Nursing Certifications

Once you’ve passed the NCLEX-RN or NCLEX-PN and fulfilled any other requirements of your home state, you’ll be a licensed registered nurse or practical nurse. But there are other certifications you can, and should, earn for your career. Some of these depend on what practice area or nursing job you’re interested in pursuing.

Here’s a list of just a few of the many certifications available for nurses:

  • Adult Health
  • Adult Psychiatric and Mental Health
  • Cardiac Rehabilitation Nursing
  • Cardiac Vascular Nursing
  • Case Management
  • Child and Adolescent Psychiatric and Mental Health
  • Gerontological Nursing
  • High-Risk Perinatal
  • Home Health
  • Medical-Surgical Nursing
  • Pain Management
  • Public Health
  • School Nursing

These are just a few. In fact, all of the most common areas of specialization offer nurse certification. Some kinds of nursing jobs, like flight nurses, emergency room nurses, and others, also may require you to be certified as a basic or paramedic EMT, or certified in other forms of life support such as BCLS (basic cardiac life support), ACLS (advanced cardiac life support), or PALS (pediatric advanced life support).
Nursing Certifications

Before you’ll know what certifications you should pursue, first you’ll need to know what kind of nursing job you want to secure. Then, you can do some research—accessing the American Nurses Credentialing Center website is usually a great place to start—to determine what kind of certifications are required, or preferred, for that job.

Not every job will require you to have certification. In fact, you may need to work for a certain number of hours or years in that specialization area before you can apply for certification. But keep in mind that if you want to advance your career or get a better job, employers usually prefer certified nurses.

Each certification has its own set of requirements. For some areas of specialization, you first must be a registered nurse. Some LPNs can receive certifications too, but most are geared toward registered nurses. Also, with most certifications, you’ll need to have worked in that area of specialization for at least a year or two. Then, you’ll need to take and pass an examination to earn your certification. Once you’re certified, you are usually required to continue taking classes to keep your knowledge and skills current. Most certifications expire after a certain length of time—for example, every three years. You’ll need to retake the exam to become recertified.

Last Updated: 05/19/2014


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