cphq certification

5 Steps to Becoming a Certified Professional in Healthcare Management CPHM

The demand for medical and health services managers is growing at a higher rate than almost any other occupation. Becoming a certified professional in healthcare management (CPHM) can give you the training and credentials needed to fill the many different healthcare management jobs that fall under the category of health services managers.

To become a CPHM, a bachelor’s degree is required, though a master’s degree is recommended and often preferred. To obtain a CPHQ certification, an important step in becoming a CPHM, two years of experience is recommended.

In this article, we look at how to become CPHQ certified and what can be done with a healthcare management degree, particularly with the growing demand for health services managers. Read on to learn five steps to becoming a CPHM.

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How do I get CPHQ certified?

One step to becoming a CPHM is obtaining a CPHQ certification (certified professional in healthcare quality). No formal requirements are needed to be eligible for the CPHQ exam, though two years or more of experience in a healthcare quality profession is recommended.

As a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, CPHQ exams became available to take online in May of 2020. The exams can also be taken at a test center. To apply for the exam in the US or internationally, visit the National Association for Healthcare Quality website and click “testing in the United States” or “testing internationally.”

Preparation for the CPHQ exam is also recommended, and most people who have passed spent between 3-6 months preparing for the CPHQ exam. For resources to prepare for the exam, there is a specific page on the NAHQ website. Another page provides content covered in the CPHQ exam as well, so turn there for everything you need.

For US applicants, once you have applied, you have 90 days to take the exam. Exams can be scheduled in the US any day except for national holidays. An eligibility email will be sent after you apply with instructions on how to schedule your exam.

The unofficial results will be given immediately after the exam (when taken in the US), and if you pass, you will receive a CPHQ certificate. Recertification is required after a certain amount of time to continue using the CPHQ credential.

What can you do with a certificate in healthcare management?

A certificate in healthcare management is very helpful for advancing your career in the healthcare field. There are several positions that can be obtained with a certificate in healthcare management, including:

  • Hospital or nursing home administrator
  • Healthcare department, finance, or billing manager
  • Purchasing agent or director
  • Medical or health services manager
  • Physician practice manager
  • Executive director

You can also perform roles such as a public health director, social welfare administrator, and hospice care director. With the growing demand for healthcare managers and administrators, a degree in healthcare management will help to take advantage of the job opportunities that are and will become available.

For more things you can do with a healthcare management certificate, check out that article!

5 Steps to Becoming a Certified Professional in Healthcare Management Certification (CPHM)

Becoming a certified professional in healthcare management is not a quick or easy process, but it is rewarding. It opens you up to various opportunities in the healthcare management field, allows you to advance your career, and can lead to a higher income.

You can also get your healthcare management certificate online!

The process of becoming a CPHM can be broken down into five basic steps: choosing a school and program, earning a degree, gaining experience, obtaining a license or certifications, and finding a new or advanced position in healthcare management.

Step 1: Choose a School or Program

Before you start the process of earning a degree, it is best to do some research into the various schools and programs that are available. A four-year bachelor’s degree is usually the minimum requirement for healthcare management certification and positions.

Some people, especially those who have already earned a degree and have worked in the healthcare field, opt for a master’s degree or even a doctorate when pursuing a healthcare management career. This is recommended, particularly for higher-level positions, but it is not necessary for those just getting started in the healthcare field.

Ultimately, the best choice will depend on your educational background. If you are just getting started, a basic four-year bachelor’s degree is a good first step. For those who already have a bachelor’s degree and experience, a master’s degree is recommended. As for those who are already doctors, certification can be helpful.

If you are unsure where to start, there are a few lists of the best and top-ranked bachelor’s and master’s programs that might be helpful. Try searching things like:

  • Top ranked healthcare management programs in the US
  • Top online bachelor’s degree programs in healthcare management
  • Top MBA programs with specialization in healthcare management

Step 2: Earn Your Degree

Once you have chosen a school and/or program that works best for you, it is time to do the work to earn your degree. There are various majors for bachelor’s degrees that are suitable for healthcare management, including:

  • Health services/health service management
  • Health administration
  • Business
  • Nursing
  • Liberal arts

Some recommended courses for those pursuing a degree in healthcare management include:

  • Healthcare management
  • Human resources management
  • Medical terminology
  • Epidemiology
  • Healthcare finance and accounting

The knowledge gained while earning your degree will be vital throughout your career in healthcare and healthcare management.  There are many reasons to pursue a degree in human resources and each degree listed above has its benefits.

