Which 5 States Do Not Require NP’s to Take the National Certification Exam?

In the creating to the 2012 Guide to Nurse Practitioner Programs, I was shocked to find that some schools responded to my inquiries about their pass rate on the national certification exam by stating that a national certification exam is not required for nurse practitioners to practice in their state.  Lucky NP’s!  Which states so not require nurse practitioners to pass a national certification exam to be eligible for practice?

1. California

Surprisingly, the State of California does not require NP’s to take the national certification exam in order to practice as a nurse practitioner.  NP’s must simply complete an NP program approved by the State Board of Nursing.  NP’s must also hold either a national or state certification (but not necessarily a national certification).  In order to bill independently under Medicaid in California, however, a national certification is required.  Most likely, as an NP you will want the option of billing Medicaid independently for your services so it is advisable to take the national certification exam even if you may be able to wiggle your way out of it based on legal technicalities.

2. Delaware

Most NP’s in Delaware need to be nationally certified by law.  Delaware does not require national certification if a certification exam is not available for your specific specialty.  The following chart depicts requirements in Delaware depending on if a national certification exam is offered for your specialty:

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My opinion?  This law is a bit outdated.  Nearly all specialties offer a national certification exam so if you live in Delaware and want to practice as an NP, you better start studying!

3. Indiana

National certification is not required for nurse practitioners in Indiana.  The one exception?  If you completed your degree as part of a certificate program rather than an accredited graduate program, you must hold a national certification.

4. Kansas

National certification is not required for NP’s practicing in Kansas.  Nurse practitioners must simply have graduated from a NP program approved by the Kansas Board of Nursing.

5. New York

This one surprised me.  The State of New York Requires that you meet certain educational criteria but does not however require that NP’s take the national certification exam.

If you live in one of the 5 states that do not require a certification exam, should you still consider becoming nationally certified?  My advice is yes.  You never know where your career as an NP will take you.  It is much better to certify immediately after graduating from your nurse practitioner program while the information is fresh in your mind rather than have to re-learn all of the material when you are forced to move from your current state of residence.  Furthermore, legislation is trending towards requiring a certification exam in all states.  Oregon, Missouri and Nevada recently passed a national certification requirement into law.  It will be best for your career to be prepared with a national certification to prevent any legal hiccups in your ability to practice.


26 thoughts on “Which 5 States Do Not Require NP’s to Take the National Certification Exam?”

  1. Carol Kobashigawa

    What if I live in Nevada and practice currently in Nevada? I am not nationally certified and have never been told I need to, does this mean I am grandfathered in? When I go to apply for my revewal will they tell me I have to be certified now? I am confused on how that works. Thanks, Carol

    1. You don’t need board certification but if you apply or have a job that bills through Medicare, Medicaid or most national insurance companies you can’t bill and there fore they wont hire you for the job. If you can get it done. It will require a master degree. You take a review course that gives you guidlines to study and you’ll be fine

  2. Hi Carol,

    Nevada will not require national certification until July 1, 2014.  All currently practicing NP’s should be grandfathered in and will not be required to become nationally certified.  Sorry for the confusion!  This document from the Nevada Board of Nursing gives more detail.

  3. I live in Kansas and I am confused about the certification. If I plan to stay in Kansas do I need to be certified. Please help


    Hi Brandy,

    It looks as if Kansas does currently require national certification, see page 45 of the Kansas Nurse Practice Act.  This means that once you graduate from your NP program, you would need to take the national NP certification exam (through either the AANP or ANCC) then apply for a Kansas state nurse practitioner license.  Hope this helps!

  5. I have a CCRN, medsurg cert, took the national NP cert via AAnp and passed. I work as NP in pa. i have current licenses (np, rn and dea). I unintentionally let my NP C , where does PA stand on such issues. I had 150 ceu’s kept current but totally forgot to recert. is there an appeal process

  6. HI I am a family practice nurse practitioner in NY state. I have been practicing since 1996 and was certified nationally through the American Academy of nurse Practitioners in 1996. I let my national certification lapse in 2003 with a divorce but had no lapse in practice or my NY state certification. I applied to retake the test and was denied because my Family Nurse Practitioner certificate was a pre-masters not a post masters certificate. I have an NP certificate from an accredited school and a MSN In nursing administration but they won’t allow me to test. What are my options I have no desire to return to school for a post masters certificate in a field I already graduated in and I have 20 yrs of practice.

