March 16, 2020

FNP-C vs FNP-BC: Which Family Nurse Practitioner Certification Do I Need?

What’s The Difference Between FNP-C and FNP-BC?

There are two certification options for Family Nurse Practitioners (FNPs) The main difference is the certification board. The American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) awards the FNP-BC certification, while the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners (AANP) awards the FNP-C certification. Some of the differences between the two are:

  • The ANCC’s (FNP-BC) certification exam has 175 questions, and the AANP (FNP-C) is 150 questions.  
  • FNP-BC has an emphasis on policy, advanced, research, and nursing theory.
  • FNP-C focuses more on the clinical aspect to include assessment, diagnosis, plan, and evaluation. 

Family Nurse Practitioner Certification

Upon graduation, family nurse practitioner students are awarded the credentials FNP. But before being allowed to practice, FNPs MUST be certified. Depending on the state nursing board, certification must come from either the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners (AANP) or the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC). 

Which Should You Take? FNP-C or FNP-BC

The FNP-BC usually has more questions focused on professional issues like healthcare policy and ethics. So, if you wish to go into academia, this may be your preferred certification. Whereas, clinicians may prefer the FNP-C certification. 

Show Me Nurse Practitioner Programs

Certification Through the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC)

Certification: Family Nurse Practitioner- Board Certified (FNP-BC)


  • Non-member- $395
  • American Nurses Association member- $295
  • American Association of Nurse Practitioners member- $340
  • American Association of Nurse Practitioners student member- $290

Eligibility requirements include:

  • Hold current, active RN license in a state or territory of the United States or hold the professional, legally recognized equivalent in another country.
  • Be a graduate of an accredited master’s, post-graduate, or doctoral family nurse practitioner program
  • Schools must be accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) or the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN)
  • A minimum of 500 faculty-supervised clinical hours must be included in the family nurse practitioner program

>> Explore Family Nurse Practitioner Certification Review Materials*

Certification Through the American Association of Nurse Practitioners (AANP)

Certification: Family Nurse Practitioner- Certified (FNP-C)


  • AANP Members $240
  • Non-Members $315

Eligibility requirements include:

  • Hold a current, valid U.S. or Canadian RN license
  • Be a graduate of an accredited master's, post-graduate, or doctoral nurse practitioner program
  • Schools must be accredited by an independent national nursing organization recognized by
  • the U.S. Department of Education such as the CCNE or ACEN
  • Successful completion of the APRN core courses (advanced physical assessment, advanced pharmacology, and advanced pathophysiology
  • Complete a minimum of 500 clinical hours of faculty-supervised clinical hours

Why Do I Need Certification?

As previously stated, unless certified, FNPs can not practice. Additionally, certification indicates that you have met specific educational requirements and maintain continued competence in the profession. 

Where Can I Learn More About Family Nurse Practitioners? 

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Portia Wofford is a nurse, copywriter, content strategist, and nurse consultant. Chosen as a brand ambassador or collaborative partner for various organizations, Wofford strives to empower nurses by offering nurses resources for development--while helping healthcare organizations and entrepreneurs create engaging content that connects and converts. Follow her on Instagram and Twitter for her latest.