20 Best Nursing Certifications 

Nurses validate their mastery of skills, knowledge, and abilities by getting nursing certifications and meeting ongoing learning and practice requirements through recertification.

In most organizations, there is a push for increasing the number of certified nurses in all units. Research has also shown that the relationship between certification and nursing practice has increased.

This could be because of the shifting value currently placed on nurse certification by those who manage healthcare organizations.

Nursing certifications are a mark of skill and professionalism in the nursing field. I have highlighted everything you need to know about getting nursing certifications. I hope this helps.

Are Nursing Certifications Worth It

Absolutely. If you are considering going for a nursing certification, it is totally worth it. certification recognizes clinical knowledge, experience, and clinical judgment within a nursing specialty.

A specialty certification can be a means for you to achieve higher levels of professional and financial advancement.

A nursing certification ticks a lot of boxes. The world is advancing very fast. You should grow with it to avoid getting sifted out.

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Why get a Nursing Certification| What is the Purpose of Certifications in Nursing?

There are several reasons why you should get a certification in nursing. Here is a few-

  • By becoming a certified nurse, you can validate your expert knowledge more comfortably than before and position yourself for appropriate recognition, advancement, and a certain sense of confidence and achievement.
  • By becoming a certified nurse, it points to your commitment to your career development and dedication to caring for your patient.
  • Research has shown that getting a nursing certification can enable you to experience personal growth and become more satisfied with your work.
  • Certifications in Nursing provide ongoing validation of specialty experience, knowledge, and skills.
  • By becoming a certified nurse, you automatically reduce your exposure to risk and better prepare you to make informed decisions that encompass a larger scope.  
  • Most importantly, getting a certification provides patients and their families with validation that the nurse caring for them has experience and knowledge in the specialty which they are being cared for.
  • Earning more money is also one of the reasons why you should go for a certification in nursing. More knowledge, experience, and credentials can help you earn higher pay. Specialization in certain areas through certifications lets you seek higher paying work in dialysis nursing, oncology, or neonatal care.
  • Certifications in nursing also goes a long way in increasing the value of your resume. By having them, your employer automatically knows you are dedicated and knows where your niche skills might be.

Do Nurses get paid more for Certifications?

Definitely. Research shows that nurses’ base salaries alone are greater than those of nurses who are not certified.

In addition, many organizations pay for certification preparation exams and test fees and reward nurses with hourly certification differential pay.

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How do you get a Nursing Certifications?

  • Complete a Degree in Nursing-

Most nursing certifications require a bachelor’s degree, master’s degree or even a pre-graduate degree.

Without a degree in nursing, getting a certification would be almost impossible because certifications go to show that you are a dedicated nurse.

  • Gain Experience

You have to have had experience working in the field as a nurse for you to get any certifications in nursing.

Most certifications have their own requirements but almost all require that you have at least 3-years of working experience. This has to show that you are passionate about the field of nursing.

  • Find a Specialty-

There are several certifications in nursing for you to choose from. In considering getting a nursing certification, you should choose a specialty. Something you have the zeal and passion for.

  • Apply for the Nursing Certification

After choosing a specialty, you can take the bold step of doing your research and applying to get the nursing certification. Ask for tools and books which can help you ace the examination. There are usually about 100+ questions in a certification examination.

  • Get Certified as a Certified Biologist.

After you have written the examination and passed, certificates take about two to four weeks. When this is out, you would then be certified.

What are good Certifications to have as a Nurse

Below are the best Nursing certifications worth going for this 2023:

  • AIDS Certified Registered Nurse (ACRN)
  • Certified Pediatric Nurse (CPN)
  • Oncology Certified Nurse (OCN)
  • Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP-BC)
  • Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA)
  • Medical-Surgical Nursing Certification
  • Critical Care Certification
  • Adult-Gerontology Primary Care Nurse Practitioner (A-GNP)
  • Clinical Nurse Specialist; Wellness through Acute Care (ACCNS-AG)
  • Advanced Certified Hospice and Palliative Nurse (ACHPN)
  • Certified Pediatric Nurse Practitioner Acute Care(CPP-AC)
  • Certified Plastic Surgical Nurse (CPSN)
  • Acute Care Nurse Practitioner (ACNP-BC)
  • Nurse Manager and Leader Certification
  • Certified Professional in Healthcare Risk Management
  • Certified Radiologic Nurse(CRN)
  • Emergency Nurse Practitioner (specialty certification)
  • Health and Wellness Nurse Coach, Board Certified (HWNC-BC)
  • Pediatric Clinical Nurse Specialist(PCNS-BC)
  • Cardiac Vascular Nursing (RN-BC)

#1. AIDS Certified Registered Nurse (ACRN)

If you have up to two years of working experience working in HIV/ AIDS, you can apply for this certification exam.

