Exam & Certification FAQ

Recertification Examination FAQ

Initial Certification

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  What is certification?

The primary purpose of certification is to increase protection of the public by providing an objective measurement of standardized current knowledge recognized and respected within and outside the field of infection prevention and control.

Infection prevention and control professionals can demonstrate a mastery of this knowledge by taking and passing a comprehensive examination developed by the Certification Board of Infection Control & Epidemiology (CBIC). Infection prevention and control professionals who become certified are authorized and encouraged to use the internationally recognized initials CIC® after their names and in their titles.

The Initial certification is good for five years after which successful completion of recertification exams extend certification at five-year intervals.

  Why is certification important?

Certification represents the commitment of an infection prevention and control professional and an institution to the continued improvement of infection prevention and control functions and their contribution to healthcare and patient safety. The mission of CBIC is to protect the public through the development, administration, and promotion of an accredited certification in infection prevention and control.

As an infection prevention and control professional, certification reaffirms that through your study and hard work, you have an internationally recognized level of knowledge in the field of infection prevention and control. It also gives you a sense of professional accomplishment.

It also signals to employers and colleagues that you are committed to professional growth in the field of infection prevention and control by keeping your knowledge and skills current to better your organization's IC function and its success. This recognition can be a factor in increasing your professional credibility. Data also shows that the Joint Commission recognizes the professionalism of people with the CIC® credential.

  Is certification well-established and well-recognized?

The impetus for certification in infection prevention and control started in 1977 because of the efforts of the New England Chapter of the Association for Professionals in Infection Control (APIC). The chapter funded the initial project and it quickly caught on nationally.

The APIC Board of Directors formed a committee in 1978 to establish goals and methods and in 1980, the Board approved education standards for certification. Later that year, the APIC Certification Association (APICCA) was formed. The following year, the APIC Certification Committee and APICCA worked together to develop an independent certification board, contract with a professional testing company, conduct the first job analysis of infection control practice, determine eligibility criteria and develop a recertification plan.

In 1982, APICCA changed its name to the Certification Board of Infection Control (CBIC). The organization is now called the Certification Board for Infection Control & Epidemiology (still CBIC) to reflect current practice, which encompasses applied epidemiology.

The National Commission for Certifying Agencies (NCCA) accredits CBIC’s certification program, which signifies that CBIC has met the highest national voluntary standards for private certification. CBIC periodically conducts job analyses to assure that certification measures current practices and knowledge required for infection prevention and control and applied epidemiology.

  How does the CIC® certification help my career?

The Certification Board of Infection Control & Epidemiology's mission is to protect the public and does so by promoting professional certification of the highest quality. You can help CBIC's mission by recognizing that Certification Is Commitment!

Being Certified in Infection Control (CIC®) can help in your career in several ways:

  • Enhances credibility and prestige
  • Personal satisfaction
  • You become part of a team which helps to lower infection in healthcare settings
  • Proves to others you are knowledgeable in the field
  • Supports future knowledge and skills
  • Shows commitment to best practices in infection prevention and control and improved patient care
  • Moves your profession forward!
  How do the Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology, Inc. (APIC) and Infection Prevention and Control Canada (IPAC Canada/PCI Canada) encourage certification?

APIC encourages all its eligible members to become certified and continue qualifying for the CIC® credential by recertifying at the appropriate intervals. Certification is a part of APIC's education program as it fosters continuing upgrading of infection prevention and control professionals knowledge of infection prevention and control and applied epidemiology. APIC looks upon its members who earn the CIC® credential as having reached a significant milestone in their infection prevention and control careers. Certification is an important aspect in an infection prevention and control professional’s potential to contribute to increased overall patient safety. A goal of 100% certification of eligible members is desired by APIC. IPAC Canada/PCI Canada is a national, multidisciplinary professional association for those engaged in the prevention and control of infections. IPAC Canada/PCI Canada is committed to the wellness and safety of Canadians by promoting best practice in infection prevention and control through education, standards, advocacy, and consumer awareness.

  How do I apply for the initial certification examination?

