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Frequently Asked Questions about Certification

What is certification?

Certification has, as its primary purpose, the increased 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 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 professionals who become certified are authorized and encouraged to use the internationally recognized initials CIC® after their names and in their titles.

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

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Why is certification important?

Certification represents the commitment of an infection preventionist 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. Safety of the public is essential to CBIC.

As an infection prevention 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 show that the Joint Commission recognizes the professionalism of people with the CIC® credential.

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Is certification well-established and well-recognized?

The impetus for certification in IC started in 1977 because of the efforts of the New England Chapter of the Association for Practitioners 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.

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How does the CIC® certification help my career?

The Certification Board of Infection Control and 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!

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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 members to become certified and continue qualifying for the CIC® credential by recertifying at the appropriate times. In reality, certification is a part of APIC's education program as it fosters continuing upgrading of IPs knowledge of infection prevention and control and epidemiology. APIC looks upon its members who earn the CIC® credential as having reached a significant milestone in their IP careers. Certification is an important aspect in an IP's potential to contribute to increased overall patient safety. A goal of 100% certification of qualified 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.

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Is it still recommended to wait 2 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 preventionist who has had at least two years of full-time experience in infection prevention and control.

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Where can I get the CBIC Candidate Handbook?

The Candidate Handbook is available for free online here.

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What is the cost of the exam?

The cost of the initial certification exam is $375. The cost of the recertification examination is $375.

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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.

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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.

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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 call the CBIC office and ask the staff to cancel your eligibility. CBIC will refund your money minus a $72 administrative processing fee.

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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 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.

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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 may 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. To see the CBIC webinar on Preparing for the Exam, please click here.

Note on Study Materials: At this time, CBIC only offers on-demand webinars for the 8 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 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.

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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

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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, as well as an individual’s learning style.

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Are there sample questions available?

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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. CBIC score reports will now be provided via mail. Upon the completion of their exam, Candidates will receive their score report in the mail.  In addition, Candidates may access and print their score report by visiting Prometric’s Score Report Portal,

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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, but it takes approximately 4-6 weeks to receive your official certificate from the CBIC Executive Office.

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

It takes approximately 4-6 weeks to process and mail certificates.

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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

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How can I get a replacement of my certificate?

To get a replacement certificate printed and mailed to you, please contact the CBIC office at

If you need a new certificate due to damage during delivery or a misspelling, CBIC will be happy to send you a replacement.

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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

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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 and log in to My Profile. If you need assistance with the login process, please contact

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

In 2017, 67.5% of candidates who took the initial certification examination passed the exam. In 2017, 84.5% of those who took the recertification examination passed the exam.

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

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