Nurses walking in hospital

Nurses who want to further their careers have many options thanks to certifications. Whether you’re passionate about pediatrics or want to work in the ICU, there’s a specialty for you. And the best part is that you can earn these certifications at different points in your career. 

In this guide, we’ve broken down specific types of nursing specialties by title and which certifications you can earn for each. We also have a complete list of every nurse certification available, so you can discover all the unique opportunities out there. 

What are nursing certifications? 

Nursing certifications show employers that a nurse is a specialist in a specific type of care. They may be experts in the ICU, specialize in trauma, or know a lot about a certain disease.

Most nursing certifications require several years of experience working with patients in your target specialty. They may also require additional training. 

Why pursue a nursing specialty? 

Earning certifications helps you do what you love the most. For so many nurses, getting their RN is just the beginning. They may have their heart set on working with children, treating patients with a particular disease, or working in a certain hospital ward.

Certifications allow nurses to create new career opportunities and earn more. Nursing specialists are highly sought-after, and they can use their expertise to put their skills to the greatest use.

The full table of nursing specialty certifications in the USA

Credential

Certification

Link to organization

A-GNP

Adult-Gerontology Primary Care Nurse Practitioner

aanpcert.org

AACRN

Advanced HIV/AIDS Certified Registered Nurse

nursesinaidscare.org

ACCNS-AG

Clinical Nurse Specialist; Wellness through Acute Care (Adult-Gerontology)

aacn.org

ACCNS-N

Clinical Nurse Specialist; Wellness through Acute Care (Neonatal)

aacn.org

ACCNS-P

Clinical Nurse Specialist, Wellness through Acute Care (Pediatric)

aacn.org

ACHPN

Advanced Certified Hospice and Palliative Nurse

advancingexpertcare.org

ACNP-BC

Acute Care Nurse Practitioner

aacn.org

ACNPC-AG

Acute Care Nurse Practitioner (Adult-Gerontology)

aacn.org

ACNS-BC

Adult Health Clinical Nurse Specialist

nacns.org

ACRN

HIV/AIDS Certified Registered Nurse

nursesinaidscare.org

ADM-BC

Advanced Diabetes Management (specialty certification, retired exam)

diabeteseducator.org

ADM-BC

Advanced Diabetes Management

diabeteseducator.org

AE-C

Certified Asthma Educator

naecb.org

AFN-BC

Forensic Nursing, Advanced

forensicnurses.org

AFN-BC

Advanced Forensic Nursing

forensicnurses.org

AGACNP-BC

Adult-Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner

nursingworld.org

AGCNS-BC

Adult-Gerontology Clinical Nurse Specialist

nursingworld.org

AGN-BC

Genetics Nursing, Advanced

nursingworld.org

AGPCNP-BC

Adult-Gerontology Primary Care Nurse Practitioner

nursingworld.org

AHN-BC

Advanced Holistic Nurse, Board Certified

ahncc.org

ANP-BC

Adult Nurse Practitioner

nursingworld.org

ACNPC

Acute Care Nurse Practitioner (Adult)

aacn.org

AOCN

Advanced Oncology Certified Nurse

oncc.org

AOCNP

Advanced Oncology Certified Nurse Practitioner

oncc.org

AOCNS

Advanced Oncology Certified Clinical Nurse Specialist

oncc.org

APHN-BC

Advanced Practice Holistic Nurse

ahncc.org

BC-ADM

Board Certified-Advanced Diabetes Management

ncbde.org

BMTCN

Blood & Marrow Transplant Certified Nurse

oncc.org

C-EFM

Electronic Fetal Monitoring

nccwebsite.org

C-NPT

Neonatal Pediatric Transport

nccwebsite.org

CANS

Certified Aesthetic Nurse Specialist

psncb.org

CAPA

Certified Ambulatory Perianesthesia Nurse

cpancapa.org

CARN

Certified Addictions Registered Nurse

cnetnurse.com

CARN-AP

Certified Addictions Registered Nurse – Advanced Practice

cnetnurse.com

CBCN

Certified Breast Care Nurse

oncc.org

CBHC

Correctional Behavioral Health Certification

aca.org

CCCN

Certified Continence Care Nurse

wocncb.org

CCCN-AP

Certified Continence Care Nurse-Advanced Practice

wocncb.org

CCHP-A

Certified Correctional Health Professional-Advanced

ncchc.org

CCHP-RN

Certified Correctional Health Professional-RN

ncchc.org

CCHT

Certified Clinical Hemodialysis Technician

nncc-exam.org

CCHTA

Certified Clinical Hemodialysis Technician-Advanced

nncc-exam.org

CCNS

Acute/Critical Care Clinical Nurse Specialist (Adult, Pediatric & Neonatal)

