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How to Get an RNC Nursing Certification

NurseJournal Staff
Updated August 9, 2022
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RNC certification can help you find a job or negotiate a raise. This guide to RNC certification tells you how to earn and maintain a nursing certification.
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Certifications confirm your professional credentials in a specialty area, and can give you a career advantage. This guide describes how to earn and maintain one of the most popular: registered nurse certification (RNC). Keep reading for more on how to demonstrate your skills and knowledge through this certification.

What is RNC Certification?

You can get registered nurse certification (RNC) from the National Certification Corporation (NCC) in various nursing specialties related to obstetrics and newborn care. Each specialty has its own certification and acronym. For example, RNC-OB designates RNC certification in inpatient obstetric nursing.

Each RNC certification requires experience in the specialty and passing a specialty examination. You must maintain certification through continuing professional education.

Available certifications include:

Eligibility Requirements for RNC Nursing Certification

For any RNC core nursing certification, you need a current and unencumbered RN license for the U.S. or Canada, at least 24 months experience in that specialty, at least 2,000 hours in the specialty, and experience in that specialty during the last 24 months.

You must meet both the practice time and the practice hours criteria for RNC certification. Only work in the U.S. or Canada qualifies.

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How Does the RNC Nursing Exam Work?

You can apply to take RNC certification examinations online, and all but one of the examinations are eligible for online proctoring. The NCC delivers results only through its online portal. You will receive an email when your results are available, sometime within 15 days of taking the exam.

  1. 1

    RNC Exam Application

    You must apply for RNC certification online and provide eligibility verification (including license verification), as well as other information required for confirmation and processing.

    This includes your contact information, licensure information, contact information for your current employer and any other employers during the last five years, and an electronic signature of your acceptance of the conditions. Processing an application can take up to two weeks.

  2. 2

    RNC Exam Formats

    You must schedule your examination within 30 days of confirmation. Your exam time slot must fall within the next 90 days.

    The RNC certification examination consists of 175 multiple-choice questions and a three-hour time limit. Applicants are scored based on the number of questions they answer correctly. There is no penalty for wrong answers.

    You can take the test either at a testing center or through Live Remote Proctoring (LRP), except for the Inpatient Antepartum Nursing (RNC-IAP), which is available only at a testing center. You must provide proof of your identity for either examination format.

  3. 3

    RNC Exam Costs

    The RNC certification examination costs $325, which includes a nonrefundable $50 application fee. You can pay by credit card or electronic check. If your application is incomplete, you must pay an additional $30 reprocessing fee. You do not receive a refund if you fail to schedule the examination, or do not pass.

  4. 4

    RNC Exam Retesting

    If you need to retake the RNC certification exam, you must wait at least 90 days from the day of the examination and submit a new application, along with all application fees.

    You may retest as often as you need to, but cannot take an examination more than twice in any calendar year. The questions differ for each examination.

Preparing for the RNC Nursing Certification Exam

You can prepare for the RNC certification examination by reviewing the Candidate Guides, which include outlines of the material, a description of the test structure, and sample questions. The NCC does not prepare or endorse any other preparation materials.

The Center for Certification Preparation and Review (CCPR) offers study guides and practice tests. You can also get practice materials online or in your hospital library. Other tips for studying include:

  • Taking the day off before the examination.
  • Avoiding cramming, but going over the format materials so you know what to expect.
  • Confirming you have reliable internet if using the LRP option. If there is an outage, you may need to retake the examination.
  • Forming or joining a study group.
  • Asking somebody with RNC certification for their advice.

Maintaining RNC Nursing Certification

You must renew your RNC certification every three years by confirming your RN license status and completing a continuing competency assessment at the beginning of each renewal cycle.

Based on the assessment results, you then complete continuing education in your specialty area and register your continuing education in the NCC portal. The NCC does not require verification of your continuing education, but does select random accounts for verification.

Renewal costs $100 and confirmation can take up to two weeks. If you take your continuing education through the NCC, you receive credits toward the renewal fee.

Frequently Asked Questions About RNC Certification

question-mark-circleWhat is an RNC nursing certification?

RNC certifications are available for pregnancy, maternal, and neonatal specialties. They designate excellence in a speciality area and require experience, passing a certification examination, and renewal through continuing education.

question-mark-circleDo I need to get an RNC nursing certification?

Unlike a nursing license, You do not need an RNC certification to legally practice nursing. However, employers may require or prefer certification for certain jobs, and it can be an advantage in job hunting or salary negotiations.

question-mark-circleWhat nursing specialties does RNC nursing certification cover?

The NCC offers RNC certification for inpatient obstetric nursing (RNC-OB), maternal newborn nursing (RNC-MNN), low-risk neonatal intensive care nursing (RNC-LRN), neonatal intensive care nursing (RNC-NIC), and inpatient antepartum nursing (RNC-IAP), the newest certification.

question-mark-circleWhat are the benefits of getting RNC nursing certification?

RNC certification demonstrates your knowledge of your specialty area and your commitment to continuing professional education. Many employers require or prefer certifications, especially for higher-level positions.

Page last reviewed: July 26, 2022

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