The board would then approve the application. After the approval, the exam would then be scheduled. Once you pass the exam, you can then use the ACRN designation after your name.

This certification has to be renewed every four years. After getting this nursing certification, you also have a yearly salary potential of $91,000.

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#2. Certified Pediatric Nurse (CPN)

To get this certification, you must hold an associate, bachelor’s, or master’s degree. You would also be required to have completed 1,800 pediatric hours within the last two years.

The Pediatric Nursing Certification Board must approve your application before you can take the 3-hour exam. Your potential salary would be about $72,000 per year.

#3. Oncology Certified Nurse (OCN)

You would be required to prove your competency in oncology to get this certification in nursing. You must show proof of two years’ work experience within the last 4years.

The test would include questions on the care continuum, oncology nursing practice, treatment modalities, and symptom management, and palliative care. Your potential salary after obtaining this certification is about $80,000 a year.

#4. Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP-BC)

This certification would test your competency in diagnosing illness, evaluating patient needs, and administering care.

If you have a master’s, postgraduate, or doctoral degree in nursing from an accredited college and 500 faculty-supervised clinical hours, you can apply for this certification.

It has to be renewed every five years in order to maintain your license to practice. You would have a salary potential of $91,613 a year.

#5. Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA)

This certification would enable you to administer anesthesia for surgery. You must have first earned a master’s degree.

The exam would require you to answer questions on the basic principles of anesthesia, basic sciences, equipment, and advanced principles of anesthesia.

You must also hold a valid registered nurse license. If you meet this requirement, you should apply for this certification. You also have a salary potential of $150,000.

#6. Medical-Surgical Nursing Certification

Getting a certification in Medical-Surgical Nursing Certification gives you a whole range of options that involve caring for patients who have suffered a stroke, gone through a tracheostomy, amongst other things.

This certification would open you up to gaining knowledge in various practices.

#7. Critical Care Certification

This is a specialized space in which nurses expect the unforeseeable. Getting this certification would open you up to a lot of job opportunities, as employers usually require certification for nurses who provide direct patient care in this setting.

#8. Adult-Gerontology Primary Care Nurse Practitioner (A-GNP)

This certification examination is a competency-based entry-level examination that provides a valid and reliable assessment of the clinical knowledge and skills of the nurse practitioner. The certification is valid for 5 years.

You can only continue to use it by maintaining your license to practice and meeting the renewal requirements in place at the time of your certification renewal.

Read Also: 13 Affordable Online LPN to RN Programs for Nurses

#9. Clinical Nurse Specialist; Wellness through Acute Care (ACCNS-AG)-

This is one of the advanced certifications for nurses. They are generally registered nurses who hold both a master’s degree in nursing and a bachelor’s degree.

Each national certifying body has its own requirements, which generally include a master’s degree, a certain level of experience, and a certification examination.

If you are interested in this certification, you should check your state’s board of nursing to determine which requirement is accepted.

#10. Advanced Certified Hospice and Palliative Nurse (ACHPN)

One of the ways your expertise can be recognized as a Hospice and Palliative nurse professional is by certification.

The Hospice and Palliative Credentialing Center(HPCC) offers up to six certification examinations for advanced practice nurses, registered nurses, pediatric hospice and palliative nurses, nursing assistants, and those dealing with perinatal loss.

Each certification examination is administered by appointment only Monday through Friday.

#11. Acute Care Nurse Practitioner (ACNP-BC)

This entry-level advanced certification is for acute care nurse practitioners educated at the graduate level to provide continuous and comprehensive advanced nursing care to acutely ill adult-gerontology patients experiencing episodic illness.

The examination usually takes place in 3days, and the moment results are out, you would become a certified acute care nurse practitioner.

#12. Nurse Manager and Leader Certification

If you are interested in being a nurse leader in the nurse manager role, this certification is for you. You would get industry-recognized certification demonstrating your knowledge of the essential nursing management and leadership elements.

The examination is a 115-question exam, testing your knowledge of the four core principles of financial management, human resource management; performance improvement; and strategic management and technology.

