Board Certification for Nurses: Everything You Need to Know

Board certification for nurses is a voluntary process that demonstrates a nurse’s advanced knowledge, skills, and competence in a specific area of nursing. There are many different board certification organizations, each of which offers certification in a variety of nursing specialties.

Why is board certification important for nurses?

There are many benefits to board certification for nurses. Some of the key benefits include:

  • Increased job opportunities:

    Nurses with board certification are in high demand and have more job opportunities than nurses without certification.

  • Higher salary:

    Nurses with board certification typically earn a higher salary than nurses without certification.

  • More credibility with patients and employers:

    Board certification demonstrates to patients and employers that a nurse has the knowledge and skills necessary to provide high-quality care.

  • Opportunity to advance your career:

    Board certification can help nurses advance their careers and take on more complex patient care responsibilities.

Who should consider getting board certification?

Any nurse who is interested in advancing their career and demonstrating their expertise in a particular area of nursing should consider getting board certification. This includes nurses who work in a variety of settings, including hospitals, clinics, schools, and private practice.

Types of board certification for nurses

There are two main types of board certification for nurses:

  • General board certification:

    General board certification is available for nurses who have a broad range of experience in nursing.

  • Specialty board certification:

    Specialty board certification is available for nurses who have specialized training and experience in a particular area of nursing, such as critical care nursing, pediatric nursing, or oncology nursing.

Requirements for getting board certification

The requirements for getting board certification vary depending on the certifying organization. However, most certifying organizations require nurses to meet the following requirements:

  • Graduation from an accredited nursing program

  • Current RN license

  • Minimum amount of nursing experience (varies by certification)

  • Passing a board certification exam

How to prepare for board certification

There are a number of things you can do to prepare for board certification:

  • Choose the right certification for your career goals:

    Make sure to choose a certification that is relevant to your area of practice and your career goals.

  • Study the exam content outline:

    The exam content outline will list all of the topics that will be covered on the exam. Make sure to study all of the topics listed on the content outline.

  • Take a review course:

    A review course can be a helpful way to prepare for the exam. A review course can provide you with practice questions and study materials.

  • Practice answering sample questions:

    There are many sample questions available online and in review courses. Practicing answering sample questions can help you get used to the format of the exam and the types of questions that will be asked.

  • Get help from other nurses who have taken the exam:

    Talk to other nurses who have taken the exam and ask for their advice on how to prepare.

Taking the board certification exam

Once you are prepared for the exam, you can register to take it. The exam is typically offered multiple times throughout the year at testing centers across the United States.

On the day of the exam, be sure to arrive early and bring the required materials. You should also listen carefully to the instructions and follow them carefully.

After you pass the board certification exam

Once you pass the board certification exam, you will receive your certification certificate. You should update your resume and LinkedIn profile to reflect your new certification. You should also tell your employer about your certification and get involved in your professional organization.


Board certification is a valuable credential for nurses who are interested in advancing their careers and demonstrating their expertise in a particular area of nursing. It can lead to increased job opportunities, higher salary, more credibility with patients and employers, and the opportunity to advance your career.

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