Hi everyone, welcome to Nurse Code, your go-to hub for everything nursing career!

Today, we’ll take you through Nurse Practitioner Certification.

After reading this article, you’ll have a clear picture of the Nurse Practitioner Certification boards, their certifications, and the eligibility requirements.

We’ll also equip you with knowledge on how to list your credentials.

In a nutshell, we’ll talk about:

  • Nurse Practitioner Certification Board
  • Why You Should have the certification
  • How Nurse Practitioners should list their credentials

Let’s dive right into it.

Introduction to Nurse Practitioner Certification

Introduction to Nurse Practitioner Certification

Advanced Practice Registered Nurses (APRN) must have a national certification before getting licensure to practice as Advanced Practice Nurses.

APRNs include Nurse Practitioners, Certified Nurse-Midwives (CNM), Clinical Nurse Specialists (CNS), and Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists (CRNA).

Each of these healthcare professionals has certifying organizations.

Some have multiple certifying organizations, while others have one.

Nurse Practitioner Certification Board

Nurse Practitioner Certification Board

For Nurse Practitioners, our center of discussion today, there are five certifying organizations that an NP can enroll in depending on their patient population focus.

The following are the NP-certifying organizations:

American Academy of Nurse Practitioner Certification Board (AANPCB)

AANPCB provides entry-level certification for Nurse Practitioners.

The organization offers three Nurse Practitioner certifications.

  • Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP)
  • Adult-Gerontology Primary Care Nurse Practitioner (AGPCNP)
  • Emergency Care Nurse Practitioner (ECNP)

The certifications are accredited by the National Commission for Certifying Agencies (NCCA) and the Accreditation Board of Specialty Nursing Certification (ABSNC).

Now, before we get into the eligibility requirements for each certification program, let’s look into the general requirements.

AANPCB candidates must complete a graduate nursing program accredited by the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN) or the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE).

The coursework covered at the graduate-level education must be the same as the content outlined in the APRN Consensus Model.

In other words, depending on the area of specialization, nursing students must complete three comprehensive courses in advanced pharmacology, physiology/pathophysiology, and advanced health assessment.

Further, candidates must complete 500 clinical hours working with their specialty population in a healthcare setting.

Apart from these general requirements, there are pre-requisites unique to the certification that one wants to pursue.

To qualify for AGPCNP and the FNP certification, one must complete an accredited graduate program in that specific specialty area.

AGPCNP candidates must complete adult-gerontology coursework that covers primary care from adolescence all through to old age.

FNP students should complete an accredited graduate program on the family.

The coursework must cover patient care across the lifespan.

The requirements to enroll in an Emergency Care NP are a bit different.

For emergency care, one must have an FNP national certification.

They must also complete 100 hours of continuing education in an emergency-related field.

Thirty hours of the 100 hours must be in an emergency procedure.

If one doesn’t meet this criterion, they should have not less than 2,000 hours of direct clinical practice in an emergency setting.

Remember, apart from the requirements we’ve mentioned, it’s mandatory to have an active Registered Nurse license.

Nursing students who are members of the American Association of Nurse Practitioners (AANP) get a $75 discount on all AANPCB certifications.

For recertification, the recertification cycle for the three certifications is five years.

Nurse Practitioners must meet the continuing education requirements to maintain their AANP certification.

American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC)

ANCC offers several certifications.

  • Adult-Gerontology Acute Care and Primary Care NP
  • Family NP
  • Pediatric Primary Care NP
  • Psychiatric Mental Health NP
  • Emergency NP

ANCC certifications are accredited by ABSNC and NCCA.

The Nurse Practitioner Certification requirements for these certifications depend on one’s area of specialty, but there are general requirements that cut across all of them.

Candidates must have an ACEN or CCNE graduate nursing program certification.

One must also complete 500 clinical hours working in a medical facility in their area of specialization.

When it comes to the individual certifications, aspiring Family Nurse Practitioners must hold a master’s, doctoral, or postgraduate degree in FNP.

Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioners (PMHNP-CB) must complete graduate-level education specializing in mental health.

Advanced Practice Nurses aspiring to become Adult-Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioners (AGACNP-BC) must complete a postgraduate degree in adult-gerontology acute care.

