The Top 5 Advanced Nursing Certifications


Nursing certifications are an extension of the multi-layered path of nursing education. Basic nurse’s certifications have to do with the level of college you have completed and the state certification you are assigned. LVN or LPN (Licensed Vocational Nurse or Licensed Practical Nurse) are typically a 2-year degree program. RN’s can have either an Associates or a Bachelor’s (BSN-RN) degree. From there a MSN (Masters of Science in Nursing) also opens doors. However, once your school is finished, there are a number of advanced certifications nurses can achieve that will help them go farther in their profession. Here are the top five.

CCRN – Critical Care Registered Nurse

This certification can be earned through classes and tests given by most major hospitals. The class takes about a semester and covers everything from recognizing drug reactions to advanced cardio care techniques. A CCRN is certified to work in telemetry, intensive care and critical care units where patients need constant monitoring and have life-threatening concerns. Salaries are often higher on those floors, and nurses see fewer patients per shift because they require almost constant care.

Certified Diabetes Educator (CDE)

This certification is one of the most in-demand in hospitals and private doctor’s offices. With the increase of Americans with Diabetes currently occurring and the soaring obesity rate, which means more people will have diabetes in the future, CDE’s will never be out of opportunities for employment. The task of the CDE is to explain to people with Diabetes the best diet for their health, teach children and adults how to inject insulin and test their blood sugar, and provide consistent health education.

ACRN – HIV/AIDS Certified Nurse

Another specialty that is sadly seeing a dramatic increase is the need for nurses with a special education in HIV/AIDS. These nurses take courses in immunology and the symptoms of the disease as well as some cultural sensitivity classes that deal with both the homosexual community and IV drug users. ACRN’s can work in hospitals or specialty community clinics, which specialize in HIV/AIDS prevention, treatment and care.

CRNA – Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist

This is one of the harder certifications to get and is one of the most lucrative. A CRNA provides anesthesia for surgery and procedures, under the guidance of an anesthetist. Besides a BS, and RN certification a CRNA must take 2 years of classes and apprentice an anesthetist for up to 2 years before being certified. However, once certified the CRNA median salary for a CRNA is $175,000 per year in a hospital/per provider care system. The downside to this lucrative job is lawsuits. Anytime anything happens in an operating room, the CRNA is liable.

OCN – Oncology Certificate in Nursing

Oncology nurses are especially trained to provide chemotherapy, radiation aftercare and work with cancer patients. This deeply rewarding certification also comes with the ability to work in a hospital, cancer treatment center or local clinic. OCN’s usually have set hours and a number of prescribed duties requiring less physical strain, but practice with more compassionate care.

Each of these nursing certifications is available through the health care system of any major school or city and can add money, opportunity or challenge to the life of an RN.