Health Administration Certification

Although certification for health administrators is not always required, there are several compelling reasons to become certified. According to the American Association of Healthcare Administrative Management (AAHAM), earning health administration certification demonstrates:

  • Expertise — Certified professionals have proven that they possess the knowledge and skills needed to meet the industry’s highest standards.
  • Commitment — Certification is proof of dedication to the healthcare profession and to one’s own career development.
  • Professionalism — The pursuit of excellence demonstrated by certification can lead to a competitive advantage with current and future employers, higher earning potential, increased professional recognition and the opportunity to build a network of peers who have also earned certification.

Most areas of the health administration profession do not require a license or other form of certification by law. The exception is administration of long-term care nursing facilities and some assisted living facilities. For these positions, licenses are issued by individual states. Licensing requirements vary by state, but in most cases, requirements include proof of a bachelor’s degree or higher, completion of a training program and a licensing examination.

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Types of Certification for Health Administration

The AAHAM has provided health administration certification for more than 40 years. The organization offers several levels of certification. At the executive level, the Certified Revenue Cycle Executive (CRCE) examination (formerly known as the CPAM/CCAM) combines a rigorous test of healthcare business knowledge with an assessment of critical thinking and communication skills. The eight-hour examination is delivered online in a proctored environment. Certification candidates can choose one of two exam focuses; one focuses on the institutional revenue cycle while the other focuses on the revenue cycle in a professional setting such as a physician office or clinic.

Certified Revenue Cycle Professional (CRCP) certification is also offered by the AAHAM. This certification is designed for mid-level managers and supervisors who are involved with the healthcare revenue cycle. The examination requires detailed functional knowledge in patient registration, billing, collections and revenue cycle management. The four-hour exam is delivered online, and like the CRCE, is offered with either an institutional or a professional focus. The AAHAM considers CRCP certification to be a rung on the ladder leading to CRCE executive-level certification.

The American College of Healthcare Executives (ACHE) provides board certification in healthcare management through its fellows program (FACHE). Program requirements include a master’s degree or higher, five years of healthcare management experience and completion of the Board of Governor’s Examination in Healthcare Management. This six-hour exam covers 10 knowledge areas. Certification candidates must also provide references and participate in a structured interview.

The American College of Health Care Administrators (ACHCA) offers certification for nursing home and assisted living administrators. The Certification for Nursing Home Administrator (CNHA) and the Certification for Assistant Living Administrator (CALA) each require a general certification exam and a specialty exam. Both exams are administered by computer at a proctored testing center. Although these voluntary certifications do not take the place of state licensure, nearly half of U.S. states recognize the CNHA program as a “fast track” for licensure eligibility.

An additional type of professional certification for health administrators is offered by the Professional Association of Health Care Office Management (PAHCOM). The Certified Medical Manager (CMM) program evaluates a professional’s knowledge in 18 areas of medical practice administration. The exam can be completed on the PAHCOM website.

All of the certifications described here require at least two years of professional experience in healthcare administration. The AAHAM and ACHCA certifications also require at least an associate or bachelor’s degree, while the ACHE Fellows board certification requires a post-baccalaureate degree.