Those interested in Adult-Gerontology Primary Care Nurse Practitioner (AGPCNP-BC) must have postgraduate education in the same area.

A master’s or doctorate program focusing on pediatric primary care is mandatory for Nurses aspiring to become Pediatric Nurse Practitioners.

Lastly, to qualify for Emergency Nurse Practitioner certification, one must have national certification in FNP, PMHNP, AGPCNP, AGACNP, or PNP.

Emergency Nurse Practitioner Certification doesn’t have a certification exam.

However, candidates are required to submit a portfolio of their work experience, which should include not less than 2,000 hours in emergency care in the last three years.

The Pediatric Nursing Certification Board (PNCB)

The Pediatric Nursing Certification Board provides certifications in pediatric nursing.

The certification is accredited by the National Commission for Certifying Agencies (NCCA)

PNCB provides specialization certificates in both primary and acute pediatric care.

To earn the Certified Pediatric Primary Care Nurse Practitioner (CPCP-PC), a Nurse must complete an ACEN or CCNE accredited master’s or doctoral level education in pediatric primary care.

The postgraduate course content must include advanced health assessment, physiology and pathophysiology, and advanced pharmacology.

Furthermore, the program must include 500 hours of supervised clinical practicum in primary care pediatrics.

Suppose one wants to pursue a Certified Pediatric Acute Care Nurse Practitioner (CPNP-AC).

The qualification is the same as CPCP-PC, except the graduate program and clinical hours must be in pediatric acute care.

The National Certification Corporation (NCC)

The NCC is a non-profit organization that provides specialization certification for Nurses and other health care professionals.

NCC offers two certification credentials, Women’s Health Nurse Practitioner (WHNP-BC) and Neonatal Nurse Practitioner (NNP-BC)

The certifications are accredited by NCCA and ABSNC.

The certification requirements to earn the Women’s Health Care Nurse Practitioner specialty certification include having an MSN or DNP in Women’s Health NP program that ACEN or CCNE accredits.

Part of the coursework should include 600 hours of clinical practicum and 200 hours of didactic classes.

Assuming a Nurse wants to pursue Neonatal Nurse Practitioner board certification, the requirements are the same as WHNP, except the postgraduate program must be in neonatal.

The National Certification Corporation gives a timeline of eight years from graduating from a graduate nursing program to taking these certification exams.

American Association of Critical Care Nurses (AACN)

The American Association of Critical-Care Nurses (AACN) offers one certification, Adult-Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner (ACNPC-AG).

To sit for this certification examination, one must complete an ACEN or CCNE accredited MSN or DNP in Adult-Gerontology Acute Care.

The coursework must cover physiology and pathophysiology, advanced physical assessments, pharmacology, and legal and ethical implications of acute care nursing.

Additionally, one must obtain 500 hours of supervised clinical practice working with adult and geriatric patients in acute care settings.

Just like the other certification programs, ACNPC certification expires after five years.

And so Certified Nurse Practitioners must meet the professional development continuing education requirements to maintain the certification.

How Nurse Practitioners Should List their Credentials

How Nurse Practitioners Should List their Credentials

Nurse Practitioners getting started in the industry may be wondering what’s the proper way to list their education qualifications and credentials on prescriptions, business cards, and any other practice setting that calls for it.

And that’s exactly what we want to talk about.

Displaying your credentials using the standardized procedure communicates your scope of practice and education qualification to colleagues, third parties, patients, and even policy-making bodies.

The American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) and the Association of Nurse Practitioners Certification Board (AANPCB) provide two almost similar ways to show credentials.

Let’s start with ANCC’s recommendation according to their brochure titled How to Display Your Credentials.

Highest Degree Earned

According to the American Nurses Credentialing Center, the highest degree qualification should take precedence when writing credentials.

The entry-level education qualification for Nurse Practitioners is a master’s degree.

Others have a Doctor of Nursing Practice.

In that light, the agency recommends omitting BSN since you have an MSN or a DNP.

Nursing Licensure

Different states give their licensed Nurse Practitioners different designations.

The designation reflects the qualification required for a Registered Nurse to work as an Advanced Practice Registered Nurse.

