Best Nursing Certifications in the USA (2022) – Top Picks

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    Hello there, welcome to another informative session with Nurse Code.

    In this article, we will extensively cover the different nursing certifications available at different levels of nursing.

    To be precise, we’ll take you through:

    What are the different types of nursing certifications?
    LPNs certifications
    RNs certifications
    APRNs certifications
    Certification renewal

    Let’s get straight into it!

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      What are the Different Types of Nursing Certification?

      Nurses who want to take their careers to the next level can enroll in the different certifications available in the nursing profession.

      Each level of nursing has a set of certifications that nurses can pursue.

      Some certifications are specifically for a particular level of nursing.

      There are certifications specifically for LPNs, RNs, and APRNs.

      Others can be done by both registered nurses and advanced practice registered nurses.

      Additionally, there are certifications for nurses who want to specialize in a specific practice area.

      Each of the nursing certifications available has different requirements. 

      The certifying organization may require candidates to have a particular level of education or experience. 

      Candidates may also be required to attend classes for specific courses and pass the certification exam.

      To choose the right certification, one should consider their career goals, the area they want to specialize in, the cost of the program, and the certification requirements.

      When these factors align, it’s a green light!

      So, what certifications are there for nurses?

      Keep reading to find out.

      LPNs Certifications

      Licensed practical nurses can specialize in various certification programs to boost their employability.

      The National Association of Practical Nurse Education and Service (NAPNES) offers three certifications for LPNs, IV therapy, long-term care, and pharmacology.

      IV Therapy Certification 

      Since intravenous therapy is common in health care facilities, home care, and even nursing homes, this certification is a great addition to an LPN’s resume.

      But before enrolling for the certification, licensed practical nurses should research their state regulations concerning IV therapy.

      The certification costs $160. 

      Long-term Care Certification

      This certification covers long-term care for chronically ill patients of all ages.

      Earning the certification proves competency in taking care of chronically ill patients in long-term care facilities and homes.

      The certification costs $160.

      The recertification exam is $150.

      Pharmacology (NPS) 

      Pharmacology focuses on medication.

      The certification equips LPN with knowledge of drug classification, dosage, administration, and side effects.

      The certification coursework also covers IVF fluid.

      So, NPS may be a great combination with IV therapy certification.

      LPNs interested in pursuing pharmacy in the future may find this course particularly helpful.

      The certification cost is the same as the first two above.

      This specialty certification expires after three years.

      Wound Care Certification

      Different organizations offer wound care certification, including the American Board of Wound Management, the National Alliance Wound Care Ostomy, and the Wound Ostomy Continence Nursing Board.

      Certification in wound care equips candidates with the skills to clean and treat different wounds.

      One can expect to pay anywhere between $330 and $995 for the certification exam.

      Besides the exam fee, some organizations require candidates to pay an application fee ranging from $45 to $95.

      This is just a sneak peek at the certifications available for LPN.

      Licensed practical nurses can also pursue life support nephrology, hospice, cardiac catheterization, and corrections certifications.

      It all depends on the path an LPN wants to take in their career. 

      Registered Nurses Certifications

      Registered nurses have a myriad of opportunities to distinguish themselves in the nursing industry, as the number of nursing certifications available at this level is staggering.

      Since they are many, we want to cover seven common certifications in different specialties.

      Nurse Pediatric 

      Registered nurses can specialize in pediatric care.

      One organization that offers pediatric nursing certification is the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC).

      Registered nurses who pass ANCC certifications exams earn Registered Nurse Board-Certified (RN-BC) credentials. 

      The eligibility requirement for this certification includes an active registered nurse license, 30 hours of continuing education in pediatrics in the past three years, 3000 hours of clinical practice in pediatric care in the last three years, and at least two years of experience as an RN.

      And, of course, one has to pass the nurse pediatric exam.

      ANCC has a standard fee for all their exams.

      The candidate’s membership determines the fee.

      Nurses with no association membership pay $395.

      Members of the American Nurses Association (ANA) pay $295.

      Students with the American Association of Nurse Practitioners (AANP) membership pay $340.

      The recertification fee also varies depending on students’ membership.

      Women Health Nurse

      The National Certification Corporation has two certifications in women’s health.

      Nurses with experience in newborn nursing can opt for Maternal Newborn Nursing (RNC-MNN).

      Those with experience in obstetrics nursing can settle for Inpatient Obstetric Nursing (RNC-OB).

      In both options, aspiring nurses must have an active registered nurse license, two years of experience as an RN, and at least 2000 hours of experience in their respective fields.

      Both the certifications cost $325.

      Emergency Nurse

      The emergency nursing specialty is for nurses who want to specialize in emergencies.

