in a healthcare setting or with a provider of services to the healthcare industry.
  • Hold an associate degree or equivalent from an accredited college plus seven years of experience in a healthcare setting or with a provider of services to the healthcare industry.
  • Have a High school diploma or equivalent plus nine years of experience in a healthcare setting or with a provider of services to the healthcare industry.

Risk Management Experience Requirements:

  • 3,000 hours or 50 percent of full-time job duties within the last three years dedicated to healthcare risk management in a healthcare setting or with a provider of services (e.g., consultant, broker, or attorney) to the healthcare industry.

Testing:

The CPHRM exam (PDF, 856 KB) consists of 110 questions that determine your knowledge as a competent healthcare risk management professional. There is a two-hour time limit when completing the exam. Core concepts include: 

  • Clinical/patient safety
  • Risk financing
  • Legal and regulatory issues
  • Healthcare operations
  • Claims and litigations 

In order to renew the certification after three years, you must either retake the exam or show proof of 45 hours of continued education.

Certified Professional in Healthcare Information and Management Systems (CPHIMS)

CPHIMS certification, issued by the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS), focuses on information and management systems in the healthcare industry. It may help increase credibility with your employer and demonstrates commitment to continued professional development.

CPHIMS Eligibility Requirements:

  • Hold a baccalaureate degree from an accredited college or university.
  • Have five years of information and management systems experience, with three of those years in a healthcare setting.

OR

  • Hold a graduate degree or higher from an accredited college or university.
  • Have three years of information and management systems experience, with two of those years in a healthcare setting.

OR

  • Have at least ten years of information and management systems experience, with eight of those years in a healthcare setting (this eligibility opportunity is new as of January 1, 2020).

Testing:

The CPHIMS exam is a two-hour exam composed of 115 multiple-choice questions (100 are scored). It focuses on common knowledge and skills that are important for success in health IT. Those who earn their CPHIMS certification must renew it every three years.

Certified Revenue Cycle Executive (CRCE) and Cycle Professional (CRCP)

The CRCE certification is offered by the American Association of Healthcare Administrative Management (AAHAM). It is best suited for senior and executive leaders in revenue cycle management. It requires candidates to have comprehensive working knowledge of patient account management, financial operations, information systems, governmental regulations and policies that govern revenue cycle procedures. According to the AAHAM, earning a CRCE is similar to a lawyer passing the bar or an accountant earning their CPA.

Eligibility Requirements:

  • Have a current AAHAM membership.
  • Have four years of experience in a healthcare-related field. A two-year associate degree or a degree from an accredited university or college can be substituted for two years of work experience.

Testing:

CRCE candidates must pass a rigorous eight-hour exam that tests their competencies and skills. Core concepts include:

  • Patient access
  • Billing
  • Credit and collections
  • Revenue cycle management

After earning their CRCE, healthcare professionals must renew their certification every two years by completing 40 hours of continuing education (20 of which must come from AAHAM-sponsored events).

Apart from CRCE certifications for the senior/executive leaders in the revenue cycle industry, the Certified Revenue Cycle Professional (CRCP) certification is offered by the American Association of Healthcare Administrative Management. This certification is for supervisors and managers in the field and helps them effectively manage key aspects of the revenue cycle.

Certified Healthcare Financial Professional (CFHP)

The CHFP certification is issued by Healthcare Financial Management Association (HFMA). It is best suited for financial professionals, clinical and nonclinical leaders and payers. Overall, it is geared toward industry professionals who understand the complex financial procedures of healthcare. 

CHFP Eligibility Requirements:

  • All-access membership of HFMA 

Testing:

The CHFP is awarded when candidates complete two modules:

  • Module I – Business of Health Care Program: This online program offers participants an overview of healthcare finance, risk mitigation, evolving payment models, healthcare accounting and cost analysis, strategic finance, and managing financial resources. It is self-paced so candidates can decide the completion time. In general, it takes a minimum of 14 hours to 20 hours in Module I, including a 90-minute exam.
  • Module II – Operational Excellence Exam: It’s a 3-hour exam to evaluate candidates’ mastery of the information learned in Module I. The exam focuses on exercises and case studies on the application of business acumen in healthcare. It includes eight case studies and seven questions for each for a total of 56 questions.

CHFP certification needs to be renewed every three years (PDF, 261 KB).

Certified Professional in Healthcare Quality (CPHQ)

CPHQ certifications are issued by the National Association for Healthcare Quality (NAHQ) and fully accredited by the National Commission for Certifying Agencies(NCCA), the accrediting arm of the Institute for Credentialing Excellence in Washington, D.C. This certification helps healthcare professionals possess quality toolkits and competencies to succeed in the field.

CPHQ Eligibility Requirements (PDF, 283 KB):

  • All domestic and international candidates are eligible to take the exam online.

Testing: 

This certification focuses on testing candidates’ expertise and knowledge in healthcare quality. The CPHQ exam content outline (PDF, 125 KB) includes:

  • Organizational Leadership (35 items): Structure and integration; regulatory, accreditation, and external recognition; and education, training and communication.
  • Health Data Analytics (30 items): design and data Management; and measurement and analysis.
  • Performance and Process Improvement (40 items): Identifying opportunities for improvement; and implementation and evaluation.
  • Patient Safety (20 items): Assessment and planning; and implementation and evaluation.

Certified Healthcare Access Manager (CHAM)

CHAM certification is issued by the National Association of Healthcare Access Management (NAHAM). This certification helps demonstrate the expertise of the front line staff and managers in patient access services.