#13. Certified Professional in Healthcare Risk Management­­

To be certified in professional healthcare risk management, you must have at least 3000 hours or 50 percent of full-time job duties.

This would be within the last three years dedicated to healthcare risk management in a healthcare setting or with a provider of services.

The processing time it takes for new certificates to be out after passing the exam is about two to four weeks.

#14. Certified Pediatric Nurse Practitioner Acute Care(CPP-AC)

To get this certification, you must validate entry-level skills and knowledge of graduates from master’s degree or DNP degree programs or postgraduate certificate programs for acute care pediatric nurse practitioners (PNPs).

This certification, like most others, requires a renewal or recertification process to document how you are maintaining competence in practice.

#15. Plastic Surgical Nurse (CPSN) Certifications

To get this nursing certification, you must currently have a license as a nurse. Then, have a minimum of two years of plastic surgical nursing experience as a registered nurse in a general staff, administrative, teaching, or research capacity for at least 3 years prior to the application. And also must have spent at least 1,000 practice hours in plastic surgical nursing during two of the preceding three years.

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#16. Certified Radiologic Nurse(CRN)

To be certified as a Radiologic Nurse, you would have to complete the application form, provide your proof of current ARIN membership with the expiration date, a copy of the current nursing license, showing name and expiration date from the acceptable licensing body; completed contact hour documentation form included with your application; appropriate payment amount, including any late fees that apply.

The examination is a pass and fails exam only. The passing score for the examinations is in accordance with standard-criterion referenced passing score standards.

#17. Emergency Nurse Practitioner (specialty certification)

This certification would test your specialty education and practice in emergency care. There are about 150 questions in the examination.

Out of the questions, about 15 would be pretest questions. These questions are used on the examination to obtain statistical information for determining how well you have performed before vetting on the scored portion of the examination.

#18. Health and Wellness Nurse Coach, Board Certified (HWNC-BC)

In getting this nursing certification, you would have opened doors to a skilled, purposeful, results-oriented, and structured client interaction that registered nurses provide for the purpose of promoting the achievement of client goals.

You would be able to establish the relationship and assess the clients’ readiness for change, identify client opportunities and issues, assist clients in establishing goals, structure the coaching interaction, and empower clients to reach their goals, amongst others

#19. Pediatric Clinical Nurse Specialist(PCNS-BC)

This nursing certification would prepare you for roles as an advanced practice nurse in the subspecialty care of infants and children with alterations in health.

You will integrate care across the continuum and through direct patient care, nurses, nursing practice, systems, and organizations.

You will also educate staff and develop initiatives to improve safety and quality with the pediatric population.

#20. Cardiac Vascular Nursing (RN-BC)

This certification would assess you based on a valid and reliable assessment of registered nurses’ entry-level clinical knowledge and skills in the cardiac-vascular specialty.

Once you complete the eligibility requirements to take the certification examination and successfully pass, you’ll get the credential: Cardio Vascular Nurse. Note the renewal of this certification is every 5-years.

Read Also: How Can I Become A Nurse Anesthetist? Schools, Programs, Cost.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the cost to earn a nursing certification?

An average certification costs about $295, which may sometimes include a $100 non-refundable registration fee.

Do you need education? How do you maintain certification?

Almost all nursing certifications will require some level of experience and/or education. Each organization offering certification will have different requirements. Be sure to check with the organization first.
To maintain your certification, you must meet renewal criteria that involve continuing education and, in some cases, continuing practice experience and an unencumbered nursing license.

How do you prepare for nursing certification?

No. you would not need additional formal education. There are prep courses, study materials, and practice tests that can help you prepare for certifications.
Certification preparation requires that you meet the eligibility requirements such as gaining experience in providing direct care for a required period for the relevant patient population. It also involves setting certification as a specific target goal, studying, and acquiring the knowledge needed to pass the certification exam.


There is increasing data to support that obtaining specialty certification promotes quality patient care, validates nurse’s knowledge and expertise builds confidence and credibility in the professional ability and demonstrates dedication to nursing as a profession.

If you were thinking of getting a certification in nursing, I hope this helped you to make a decision.  


  • nurse.org – nursing-certifications-credentials-list
  • www.relias.com – blog/the-importance-of-nurse-certifications
  • www.aacn.org – nurse-certification-benefits-patients-employers-and-nurses
  • nursejournal.org – best-nursing-specialities-for-the-future


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