For step-by-step instructions on applying for the initial certification examination, view our video tutorial. The online and paper application for the initial certification examination can be accessed here.

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  Is it still recommended to wait two years to sit for the exam?

There is no specific time requirement that defines “sufficient experience;” however, CBIC emphasizes that this certification examination is geared towards the infection prevention and control professional who has had at least two years of full-time experience in infection prevention and control.

  Where can I get the CBIC Candidate Handbook?

The Candidate Handbook is available for free online here.

  What is the cost of the exam?

The cost of both the initial and recertification exams is $375.

  Why is the recertification examination not offered for the initial exam?

The recertification examination is an open-book self-paced exam, which can be used as a learning opportunity after initial competency has already been proven. The purpose of the recertification exam is to demonstrate continued knowledge mastery in the field of infection prevention and control.

  Do I have to pay to take the exam if I do not pass the first time?

You are required to pay for each exam. If you do not pass the exam, you will need to wait 90 days before taking the exam again.

  If I decide I no longer want to take the exam, can I cancel my application?

If you decide that you no longer want to take the examination, you may contact the CBIC office and ask the staff to cancel your eligibility. CBIC will refund your money less a $72 administrative processing fee.

  How is the CIC® exam constructed?

New versions of the examination always exactly match the examination specifications to ensure an appropriate distribution related to the practice of infection prevention, control, and epidemiology. An item related to every task (or topic) identified by the practice analysis cannot be included on every examination; rather, items are selected to sample the domain of content. As noted previously, items are unanimously approved prior to pretesting, and they are again unanimously approved by the Test Committee before using the items on a scored portion of the examination.

CBIC doesn’t simply add and subtract questions (items) from an existing examination. CBIC maintains a bank of items that have been approved by the Test Committee and have been subjected to pretesting. Using this item bank, psychometrician and test development staff select draft examination forms with an appropriate distribution related to the practice of infection prevention, control, and epidemiology at a level of difficulty consistent with other examination forms. In addition to exactly matching a specified number of items in each major content area, test developers simultaneously consider several item selection rules. One requirement is that the collection of items on each form provides a consistent average p-value, or proportion correct, based on previously collected data on first time candidates. Matching this target p-value is an important first step in ensuring the comparability of examination forms, which is confirmed through statistical pre-equating of the forms. These procedures foster fairness and equiv­alency of test results, ensuring that all candidates have an equal opportunity to achieve a score on the examina­tion that represents their level of knowledge, regardless of the particular form of the examination taken. When assembling the examina­tions, the test company and CBIC follow these procedures carefully, to ensure that the various versions of the examinations are as comparable as possible, both from a qualitative and quantitative perspective.

  What is the best course of action to prepare for the certification exam?

CBIC highly suggests reviewing the content outline and list of references available in the CBIC Candidate Handbook. CBIC does not endorse any particular method of study or education. You should study from the texts that are used to write the questions for the exam. Also, many APIC Chapters have study groups through which you can prepare in the company of your peers.

Note on Study Materials: At this time, CBIC only offers on-demand webinars for the eight core competencies of the examination and the online practice exam. Other materials that may have the CBIC name or acronym on them, but are not sold on the CBIC website, are not produced by CBIC. If you would like to verify whether or not a resource is produced by CBIC please email us at info@cbic.org. However, please note that CBIC neither recommends nor endorses any study materials for the CIC® examination. The purchase and review of the on-demand webinars or online practice exam do not guarantee success on the examination.

  Does CBIC offer exam study materials?

CBIC does not offer study materials other than the practice exam, which can be purchased by visiting our website here. Please note that the CBIC practice exam is not intended to be an accurate reflection of the content of the current CIC® exam, but rather a way for candidates to familiarize themselves with the structure of the exam, the way exam questions are written, and the format and navigation of the initial certification examination. APIC offers some study materials, but you will need to contact them directly. APIC can be found at www.apic.org.

  How much time is recommended to prepare for the exam when taking for the first time?

Preparation depends on the amount of experience in infection prevention and control, as well as an individual’s learning style.

  Are there sample questions available?

There are sample questions in the Candidate Handbook. CBIC has an online practice exam available for purchase as well.