      The Board of Certification for Emergency Nursing (BCEN) offers Trauma Certified Registered Nurse and Certified Emergency Nurse (CEN) certifications.

      To qualify for these certifications, one must have an active RN license and two years of experience in trauma or emergency setting.

      The initial certification exam is $210.

      Taking the exam the second time if one fails on the first trial is $200.

      Renewing the certification will cost $230.

      Psychiatric Nurse 

      ANCC offers Psychiatric Mental Health Nursing Certification RN-BC.

      This nursing certification is ideal for nurses who want to focus on mental health.

      The eligibility requirements for this specialty certification include an active RN license, at least two years of experience in nursing, 30 hours of continuing education in psychiatry, and not less than 2000 hours in psychiatry nursing within the last three years.

      Lastly, one has to prove competency in the certification exam to earn the certification.

      Like the other ANCC certification, the cost of the certification varies by membership.

      Oncology Nurse

      Oncology nurses deal with patients diagnosed with cancer.

      RNs interested in specializing in oncology can obtain Oncology Certified Nurse (OCN) from the Oncology Nursing Certification Corporation.

      To enroll for this certification, one must have at least two years of experience as an RN in the last four years.

      They should also have experience in oncology and a minimum of 2000 hours of clinical practice.

      Additionally, they must have 10 hours of continuing education in oncology.

      The three-hour multiple-choice exam is $296 for members and $416 for non-members.

      Occupational Health Nurse

      Aspiring occupational health nurses can pursue either Certified Occupational Health Nurse (COHN) certification or Certified Occupational Health Nurse Specialist (CONH-S), both offered by the American Board of Occupational Health Nurses (ABOHN).

      To qualify for these certifications, candidates must have an active RN license and at least 3000 hours of clinical practice in occupational health.

      Besides that, CONH-S candidates should have a bachelor’s degree.

      The examination cost of each of these certifications is $400.

      Nurse Case Manager 

      Here, nurses have two options.

      One can choose Nursing Case Management Certification by ANCC or Commission for Case Manager Certification.

      Whatever the option, each certification has requirements that candidates have to meet.

      To apply for ANCC Nursing Case Management Certification, one must have an active registered nurse license and two years of experience as a full-time registered nurse.

      In addition to that, they should have clinical experience in case management and 30 hours of continuing education in case management.

      The Commission for Case Manager Certification requires its candidates to have at least a bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN), an active RN license, and 1-2 years of experience in case management.

      Many certifications registered nurses can take to set themselves apart from the pack.

      Knowing one’s interests and career goals is key, then chartering the path through these certifications.

      And yes, there are several other certifications that RNs can pursue, but these are the main specialty certifications.

      What’s more? There are also certifications that both RNs and APRNs are eligible for.

      Let’s take our discussion further and explore the wide range of certifications for APRNs.

      APRNs Certifications

      Advanced practice registered nurses have a wide range of options in nursing certification.

      Here are several certifications available for APRNs to advance their careers:

      Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP)

      Two institutes offer the family nurse practitioner.

      The first one is the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC), which offers Family Nurse Practitioner certification (FNP-BC).

      To qualify for the certification, one must have an active advanced practice registered nurse license, at least a master of science in nursing (MSN), 500 hours of clinical practice, and pass the certification exam.

      The FNP-BC exams consist of 170 questions and take three hours and fifty minutes to finish.

      Candidates must pass the exam to qualify for the certification.

      ANCC offers study material for the initial exam for free.

      The certification costs $375 for non-members and $290 for ANCC members.

      FNPs must renew the certification every five years through personal development programs.

      The second organization that offers the certification is the American Association of Nurse Practitioners Certification Board (AANPCB).

      The eligibility requirement for candidates to join AANPCB’s Family Nurse Practitioner certification (FNP-C) program includes an active APRN license, at least a master’s degree, and passing the initial certification exam.

      The exam has 150 questions.

      This exam costs $315 for non-members and $240 for members.

      Just like ANCC certification, candidates should maintain their certification through continuing education.

      AANPCB expects family nurse practitioners to renew their certification every five years through two options.

      One, nurses must complete 100 hours of advanced continuing education and complete a minimum of 1000 hours of clinical practice.

      This option will cost FNPs $120.

      Another option is to sit for an exam, which costs $240 for AANPCB members and 315 for non-members.

      Nurse Anaesthetist

      The National Board of Certification and Recertification for Nurse Anesthetists (NBCRNA) offers the Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists (CRNA) certification.

      Aspiring nurse anesthetists should have an active APRN license and a master of science in nursing degree. 

      By the year 2025, the entry requirement will be a doctoral degree.

      Additionally, candidates must have completed a nursing anesthetist program in the last two years.