State Designation

The most common designation among Nurse Practitioners is Advanced Practice Registered Nurse (APRN) or Advanced Registered Nurse Practitioner (ARNP), or simply Nurse Practitioner (NP).

Many nursing organizations prefer APRNs.

Often, Nurses drop the Registered Nurse designation once they earn Advanced Nurse Practitioner licensure.

National Certification

To get licensure as NP, an aspiring Nurse Practitioner must earn a national certification.

How an NP indicates their national certification qualification depends on their specialization and the certifying agency.

For example, an ANCC-certified Family Nurse Practitioner indicates their qualification as FNP-BC (Family Nurse Practitioner- Board Certified).

An ANCC-certified Adult-Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner-Board Certified displays their certification as AGANCNP-BC, and so on.

Awards and Honours

Nurse Practitioners can get different honors and awards.

For example, the fellow of the American Association of Nurse Practitioners (FAANP) or fellow of the American Academy of Nursing (FAAN) are some of the awards that an NP may have.

Additionally, a Nurse Practitioner may also have credentials that show their expertise in different areas, such as Menopause Practitioners (NCMP, North American Menopause Society Certified Menopause Practitioner) or Diabetes Educators (Certified Diabetes Educator).

To sum it up, using the ANCC recommendation to list credentials, a Nurse Practitioner may list their credentials as David Jones MSN, APRN, FNP-BC, FAANP, or NCMP.

Let’s now shift gears and give you a snippet of the American Association of Nurse Practitioner Certification Board recommendation.

According to AANPCB, the credentials should start with the highest education qualification, then nursing certification, and lastly, state licensure.

AANPCB accredited Nurse Practitioners indicate their highest education qualification and state licensure the same way it’s recommended by ANCC.

The only difference is how national certification is listed.

For example, an AANPCB-certified Family Nurse Practitioner will list their certification as FNP-C, and an Adult-Gerontology Nurse Practitioner will display theirs as A-GNP-C.

Using AANPCB recommendation, here is an example of how an AANPCB Certified Nurse Practitioner will display their credentials, John Doe, DNP, APRN, A-GNP-C.


Conclusion on Nurse Practitioner Certifications

We hope we’ve answered your questions on Nurse Practitioner Certifications.

As we’ve seen, there are several certification agencies for Nurse Practitioners.

The organization one settles for depends on their specialty area and the certification requirements.

The good news is that all the certifying agencies provide accredited certifications.

And so, whichever you choose will help you towards advancing your career.


FAQs on Nurse Practitioner Certifications

Are Nurse Practitioners board certified?

Some are board-certified, while others are not. It all depends on the state the NP works. States like New York and California don’t require their NP to have a national certification. However, even in those states, employers and third-party insurers require NPs to have a national certification.

Are Nurse Practitioners licensed?

Yes. All Nurse Practitioners must have Advanced Practice Registered Nurse licensure, which is issued through their state’s Board of Nursing. An NP must have an MSN degree or higher qualification, national certification in a recognized population area, and a valid Registered Nurse license to earn the APRN license.

Can a Nurse Practitioner practice without certification?

In Newyork and California, a Nurse Practitioner can practice without a certification. Even though these states don’t require NPs to have a cert to practice, many employers still need their NPs to have certification. As such, NPs in these two states are also seeking national certification.

How much does it cost to have a Nurse Practitioner credential?

You can expect to spend between $1,200 and $2,000 to become a Nurse Practitioner. This cost covers board certification, Registered Nurse license renewal, APRN license, and DEA certification. There are also unexpected costs like commuter costs to interviews. Seeking employment in another state will also increase the cost.

How to become a Certified Nurse Practitioner?

– Hold a Bachelor of Nursing Degree
– Pass the NCLEX-RN exam to get the RN licensure
– Gain experience as an RN
– Enroll for Master’s of Science in Nursing
– Earn a specialty certification for a specific population group
– Apply for APRN state licensure

How to study for the Nurse Practitioner certification?

– Gather your study materials and review resources provided by the certifying body
– Using the course outline, create a study plan.
– Spend more time on areas that have the most weight in the exam
– Join a study group
– Do as many practice tests as possible

How to verify a Nurse Practitioner certification?

