The Complete List of Common Nursing Certifications

The Complete List of Common Nursing Certifications

As a nurse, pursuing certifications can be a rewarding way to advance your career and enhance your expertise in specialized areas of healthcare. With a multitude of nursing certifications available, it can be overwhelming to determine which ones are most beneficial for your professional goals. 

In this comprehensive guide, we present the complete list of common nursing certifications, detailing their requirements, advantages, and how they can elevate your nursing practice. 

Whether you’re a seasoned nurse looking to expand your skill set or a recent graduate seeking to specialize, this resource will help you navigate the world of nursing certifications and make informed decisions about your career path.

What Are Nursing Certifications?

nursing certificate

Nursing certifications are a vital aspect of a nurse’s career, offering specialized knowledge and skills beyond their initial education and licensure. These certifications are earned through nursing certificate programs and offer nurses the opportunity to advance their careers, explore specific areas of interest, and provide better patient care.

One common nursing certification is the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) certification, which includes various specialty nursing certifications like holistic nursing certification and nursing informatics certification. 

Nurse practitioners (NPs) and advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs) can also pursue specialty certifications in areas such as mental health nursing, critical care nursing, family nurse practitioner, and neonatal nursing, among others.

Why Pursue A Nursing Specialty?

To pursue nursing certification, nurses typically need to meet specific eligibility criteria, including having a valid RN license, completing clinical practice hours, and furthering their education with a bachelor’s degree or higher. Certification programs often involve rigorous training and a certification test to demonstrate proficiency in the chosen specialty.

Nursing certifications can open doors to opportunities in various healthcare settings, from trauma centers to specialized patient care units. They provide recognition for expertise in a particular field and enhance a nurse’s credibility within the nursing community and among patients.

Certifications need to be renewed periodically, which often involves completing continuing education and staying up-to-date with the latest developments in the field. These renewals ensure that certified nurses maintain their knowledge and skills at the highest level, contributing to patient safety and quality care.

Board certification for nurse practitioners is particularly crucial as it grants NPs the authority to practice in their respective specialties independently. In addition to improving career prospects, certifications may lead to higher salaries and increased job satisfaction.

Nursing certifications are not limited to nurse practitioners; other nursing roles, like registered nurses (RNs) and licensed practical nurses (LPNs), can also pursue specialized certifications. Whether it’s a focus on hospice care, nursing informatics, or patient safety, there are certification options available for a wide range of nursing specialties.

What Organizations Offer Nursing Certifications?

nursing certificate

Nursing certifications play a pivotal role in advancing a nurse’s career, validating their expertise, and enhancing their skill set. Numerous certifying organizations provide these credentials, each catering to different specialties and levels of nursing practice.

When considering a nursing certification, choosing an organization that offers programs accredited by the National Commission for Certifying Agencies (NCCA) must ensure that the certification meets stringent quality standards.

Opting for a certification program accredited by the NCCA is a prudent decision. NCCA accreditation is a testament to the program’s excellence and adherence to high-quality standards. It underscores the credibility and validity of the certification, reassuring nurses that they are engaging with a reputable institution.

The nursing landscape is rich with certifying organizations, each catering to specific nursing specialties and career stages. Here’s a glance at some prominent organizations that offer a wide array of nursing certifications:

1. American Association of Critical-Care Nurses (AACN)

The AACN is renowned for providing comprehensive credentials for acute and critical care registered nurses. Their certifications empower nurses to demonstrate their competence and dedication to delivering high-quality care in critical settings.

2. Board of Certification for Emergency Nursing (BCEN)

For nurses specializing in emergency, trauma, and transport nursing, the BCEN is a standout choice. BCEN’s board-certified nurses exemplify professional excellence in these critical fields, showcasing their commitment to handling high-stress situations with precision.

