Adult & Family Nurse Practitioner Certification

Adult and family care are two of the many specialties available to nurse practitioners.
Adult and family care are two of the many specialties available to nurse practitioners. (Image: Photodisc/Photodisc/Getty Images)

If you’re an RN who is looking for a challenge, a better paycheck or more clinical independence, you'll find all three as a nurse practitioner. You’ll need to get a master or post-master’s degree in nursing within an area of specialization, and then become certified and state-licensed in your specialty. Family and adult care are two distinct areas of NP specialization; each has its own certification credential. The main difference: a family nurse practitioner works with patients of all ages, whereas an adult nurse practitioner is not permitted to treat infants or children under 13. The annual salary of FNPs is $82,590, while the ANP national average is $75,423.


Which is better – ANP or FNP? It’s a question that has come up often in the forum at, usually asked by nurses with no interest in treating children. Most respondents -- even those of similar mind -- advise that because of its broader scope of practice, the FNP is more marketable overall and results in a wider range of jobs from which to choose.


To qualify for certification as an ANP or FNP, your degree program must be accredited by the Commission on the Collegiate of Nursing Education (CCNE) or the National League for Nursing Accrediting Commission (NLNAC). It must include advanced-level courses in differential diagnosis, disease management and prevention, pharmacology, health assessment and health promotion.

Certification and Licensing

Both the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) and the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners (AANP) offer certification in family and adult specialties. After passing the exam, you’ll be entitled to use the designation ANP-BC or FNP-BC (AANCP) or NP-C (AANP) after your name.

Applying for Certification

To apply for certification as an ANP or FNP, you must be a currently licensed and practicing registered nurse; hold a master’s or higher degree in nursing with formal education in your specialty, and have completed at least 500 hours of relevant, faculty-supervised clinical practice.

Along with your completed application form and fee ($200 to $400), you’ll need to provide a copy of your RN license, information about your educational program including official transcripts and complete information about your clinical experience, including your preceptor’s name.

Once your application is approved, you’ll receive an approval-to-test letter from your chosen credentialing organization and a candidate eligibility ID number from Thomson Prometric Computer Testing Centers, the company used by both AANP and ANCC to administer their computer-based exams. Once you have your eligibility ID, you can select a date and testing location to write your exam.

Exam Results

Both ANCC and AANP exams are computer-based multiple choice tests. Each takes about three hours to complete.

A preliminary “pass/fail” result for the AANP exam will be displayed on the computer screen after you’ve completed the test. Actual test scores are mailed out three to four weeks later. For ANCC exam-takers, results are available at the testing center on the day of the exam.

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