aacn.org

CCRA

Certified Clinical Research Associate

acrpnet.org

CCRC

Certified Clinical Research Coordinator

acrpnet.org

CCRN

Acute/Critical Care Nursing (Adult, Pediatric & Neonatal)

aacn.org

CCRN-E

Tele-ICU Acute/Critical Care Nursing (Adult)

aacn.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

aaacn.org

CD-LPN

Certified Dialysis Licensed Practical Nurse

nncc-exam.org

CD-LVN

Certified Dialysis Licensed Vocational Nurse

nncc-exam.org

CDE

Certified Diabetes Educator

cbdce.org

CDN

Certified Dialysis Nurse

nncc-exam.org

CEN

Certified Emergency Nurse

bcen.org

CENP

Certified in Executive Nursing Practice

aonl.org

CFCN

Certified Foot Care Nurse

wocncb.org

CFRN

Certified Flight Registered Nurse

bcen.org

CGRN

Certified Gastroenterology Registered Nurse

abcgn.org

CHFN

Certified Heart Failure Nurse

aahfn.org

CHFN-K

Non-Clinical HeartFailure Nurse

aahfn.org

CHPCA

Certified Hospice and Palliative Care Administrator

advancingexpertcare.org

CHPLN

Certified Hospice and Palliative Licensed Nurse

advancingexpertcare.org

CHPN

Certified Hospice and Palliative Nurse

advancingexpertcare.org

CHPNA

Certified Hospice and Palliative Nursing Assistant

advancingexpertcare.org

CHPPN

Certified Hospice and Palliative Pediatric Nurse

advancingexpertcare.org

CHSA

Certified Health Service Administrator

aca.org

CIC

Certified in Infection Control

cbic.org

CM

Occupational Health Nursing Case Management

abohn.org

CMC

Cardiac Medicine (Adult)

aacn.org

CMCN

Certification in Managed Care Nursing

abmcn.org

CMSRN

Certified Medical-Surgical Registered Nurse

msncb.org

CNE

Certified Nurse Educator

nln.org

CNL

Clinical Nurse Leader

aacnnursing.org

CNML

Nurse Manager and Leader

aonl.org

CNML

Certified Nurse Manager and Leader

aonl.org

CNN

Certified Corrections Nurse

aca.org

CNN

Certified Nephrology Nurse

nncc-exam.org

CNN-NP

Certified Nephrology Nurse-Nurse Practitioner

nncc-exam.org

CNN/M

Certified Corrections Nurse/Manager

aca.org

CNOR

Certified Nurse, Operating Room

cc-institute.org

CNRN

Certified Neuroscience Registered Nurse

abnncertfication.org

CNS-BC

Clinical Nurse Specialist, Core

nursingworld.org

CNS-CP

Clinical Nurse Specialist Perioperative Certification

cc-institute.org

COCN

Certified Ostomy Care Nurse

wocncb.org

COCN-AP

Certified Ostomy Care Nurse-Advanced Practice

wocncb.org

COHN

Certified Occupational Health Nurse

abohn.org

COHN-S

Certified Occupational Health Nurse-Specialist

abohn.org

CORLN

Certified Otorhinolaryngology Nurse

sohnnurse.com

CPAN

Certified Post Anesthesia Nurse

cpancapa.org

CPEN

Certified Pediatric Emergency Nurse

bcen.org

CPHON

Certified Pediatric Hematology Oncology Nurse

oncc.org

CPHQ

Certified Professional in Healthcare Quality

nahq.org

CPHRM

Certified Professional in Healthcare Risk Management

aha.org

CPLC

Certified in Perinatal Loss Care

advancingexpertcare.org

CPN

Certified Pediatric Nurse

pncb.org

CPNP-PC

Certified Pediatric Nurse Practitioner-Primary Care

pncb.org

CPON

Certified Pediatric Oncology Nurse

oncc.org

CPP-AC

Certified Pediatric Nurse Practitioner-Acute Care

pncb.org

CPSN

Certified Plastic Surgical Nurse

psncb.org

CRN

Certified Radiologic Nurse

arinursing.org

CRNA

Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist

nbcrna.org

CRNFA

Certified Registered Nurse First Assistant

nascertification.com

CRNI

Certified Registered Nurse Infusion

ins1.org

CRNO

Certification for Registered Nurses of Opthamology

asorn.org

CRRN

Certified Rehabilitation Registered Nurse

rehabnurse.org

CSC

Cardiac Surgery (Adult)