The verification process varies depending on the certifying agency. There may be some requirements and fees to be paid. The best way to go about verification is to check with the certifying body in question and follow their instructions on verification.

Is a Certified Nurse Practitioner the same as an NP?

Nurse Practitioners provide patient care to the general population. They don’t have a specialty area. Certified Nurse Practitioners have certification in one or more areas of specialization. They may be Family Nurse Practitioners, Pediatric Nurse Practitioners, Adult-Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioners, etc.

Is the NP certification exam hard?

The level of difficulty depends on the certifying body. To give an overview of the difficulty level, here is the 2020 exam pass rate for some certifications from different certifying bodies:
– ANCC- PMHP exam (81%)
– PNCB- CPNP-PC exam (82%)
– AACN-ACNPC-AG exam (83%)
– AANPCB-FNP exam (85%)
– NCC- NPP exam (93%)

What certifications can an NP get?

There are many certifications for Nurse Practitioners. Here are the certification options:
– Family Nurse Practitioner
– Adult-Gerontology Primary Care Nurse Practitioner
– Emergency Nurse Practitioner
– Pediatric Nurse Practitioner
– Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner
– Women’s Health Nurse Practitioner

What states do not require Nurse Practitioner certification?

Newyork and California. These two states have the highest number of Nurse Practitioners for obvious reasons. Even with the states accepting NPs to practice without certification, employers in these states prefer NPs with certification over those who don’t have. Hence, certification is still important in Newyork and California.

What is Nurse Practitioner certification?

A Nurse Practitioner Certification equips NPs with the knowledge to work with a specific population. An NP cert demonstrates an NP’s expertise in a specialty area and validates their knowledge to employers and patients. Certification is a requirement for most NP positions.

Which test is easier, ANCC or AANP?

Going by the pass rate, the AANP certification exam is easier than ANCC. The AANP FNP certification exam pass rate is 5% more than the ANCC FNP cert. The other certifications’ pass rates vary. But, generally, you’ll find that the ANCC certification has a slightly lower pass rate than AANP.

Who certifies Nurse Practitioners?

There are several organizations that certify Nurse Practitioners:
– The American Nursing Credentialing Center
– The American Academy of Nurse Practitioner Board Certification
– The American Association of Critical-Care Nurses
– The Pediatric Certification Nursing Board
– The National Certification Corporation

What are the requirements to become a Certified Nurse Practitioner?

– Be a Registered Nurse
– Hold a Master of Science in Nursing or a Doctor in Nursing Practice
– Have a national certification inpatient population focus
– Hold an APRN license
– Clinical experience in your area of specialty
With these qualifications, you can seek Nurse Practitioner employment opportunities.

What is the difference between an NP and a PA?

Physician Assistants have a background experience in the medical field, and their program lasts 27 months. Their practice emphasized assessing, diagnosing, and treating diseases. NPs must have an active RN license, an advanced education that takes 2-4 years, and clinical experience. Their practice emphasizes health promotion and preventative care.

What are the benefits of having an NP?

Competitive salary: According to BLS, APRNs’ average annual income is $123,780. A positive career outlook: The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects a 45% increase in demand for NPs between 2020-2030. Flexible working hours: NPs can choose the length of their shift. Work independently: NPs with full practice authority can work independently.

What is the difference between a Certified Nurse Practitioner and a Registered Nurse?

Nurse Practitioners have more advanced education than Registered Nurses. While RNs’ entry-level education requirement is BSN, NPs must have an MSN. When it comes to the scope of practice, NPs are permitted to diagnose patients, prescribe medication, and order diagnostic tests. RNs are not permitted to perform these roles.


American Association of Nurse Practitioners

Online FNP Programs


All Posts

career employers editorial process

Here at career employer, we focus a lot on providing factually accurate information that is always up to date. We strive to provide correct information using strict editorial processes, article editing and fact checking for all of the information found on our website. We only utilize trustworthy and relevant resources. To find out more, make sure to read our full editorial process page here.

Leave a Comment

How Career Employer Collects Its Data

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Nulla quam velit, vulputate eu pharetra nec, mattis ac neque. Duis vulputate commodo lectus, ac blandit elit tincidunt id.