ANCC vs. AANP Certification: Which is Least Expensive?

In choosing which nurse practitioner certifying body you will use, one thing to consider is cost. While the difference in price between the ANCC and AANP certification exams is not substantial, you can save some money by selecting the least expensive organization. This savings is compounded over the course of your NP career when you factor in recertification costs as well. Which option will leave your pocket book in better condition?

If you are graduating from an Adult-Gerontology Primary Care Nurse Practitioner or a Family Nurse Practitioner program, you have options when it comes to your NP certification exam. You may certify through either the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC), or the American Association of Nurse Practitioners (AANP). While taking either exam will officially certify you as an NP, it’s worth doing some research to find the best exam for your needs.

The first thing you need to look at in considering the cost of nurse practitioner certification is the flat rates offered by both the ANCC and AANP. Each organization offers a discount for membership in various nursing organizations. The chart below shows the price for each certification exam including discounts for nursing organization memberships.

Cost of Initial NP Certification

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Joining a nursing organization can save you up to $125 on the cost of your nurse practitioner certification exam. Not only does belonging to a national nursing organization save you money on your NP certification, it also offers savings on continuing education conferences and serves as a resume builder. Now is the time to think about joining so you can maximize the benefits these organizations have to offer.

Dues for national nursing organizations range in price. An American Association of Nurse Practitioners (AANP) membership costs just $55 a year for students and $125 a year for nurse practitioners. An American Nurses Association (ANA) membership will set you back $191 annually.

Overall, when considering the cost of nursing organization membership, becoming a student member of the AANP and taking the AANP certification exam will be the least expensive way to certify costing a total of $295. The most expensive option, of course, would be to take the ANCC exam without a professional membership. If you are already an ANA member, taking the ANCC certification exam is your most cost effective option.

A second financial factor to consider in choosing your certifying body is recertification costs. Every five years as a nurse practitioner you will need to renew your certification. Planning ahead for certification renewal costs could save you hundreds of dollars over the course of your career.

Cost of NP Certification Renewal

As with your initial certification, renewing your nurse practitioner certification is least expensive with the AANP. So, overall, going with an American Association of Nurse Practitioners certification will same you money not only on your initial certification but also throughout your career. While these cost differences are not substantial, they do help at least a bit when facing other expenses associated with your NP education.


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11 thoughts on “ANCC vs. AANP Certification: Which is Least Expensive?”

  1. Is there any difference in the exam or the quality of the certification? Is one preferred over another?

  2. Hi Amber,

    No, one is not preferred over the other, and quality is the same. I will cover the small differences between the exams later this week!

  3. I did not pass the ANCC because I did forget to review policy, healthcare economics and management. I felt tis exam was very heavily focused on this and not disease processes and management. I feel so very discouraged at this point! I’m exhausted from study the last 3 months and working. Should I keep studying and try to pass the AANP exam?

  4. Hi Brandy,

    Yes! You should continue to study, especially since you have identified your area of weakness. You worked hard in school and have one final step. Hang in there!

  5. Hi, If both ANCC and AANP qualify one as an NP, why then is there a difference. Do the hiring departments investigate which exam taken? Why should the exam type matter? Thank you.

  6. Hi Lucy, 

    Good question. Having two certifying bodies does make things appear unnecessarily complicated. You can think of it similarly to the way two different universities in one city may both offer a nursing program. There may be subtle differences between the two, and/or enough students to support two institutions. 

    I have never heard of an employer asking about which certifying body an NP is affiliated with. So, ultimately it doesn’t matter which exam you take. There are subtle differences between the AANP and ANCC exams (ex. cost, pass rate),  but not enough to make a long-term difference in your career. 

  7. Hello,
    I just took and passed my ANCC and it’s true that it is heavy on different types of research, policy, healthcare programs and so forth. I would say that about 50% of the exam was non clinical questions. I can’t recall where I heard that ANCC is recognized in Canada and thus theoretically you would be able to find employment there.

  8. I sat for both the ANCC and AANP exams when I had to re-certify for my Adult NP exam 3 years ago; I know this exam is no longer offered, but can agree with comments above that the ANCC has at least half of the questions unrelated to clinical assessments. I found it difficult to study for and I prayed my way through most of that test. . .. I passed both, but use the credential from the AANP as I thought the ANCC test to be bogus; at least I felt that the AANP tested my knowledge to be a safe provider of care!!

  9. Erin, you mentioned each as a different pass rate. Could you please tell me where to find the pass rates for each exam?
    Thank you

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