Everything You Need to Know About The ANCC Certification

Everything You Need to Know About The ANCC Certification

One of the most important steps in a nurse practitioner’s career is achieving board certification. Board certification represents that certificants have met specific educational requirements, possess nationally-recognized competencies, have current and active nursing licensure, and accept the standards of practice for nurse practitioners. In addition to the knowledge and abilities that certification represents, most US states require board certification.

There are several options for achieving board certification as an NP, and the two you may be most familiar with are the AANP and ANCC. You can find out more about the AANP certification exam in a few of our other blog posts, but for now let’s answer some common questions about the ANCC exam.

Table of Contents

What is ANCC Certification?
How Long Does ANCC Certification Last?

Additional Continuing Education Hours
Academic Credits
Projects, Publications, or Research
Preceptor Hours
Professional Service
Practice Hours

What is the Difference Between ANCC and AANP Certification?
How Much Does ANCC Certification Cost?
How Much is the Renewal Fee for ANCC Certification?
How Long Does it Take to Complete ANCC Psych Certification?
What is the Passing Rate for ANCC Board Certification?
When Can I Apply for ANCC Certification?
How Long After Testing Do I Get A Certification Number from ANCC?

What is ANCC Certification?
ANCC stands for the American Nurses Credentialing Center, a subsidiary of the American Nurses Association (ANA). The ANCC certification program is one of the oldest in the US, and is the largest certifying body for APRNs, including nurse practitioners. ANCC Certification proves your ability to provide top quality patient care, and can facilitate your career advancement. There are currently 4 certification specialties: Family Medicine (FNP-BC), Adult-Gerontology Primary Care (AGPCNP-BC), Adult-Gerontology Acute Care (AGACNP-BC), and Psychiatric-Mental Health (PMHNP-BC). 

How Long Does ANCC Certification Last?
ANCC Certification must be renewed every 5 years. Luckily, ANCC offers a slew of options for renewal. Certification renewal requires that you hold a current and active RN license, complete at least 75 continuing education hours, and fulfill at least 1 requirement from a list of 8 categories. Of the required 75 continuing education hours (all of which must be directly related to your certification field) 25 must be in pharmacology. Now, let’s talk about those 8 categories. This is where ANCC gives you a lot of great options for certification renewal. 

  1. Additional Continuing Education Hours
    If you love continuing education, this one’s for you! In addition to the mandatory hours, you can complete another 75 hours to fulfill this recertification option. They must all be directly related to your certification role and specialty, and at least 60 of the hours must be formally approved by an accredited provider. Hours related to other healthcare disciplines such as social work, emergency management, respiratory therapy, etc. are acceptable as long as they are applicable to your certification specialty. ANCC also allows credit for academic coursework as long as it is directly applicable to your certification. 1 semester credit counts as 15 contact hours.
  1. Academic Credits
    If you decide to go back to school during your certification period, you can receive recertification credit for courses that are relevant to your field. At least 5 semester credits (or 6 quarter credits) must be completed. If you complete fewer than the required credits, you can convert them and apply them towards fulfillment of the contact hour category described above.
  1. Presentations
    Completion of 1 or more presentations totaling 5 clock hours can be used for ANCC recertification. To receive credit, you must be the primary presenter of the presentation. It must be delivered in a structured teaching or learning framework to other nurses, healthcare providers, or to the public as part of a conference, grand rounds, in-service, etc.
ANCC Course Professor Giving A Lecture for Nursing Students
  1. Projects, Publications, or Research
    ANCC accepts completion of any of the following for recertification under this category: an evidence-based practice project, quality improvement projects, and publications. Check out our blog post specifically dedicated to ANCC Certification Renewal to learn more about the requirements for this category!
  1. Preceptor Hours
    To receive this type of credit, you must complete at least 120 hours as a preceptor. This requires you to provide direct clinical supervision or teaching to APRN, medical, PA, or pharmacy students in an academic program related to your certification population. Orientation preceptorship does not count, and these hours cannot be counted toward your practice hour requirement.
  1. Professional Service
    This category can be fulfilled by completing two or more consecutive years of volunteer service with a healthcare-related organization in which your certification specialty expertise is required. This could include serving on a board of directors, committee, editorial board, task force, or medical mission. If you are a faculty member, you may not use this category for supervision of students in their educational program.
  1. Practice Hours
    Credit may be received for practice (work) hours completed during your certification period. For this category, a minimum of 1,000 hours must be completed and they must be at an advanced level in your certification specialty. Either employment or volunteer hours may be completed, but hours completed as a family caregiver are not counted. If you are a faculty member, you may count hours of direct clinical supervision of APRN students for clinical practice, but the supervision must be in your certification specialty and population. 
  1. Test
    Finally–and although most of us shudder at the idea of retaking the certification exam–you may sit for your board exam to recertify. You must take and pass the exam before your current credential expires.


What is The Difference Between ANCC and AANP Certification?
We know you have lots of questions about certification, but one of the most common questions we get is: which certification is better? We’re here to debunk all the myths and tell you the truth: neither! BOTH are respected, and BOTH are great options. Since ANCC is one of the oldest certifying bodies for nurses, it tends to be the one most people have heard of. The differences between ANCC and AANP basically boil down to your testing preferences and career goals. The AANP exam focuses primarily on clinical practice and patient care. It emphasizes the application of clinical knowledge and skills. The test is made up of 150 questions, 135 of which are scored, and they’re all multiple-choice. The ANCC exam on the other hand is known for its broader content. It assesses a nurse practitioner’s knowledge in not only the clinical aspects of nursing, but also on nursing theory, research ethics. The exam contains 175 questions, 150 of which are scored. Unlike the AANP exam, the ANCC board exam uses multiple question formats, including multiple-choice, “select all that apply”, and image-based questions.

How Much Does ANCC Certification Cost?
ANCC Certification costs $395 for non-members.

How Much is the Renewal Fee for ANCC Certification?
ANCC recertification starts at $275 for ANA members, and goes up to $375 for non-members.

How Long Does it Take to Complete AANC Psych Certification?
One of the 4 certification specialties offered by ANCC is the Psychiatric-Mental Health (PMHNP-BC) certification. Let’s take a look at how long it takes to become a mental health nurse practitioner. ANCC requires applicants to hold a current, active RN license as well as a master’s, post-graduate certificate, or Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP). This includes a minimum of 500 faculty-supervised clinical hours as well as other curriculum requirements. So, given the time it takes to earn an undergraduate degree (~4 years), a master’s or DNP (2-4 years), and time to study for, take, and pass both the NCLEX and AANC exam, the process typically takes around 6 to 9 years.

What is The Passing Rate for ANCC Board Certification?
In 2022, 87% of people who took took the ANCC exam for the first time passed. 

When Can I Apply for ANCC Certification?
As soon as you’ve met the eligibility requirements, which include passing the NCLEX and earning a graduate-level nursing degree, you’re eligible to apply for certification! 

How Long After Testing Do I Get A Certification Number from ANCC?
ANCC will send your certification number in a packet within 2-3 weeks of your test date. Usually sent via mail, they’ll also include detailed information about your performance on the exam, including a breakdown of how you scored in each content area.

ANCC Exam Prep Image of Person Typing On Keyboard
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