aacn.org

CTRN

Certified Transport Registered Nurse

bcen.org

CUA

Urologic Associate

cbuna.org

CUNP

Certified Urologic Nurse Practitioner

cbuna.org

CURN

Certified Urologic Registered Nurse

cbuna.org

CWCN

Certified Wound Care Nurse

wocncb.org

CWCN-AP

Certified Wound Care Nurse-Advanced Practice

wocncb.org

CWOCN

Certified Wound Ostomy Continence Nurse

wocncb.org

CWOCN-AP

Certified Wound Ostomy Continence Nurse-Advanced Practice

wocncb.org

CWON

Certified Wound Ostomy Nurse

wocncb.org

CWON-AP

Certified Wound Ostomy Nurse-Advanced Practice

wocncb.org

DCNP

Dermatology Certified Nurse Practitioner

dnanurse.org

DNC

Dermatology Nurse Certified

dnanurse.org

ENP-BC

Emergency Nurse Practitioner (specialty certification)

nursingworld.org

FNP-BC

Family Nurse Practitioner

nursingworld.org

FNP-C

Family Nurse Practitioner

aanpcert.org

GCNS-BC

Gerontological Clinical Nurse Specialist (retired exam)

nursingworld.org

GNP-BC

Gerontological Nurse Practitioner

nursingworld.org

HHCNS-BC

Home Health Clinical Nurse Specialist (retired exam)

nursingworld.org

HN-BC

Holistic Nurse, Board Certified

ahncc.org

HNB-BC

Holistic Baccalaureate Nurse, Board Certified

ahncc.org

HWNC-BC

Health and Wellness Nurse Coach, Board Certified

ahncc.org

LNCC

Legal Nurse Consultant Certified

lncc.aalnc.org

NC-BC

Nurse Coach, Board Certified

ahncc.org

NCSN

National Certified School Nurse

nbcsn.org

NE-BC

Nurse Executive

nursingworld.org

NEA-BC

Nurse Executive, Advanced

nursingworld.org

NNP-BC

NNP-BC – Neonatal Nurse Practitioner

nccwebsite.org

NP-C

Adult Nurse Practitioner

aanpcert.org

OCN

Oncology Certified Nurse

oncc.org

OCNS-C

Orthopaedic Clinical Nurse Specialist – Certified

oncb.org

ONC

Orthopaedic Nurse Certified

oncb.org

ONP-C

Orthopaedic Nurse Practitioner-Certified

oncb.org

PCCN

Progressive Care Nursing (Adult)

aacn.org

PCCN-K

Progressive Care Knowledge Professional (Adult)

aacn.org

PCNS-BC

Pediatric Clinical Nurse Specialist

nursingworld.org

PHCNS-BC

Public/Community Health Clinical Nurse Specialist

nursingworld.org

PHMS

Pediatric Primary Care Mental Health Specialist

pncb.org

PHNA-BC

Public Health Nursing, Advanced

nursingworld.org

PMHCNS-BC

Adult Psychiatric-Mental Health Clinical Nurse Specialist

nursingworld.org

PMHCNS-BC

Child/Adolescent Psychiatric-Mental Health Clinical Nurse Specialist

nursingworld.org

PMHNP-BC

Adult Psychiatric-Mental Health Nurse Practitioner

nursingworld.org

PMHNP-BC

Psychiatric-Mental Health Nurse Practitioner (across the life span)

nursingworld.org

PPCNP-BC

Pediatric Primary Care Nurse Practitioner

nursingworld.org

RN-BC

Ambulatory Care Nursing

nursingworld.org

RN-BC

Cardiac-Vascular Nursing

nursingworld.org

RN-BC

Certified Vascular Nurse (retired exam)

nursingworld.org

RN-BC

College Health Nursing (retired exam)

nursingworld.org

RN-BC

Community Health Nursing (retired exam)

nursingworld.org

RN-BC

Faith Community Nursing

nursingworld.org

RN-BC

General Nursing, Practice (retired exam)

nursingworld.org

RN-BC

Gerontological Nursing

nursingworld.org

RN-BC

Hemostasis Nursing

nursingworld.org

RN-BC

High-Risk Perinatal Nursing (retired exam)

nursingworld.org

RN-BC

Home Health Nursing (retired exam)

