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About the Certification Examination

The infection control certification examination is the standardized measure of the basic knowledge, skills and abilities expected of professionals working in infection prevention and control. The initial certification examination is offered five to seven days a week at testing centers throughout the United States, Canada, and select international sites. The initial certification exam is available in English and Canadian French.

The initial certification exam is an objective, multiple-choice examination consisting of 150 questions (135 of these questions are used in computing the score, as discussed later in this handbook). The examination content is based upon results of a practice analysis, which is a survey of practicing professionals in infection prevention and control that is conducted by the Certification Board of Infection Control and Epidemiology, Inc. (CBIC®) every 4-5 years. The most recent practice analysis was conducted in 2014. The practice analysis determines the scope of knowledge and responsibilities that are currently required by, and are representative of, individuals practicing infection prevention and control. It is important to recognize that examination content is based on this information, even though all elements of the examination may not seem to be directly relevant to every individual taking the exam.

CBIC is responsible for determining the examination content outline, developing and maintaining an item bank of approved examination questions, approving individual exam applications, and setting the standard for minimum competency in the form of the exam passing score.

Individual eligibility for admission to the examination is based on criteria set by CBIC. Our testing company Prometric is responsible for the examination administration, examination security, scoring and statistical analysis of examination content.

CBIC is a Charter member of the Institute for Credentialing Excellence (ICE). CBIC is accredited by the National Commission for Certifying Agencies (NCCA). NCCA accreditation signifies that CBIC has met the highest standards for establishing a valid, reliable, and secure certification process.

Objectives of Certification/Recertification

The purpose of the certification and recertification process is to protect the public by:

  1. Providing standardized measurement of current essential knowledge needed for persons practicing infection prevention and control;
  2. Encouraging individual growth and study, thereby promoting professionalism among professionals in infection prevention and control; and
  3. Formally recognizing professionals in infection prevention and control who fulfill the requirements for certification and recertification.

Professionals in infection prevention and control must meet the eligibility requirements and pass the initial certification exam to become certified. Certification in infection prevention and control is valid for five years from the year of successful examination. For example, candidates who certify in 2015 must recertify in 2020, 2025, etc. This is because changes in infection prevention best practices occur frequently. Certified professionals who do not recertify before their certification period expires will lose their CIC® designation as of December 31st of the last year of the certification period. Use of the CIC® designation is prohibited until they have reapplied and successfully passed the initial certification exam.

Eligibility Requirements for Initial Certification (and for Lapsed Certificants)

In order to qualify to sit for your initial certification, you must apply to take the initial certification examination. In order to be eligible to take the initial certification exam, you must meet ALL of the following requirements:

You are accountable for the infection prevention and control activities/program in your setting and this is reflected in your current job description.

AND

You have a post-secondary degree (e.g. associates’* or baccalaureate degree) from an accredited academic facility.

AND

You have had sufficient experience (recommended: two years) in infection prevention and control which includes all three (3) of the following:

  1. Identification of infectious disease processes
  2. Surveillance and epidemiologic investigation
  3. Preventing and controlling the transmission of infectious agents

And at least two (2) of the remaining five (5) components:

  1. Employee / occupational health
  2. Management and communication
  3. Education and research
  4. Environment of care
  5. Cleaning, sterilization, disinfection, and asepsis

*Equivalent to Canadian two- or three- year diploma from an accredited academic facility

The assessment of “sufficient experience” is individual to the candidate and can vary; CBIC recommends two years of experience in infection prevention and control. Candidates who are comfortable with their knowledge and experience may sit for the exam whenever they are ready. However, analysis of our data has demonstrated greater success amongst candidates with at least two years of experience in the field.

Renewing Lapsed/Expired Certification

If you fail to recertify when you are due and later decide that you would like to once again be certified, you must meet the criteria for initial certification and reapply as a new candidate.

Recertification

Recertification by examination is required in order to maintain the CIC® designation. All currently certified (CIC®) professionals in infection prevention and control are eligible for recertification during the year that their certification is due to expire.

Recertifying candidates who do not pass the internet-based recertification examination cannot apply to retake the recertification examination but may apply to recertify by the initial certification examination. In order to maintain their certification after failing the recertification examination, they must pass the initial certification exam before the certification cycle ends. An individual may retake the initial certification examination a maximum of four times per year, and no more than once every 90 days. Because the initial certification examination is available by appointment only at designated testing sites, candidates are encouraged to purchase and complete their recertification examination early in the year to allow time to apply, schedule and take the initial certification exam in the event that they fail their recertification exam.

To maintain current certification, the internet-based recertification examination must be completed by 11:59 pm Greenwich Mean Time (6:59 pm EST) on December 31 of the CICs recertifying year. If a candidate fails to successfully recertify by the deadline, his/her certification will be considered to be expired and the CIC® designation can no longer be used. The candidate will then be required to apply for and pass the initial certification examination, meeting all of the eligibility requirements, in order to once again be considered certified and use the CIC® designation again.

The recertification examination is offered in an English-only, internet-based format.

Copyrighted Examination Questions

All examination questions are the copyrighted property of CBIC. It is forbidden under federal copyright law to copy, reproduce, record, distribute or display these examination questions by any means, in whole or in part. Doing so may subject the candidate to civil and criminal penalties. Candidates are forbidden from describing or sharing examination content.

Statement of Non-Discrimination

CBIC offers examinations to all eligible persons regardless of age, gender, race, religion, national origin or disability.