If I Am a Nurse Practitioner How Do I Become Nationally Certified?

Although there are a variety of great occupations an individual could pursue, opting for a career as a nurse practitioner can be particularly advantageous. In addition to offering competitive salaries, becoming a nurse practitioner affords you the opportunity to attain the personal and professional growth that results in self-fulfillment. If you are interested in becoming a nurse practitioner, you should note that becoming nationally certified can play a big role in facilitating your success. By learning more about the national certification process, you can decide whether pursuing a career as a nurse practitioner is right for you.

National Certification-The Basics

As many individuals who work within the nursing industry know, there are a plethora of different national certification programs that nurse practitioners can pursue. Each certification program will encompass its own unique eligibility requirements and testing instructions. To decide which certification program is best for you, you should carefully compare and contrast several different programs.

The American Academy of Nurse Practitioners Certification Program

One certification program that individuals attempting to attain national certification to work as a nurse practitioner should consider is the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners Certification Program. This certification program was designed to provide a reliable and valid program for nurse practitioners to have their knowledge, professional expertise, and education recognized. In describing the services they offer, AANPCP notes that they provide “a process for validation of an advanced practice registered nurse’s qualifications and knowledge for practice as a primary care nurse practitioner.” To help facilitate the process of ensuring that nurse practitioners can gain the certification that they need, AANPCP offers certification, recertification, and verification services.

The American Nurses Credentialing Center

Just as AANPCP provides individuals with certification that functions as recognition of their ability to operate as a nurse practitioner, the American Nurses Credentialing Center provides people with the resources they need to attain certification. As a primary care certification organization, the American Nurses Credentialing Center offers nursing practitioners the opportunity to take and pass a certification exam. Once the exam is passed, the nurse practitioner is awarded with a credential: the Family Nurse Practitioner-Board Certified (FNP-BC). Both the Accreditation Board for Specialty Nursing Certification and the National Commission for Certifying Agencies accredits the ANCC certification.

Like other certification programs, the AANPCP has its own set of unique eligibility requirements that determine whether or not you will be able to take the exam. In addition to holding a current, active RN license, prospective exam applicants must hold a degree (master’s, postgraduate, or doctoral) from a program for nurse practitioners that is accredited by the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN) or the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE). The prospective exam applicant must also have a minimum of 500 clinical hours in their family nurse practitioner program, and these courses must have been supervised by faculty. Finally, prospective exam applicants must have taken three comprehensive graduate-level courses in:

  • Advanced physiology/pathophysiology (this would include general principles that are applicable across one’s life span)
  • Advanced health assessment (this includes an assessment of all the human systems and advanced assessment concepts, approaches, and techniques)
  • Advanced pharmacology (this includes pharmacokinetics, pharmacodynamics, and pharmacotherapeutics)


Individuals who want to pursue a career as a nurse practitioner should note that becoming nationally certified can help them attain the personal and professional success that they want. If you are interested in becoming nationally certified, be sure to gain as much information as possible about a variety of certification programs.