The National Registry of Certified Microbiologists (NRCM) certifies professional microbiologists at the baccalaureate, master's, and doctoral levels in biological safety, food safety and quality, and pharmaceutical and medical device. The NRCM has certified microbiologists in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and on six continents.

The goals of the NRCM are to:

  1. Minimize risk to the public by identifying qualified microbiologists
  2. Encourage mastery of microbiological knowledge and skills that contribute to improving the human condition
  3. Foster professional pride and a sense of accomplishment in qualified microbiologists

Benefits of a NRCM certification:

  • A tangible credential
  • Validation of your expertise
  • Builds credibility
  • Resume builder
  • Personal accomplishment

NRCM benefits for employers:

  • Minimizes initial on-site training
  • Selling point to clients that workforce contains certified microbiologists
  • Demonstrates staff competency to auditors and inspectors
  • Provides inspection-ready response about competency of lab microbiologists
  • Greater level of assurance in hiring
  • Attracts other certified microbiologists
  • Motivates the individual to stay updated in their field
  • Furthers career development
  • Reputation of reliability and trust
  • Relevant knowledge and skills

The National Registry of Certified Microbiologists (NRCM) is pleased to welcome 48 newly certified registrants in 2017 and 8 newly certified registrants in 2018.

The NRCM is permanently phasing out its exam process and is no longer accepting applications. A FAQ about the phase out can be found here. During the phase out, the exam will be offered in the months of November 2017 and April 2018 at testing centers worldwide for those already approved. 

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Exam Information

The NRCM exam will be offered in November 2017 and April 2018 at testing centers worldwide.

The computer-based exam consists of 150 multiple-choice questions with only one correct answer. Questions are reevaluated and updated annually. You should expect to see questions on technical advances or issues that occurred during the past year.

You can move forward and back through the questions while examining and are allowed three and one-half hours in which to complete the exam.

Learn more about how a question is developed.

Responsibilities and roster of the Exam Development Subcommittees.

The certification boards of the American College of Microbiology use a criterion-referenced scoring system.
You are not graded on a curve and do not competing against each other. 

Learn more about criterion-referencing, discrimination, and scoring.

Exam results are emailed by February 1 (November exam) and July 1 (April exam) to the email address provided in your Webassessor profile. Please be sure to keep your contact information in your Webassessor profile updated to ensure you receive correspondence from the NRCM.

The NRCM pass rate is available for 2013-2017.

Applicants have three exam cycles from their approval date to pass the exam. This means that if you do not pass the exam the first time you take it, you can take the exam up to two more times within the next two years under the same application. You must pay the exam registration fee of $200 each time you register to take the exam. 

Please plan to arrive at the testing center no more than 15 minutes prior to your scheduled exam time. The check-in process should only take five minutes.

You must bring the following with you to the testing center:

  • Your Test Taker Authorization Code. The proctor cannot launch the test without this code. This code will be included in the confirmation email you are sent when you register for the exam.
  • Two forms of identification, one must be a current, government-issued, photo ID such as:
    • State-issued driver’s license or identification card
    • Passport
    • Military identification
    • National identification car
  • The other can be a non-photo identification such as:
    • Credit card
    • Check cashing card
    • Bank debit card
    • Student ID from an accredited school

Both forms of identification can be a government-issued photo ID.

NOTE: Both forms of ID must show your name exactly as it appears in your Webassessor profile.


The objective is to measure pertinent knowledge and the ability to develop, implement, and manage a comprehensive biological safety program.


Download the list of topics tested on the exam.

Download sample questions.

Download the suggested resources list.


The objective is to measure the factual knowledge, concepts, and laboratory skills needed to supervise the effective operation of a pharmaceutical and medical device microbiology testing laboratory.


Download the list of topics tested on the exam.

Download sample questions

Download the suggested resources list.


The objective is to measure the factual knowledge, concepts, and laboratory skills needed in a pharmaceutical and medical device microbiology testing laboratory.


Download the list of topics tested on the exam.

Download sample questions.

Download the suggested resources list.


The objective is to measure the factual knowledge, concepts, and laboratory skills needed in a food microbiology testing laboratory.


Download the list of topics tested on the exam.

Download sample questions.

Download the suggested resources list.



The NRCM encourages its certified individuals, Registrants, to keep up- to-date with the concepts, skills, and issues of importance to their field through voluntary recertification. To recertify, Registrants must complete an application AND participate in 30 hours of continuing education over a three year period OR retake the exam. If recertifying by continuing education, the recertification fees are $75 for ASM contributing and premium members and $150 for ASM supporting members and non-members AND three years of annual dues must be paid. If recertifying by exam, you must notify the NRCM office of your decision by March 23 and pay annual dues. A $200 seat fee will be required at the time of exam registration. Recertification demonstrates your continued commitment to maintaining a standard of excellence in the field.


If you have retired from remunerative employment and have paid your annual NRCM dues, you are eligible for Emeritus status. Effective January 2016, Registrants holding active status may make a formal request to the Board for Emeritus status if they have ten or more years of active standing through certification/recertification, are no longer employed full-time, and do not require NRCM certification for their employment. The Board reserves the right to rescind Emeritus status if a Registrant does not meet the employment guidelines set forth. If you would like to request Emeritus status complete and submit the first page of the recertification application.



Annual dues of $75 are paid online. If you are a returning ASM customer, enter your user name and password.



How do I verify NRCM Registrants?

If you are interested in verifying the certification of a NRCM Registrant, email your request to with an authorization of release form signed by the Registrant.

I used my email address as my login and now my email address has changed. How can I change my login to my new email address?