  7. Hi Kirk,

    Let me look into this. First, to clarify, was it your PA state license that lapsed, or your certification through the AANP?

  8. Hi Kim,

    That’s a difficult situation. I will look into this as well. You say you “had no lapse in practice”.  Does this mean you were working as an NP without a current national certification? 

  9. As of May 2014, does California and Kansas require National Certification? I have been a Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner, for four years, and never took the ANCC certification examination, for I reside in the state of New York.
    At this juncture, I am interested in Telepsychiatry positions and would like to know the states that, currently, don’t require certifications, other than New York?
    Thank You,
    Natalie Murry, NP-P
    Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner

  10. I have been practicing as a psychiatric NP in OR for the past 14 yrs and was planning to take certification exam this year. I moved to TX Sept 2013 for family reasons, wasn’t sure I’d return to OR to practice as a PMHNP. Now it’s May 2014 and I’m trying to get certification but, noticed I may have to take graduate courses in health assessment and pharmacology.
    Are there any states that will allow me a license to practice as a PMHNP until I’m certified by ANCC?

    1. You don’t need board certification but if you apply or have a job that bills through Medicare, Medicaid or most national insurance companies you can’t bill and there fore they wont hire you for the job. If you can get it done. It will require a master degree. You take a review course that gives you guidlines to study and you’ll be fine

  11. I am a recently unemployed WHCNP in California. I received my OB/GYN certificate in 1995 from a satellite program through Planned Parenthood in conjunction with UCSF. I have worked in women’s health for almost 30 years. I only have an Associate degree &, at 60 years old, am not enthusiastic about taking a 3 year $30,000 course for my MSN. I am not financially able nor so inclined to retire. Any suggestions for a future in nursing for me (not at Planned Parenthood). Thanks so much.

  12. Hi! Cheryl,
    You mean, in IN you don’t need to take the Boards for NP to practice? How can you be Licensed? Will you be given the DEA # etc ? Can you bill for Medicare, Medicaid & Other Insurances? What is the difference between Certificate Program & Accredited graduate program as mentioned here? Is there any website that could answer my querries? I’m about to take other Masters or NP…but I’m confused which one to take.

  13. I am a NP in california and would like to move to NYC. Is this a difficult process involving testing. I once had a RN license in NYC.

  14. Gail C. Power FNP

    Just when I thought I was alone God must have guided me to this web site.
    I have been practicing as a NP for the last 9 years in NYS and I do not have a AACN certification. I took the boards when I first graduated 2008 and failed by 2 points; was diagnosed with breast ca so have to take some time to deal with the treatment. Returned to work as a NP a my Mom became seriously ill so needless to say I have never been able to find the time to study for the boards. Now I can not collect for medicare reimbursement. Does that put me out to pasture. I still have a couple of good years left I hope. Could i be eligible to grandfather into the system so I can continue to see my Medicare patients and get paid for it. Please advise me what to do . I do appreciate anything you can do to help settle this situation

  15. Hi Gail, 

    That sounds like a frustrating situation!

    Unfortunately, it does not look like you can get around taking an exam to get certified. There is a way to obtain recertification by clinical hours if your nurse practitioner certification has lapsed, but not if you were never certified. 

    If you would like to continue working, you will likely need to take the certification exam for your specialty. There are a number of great study resources for the exam. Maybe you could take a practice test to see how much studying this would require? 

  16. Are we confusing licensure with certification? You need a license to practice, but you don’t have to be certified. Like, I have my license as an RN. But I can still work in the Emergency Room although I’m not certified as an Emergency Room Nurse…. right?

  17. I graduated with my ADN in 1989, received my WHCNP in 1995. I have been practicing for 20 years, I am trying to get Nationally certified without going back to school to get my MSN, is there any way to sit for boards? I am in California.

  18. I found it ironic that some states do not require Certification. This is a very difficult exam and for me my college did not fully prepare us for what would be expected to understand. I was very surprised at the difficulty of the exam. I am board certified and think it is a necessary evil for all NP’s.

  19. Sebie Merin Cherian

    Is licensure and certification are same ?

    i just graduated from Masters in Family nurse practitioner program ?
    Is this a certification?

    after I pass NP license exam I get NP license correct ?

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