3. National Certification Corporation (NCC)

NCC focuses on nurses in obstetric, gynecologic, and neonatal specialties. Their certifications extend to Advanced Practice Neonatal and Women’s Health Nurse Practitioners, equipping nurses with specialized knowledge to provide superior care in these areas.

4. American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC)

As a subsidiary of the American Nurses Association, ANCC offers internationally recognized credentialing programs that validate nurses’ expertise in various specialty practice areas. ANCC certifications elevate nurses’ standing in the profession and enhance their career prospects.

5. Competency & Credentialing Institute (CCI)

For nurses specializing in perioperative care, CCI is the go-to institution. Their certifications empower perioperative nurses to excel in providing safe and effective care before, during, and after surgeries.

6. American Academy of Nurse Practitioners Certification Board (AANPCB)

AANPCB caters to aspiring nurse practitioners at various stages of their career. Whether entering, continuing, or advancing in the NP field, AANPCB’s certifications endorse their competency and expertise.

7. Oncology Nursing Certification Corporation (ONCC)

ONCC is the pioneer in offering nationally accredited certifications for nurses specializing in oncology and complementary specialties. ONCC-certified nurses exhibit a deep understanding of cancer care, contributing to improved patient outcomes.

When embarking on the journey of obtaining a nursing certification, it’s crucial to align your choice with your career goals, interests, and expertise. By opting for an NCCA-accredited certification program from one of these esteemed organizations, nurses can gain a competitive edge in their field and enhance their contributions to patient care.

The Complete List of Common Nursing Certifications

ACHPN Advanced Certified Hospice and Palliative Nurse https://www.advancingexpertcare.org/hpcc/credentials/achpn/
ACLPN HIV/AIDS Certified LPN/LVN hancb.org
ACNP-BC Acute Care Nurse Practitioner https://www.nursingworld.org/our-certifications/acute-care-nurse-practitioner-renewal/
ACNPC Acute Care NP – Adult (Renewal Only) https://www.aacn.org/certification/certification-renewal/acnpc-adult?tab=Practice%20Hours%20%26%20CE%20Points
ANP-BC Adult Nurse Practitioner https://www.nursingworld.org/our-certifications/adult-nurse-practitioner-renewal/
APHN-BC Advanced Practice Holistic Nurse ahncc.org
AWCC Advanced Wound Care Certified https://www.nawccb.org/
BC-ADM Board Certified-Advanced Diabetes Management ncbde.org
CANS Certified Aesthetic Nurse Specialist psncb.org
CCRN-K Acute/Critical Care Knowledge Professional (Adult, Pediatric & Neonatal) aacn.org
CCRP Certified Clinical Research Professional socra.org
CCTM Certified in Care Coordination and Transition Management msncb.org
CHFN-K Non-Clinical HeartFailure Nurse aahfn.org
CDCES Certified Diabetes Care and Education Specialist https://www.cbdce.org/become-certified
C-ELBW Care of the Extremely Low Birth Weight Neonate https://www.nccwebsite.org/content/documents/cms/exam-elbw.pdf
CNS-BC Clinical Nurse Specialist, Core www.nursingworld.org
CRNI Certified Registered Nurse Infusion ins1.org
CRNO Certification for Registered Nurses of Opthamology asorn.org
CSC Cardiac Surgery (Adult) aacn.org
CSSM Certified Surgical Services Manager www.cc-institute.org
NE-BC Nurse Executive www.nursingworld.org
NEA-BC Nurse Executive, Advanced www.nursingworld.org
NHDP-BC National Healthcare Disaster Certification https://www.nursingworld.org/our-certifications/national-healthcare-disaster/
PCCN Progressive Care Nursing (Adult) aacn.org
PCCN-K Progressive Care Knowledge Professional (Adult) aacn.org
PCNS-BC Pediatric Clinical Nurse Specialist www.nursingworld.org
PED-BC Pediatric Nursing Certification https://www.nursingworld.org/our-certifications/pediatric-nurse/
PHMS Pediatric Primary Care Mental Health Specialist pncb.org
PHNA-BC Public Health Nursing, Advanced www.nursingworld.org
PPCNP-BC Pediatric Primary Care Nurse Practitioner www.nursingworld.org
RN-BC General Nursing, Practice (retired exam) www.nursingworld.org
RN-BC Hemostasis Nursing www.nursingworld.org
SCRN Stroke Certified Registered Nurse https://abnncertification.org/scrn/about
SNP-BC School Nurse Practitioner (retired exam) www.nursingworld.org
TCRN Trauma Certified Registered Nurse bcencertifications.org
WCC Wound Care Certified https://www.nawccb.org/
RN-BC Community Health Nursing (retired exam) www.nursingworld.org
RN-BC Faith Community Nursing www.nursingworld.org