You need to log into your Webassessor account and update the email address field with your current email address. Once you have done this, you will need to submit a request to to change your login to match your new email address.

I am trying to register to take the exam but the dates on the calendar are grayed out, and I do not have the option to select an exam time.

If all of the dates in a given month are grayed out, it means that testing center is not available. Check the availability of other testing centers in the area and, if none of them are available in the exam administration window, try expanding your testing center search to include testing centers that are further away. Additionally, you can submit a request to open the testing center in the exam administration window by sending an email to (please include your desired testing center’s name and location and your first, second, and third choices for an exam date in your request). While a request to open a testing center is being processed, examinees are strongly encouraged to schedule their exams at one of the other testing centers to ensure they are able to sit for the exam.

What if my first choice of a testing center is not available?

You can submit a request to take the exam at your first choice of a testing center and we will do our best to accommodate your request. In case your request cannot be accommodated, however, you are advised to schedule your exam at an alternate testing center to ensure you are able to sit for the exam .

What if there aren’t any testing centers in my area?

New testing centers are added throughout the year and the list of testing centers posted on our website is updated each month. If there is not a testing center close to you when itis time to register to take the exam, you will need to travel to the nearest testing center to take the exam. Our exams can only be administered at Kryterion testing centers. 

Can I reschedule my exam?

Yes. As long as it is 72 hours before your scheduled exam time, you can reschedule your exam by logging into your Webassessor account, clicking on the Details link next to your scheduled exam and clicking on the "Reschedule" button. To reschedule an exam within 72 hours prior to your scheduled exam time, you must contact the NRCM office (at or 202-942-9257). No refunds will be issued for exams rescheduled within 72 hours of the scheduled exam sitting, and rescheduling an exam within this time frame will result in your having to pay another exam registration fee.

What if I need to cancel my exam registration once it has been scheduled?

To cancel your exam, you must send an email notification of your intent to cancel to In order to be issued a $150 refund for a cancellation, your request must be received by the NRCM at least five business days prior to your scheduled exam. No refunds will be issued for cancellations within this time frame.

Besides my authorization code and two forms of identification, what else can I bring to the testing center?

You will not be allowed to bring anything into the exam room with you except for your identification. Any other personal items including, but not limited to, bags, purses, wallets, coats, jackets, hats, briefcases, books, mobile devices such as beepers, cellphones and smartphones, calculators, personal digital assistants (PDAs), and watches must be stored outside of the exam room. The testing centers have locked cabinets available to store personal items, should you decide to bring any of these items with you. Please be advised that the NRCM, Kryterion, Inc., and the testing center are not responsible for lost or stolen personal items that you bring with you to the testing center. Additionally, tobacco products, food, drinks, and chewing gum are not allowed in the exam room.

Once you have entered the testing center, you will need to participate in their pre-exam inspection, including:

  • Pocket Turn-Outs: You will be asked to turn-out your pockets (on jackets, jeans, slacks, etc.) to verify that your pockets are empty or do not contain any prohibited items. 

    Please note: Proctors have been given strict instructions not to make physical contact with you. Ideally, you should empty your pockets prior to entering the Testing Center.
  • Eyewear Inspections: Due to technological advances, such as "Google Glass", external eyewear will be inspected by the proctor to ensure it is not technology-enabled.

You are not allowed to leave the testing facility during breaks.

In order to launch the exam, you must agree to abide by the ASM honor code, which is as follows: "I understand that my participation in any irregularity during this exam, including but not limited to giving or obtaining unauthorized aid, as evidenced by observation during the exam or by subsequent analysis, may result in the invalidation of the results of my exam, termination of my candidate status, revocation of my certification, civil liability, criminal prosecution, or other appropriate sanctions. I understand that I will be video-taped while examining. I will not leave the facility during the exam period, and I pledge that I will not discuss the content of this exam with any person at any time during or after the exam."

What if there is a power outage or other technical difficulties at my testing center?

In the event of an unforeseen circumstance preventing or interrupting the exam (for example, a power outage or loss of internet connectivity), the testing center and Kryterion will work diligently to resolve the problem as quickly as possible. If necessary, your exam can be rescheduled for another date in the exam administration window or at another testing center; you will have the time remaining (out of a the three and a half hours) to complete the exam. Please note, however, that if this happens toward the end of an exam administration window, it may not be possible to reschedule your exam in the current exam window. If this happens, your exam will need to be rescheduled for the next exam window and a new exam will be administered to you at that time. You are strongly advised to schedule your exam as early as possible in the exam administration window.

Kryterion, Inc. (the company that runs Webassessor) has security and back-up measures in place to ensure that examinees' answers are recorded accurately and that examinees are given the full time allowed to complete the exam. Answers are transmitted and recorded individually by Kryterion each time you hit the Next button on your exam. As such, if something happens in the middle of the exam to prevent your completion of the exam on that day, your answers will not be lost. Additionally, Kryterion will keep track of how much time is remaining in your exam session. When your exam is re-launched, the last question you were answering when your exam was interrupted will appear, as will the exam timer showing the time remaining in your session.


Clinical Microbiology Certification

The American College of Microbiology and the American Society for Clinical Pathology (ASCP) conjointly develop and administer certification exams to those with bachelor’s and master’s degrees and who work in clinical microbiology. Individuals must meet ASCP eligibility requirements to take the exam. Those who pass the exam are certified as a Technologist in Microbiology (M) or Specialist in Microbiology (SM) by the ASCP and are issued a certificate with both organizations' names on it. For more information, visit their website.

Contact Us


National Registry of Certified Microbiologists
American Society for Microbiology
1752 N Street, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20036

tel: (202) 942-9257


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