Step 3: Gain Experience

After you have earned your degree, it is time to find a position and start gaining experience. This is a necessary step for those seeking higher-level positions, and it is also highly recommended for those interested in becoming CPHQ certified (more on that in the next section).

Healthcare managers work in various different areas of the healthcare field – hospitals, nursing homes, clinics, etc. Usually, those who end up in healthcare management positions work their way up from lower-level positions. Administration or any of the other various roles in the field of healthcare are a good way to gain experience.

This is particularly important for those who have just gotten their degree and are new to the field. Gaining experience is vital to gain higher-level positions and certifications.

Step 4: Obtain a License or Certifications

Most areas of healthcare management do not require a license, but nursing home and assisted living administrators are required to have a license. For the majority of higher-level healthcare management positions, certifications are very useful as they help you stand out from other applicants or candidates that may not have a certification.

Some of the certifications for higher-level healthcare management positions that can help you and your career include:

  • Certified Healthcare Administrative Professional (CHAP)
  • Certified Professional in Healthcare Risk Management (CPHRM)
  • Certified Professional in Healthcare Information and Management Systems (CPHIMS)
  • Certified Revenue Cycle Professional (CRCP)
  • Certified Professional in Healthcare Quality (CPHQ)

There are different education and experience requirements for each certification. To obtain a certification, you must pass a specific exam or test. Certifications can give you the training and knowledge needed for higher-level healthcare management positions, and they are especially helpful for those looking to advance their career.

Step 5: Find a Healthcare Management Position

To find healthcare management positions in your area, search online for local healthcare management job openings. A quick Google search will likely yield some results, though you can also look on job recruiting sites such as Indeed, Ziprecruiter, LinkedIn, and more.

If you already work in the healthcare field, look for advancement opportunities in your current place of employment. Or you can try a new path and find job openings elsewhere. Depending on your current level of education and experience, there are several different options for finding work in healthcare management.

Is the CPHQ Certification Worth It?

As a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, along with the rising need for trained, skilled healthcare quality professionals, obtaining a CPHQ certification has become more valuable. Individuals with CPHQ certifications have a better chance of being hired by potential employers.

A CPHQ certification also opens up opportunities to work in various positions in the area of healthcare quality management. In the field of healthcare, quality is very important, and the CPHQ certification is considered the “gold standard.” Some positions even require a CPHQ certification. Whether or not it is required, it is a good thing to have.

Not only does a CPHQ certification help better your chances of being hired for the job you want, it proves that you have the training, skills, experience, and knowledge needed to provide quality healthcare services. More and more workers in the healthcare field are becoming CPHQ certified because of the increasing value of the certification.

Is the CPHQ Certification Hard?

It is estimated that of all the people who take the CPHQ exam, about 30% pass the first time. For those who have retaken the test, about 45% pass. This does not seem promising, but given the right amount of time and preparation, passing the exam is possible.

The CPHQ exam has no formal requirements, but it is designed for individuals with at least two years of experience in a healthcare quality profession. If you are interested in becoming CPHQ certified, the best way to prepare for the exam is to have a solid strategy in place and keep some things in mind:

  • A minimum of three months is recommended to prepare for the exam.
  • View an outline of CPHQ exam content to get an idea of what you will need to study and know for the exam.
  • Find study and preparation materials. There are several preparation materials available online, both free and paid, for the CPHQ certification: textbooks, online courses and information, and preparation material from the NAHQ, along with other resources.
  • Take practice exams such as a free CPHQ practice exam to assess your current level of knowledge and identify areas that you need to study further.
  • View a list provided by certified CPHQs who have shared what they wished they knew before taking the CPHQ exam.

All of those options can help, and you can also view a list of frequently asked questions about the CPHQ exam if you are looking for more information or areas of research.


Becoming a certified professional in healthcare management is becoming increasingly valuable given the growing need for individuals in the area of healthcare management. Earning certifications is a good way for experienced healthcare workers to advance their position and obtain higher-level jobs.

No matter what area of healthcare management you wish to pursue, the process will take some time and likely require a good amount of preparation. However, certifications provide credentials that signify a high level of skill, knowledge, and experience that will help provide better care to patients and improve chances of being hired.

(It’s always a good idea to check out entry level jobs in healthcare management to start building towards a great career!)