5 Most Common Types of Nursing Certifications You Should Have

If you are a registered nurse, you can choose from many specialties and become certified in those areas. Such certifications show that you have attained expert knowledge in those fields. Having specific certifications has been shown to result in higher patient satisfaction rates and lower rates of errors in the care of patients.

Some of the most important nursing certifications that are important for you to have to advance your career are the following:

1. AIDS Certified Registered Nurse (ACRN)

Registered nurses with a minimum of two years of clinical experience working in HIV/AIDS nursing can apply for the HIV/AIDS certified registered nurse certification. Applicants must apply for the certification exam and submit payment. The HIV/AIDS Nursing Certification Board must then approve the application. After the approval, nurses can schedule an exam date through Iso-Quality Testing. This computer-based exam consists of 250 multiple-choice questions covering ethical and legal issues, epidemiology and prevention, pathophysiology, and psychosocial issues.

Once nurses pass the exam, they may use the ACRN designation after their signature. Nurses must retake the test every four years.

Cost of Exam: $260 for ANAC members; $400 for non-members

Salary Potential: $91,000 per year


2. Certified Pediatric Nurse (CPN)

To earn a certified pediatric nurse credential, applicants must hold an associate, bachelor’s, or master’s degree. Nurses also need 1,800 pediatric clinical hours completed within the last two years or 3,000 hours of pediatric experience in the past five years. Of those 3,000 hours of experience, nurses need to show that they completed 1,000 hours within the past two years.

The Pediatric Nursing Certification Board must approve nurses’ applications before they can take the three-hour exam, which includes 175 multiple choice questions and a customized introductory session.

Cost of Exam: $295, including a $100 non-refundable registration fee; Society of Pediatric Nurses may receive a $45 discount on the exam.

Salary Potential: $72,000 per year


3. Oncology Certified Nurse (OCN)

Nurses can apply to take the three-hour, 165-multiple choice oncology certified nurse certification exam to validate their skills and knowledge in the field of oncology.

Nurses must prove their competency in oncology to apply to take the test. Applicants need to show proof two years of work experience within the last four years. Candidates also need 2,000 hours of specialty practice and 10 contact hours of continuing nursing education in oncology. The test includes questions on care continuum, oncology nursing practice, treatment modalities, and symptom management and palliative care.

A practice test and test content outline help prepare nurses for the test. Certification lasts four years.

Cost of Exam: $225-$315

Salary Potential: $80,000 a year


4. Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP-BC)

The family nurse practitioner certification, offered through the National Commission for Certifying Agencies and Accreditation Board for Specialty Nursing Certification, demonstrates a nurse’s competency in diagnosing illness, evaluating patient needs, and administering care.

Applicants with a master’s, postgraduate, or doctoral degree in nursing from an accredited college and 500 faculty-supervised clinical hours can apply for this certification. Nurses must meet the eligibility requirements before they can take the test. The certification lasts for five years, as long as nurses meet renewal requirements and maintain their license to practice.

The test, which can require 3.5 hours to finish, includes 25 pretest questions and 175 scored questions.

Cost of Exam: $290-$395

Salary Potential: $91,613 a year


5. Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA)

The certified registered nurse anesthetist credential allows nurses to administer anesthesia for surgery. Each state possesses different requirements for the CRNA, a certification administered by the National Board of Certification and Recertification for Nurse Anesthetists.

Nurses must first earn a master’s degree or higher from a nurse anesthesia program which has been accredited by the Council on Accreditation before they can take the certification exam. The exam requires nurses to answer 100-170 questions on basic principles of anesthesia, basic sciences, equipment, and advanced principles of anesthesia.

To qualify for the test, nurses must hold a valid registered nurse license. They also need one year of experience working in critical care. After nurses meet these requirements, they can then apply for the advanced practice registered nurse certification.

Cost of Exam: $995

Salary Potential: $150,000