nursingworld.org

RN-BC

Informatics Nursing

nursingworld.org

RN-BC

Medical-Surgical Nursing

nursingworld.org

RN-BC

Nursing Case Management

nursingworld.org

RN-BC

Nursing Professional Development

nursingworld.org

RN-BC

Pain Management Nursing

nursingworld.org

RN-BC

Pediatric Nursing

nursingworld.org

RN-BC

Perinatal Nursing (retired exam)

nursingworld.org

RN-BC

Psychiatric-Mental Health Nursing

nursingworld.org

RN-BC

Rheumatology Nursing

nursingworld.org

RN-BC

School Nursing (retired exam)

nursingworld.org

RNC-LRN

RNC-LRN – Low Risk Neonatal Nursing

nccwebsite.org

RNC-MNN

RNC-MNN – Maternal Newborn Nursing

nccwebsite.org

RNC-NIC

RNC-NIC – Neonatal Intensive Care Nursing

nccwebsite.org

RNC-OB

RNC-OB – Inpatient Obstetric Nursing

nccwebsite.org

SANE-A

Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner – Adult/Adolescent

forensicnurses.org

SANE-P

Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner – Pediatric

forensicnurses.org

SCRN

Stroke Certified Registered Nurse

abnncertfication.org

SNP-BC

School Nurse Practitioner (retired exam)

nursingworld.org

TCRN

Trauma Certified Registered Nurse

bcen.org

WHNP-BC

WHNP-BC – Women’s Health Care Nurse Practitioner

nccwebsite.org

Nursing specialties and certifications 

Here is a list of nursing jobs by title and certifications you might hold in each one.

CNA

A certified nursing assistant (CNA) helps patients by assisting registered nurses (RNs) with various treatments. They also help people with everyday activities, like bathing, feeding, and personal hygiene. 

CNAs must earn their certification by completing an accredited training program and applying for a license through their state. They can also choose to specialize in hospice and palliative care and earn their certified hospice and palliative nursing assistant (CHPNA) certification.

GNA

Geriatric nursing assistants (GNAs) are much like CNAs, only they specialize in caring for the elderly. Most GNAs work in nursing homes and assisted living facilities. Some work in hospitals and others work in home care. 

 A GNA must complete an accredited program and register with their state’s board of nursing. They can also pursue certification as a CHPNA if they want to work with patients in hospice or palliative care settings.

STNA 

A state-tested nursing aide (STNA) is the name of a CNA in the state of Ohio. It’s the same as a CNA and requires the same training procedure. Like CNAs and GNAs, STNAs may go on to pursue CHPNA certification if they want to work with patients who need pain management or end-of-life care. 

LPN

A licensed practical nurse (LPN) is called a licensed vocational nurse (LVN) in Texas and California. LPNs/LVNs can pursue certifications as certified respiratory therapists (CRT) or certified hemodialysis technicians. They can also specialize in skills like IV therapy, long-term care, pharmacology, corrections, and more.

LPNs that want to further specialize in a particular area of nursing must first earn their RN license. 

RN

Registered nurses have dozens of options when it comes to specializing. They could become a specific type of nurse, like a certified emergency nurse (CEN) or certified medical-surgical registered nurse (CMSRN). Or, they can pursue certifications that allow them to perform new types of procedures or work with a specific set of patients.

For example, an RN could get certified in advanced diabetes management (ADM-BC) or work in addictions, mental health, forensics, labor and delivery, transport, trauma, and more. 

HHA

Home health aides (HHAs) work in people’s homes to help them lead a better quality of life. They might work with the elderly, or they could help people who have chronic conditions, disabilities, or patients recovering from an injury.

A home health aide works beneath a registered nurse (RN) and/or LPN/LVN. They may be able to pursue certifications as a technician, such as a respiratory technician, so long as they complete the appropriate training. 

Travel nurse

Travel nurses take short-term assignments wherever they’re needed the most. They must be an RN with at least 3 years of experience and may also have certifications. 

Specialist travel nurses can use their experience and skills to treat specific types of patients in need. For example, you could become a certified operating room nurse (CNOR) and assist surgeons in hospitals around the country with staff shortages.

ICU nurse

ICU nurses can be certified as a critical care registered nurse (CCRN) for adults, children, or infants. They can also earn their CCRN-E, a specialized certificate for ICU nurses that treat patients in teleICU settings. 

CRNA

CRNAs are certified registered nurse anesthetists. They collaborate with an anesthesiologist or, in some states, work alone as the attending anesthetist. They may work in a hospital, outpatient surgical center, or dental office to help give patients general or localized anesthesia. CRNAs must earn an undergraduate master's degree and CRNA certification to practice. 

