Certification FAQs


Do I have to be a nurse or physician to apply?

The criteria differ for the five types of certification. In addition, candidates must meet all other eligibility requirements for each program.

CCHP: All professionals working in correctional health, including administrative, mental health and support staff, are eligible to participate in the CCHP program.

CCHP-MH: You must be a qualified mental health professional as defined by NCCHC’s Standards for Mental Health Services in Correctional Facilities (2015), MH-A-02: “psychiatrists, psychologists, psychiatric social workers, licensed professional counselors, psychiatric nurses, and others who by virtue of their education, credentials, and experience are permitted by law to evaluate and care for the mental health needs of patients.”

CCHP-P: You must possess an unrestricted license (MD or DO) to practice medicine in at least one state of the United States and be in good standing with that licensing board. For Canada and U.S. territories, credentials are reviewed on a case-by-case basis.

CCHP-RN: You must possess a current, active RN license within a U.S. state (for Canada and U.S. territories, credentials are reviewed on a case-by-case basis); the license must not be restricted to practice in correctional settings only.

CCHP-A: All professionals working in correctional health, including administrative, mental health and support staff, are eligible to participate in the CCHP-A program provided they meet the other program requirements.


How much correctional health care experience do I need in order to be eligible to take the exam?

There is no work experience requirement for basic certification in the CCHP program. For specialty certification, the requirements vary; for details, check the "Applying" section for each program.


How long does it take to find out if my application was accepted?

For applications submitted online, an email confirmation is sent immediately. Applications sent by mail take 3 to 4 weeks to process. Once your application is processed, you will receive an email on the status of your application and any additional documents needed to complete it. An email attachment will contain the candidate handbook, publication order form and exam registration form.


What do I need to do to complete my application?

A complete application consists of (1) the application (online or paper), (2) examination fee, (3) resume and (4) license OR if a license is not required to perform your job, then evidence of your highest level of education, such as a copy of your diploma or transcripts.


Are different examinations given to doctors, nurses, administrators, etc.?

For basic certification, the same examination is given to everyone. The exam focuses on correctional practice and does not seek to measure clinical competency. Separate exams are used for CCHP-MH, CCHP-P and CCHP-RN specialty certifications and for Advanced certification.


Can I take the exam at home or do I have to travel to a testing site?

The exam is not a take-home exam. It is a proctored, multiple-choice examination offered at least five times a year at NCCHC conferences and at regional locations across the country. Current test sites and dates are listed on the Exam Calendar page.


Is the exam an open-book exam?

No. The exam is closed book.


What percentage of correct answers is needed to pass the examination and become certified?

For basic CCHP certification, you must answer at least 65% of the questions correctly. Each exam has 80 to 100 questions. See the Candidate Handbook for each exam for more information, including a content ountline.


What does it cost to take the exam?

Fees shown below are for applications submitted online; except for CCHP-A, a $15 service fee is charged for applications submitted by mail or fax.

Exam Exam Fee
CCHP $205
CCHP-MH $225
CCHP-P $305
CCHP-RN $225
CCHP-A $125


Veterans may be eligible for reimbursement of the exam fee by the Veterans Administration. Learn more »


How do I obtain the Candidate Handbook?

The handbook will be sent by email once your application has been received. You also may download the handbook in The Examination page of the website for each CCHP program. 


I applied for the exam, so does that mean I am registered?

No. You must complete the exam registration form that is emailed to you with your application confirmation and return it to NCCHC by the registration deadline noted on the form.


How do I request that an exam be set up in my city and state?

Site requests are accepted if submitted at least 90 days prior to the exam provided that the exam registration form still solicits such requests. Site requests are limited and accepted on a first-come, first-served basis, so candidates are encouraged to make requests well in advance.


Do you guarantee that site requests can be fulfilled?

No. We do our very best to secure a convenient location to test for each candidate, but we cannot guarantee that each request will be fulfilled.


How long does it take to receive the test results?

You will be notified of your test results by mail within 6 to 8 weeks.


Do you publish a list of candidates?

A list of new CCHPs (those who passed the exam) is posted in the Recent News section of our website. No reference is made to candidates who have deferred taking the exam or did not attain a passing score.


Will you notify my manager that I passed the CCHP examination?

If certified, you will receive a packet of information that includes a request that NCCHC send a letter to your employer recognizing your accomplishment. A press release also is provided for submission to your local news media or facility newsletter.


Does everyone pass the examination?

We have found that, with adequate preparation and studying, most candidates pass the examination. Those who don't may take it two additional times within a two-year period (a retesting fee applies). Most examinees who retest are better prepared and pass on their second try.


What if I fail the exam?

We encourage you to try again. You have two years from your application approval date (the date your application is processed) to take the exam two additional times. All you need to do is submit a $45 retesting fee along with another exam registration form by the registration deadline.


How can I update my contact information for the certification program?

Simply log on to your NCCHC account to update your personal information, including mailing address, email, professional credentials and more. This also is important for CCHP correspondence and recertification, processing continuing education credit from NCCHC conferences or the Journal of Correctional Health Care, conference registration and much more. To update (or create) your account, go to http://orders.ncchc.org.