FNP-BC vs. FNP-C: Learn the Difference Between These Nurse Practitioner Certifications
Our Integrity Network
NurseJournal.org is committed to delivering content that is objective and actionable. To that end, we have built a network of industry professionals across higher education to review our content and ensure we are providing the most helpful information to our readers.
Drawing on their firsthand industry expertise, our Integrity Network members serve as an additional step in our editing process, helping us confirm our content is accurate and up to date. These contributors:
- Suggest changes to inaccurate or misleading information.
- Provide specific, corrective feedback.
- Identify critical information that writers may have missed.
Integrity Network members typically work full time in their industry profession and review content for NurseJournal.org as a side project. All Integrity Network members are paid members of the Red Ventures Education Integrity Network.
The FNP-BC and FNP-C family nurse practitioner certifications are different and similar in important ways. Learn how to decide which choice is best for you.
Are you ready to earn your online nursing degree?
Every new family nurse practitioner (FNP) must earn certification in order to legally practice. However, the new FNP may feel confused about whether the FNP-BC or the FNP-C credential is the best choice.
Read further to learn the differences and similarities between the FNP-BC vs. FNP-C certifications, and how to choose the right certification to become a skilled family nurse practitioner.
What is FNP Certification?
FNP certification is how every graduate of a family nurse practitioner program qualifies to practice legally. Certification exams measure the entry-level competency after FNP program completion.
There are two well-respected organizations that offer slightly different certification exams for FNPs: the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners Certification Board (AANPCB), and the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC). The ANCC offers the FNP-BC exam and certification, while the AANPCB offers the FNP-C exam and certification.
Featured Online Master's in Nursing Programs
FNP-BC vs. FNP-C Certification
The FNP-C and FNP-BC certifications are different enough. In the sections below, we clarify exam competencies, eligibility requirements, certification costs, and the maintenance and renewal requirements of both the FNP-BC and FNP-C certifications.
The ANCC will change FNP-BC exam competencies slightly as of September 2022. The competencies prior to that date and recommended references can be found on the ANCC website. The competencies as of September 28, 2022 are offered below.
Knowledge areas tested include:
- Pharmacologic therapies
- Non-pharmacologic therapies
- Integrative therapies
- Pain management
- Cultural competence/sensitivity
- Diagnostic and therapeutic tests
- Functional assessment
- Health history
- Mental health assessment
- Physical examination across the lifespan
- Signs and symptoms
- Therapeutic communication
- Clinical decision-making
- Crisis management
- Differential diagnosis
Cost of Certification
The cost of the FNP-BC certification exam through the AANC is $295 for members of the American Nurses Association, and $395 for nonmembers. AANP members pay $340, and AANP student members pay $290. The cost of the FNP-C certification exam through the AANPCB is $240 for AANP members and $315 for non-members.
Maintenance and Renewal
Choosing Between FNP-BC vs. FNP-C Certification
Employers find merit in both certifications as long as an FNP is licensed, certified, and in good standing. Personal preference determines which certification you pursue. When choosing between FNP-BC vs. FNP-C certification, there are certain differences to keep in mind.
FNPs with either certification can treat patients, but the FNP-C certification through the AANPCB includes more clinical information (e.g.: prenatal and newborn care) and is often favored by those seeking to practice as clinicians.
As mentioned above, the FNP-C certification also includes key issues like diversity and cultural competence, polypharmacy, communication, integrative therapies, functional assessment, etc.
The FNP-BC certification appeals to FNPs who are more likely to pursue opportunities in academia. Note that the average salary for an NP in primary care is $106,370. For those interested in a role in academia, professors earn an average of $76,193.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), FNPs can look forward to 45% job growth between 2020 and 2030.
Frequently Asked Questions About FNP Certification
What does FNP-BC mean?
The designation FNP-BC means board-certified family nurse practitioner. The American Nurse Credentialing Center (ANCC) offers this designation.
What does FNP-C mean?
The designation FNP-C means certified family nurse practitioner. The American Association of Nurse Practitioners Certification Board (AANPCB) offers this credential.
What is the difference between FNP-C and FNP-C?
There are a number of differences between the FNP-C and FNP-BC certifications. The FNP-C certification has a more robust clinical focus and includes information about more diverse subcategories of patient populations. Those pursuing careers in academia often favor the FNP-BC credential.
There are small differences in the cost of certification and the number of questions on each exam. FNP-C recertification requires 100 continuing education hours compared to the 75 hours required for FNP-BC recertification.
How hard is the family nurse practitioner exam?
The FNP-BC and FNP-C are robust competency-based exams that test candidates on clinical practice and knowledge. The FNP-C exam covers a broader variety of patient populations and includes areas of practice such as cultural competence, integrative therapies, and therapeutic communication. Applicants for either exam prepared through intensive study and preparation.
Page last reviewed: July 27, 2022
NurseJournal.org is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.
Are you ready to earn your online nursing degree?
Whether you’re looking to get your pre-licensure degree or taking the next step in your career, the education you need could be more affordable than you think. Find the right nursing program for you.
Resources and articles written by professionals and other nurses like you.