Nurse Certification

One way for nurses to make themselves more employable, advance faster and earn more is through voluntary certification. Nurse certification is simply a “stamp of approval” from an established, credible nursing organization, proving your expertise in the nursing specialty of your choice. Employers see it as a badge of distinction to separate you from the pool of applicants, and other nurses see it as a symbol of competence in your field. Becoming certified is one of the most positive steps you can take toward furthering your nursing career.

There are many ways to become certified, and many organizations to go through. One of the largest and most respected organizations is the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC), whose credentials are accredited by both the Accreditation Board for Specialty Nursing Certification (ABSNC) (formerly the American Board of Nursing Specialties), and the National Commission for Certifying Agencies (NCCA). The ANCC certifies nurses by way of a computer-based exam.

ANCC Nurse Certifications

The ANCC offers a wide range of credentials for a variety of nurse specialties. A complete list of them can be found here.

Most certifications offered by the ANCC fall under three major categories:

  • RN-BC (Registered Nurse – Board Certified)
  • NP-BC (Nurse Practitioner – Board Certified)
  • CNS-BC (Clinical Nurse Specialist – Board Certified)

The RN-BC credential is available in specialties such as ambulatory care, home health nursing, child care, case management and general nursing. NP-BC certifications are available in acute care, family care, pediatrics and other areas; and the CNS-BC is ofdfered in mental health, home health, child health and other specialties. There are also a handful of advanced credentials available, such as APHN-BC (Advanced Public Health Nurse – Board Certified) and NEA-BC (Nurse Executive, Advanced – Board Certified), among others.

Certification Requirements

Requirements for ANCC nurse certifications vary by credential, but most require a combination of education and work experience in the appropriate specialty.

Most of the RN-BC credentials require:

  • A current RN license
  • Two years’ employment as an RN, or equivalent work experience
  • 2,000 hours of clinical practice in the appropriate specialty within the last three years
  • 30 hours of continuing education in that specialty within the last three years

Other RN-BC credentials have slightly different requirements — for example, the Informatics Nursing credential also requires a bachelor’s degree in nursing or a related field, and offers a little more flexibility with work requirements.

Most NP-BC credentials require:

  • A current RN license
  • An accredited master’s, post-master’s or doctorate degree in the appropriate field
  • Specific course work in advanced health assessment, advanced pharmacology, advanced pathophysiology and other subjects as outlined by the ANCC

Most CNS-BC credentials require:

  • A current RN license
  • An accredited master’s, post-master’s or doctorate degree in the appropriate field
  • Specific course work in advanced health assessment, advanced pharmacology, advanced pathophysiology and other subjects as outlined by the ANCC

ANCC Nurse Certification Costs

Costs for taking the certification exam vary based on the applicant’s membership with various nursing organizations. In most cases, the pricing structure for ANCC credentials resembles below:

Fees for Most ANCC Certification Exams

Membership Status Initial Certification Renewal
Non-member $390 $350
American Nurses Association $270 $200
American Psychiatric Nurses Association (psychiatric specialties only) $290 $240
Discount rate organizations (if applicable) $340 $280

All ANCC Nurse Certifications

Here is a complete list of the certifications offered by the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC), including all specialties available. RN Specialties Ambulatory Care Nursing Cardiac Rehabilitation Nursing Cardiac Vascular Nursing Case Management Nursing College Health Nursing Community Health Nursing … Continue reading