3 top nursing certifications + how to list them

March 13, 2017

Certifications are an important credential demonstrating that a professional nurse has competency and expertise in a specialty area of practice.

Certification is one way to demonstrate the knowledge, skills, and abilities needed for career advancement. Here are three common nursing certifications and their eligibility requirements.

1. Certification for Nurse Educators (CNE)

The Certified Nurse Educator (CNE) credential establishes that a nurse has demonstrated expertise in academic nursing education. For academic nurse educators, it establishes nursing education as a specialty area of practice and creates a means for faculty to demonstrate their expertise in this role. It communicates to students, peers, and the academic and health care communities that the highest standards of excellence are being met.

By becoming credentialed as a Certified Nurse Educator (CNE), you serve as a leader and a role model.

Initial certification is by examination, which is offered by the National League for Nursing (NLN) Academic Nurse Educator Certification Program.

Eligibility requirements:

At the time of application for the CNE, nurses must meet one of the two requirements

Option 1:

  • Currently be licensed as a registered nurse (RN) in the country in which they intend to practice.
  • Hold a master’s or doctoral degree in nursing with a major emphasis in nursing education, post-master’s certificate in nursing education, or nine or more credit hours of graduate-level education courses.

Option 2:

  • Currently be licensed as an RN in the country they intend to practice.
  • Hold a master’s or doctoral degree in nursing (with major emphasis in a role other than nursing education).
  • Two years or more employment in a nursing program in an academic institution within the past five years.

How to maintain certification:

Every five years, CNEs must renew their certification. Here are the requirements

  • Hold an active RN license in the U.S.
  • Have two or more years of employment in the past five years functioning in the full scope of academic faculty role.
  • Have CNE Code of Ethics compliance.
  • Pay renewal fees by the certification expiration date.
  • Demonstrate continued maintenance or expansion of knowledge relevant to role of CNE, either through organized professional activities which are indicators of continued professional development as a nurse educator or reexamination.

2. Registered Nurse – Board Certified (RN-BC)

An RN-BC is a registered nurse who has received board certification after meeting the eligibility requirements and successfully passing a specialty certification examination. This certification assesses the entry-level clinical knowledge and skills of RNs in a nursing specialty after their initial RN licensure.

According to the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC), registered nurses may become certified in the following nursing specialties: psychiatric-mental health, ambulatory, pain management, cardiac-vascular, pediatric, community health, case management, professional development, and informatics. The RN-BC credential demonstrates clinical expertise and a commitment to advancing the nursing specialty.

Eligibility requirements:

  • A current, active RN license in a state or territory of the U.S. or the professional, legally recognized equivalent in another country.
  • A bachelor’s degree or higher in nursing.
  • Practiced the equivalent of 2 years full-time as an RN.
  • A minimum of 4,000 hours of clinical practice in nursing professional development within the last 5 years.
  • Completed 30 hours of continuing education in nursing professional development within the last 3 years.

How to maintain certification:

The RN-BC credential is valid for 5 years. At this time, in order to renew, nurses must:

  • Submit renewal application 1 year prior to 5-year expiration.
  • Hold a current, active RN license in a state or territory of the U.S. or professional, legally recognized equivalent in another country.
  • Hold a current ANCC certification.
  • Complete the professional development requirements for certification credential within the 5 years preceding renewal application submission.
  • Complete a minimum of 1,000 practice hours in certification role and population/specialty.
  • Pay the renewal fee.

3. Certified Nurse Manager and Leader (CNML)

The Certified Nurse Manager and Leader (CNML) is a way for nurse managers to validate their knowledge and skills in a leadership role. This certification focuses on four practice areas: financial management, human resource management, performance improvement, and strategic management and technology, and is acquired through an examination administered by American Organization of Nurse Executives Credential Center (AONE-CC).

Eligibility requirements:

  • Hold a current, active license as an RN.
  • Bachelor’s degree in nursing (BSN) degree or higher, plus 2 years of experience in a nurse manager role, OR
  • Non-nursing bachelor’s plus 3 years of experience in a nurse manager role, OR
  • Diploma or associate degree plus 5 years of experience in a nurse manager role.

How to maintain certification:

The CNML must be renewed every 3 years. In order to maintain this certification, nurses must:

  • Submit a renewal application no earlier than 1 year and no later than 30 days prior to the expiration date.

Nurses must also fulfill one of two requirements:

Option 1:

  • Participate in eligible Continuing Professional Education (CPE) activities.

Option 2:

  • Successfully retake the CNML examination.

How to display your education and certifications

There is a standard method for listing your credentials in your title, or on your resume and documents, which helps health care providers, nurses, doctors, government officials, and patients quickly recognize and understand the significance. The preferred order for listing your credentials is as follows:

  • Highest degree earned
  • Licensure
  • State designations or requirements
  • National certifications
  • Awards and honors
  • Other recognition

Credentials should be comma-separated from your name and from each other, and they do not include periods.

Here is an example: Jane Doe, MSN, RN, RN-BC

Nursing certifications affirm and validate a nurse’s competency and expertise, and are one way to demonstrate the knowledge, skills, and abilities needed for career advancement.

Nurses who hold current CNML or RN-BC certifications may receive documented credit toward theirdegree program, and students who complete a post-master’s certificate in Nursing Education or MSN in Nursing Education may be eligible to sit for the CNE exam.

You may also like

10 must-have apps for nurses and nursing students

March 8, 2021

4 strategies to help secure nursing advancement opportunities

November 29, 2020

6 ways Capella supports nurses

May 5, 2020

Start learning today

Get started on your journey now by connecting with an enrollment counselor. See how Capella may be a good fit for you, and start the application process.