  Is the practice exam a helpful tool?

The CBIC practice exam is intended to familiarize candidates with the format, structure and navigation of the initial certification exam, and is especially helpful for candidates who have never taken a computer-based test. The practice exam is composed of retired certification exam questions, and therefore is not intended as a comprehensive content review.

  How do I find out where the exam is given in my area?

Prometric, the testing company that administers the initial certification and recertification examinations, offers initial certification exams at hundreds of testing sites throughout the United States, Canada and at select international testing sites. A tool that allows candidates to locate the testing center closest to their home can be found on Prometric's site here. The recertification examination is a self-paced exam administered online, and therefore does not require candidates to travel to a testing facility.

  On which dates of the year is the exam offered?

There are no set testing dates (i.e. the exam isn’t given twice per year at specified locations). The CIC® examination is offered by appointment at hundreds of Prometric testing sites continuously throughout the year. After the exam application process has been completed, candidates are sent an email containing instructions on how to schedule their CIC® exam through the Prometric online scheduling portal.

  Do I receive my score immediately upon completion of the exam?

A score report is generated upon completion for the initial certification examination and will be emailed to examinees by Prometric within one hour. A pass/fail indicator is generated immediately for the recertifcation exam.

  How long after I pass the exam can I start using the CIC® credential?

Once you receive your score report indicating that you have passed the exam, you may begin using the CIC® credential after your name and in your title immediately.

  How soon after I pass the exam will I receive my certificate in the mail?

An electronic version of your official certificate will be available 2-3 days after completion of the exam. To order a physical copy of your certificate, please fill out the Certificate Request form.

  Who can I contact to get a receipt for my exam?

For the initial certification examination, the recertification examination, and merchandise receipts, contact the CBIC Executive Office at (414) 918-9796 or email info@cbic.org.

  How can I get a replacement of my certificate?

To order a replacement copy of your certificate, please fill out the Certificate Request form.

For any additional inquiries, please contact info@cbic.org.

  How can I check my certification status?

Certificants and employers can check a certification status through CBIC’s online directory, found on the website here. Certificants may opt out of a public directory listing by submitting a request to CBIC at info@cbic.org.

  If I move and inform APIC and IPAC Canada/PCI Canada, do they automatically notify CBIC?

CBIC is a separate organization. Therefore, candidates need to inform CBIC of any change of address or contact information in addition to informing all other organizations. To do so, please visit the My Certification tab at www.cbic.org and log in to My Profile. If you need assistance with the login process, please contact info@cbic.org.

  What is the pass rate of the CIC® exam? What is the percentage of correct answers needed to pass?

In 2018, 72.4% of candidates who took the initial certification examination passed the exam, up from 67.5% in 2017. In 2018, 90.2% of those who took the recertification examination passed the exam, up from 84.5% in 2017.

When the initial form of an examination is developed following a job analysis, a criterion referenced passing point study is conducted. Such a study ensures that passing the examination depends on the amount of knowledge displayed, and does not depend on the other candidates taking the examination. In the passing point study, content experts develop a definition of an individual who should barely be able to pass the examination, sometimes called a minimally competent practitioner or a borderline expert. Following considerable discussion, training, and practice, the content experts provide a judgment about the difficulty of each item on an examination form for this borderline expert. The aggregation of these judgments provides an estimate of the number of correct answers that would likely be provided by the borderline expert, and therefore, an estimate of the most appropriate passing point for the examination. Since examination forms may vary slightly in difficulty, it may not be appropriate to require exactly the same number of correct answers to pass. This is why the passing score may be different for each version of the examination.

To hear additional information about the examination development process, please listen to our podcast here.

  Is the application fee for the certification examination tax deductible?

Per the US Internal Revenue Service, if your CIC® certification is needed to maintain or improve your skills for a job in which you are already working, or is required for your current job, you may be able to deduct the cost as job-related expenses.

If you need the certification to meet the minimum requirements for a particular type of job, or it will qualify you for a new field, then it is typically NOT deductible.

*Please consult your personal tax attorney or accountant for further information regarding tax deductions in the US or the country in which you reside.