Nursing Specialties And Certifications

Nursing is a diverse and rewarding career path that offers numerous opportunities for specialization and growth. As a registered nurse (RN), you have the chance to pursue nursing certifications and advance your skills in various areas of patient care.

This section will explore the importance of nursing certifications and the different specialties available to registered nurses and nurse practitioners.

Exploring Nursing Specialties And Certifications

nursing certificate

There is a wide range of nursing certifications that nurses can pursue to enhance their expertise in specific fields. Some common nursing certifications include:

Holistic Nursing Certification: Focused on a whole-person approach to patient care, holistic nursing considers physical, emotional, and spiritual aspects of healing.

Nursing Informatics Certification: This certification equips nurses with the skills to manage and optimize healthcare information technology systems.

Mental Health Nursing Certification: Specializing in mental health care, these nurses provide support and treatment for patients with psychiatric disorders.

Critical Care Nurses Certification: These nurses are trained to handle complex medical situations in critical care units and trauma centers.

The Process Of Pursuing Nursing Certifications

To pursue nursing certifications, nurses must meet specific eligibility criteria set by the certifying organizations. Typically, this includes a combination of clinical practice hours, continuing education, and advanced training in the chosen specialty.

Nurses may need to pass a certification test to earn their credentials, and some certifications require periodic renewal to maintain their validity.

Advancing Your Nursing Career

Earning nursing certifications can significantly advance your nursing career and open doors to new opportunities. Some certifications may require additional education, such as a bachelor’s or master’s degree, while others are available to nurses with various levels of experience and education.

For nurse practitioners, obtaining a national certification through organizations like the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) or the National Certification Corporation (NCC) is crucial to practice in specialized areas like family nurse practitioner or neonatal nursing.

Whether you are an experienced RN looking to specialize or a nurse practitioner seeking further education, nursing certifications demonstrate your commitment to patient safety and high-quality care.

What Is The Highest Nursing Exam?

The highest nursing exam is the NEET (National Eligibility cum Entrance Test), which is widely accepted for BSc nursing programs. NEET is the gateway to many reputed BSc nursing colleges nationwide. However, apart from NEET, several other top nursing colleges conduct their own BSc nursing entrance exams to select the best candidates.

Prominent institutions like PGIMER (Postgraduate Institute of Medical Education and Research), AIIMS (All India Institute of Medical Sciences), NEIGRIHMS (North Eastern Indira Gandhi Regional Institute of Health & Medical Sciences), and CMC Vellore (Christian Medical College) also conduct their entrance exams for BSc nursing programs.

These exams are highly competitive and are designed to identify candidates with exceptional skills and knowledge in the field of nursing.

Moreover, individual states in India often conduct their own entrance exams for nursing admissions. These state-level exams provide opportunities for students to gain admission to various nursing colleges within their respective states.

Preparing for these nursing entrance exams requires dedication, hard work, and a comprehensive understanding of nursing concepts and subjects. Aspiring nursing students must focus on a diverse range of topics, including anatomy, physiology, pharmacology, community health, medical-surgical nursing, pediatric nursing, and psychiatric nursing.