      The last eligibility requirement is passing the CRNA exam.

      The exam is computer-based, and candidates can expect to answer anywhere between 100 and 170 questions depending on their performance.

      CRNA certifications cost $725.

      Recertification is required every two years.

      Nurses must prove that they worked as nurse anesthetists during the two years to renew the certification.

      Additionally, they must have 40 credits for continuing education.

      Pediatric Nurse 

      Several organizations offer this nursing certification.

      But let’s focus on the American Association of Critical-Care Nurses (AACN) 

      AACN offers Critical Care Registered Nurse (CCRN) certification.

      The eligibility requirement for this certification includes an active RN or APRN license.

      Candidates should also have 2000 hours of practice caring for critically ill children in the last five years.

      Of the 2000 hours, 145 hours should be in the last year before applying for the certification.

      Suppose a candidate doesn’t meet this requirement.

       In the last two years, they should have 1,750 practice hours directly caring for critically ill children.

      With this option, nurses must also have 875 hours of practice in pediatric critical care in the years preceding the two years before application.

      This certification exam costs $235 for AACN members and $340 for non-members.

      Adult Gerontology-Acute Care Nurse Practitioner

      This nursing certification equips nurses with the skills to provide evidence-based care for patients in critical conditions.

      The American Nurses Credentialing Center and the American Association of Critical-Care Nurses offer the certification.

      Adult Gerontology-Acute Care Nurse Practitioner

      The ANCC course is Adult-Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner- Board Certified (AGACNP-BC).

      The eligibility requirement for AGACNP-BC includes an active registered nurse license and graduate levels courses in advanced pharmacology, diagnosis health assessment, and advanced physiology.

      Candidates must also have a master’s, post-graduate or doctoral degree in an accredited acute care nurse practitioner program.

      Additionally, they should have 500 clinical hours in gerontology acute care.

      The initial certification and recertification charges are the same as the other ANCC certifications.

      The same certification is referred to as Acute Care Certified Pediatric Nurse Practitioner (CPNP-AC) at Pediatric Nursing Certification Board (PNCB)

      Here, the candidates are required to have an active RN license.

      They should also have a CCNC or ACEN accredited master’s or doctoral degree program specializing in pediatric acute care.

      Additionally, aspiring acute nurses should have not less than 500 supervised clinical practices inpatient care.

      This certification by PNCB goes for $300.

      If a candidate fails in the first trial, they’ll have to pay $245 to retake the exam.

      Women’s Health Nurse Practitioner 

      Nurses that want to specialize in women’s health must earn their master’s or doctoral degree from an accredited Women’s Health Nurse Practitioner (WHNP) program.

      APRNs interested in pursuing this certification can enroll for a Women’s Health Care Nurse Practitioner (WHNP-BC) certification with the National Certification Corporation (NCC).

      The requirements for this certification include RN or APRN license.

      Furthermore, candidates must submit their certifications and transcripts of previous educational qualifications to prove their eligibility.

      And lastly, an aspiring women’s health nurse practitioner must have graduated within the last eight years.

      The exam costs $325.

      Nurse-Midwifery 

      Nurse-midwifery is the perfect certification for nurses passionate about caring for pregnant women and newborns.

      Nurses can sign up for the Certified Nurse-midwife (CNM) certification administered by the American Midwifery Certification Board.

      To qualify for this certification, a nurse must have an active RN license, a master of science degree in nursing, or a postgraduate degree and complete an accredited midwifery program.

      The examination fee for this certification is $500.

      Certification Renewal

      Certified nurses must renew their certification every few years.

      Depending on the certification, it can be between one to five years.

      Certification renewal is mandatory to ensure nurses stay up-to-date with the nursing practices.

      Additionally, it allows them to continuously learn throughout their career to keep up with the changes in the healthcare industry.

      Moreover, certification renewal ensures certified nurses are at the top of their nursing practice.

      Certifying organizations have different requirements for certification renewal.

      But often, nurses are required to meet specific clinical practice hours within a specified time frame.

      They can also enroll in personal development courses in their practice areas or take an exam.

      Additional pathways to renewing certification include volunteering, teaching, and attending workshops and seminars.

      Conclusion

      There are many nursing certifications that nurses can pursue.

      And so, understanding the different requirements to qualify for one is important so that one can start preparing in advance.

      Earning a nursing certification is a plus for the nurses themselves, the patient, and the healthcare industry.

      It’s a validation that one has the knowledge, skills, and abilities to care for patients with specific needs.

      It also opens up opportunities for advanced positions and better pay.

      FAQs

      References 

      ONWARD HEALTHCARE

      DailyNurse

      Nursing License Map

      All nursing schools

      Stone Academy

      Practicalnursing.org

      Nightingale college

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