How Much Will Your Nurse Practitioner Certification Cost?

As your NP education draws to and end, financial relief is in sight, right?  Finally, instead of living off student loans and scraping together what you make working a few shifts as a nurse to cover your expenses and what tuition costs you can pay off up front, you are about to find a full time job.  A job, that is, as a nurse practitioner with a high salary which will allow you to start paying off those loans as well as enjoy a better standard of living.  Not so fast.  There are a few unplanned expenses associated with graduation that must be anticipated in your budget.

Obtaining your nurse practitioner certification will be costly, and the cost depends on how you plan to go about becoming certified.  The cost depends especially on how you plan to prepare for the national nurse practitioner certification exam.  Let’s look at the steps you need to complete to become a certified nurse practitioner once you graduate from your NP program.

1. Prepare for the national nurse practitioner certification exam

Although you have essentially been preparing for the national nurse practitioner certification exam throughout your entire NP program, a little extra prep work is in order before taking this important test.  There are a few ways to study for the national NP certification exam.  First, you can simply purchase study books online.  I would recommend getting at least two different study books which will run you anywhere from $20 to $50 each.  Even if you plan to attend a certification course online or in person, you should still purchase study books.  These resources come packed with practice questions which are the best way to study.

If you want to take your preparation for the national NP certification exam to the next level, you can attend an online or in person study course.  These courses are pricey and if one isn’t held in your area you must budget for travel expenses in addition to the course registration fee.  The Fitzgerald Health Education Associates NP certification review course, for example, costs $524 in the live format, $299 online and $446 for a recording of the course.

2. Take the national nurse practitioner certification exam

After you graduate from your nurse practitioner program, you must take the NP certification exam.  The cost of taking the exam also includes your initial national nurse practitioner certification which will need to be renewed every 5 years.  Depending on your specialty, you have two options for taking the exam; you may take the national NP certification exam through the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) or through the American Association of Nurse Practitioners (AANP).  Every 5 years, you will need to renew your national NP certification but you will not need to retake the exam. The following table depicts the cost of initial NP certification through the ANCC and AANP.

Cost of Initial National Nurse Practitioner Certification

3. Renew your RN license if necessary or if you are moving

If you are currently attending a nurse practitioner program, you should already have your RN license up to date.  It is important to check this periodically to make sure your license does not need to be renewed.  If your RN license is about to expire, renew it which will cost around $100, for example $90 in Tennessee.  If you are moving to a new state, you will need to become licensed as a registered nurse in the state where you plan to practice.  This typically costs between $100 and $200, for example the actual cost is $135 in Tennessee.

4. Obtain a state nurse practitioner license

Similarly to how you have obtained a license to work as a registered nurse in your state, once you graduate from your NP program you must also obtain a state advanced practice nursing license.  Your initial NP state license will likely cost about $200.  In Tennessee, for example, an initial state APRN license costs $210.

5. Get a DEA number

In order to prescribe medications, you will be required to get a DEA number.  A DEA number is quite expensive costing $731.  If you have a job lined up when you graduate, your employer may cover the cost of your DEA number and other licensure expenses helping to offset these costs.

6. Job interview expenses

Interviewing for jobs upon graduation from your nurse practitioner program can also incur some unanticipated costs.  I recommend buying a suit if you don’t own one already to wear on job interviews.  If you plan on working in another state, you must budget for travel related expenses like flights and hotel.  Once you do land a new job out of state, plan on moving related expenses as well.

Depending on the way you choose to prepare for your certification exam and if your job interview process will require travel, the cost of your nurse practitioner certification and licensure will vary. The tables below depict the high and low range of what you can expect to pay.  Keep in mind, depending on the state you live in there may be a few additional costs associated with licensure.

Total Cost of Nurse Practitioner Certification and Licensure

Ultimately, you should set aside between $1300 and $2000 plus estimated travel expenses for nurse practitioner licensing and certification costs.  Some employers may help cover these expenses if you already have, or get a job during this process.

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