Achieving success in the highest nursing exams opens doors to excellent educational institutions that provide top-notch nursing training and exposure to clinical experiences. Graduates from these esteemed programs are equipped to serve as compassionate and skilled nursing professionals, making a significant impact on healthcare delivery and patient outcomes.

How To Get Certified As A Nurse: A Step-By-Step Guide

Becoming a certified nurse is a rewarding journey that involves dedication, education, and meeting certain requirements. Whether you’re starting from scratch or looking to advance your nursing career, here’s a step-by-step guide to help you navigate the process of becoming a certified nurse.

1. Choose Your Nursing Path

Before pursuing certification, you need to choose the nursing path you want to specialize in. Options range from licensed practical nurse (LPN) to registered nurse (RN) to advanced practice registered nurse (APRN) specialties like nurse practitioner or nurse anesthetist.

2. Complete The Required Education

To become a certified nurse, you must first complete the necessary education for your chosen nursing path. This typically involves completing a nursing program, which can be an associate’s degree in nursing (ADN), a bachelor of science in nursing (BSN), or a master’s degree for advanced practice roles.

3. Obtain Licensure

Before pursuing certification, you must become a licensed nurse. This requires passing the NCLEX-RN exam for RNs or the NCLEX-PN exam for LPNs. Licensure requirements vary by state, so ensure you meet the specific criteria for your location.

4. Gain Clinical Experience

Many certification programs require a certain amount of clinical experience before you can apply. This experience helps you develop the practical skills and knowledge necessary to excel in your chosen nursing field.

5. Research Certification Options

Research the certifications available in your chosen nursing specialty. Certifying bodies like the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) or the Pediatric Nursing Certification Board (PNCB) offer a range of certifications for different nursing roles.

6. Meet Eligibility Criteria

Each certification has its own eligibility criteria, which may include a minimum number of years working in your specialty, a set number of clinical hours, and specific education requirements. Make sure you meet these criteria before applying.

7. Prepare For The Certification Exam

Certification exams are rigorous and require thorough preparation. Utilize study resources, practice exams, and review materials provided by the certifying body to ensure you’re well-prepared.

8. Apply For The Exam

Once you’re confident in your preparation, apply to take the certification exam. This involves submitting your application, transcripts, and any required documentation to the certifying body.

9. Take The Exam

On the designated exam day, arrive early, well-rested, and equipped with the necessary identification. The exam will test your knowledge, skills, and critical thinking abilities related to your nursing specialty.

10. Receive Your Certification

After successfully passing the exam, you will receive your certification. This prestigious credential showcases your expertise and dedication to your nursing field.

11. Maintain Certification

Certifications typically require renewal every few years. To maintain your certification, you’ll need to fulfill continuing education requirements and stay up-to-date with developments in your nursing specialty.

Types Of Nursing Certifications: Expanding Your Nursing Horizons

Nursing is a dynamic and diverse field that offers a wide range of career opportunities. As healthcare evolves, so do the specialized skills and knowledge required by nurses. Nursing certifications have become essential to demonstrate expertise and competence in various nursing specialties. Here are some prominent types of nursing certifications that can enhance your career and open new doors in the healthcare industry.

1. Registered Nurse (RN) Certifications:

These certifications are fundamental for aspiring and practicing RNs. They validate your core nursing skills and knowledge. Certifications like Basic Life Support (BLS) and Advanced Cardiovascular Life Support (ACLS) ensure you can handle emergency situations effectively.

2. Critical Care Nursing Certifications:

Critical care nurses provide care to patients with life-threatening conditions. Certifications such as Critical Care Registered Nurse (CCRN) and Certified Neuroscience Registered Nurse (CNRN) showcase your proficiency in critical care and neurology nursing.

3. Pediatric Nursing Certifications:

Pediatric nurses care for infants, children, and adolescents. Certifications like Certified Pediatric Nurse (CPN) and Pediatric Advanced Life Support (PALS) indicate your ability to provide specialized care to young patients.