CHAM Eligibility Requirements:

  • Have two years management experience in the healthcare of finance industry. 
  • Hold a high school diploma or GED equivalent plus ninety (90) contact hours earned within the past three (3) years; or a four-year degree from an accredited institution in healthcare, business or related field.
  • Gain a signature of one CHAM certified individual and one supervisor or course instructor/advisor.
  • Identify a qualified proctor before signing up for the examination.

Testing:

The CHAM examination (PDF, 2 MB) consists of 115 multiple choice questions, and candidates have two hours to complete the test. The exam outline include:

  • Pre-Arrival (25%): including patient and family experience; admission and transfer services; scheduling; and pre-registration.
  • Arrival (35%): including patient check-in, admission and registration; patient and family experience; revenue cycle; and information systems.
  • Access Management (40%): including statistical reporting; patient experience and management; professional development and competency; and leadership and management.

Besides, to maintain the certification, candidates need to have a minimum of 60 contact hours. Ten of these hours must be NAHAM-approved contact hours. Additionally, they need to work 1,500 hours in those two years in a position relevant to patient access services. 

Frequently Asked Questions on Healthcare Administration Certifications

What is a certification in healthcare administration?

A certification in healthcare administration is an official document or credential that is recognized by healthcare organizations. It demonstrates that the recipient has acquired key skills and proficiency needed to succeed in healthcare. It can include multiple fields in healthcare administration, such as management or finance.

Obtaining public certifications can be a next step for those who have already earned a bachelor’s or master’s degree in healthcare administration and want to sharpen certain skill sets to advance their career. Candidates need to meet eligibility requirements to register and pass the exam to obtain the certification. Certain degrees or relevant working experience in the healthcare field are usually required. 

Licensure vs. certifications: What are the differences?

The main difference between licensure and certifications is that, in many cases, licensure is required whereas a certification is not.

Licensure is proof that you are licensed to work within your chosen profession. It is a legal designation with a very clear set of requirements that differ by state. Licensure is required for teachers, doctors, therapists and counselors, lawyers, electricians, and many other professions.

In many cases, certifications are obtained by healthcare administration professionals to demonstrate key skills and proficiencies. While they might not be mandatory by all employers, they help those in the field advance their career after obtaining formal education in healthcare administration and other fields.

Why are certifications important for healthcare administrators?

While the job outlook for healthcare administration is growing, there is also the possibility of careers in this field becoming competitive. Certifications allow recipients to showcase their skill set and proficiencies and may distinguish themselves from other professionals when seeking a promotion at their current employer or when looking for new job opportunities 

Additionally, through the process of preparing for certification exams, working professionals may have the ability to sharpen their skills and refresh their knowledge of things they may have learned while getting their degree. 

Certifications vs. Master’s Degrees in Healthcare Administration

Both a certification in healthcare administration or MHA degree may help advance your career. One cannot be considered better than the other, as both options have different focuses and experience requirements. If you are already holding a bachelor’s degree, you may wonder which one is a better fit.

An MHA degree program typically takes about two years to complete. Some schools require a bachelor’s degree in related fields and some may additionally require up to three years’ working experience in healthcare. These degree programs help students further build the leadership and administrative skills in healthcare and tackle difficult challenges. There are both traditional on-campus and online MHA programs available and accredited by Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Management Education (CAHME)

Compared with MHA degrees, certifications may focus on certain specific fields or skills needed as a healthcare administrator. Professional working experience in healthcare is usually required for eligibility. While higher education is not always required to register, some do require a minimum of degree, even a master’s degree, such as FACHE. It depends on the individual certification program, the preparation time may vary. Some of the certifications need to be renewed every periodical time to be valid.

If you are debating if you should consider an MHA degree program or a healthcare administration certification, think about what skills or knowledge will help your career goals. Consider how much time you can commit. If you already have desired employers in mind, just simply go check the job requirements on their website if they have any certifications or minimum education level.

How do I get certified in healthcare administration?

To become certified in healthcare administration, you will need to complete the required test or examination for that particular certification. In most cases, to sit for a public certification exam requires a bachelor’s or master’s degree (in healthcare administration or other field) and/or previous experience working in healthcare. Requirements vary by certification; be sure to review them closely before applying.

What are the best certifications in healthcare administration to have?

While public certifications can be valuable when pursuing a career in healthcare administration, there is not one certification that is better than others. This is why we list nine healthcare administrator certifications for you to compare and choose. Selecting the right certification(s) depends on a number of different factors, such as:

– The specific field or area of healthcare you would like to work in
– Your healthcare career goals
– Advancements in the healthcare industry
– Your personal needs

What are the background requirements to register for certifications?

Requirements for certification registration vary by program and are set by its issuing authority. Many programs and examinations require some level of higher education (either a bachelor’s or master’s degree) before applying. In some cases, however, extensive professional healthcare experience can be used as part of the application process. Carefully review each certification program’s requirements before applying.

Certificate vs. certification in healthcare administration: What is the difference?

A certificate usually results from an educational process and indicates a completion of certain courses or programs. For example, MHA graduates will be granted a master’s certificate. Certification is an assessment process that recognizes an individual’s knowledge, skills and competency, and candidates need to pass certain exams or tests to get one. With these certifications, working professionals can be certified to proceed certain responsibilities in their role.

How should I prepare for a healthcare administrator certification?

First of all, you need to decide which certification you want based on your career goals and skills. Then, check on the certification website to know the deadlines and if any special requirements. Some certifications may require candidates to be members for a certain time or minimum work experience. So prepare in advance. Official handbooks or exam outlines will be helpful to prepare for the exam too.

Information last updated June 2020

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