  What is the difference between a certificate and certification?

A certificate is awarded following the completion of a course or series of courses and to provide education and training around an intended learning outcome.

A certification is awarded following successful completion of a comprehensive examination process and to provide an independent assessment of the knowledge, skills, and/or competencies required for competent performance of an occupation or professional role.

A certificate program typically encompasses baseline knowledge while a certification indicates mastery of knowledge.

Watch a video from the Institute for Credentialing Excellence on the difference between certificate and certification.

  What type of identification do I need to bring with me to the testing center?

You will be required to present one valid, government-issued ID (e.g., driver's license or passport, other federal or military ID), with your signature and a recognizable photograph. If you are testing outside of your country of citizenship, you must present a valid passport. If you do not provide correct identification at the time of the exam, it is considered a missed appointment.

**Please note: the information on your identification must match the information you provided on your application.

Recertification FAQ

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  What do I have to do to maintain my CIC® certification?

To maintain your CIC® certification, you must take and pass the recertification examination. The recertification examination is offered online in web-based format. You can test on your own home computer and on your own schedule. For those whose certification expires on December 31, 2019, the recertification examination must be purchased on or before December 19, 2019. Applications submitted after December 19, 2019 will not be accepted. A passing score must be achieved, and your recertification examination must be completed by December 31, 2019 at 11:59 pm Greenwich Mean Time / 6:59 pm EST (Use this time zone converter to ensure you submit your exam on time: http://www.timeanddate.com/worldclock/converter.html). You must have an updated, valid email address on file with CBIC in order to receive the confirmation email with specific instructions on how to log into your recertification examination. This email includes instructions on how to log into the exam, as well as troubleshooting information. Certificants are able to login and out as many times as necessary within the established testing window to complete the examination; responses/answers during previous logins will be saved. Candidate pass/fail results are provided on the screen immediately following submission of the exam and completion of the post-exam survey.

  What is the "Testing Window"?

The recertification examination must be ordered in the same calendar year as the candidate is due for recertification. It can be ordered beginning January 1 of that year. The deadline to order the recertification examination is December 19. No applications for the recertification examination will be accepted after December 19. It must be completed and submitted for scoring by 11:59 pm Greenwich Mean Time / 6:59 pm EST on December 31 of the recertifying year. However, CBIC strongly recommends submitting the recertification examination no later than December 30 to be sure that everything is submitted successfully in time. Use this time zone converter to ensure you submit your exam on time: http://www.timeanddate.com/worldclock/converter.html.

  What are the differences between the initial certification examination and the recertification examination?

The initial certification examination consists of 150 multiple-choice questions, of which 135 are scored (15 are pretest questions and do not count for or against your score). Candidates will not know which questions are the pre-test questions. The initial certification exam is the only option for the first-time certifier. The initial certification examination is a timed; closed-book test administered by computer and must be taken at specified testing agencies which are geographically located throughout the United States and internationally. Read more about the initial certification exam in the Candidate Handbook.

Like the initial certification exam, the recertification examination is also a 150 multiple-choice question exam of which 135 are scored (15 are pretest questions and do not count for or against your score). Candidates will not know which questions are the pre-test questions. The recertification examination is a web-based exam and a link to the exam is emailed to the candidate. It is an open-book exam and can be completed at the candidate’s pace, but must be submitted for scoring by 11:59 pm Greenwich Mean Time / 6:59 pm EST on December 31st* of the year in which the certification expires. Both tests are based on the most current CBIC Practice Analysis and Examination Content Outline. Read more about the procedures for the recertification examination in the Candidate Handbook.

*CBIC strongly recommends submitting the recertification exam no later than December 30th to be sure that everything is submitted successfully in time. Use this time zone converter to ensure you submit your exam on time: http://www.timeanddate.com/worldclock/converter.html.

  I paid for the recertification examination and didn't receive a link, what's wrong?