4. Obstetric And Gynecological Nursing Certifications:

Certifications in this category, such as Inpatient Obstetric Nursing (RNC-OB) and Women’s Health Care Nurse Practitioner (WHNP-BC), are designed for nurses specializing in women’s health and maternity care.

5. Geriatric Nursing Certifications:

With an aging population, geriatric nursing certifications like Gerontological Nursing Certification (RN-BC) and Certified Hospice and Palliative Nurse (CHPN) are becoming increasingly valuable.

6. Nurse Practitioner Certifications:

Nurse practitioners (NPs) hold advanced degrees and diagnose and treat a variety of health conditions. Certifications in this category include Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP-BC) and Adult-Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner (AGACNP-BC).

7. Specialty Nursing Certifications:

These certifications cater to specific medical specialties. For example, Certified Dialysis Nurse (CDN) and Certified Medical-Surgical Registered Nurse (CMSRN) validate expertise in niche areas.

8. Leadership And Management Certifications:

For nurses aspiring to leadership roles, certifications like Nurse Executive (NE-BC) and Nurse Manager and Leader (CNML) showcase your ability to lead and manage healthcare teams.

9. Informatics Nursing Certifications:

As healthcare becomes increasingly technology-driven, certifications like Nursing Informatics (RN-BC) highlight your skills in managing and utilizing healthcare information systems.

10. Wound Care And Ostomy Certifications:

Wound care and ostomy nurses provide specialized care for patients with wound and ostomy needs. Certifications like Wound, Ostomy, and Continence Nursing (WOCN) demonstrate your expertise in these areas.

11. Oncology Nursing Certifications:

Certified Oncology Nurse (OCN) and Certified Pediatric Hematology Oncology Nurse (CPHON) are certifications designed for nurses working in the challenging field of oncology.

12. Perioperative Nursing Certifications:

Perioperative nurses are essential in the operating room. Certifications like Certified Perioperative Nurse (CNOR) and Certified Registered Nurse First Assistant (CRNFA) validate your surgical nursing skills.


1. Are There Certifications For Critical Care Nurses?

Yes, critical care nurses can pursue certifications in critical care specialties to demonstrate their expertise in handling complex patient care situations.

2. How Do Nurse Practitioners Benefit From Nursing Certifications?

Nurse practitioners can enhance their skills and credibility through specialized certifications, opening doors to better job opportunities and higher salaries.

3. Can Registered Nurses Pursue Nursing Certifications?

Yes, registered nurses can pursue a wide range of nursing certifications to further specialize and advance their nursing practice.

4. What Is The American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC)?

The ANCC is a leading certifying organization that offers various nursing certifications, recognized and respected in the nursing community.

5. What Are Some Popular Nursing Certifications?

Popular nursing certifications include Holistic Nursing Certification, Nursing Informatics Certification, and Advanced Practice Registered Nurse (APRN) certifications.

6. What Is Mental Health Nursing Certification?

Mental health nursing certification focuses on specialized training for nurses working in the mental health field.

7. How Can Nursing Programs Help Grant Nursing Certifications?

Nursing programs provide the necessary education and clinical practice hours to prepare nurses for certification exams.


You’ve now explored the extensive world of common nursing certifications, gaining valuable insights into the diverse specializations and opportunities available to you in the nursing field. As you embark on your journey to further your nursing career, remember that certifications can play a pivotal role in expanding your knowledge, skills, and professional horizons. 

Whether you’re interested in critical care, pediatrics, informatics, or any other area, obtaining relevant certifications can boost your expertise and open doors to new possibilities. Stay committed to lifelong learning and growth, and embrace the exciting challenges and rewards that come with being a certified nursing professional. 

Your dedication to excellence will undoubtedly make a positive impact on the lives of your patients and the healthcare community as a whole. Best of luck on your remarkable nursing journey!

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