What is Nursing Certification?

Certification, as defined by the American Board of Nursing Specialties (ABNS), is the formal recognition of the specialized knowledge, skills, and experience demonstrated by the achievement of standards identified by a nursing specialty to promote optimal health outcomes.

The Accreditation Board for Specialty Nursing Certification defines certification as:

The formal recognition of the specialized knowledge, skills, and experience demonstrated by the achievement of standards identified by a nursing specialty to promote optimal health outcomes. After meeting defined eligibility criteria, a certification candidate achieves a nationally recognized credential through successful completion of a rigorous examination.

The American Nurses Credentialing Center describes certification this way:

Board certification is an important way to distinguish that a nurse has a met a level of distinction and knowledge indicating professional nursing practice. Board certification also gives the public some assurance that the individual must engage in lifelong learning to maintain and renew their certification, and in the case of advanced practice nurses their authorization/licensure to practice. The public recognizes the significance of this achievement and it provides some assurance that the individual who is caring for them has acquired a predetermined level of knowledge in the specialty area of practice.


ANCC Certification: The Value of Getting Certified

5 Reasons Why You Should Think About Getting Certified

  • The process of getting certified can make you a better nurse. Preparing for the certification test broadens your specialty knowledge so you can more confidently and effectively address the needs of your patients.
  • Being certified brings professional recognition. Displaying credentials shows that you have the knowledge to provide high quality patient care.
  • Being certified brings a sense of satisfaction. Statistics show that satisfied nurses are much more likely to stay in their jobs—and much less likely to be searching for a new position.
  • Getting certified may bring financial rewards—increased income, an annual bonus, or an advanced rating on a nursing clinical ladder. Plus, some healthcare employers might pay all or part of the certification test fee.
  • Certification benefits healthcare organizations. Those that hire and retain high percentages of certified nurses can use this information to improve their credibility in the competitive healthcare market or when seeking Magnet® status or endorsement by The Joint Commission or Association of Community Cancer Centers.


ANA Enterprise offers a myriad of certifications through the American Nurses Credentialing Center.


Certifications are increasing in demand in health care. As a nurse getting certified in your specialty can provide a myriad of benefits to the advancement of your career.

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Certifications Offered by ANCC

AGACNP-BCAdult-Gerontology Acute Care Nurse PractitionerANCC
AGCNS-BCAdult-Gerontology Clinical Nurse SpecialistANCC
AGPCNP-BCAdult-Gerontology Primary Care Nurse PractitionerANCC
FNP-BCFamily Nurse PractitionerANCC
NE-BCNurse ExecutiveANCC
NEA-BCNurse Executive, AdvancedANCC
NHDP-BCNational Healthcare Disaster Certification ANCC
PMHNP-BCPsychiatric-Mental Health Nurse Practitioner (across the life span)ANCC
RN-BCAmbulatory Care NursingANCC
RN-BCCardiac-Vascular NursingANCC
RN-BCGerontological NursingANCC
RN-BCInformatics NursingANCC
RN-BCMedical-Surgical NursingANCC
RN-BCNursing Case ManagementANCC
RN-BCNursing Professional DevelopmentANCC
RN-BCPain Management NursingANCC
RN-BCPediatric NursingANCC
RN-BCPsychiatric-Mental Health NursingANCC

Testing and Renewal Requirements for ANCC Certification

ANCC Provides a comprehensive handbook that covers:

  • How Are Exams Developed?
  • How Are Exams Scored?
  • What Is Certification?
  • And Much More.


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