Some email programs see the email as spam. Check your spam folder for the email. To minimize the possibility of not receiving the link (and the score after you submit the exam) add the email address (info@cbic.org) to your address book as a new contact after you submit your recertification examination order form. This way your computer is more likely to interpret the email as "friendly." If you are using a work email address, contact your IT department and ask them to "allow" emails from this address to reach your email inbox. Some companies have filters which prevent perceived spam from reaching employees. If you continue to experience issues, please call the CBIC Executive Office at (414) 918-9796 or email us at info@cbic.org for assistance.

  Why is five years the interval for retesting?

Changes in federal regulations, accrediting standards, healthcare products, and patient care practices occur frequently. CBIC performs a practice analysis every 4-5 years in order to capture the impact of these changes on the profession. In order to assess the competency of the certificant given these changes, five years was chosen as the certification renewal and is consistent with good testing practice standards.

  I prefer to earn continuing education credits rather than retest. Is that an option?

No. The Certification Board of Infection Control and Epidemiology, Inc. believes strongly that the best way to evaluate competency is through regular testing. For more background information about this trend in the certification industry, please refer to this article written by a CBIC Past President and originally published in both the American Journal of Infection Control (AJIC) and the Canadian Journal of Infection Control (CJIC). CBIC also explains the importance of recertification in a podcast conversation between CBIC Board Secretary Linda Goss and Prometric Director of Psychometric Services Julia Leahy, which you can listen to here.

View more information on our downloadable PowerPoint, Continuing Credits vs. Re-testing.

  How soon after I submit my recertification examination will I receive the correct answers to the questions I answered incorrectly?

CBIC does not provide the answers to questions answered incorrectly on the recertification examination. CBIC is accredited by the National Commission for Certifying Agencies (NCCA). One of NCCA's standards requires that certification programs develop and adhere to appropriate, standardized, and secure procedures for the development and administration of the assessment instruments (examinations). Certification programs are responsible for protecting the integrity of assessment information, which includes the questions. The responsibility requires the use of security processes that restrict access to assessment information to authorized individuals. Therefore, providing the missed questions and the correct answers would remove the security associated with the certification examination. After completion of the post-exam survey, an onscreen pass/fail indicator is generated to inform the candidate of the result of their examination. In addition, a letter will be mailed to the candidate disclosing their overall score on the recertification exam two to four weeks after exam submission.

  If I don't pass the recertification examination, can I take it again?

No. You can only take the recertification examination once during your recertification cycle. However, you can test again using the proctored certification examination administered at Prometric testing facilities to maintain your certification if you fail the recertification exam.

  If I don’t pass the recertification examination, how long do I have to wait to register to take the certification exam?

There is no waiting period to take the proctored certification examination administered at Prometric testing facilities if you don’t pass the recertification exam. If you fail the recertification examination, the CBIC office will email you the new examination application using the email address on file. If you do not pass this examination, your certification will lapse and you will have to wait until the following year to reapply as a first-time applicant. Remember to plan ahead, because you must pass either the recertification examination or the certification exam (only if the recertification exam is failed) by 11:59 pm Greenwich Mean Time / 6:59 pm EST on or before December 31st* of your recertification year.

*CBIC strongly recommends submitting the recertification exam no later than December 30  to be sure that everything is submitted successfully in time. Use this time zone converter to ensure you submit your exam on time: http://www.timeanddate.com/worldclock/converter.html.

  How soon after I pass the exam will I receive my certificate in the mail?

An electronic version of your official certificate will be available 2-3 days after completion of the exam. To order a physical copy of your certificate, please fill out the Certificate Request form.

  Who can I contact to get a receipt for my exam?

Please contact the CBIC Executive office at (414) 918-9796 or info@cbic.org to request a receipt.

  Have you moved since you last certified?

Certificants are responsible for recertification regardless of whether or not they have received notification of expiration from the CBIC Executive Office. If you have moved since you last applied for CIC® certification or recertification, it is imperative that you send your updated information to the CBIC office. Keeping our database up-to-date allows us to notify you when your certification is due to expire and to send you CBIC news in our quarterly e-newsletter. Notifying the APIC or IPAC offices does NOT automatically notify the CBIC office.

To request more information about CBIC or the CIC® credential, or to provide feedback about this web-site, please email the CBIC Executive Office at info@cbic.org.

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