The Complete List of Specialty Nursing Certifications

The Complete List of Specialty Nursing Certifications: Your Guide to Career Advancement

In the rapidly evolving field of healthcare, nursing remains at the forefront of patient care and medical innovation. One of the ways nurses can stay ahead in this dynamic environment is through specialty certifications. If you’re a nurse looking to advance your career, you may be asking, “What is the complete list of specialty nursing certifications available?” This comprehensive article aims to answer that question, shedding light on various certifications that can elevate your professional standing, increase your earning potential, and enable you to provide specialized care to your patients.

Why Consider Specialty Certifications?

Before diving into the complete list of specialty nursing certifications, it’s essential to understand why these certifications are vital. Specializing in a particular area allows you to become an expert in that field, making you a more attractive candidate for employers. These credentials also demonstrate a commitment to ongoing education and excellence in patient care.

The Complete List of Specialty Nursing Certifications: An Overview

The field of nursing offers a wide variety of specialty areas, each with its certification programs. While this is not an exhaustive list, the following are some of the most prominent and sought-after specialty nursing certifications:

Acute Care

  1. CCRN (Adult) – Critical Care Registered Nurse
  2. PCCN – Progressive Care Certified Nurse
  3. CCRN (Pediatric) – Critical Care Registered Nurse, Pediatric
  4. CCRN (Neonatal) – Critical Care Registered Nurse, Neonatal

Emergency Nursing

  1. CEN – Certified Emergency Nurse
  2. CPEN – Certified Pediatric Emergency Nurse
  3. TCRN – Trauma Certified Registered Nurse

Oncology Nursing

  1. OCN – Oncology Certified Nurse
  2. CBCN – Certified Breast Care Nurse
  3. AOCNP – Advanced Oncology Certified Nurse Practitioner

Mental Health

  1. PMHCNS – Psychiatric Mental Health Clinical Nurse Specialist
  2. RN-BC – Psychiatric-Mental Health Nursing Board Certified

Pediatric Nursing

  1. CPN – Certified Pediatric Nurse
  2. RNC-NIC – Neonatal Intensive Care Nursing

Gerontological Nursing

  1. GCNS-BC – Gerontological Clinical Nurse Specialist-Board Certified
  2. CGRN – Certified Gastroenterology Registered Nurse

Women’s Health

  1. RNC-OB – Inpatient Obstetric Nursing
  2. C-EFM – Electronic Fetal Monitoring

Surgical Nursing

  1. CNOR – Certified Nurse Operating Room
  2. CNS-CP – Certified Perioperative Clinical Nurse Specialist

Forensic Nursing

  1. SANE-A – Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner-Adult/Adolescent
  2. SANE-P – Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner-Pediatric

And many more…

How to Get Certified?

Now that we’ve gone through the complete list of specialty nursing certifications, you might be wondering how to get certified. The process usually involves the following steps:

  1. Prerequisite Education: Confirm that you meet the educational requirements, which often include having a valid RN license and possibly even a BSN or MSN degree for advanced specialties.
  2. Clinical Experience: Most certifications require a specific number of clinical hours in the specialty area.
  3. Examination: Prepare for and pass the certification exam, which often includes multiple-choice questions based on clinical scenarios.
  4. Renewal: Keep in mind that certifications usually have to be renewed every few years, often requiring continuing education or re-examination.

The Financial Benefit of Specialty Certifications

Diving into the financial benefits of specialty certifications in nursing can reveal the tangible payoff of investing in further education and skills development. According to multiple industry studies, certified nurses often enjoy a salary advantage over their non-certified peers. This financial upside isn’t merely nominal; in many cases, nurses with specialty certifications can earn anywhere from a few thousand dollars to tens of thousands more annually. The increase in earning potential is a compelling financial argument for pursuing these qualifications. The logic is simple: specialized skills are generally in higher demand and thus command higher compensation. Employers are willing to pay a premium for certified expertise, recognizing that the specialized training and rigorous examination process associated with certification ensure a level of competence and skill that benefits patient care and, by extension, the healthcare organization itself.

Beyond the immediate salary benefits, specialty certifications can also open doors to career advancement opportunities that come with their own financial incentives, such as managerial roles, educational positions, or specialized consultancy work. These roles not only offer higher base salaries but often come with additional perks like signing bonuses, better benefits packages, and more generous retirement contributions. Additionally, certified nurses may find it easier to negotiate for other forms of compensation, such as relocation allowances or tuition reimbursement for further educational pursuits. Over the long term, these financial gains can compound, contributing to significantly better lifetime earnings and improved financial security. So, while the initial investment in gaining a certification—both in terms of time and money—may seem daunting, the long-term financial rewards often justify the effort, making it a smart career move for nurses aiming for both professional and financial growth.


The complete list of specialty nursing certifications serves as a roadmap for nurses aiming to advance their careers and specialize in specific fields. These certifications can make a significant difference, not only in the types of positions you can obtain but also in your earning potential. So, if you’re passionate about a particular area in nursing, getting certified in that specialty is an excellent way to demonstrate your expertise and commitment to quality care.

From Acute Care to Women’s Health and everything in between, specialty certifications offer nurses the opportunity to deepen their expertise and contribute more significantly to patient outcomes. Therefore, the question isn’t just, “What is the complete list of specialty nursing certifications?” but also, “Which certification is the right fit for me?”

Take the time to explore your options, and you’ll find that the benefits of specialty certification are numerous and impactful, both for you and for the patients you serve.