As of 2025, all new CRNAs will have to complete a CRNA doctoral program instead of a master’s degree. 

ER nurse

Nothing’s more fast-paced than the life of an emergency nurse. Earning your CEN (Certified Emergency Nurse) certification is the best option if you want to specialize in acute care. You could also pursue a TCRN to become a Trauma Certified Registered Nurse and work with the most severe cases that enter the ER. 

Other specialties that could benefit ER nurses include SCRN (Stroke Certified Registered Nurse), CHFN (Certified Heart Failure Nurse), and CCNS (Acute/Critical Care Nurse Specialist for Adults, Pediatrics, or Neonatal).

NICU nurse

In the NICU, the tiniest, most vulnerable patients are your daily responsibility. NICU nurses must hold a neonatal CCRN (Critical Care Registered Nurse) certification. They can also earn certification as a C-NPT (Certified Neonatal Pediatric Transport nurse) and help transport sick babies from one hospital to another.

L&D nurse

Labor and delivery (L&D) nurses care for mothers and newborns. They’re skilled in caring for patients with a variety of conditions, such as gestational diabetes and gestational hypertension. You could pursue certification as an inpatient obstetric nurse (RNC-OB) to prove your commitment and knowledge in caring for expectant mothers and their babies.

Scrub nurse

A scrub nurse helps the surgical team prepare for operations by helping them scrub in — this process includes hand-washing, putting on masks, gloves, and gowns. They also help maintain a sterile surgical environment throughout procedures. 

A scrub nurse could earn certified registered nurse first assistant (CRNFA) certification. This certification marks them as experts in helping surgeons and the operating team.

Pediatric nurse

Pediatric nurses work exclusively with babies, toddlers, children, and adolescents. Patients range from just a few weeks old to 21 in some settings. Being a pediatric nurse is a rewarding job, and you can further your career by earning your certification as a certified pediatric nurse (CPN).

Pediatric nurses can also specialize in acute or critical care, hematology and oncology, and hospice and palliative care. You can also apply other areas of specialty to pediatrics, like surgical nursing, by getting a job in a children’s hospital. 

Charge nurse

A charge nurse oversees the nursing staff on their floor during their shifts. They can be RNs, but helpful credentials include clinical nurse leader (CNL) and clinical nurse manager and leader (CNML) certifications.

Flight nurse

With your CFRN (Certified Registered Flight Nurse), you can help patients who need medical evacuation or transportation in an aircraft. Flight nurses also specialize in trauma care since most of their patients are in life-threatening conditions. 

Triage nurse

Triage nurses can be RNs or CENS (Certified Emergency Nurses) who help keep the emergency room running smoothly during their shifts. They assess new patients, provide any acute care or interventions, and help stabilize them until a physician can see them.

PRN nurse

PRN stands for Pro Re Nata. These are registered nurses who work on an as-needed basis. Hospitals can keep PRN nurses in a pool, then call them in when they experience a shortage. PRN nurses only need an RN, but they may hold additional certifications to work in certain parts of the hospital.

BSN nurse

BSN stands for Bachelor of Science in Nursing. Nurses with a BSN have completed a four-year undergraduate degree in nursing from an accredited nursing school.

NP nurse

An NP is a nurse practitioner. These are advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs) with a master’s degree and certifications in their area of clinical focus. Their certifications are marked with an “NP.” 

An NP could specialize in family medicine, acute/critical care, gerontology, pediatrics, urology, dermatology, nephrology, emergency nursing, neonatal care, orthopedics, women’s health, psychiatry, and mental health. 

Hospice nurse

A hospice nurse works with patients who have terminal conditions. They can specialize in hospice care by earning their certification as a certified hospice and palliative care nurse (CHPN).

Surgical nurse

Surgical nurses are also known as perioperative nurses. Their most common certification is the CNOR, which recognizes their skill and knowledge in assisting surgeons during various operations.

Trauma nurse

Trauma nurses work with patients who have come to the ER or a trauma unit. They can become trauma-certified registered nurses (TCRN) to showcase their skills working with patients in critical condition. 

Nurse administrator

Nurse administrators work in office settings. They oversee the entire nursing staff of a healthcare facility. You can become a nurse administrator as an RN, but additional certifications are the CHSA (Certified Health Services Administrator), CHPCA (Certified Hospice and Palliative Care Administrator), or the CNML (Certified Nurse Manager and Leader). 

Managed care coordinator

Managing patient care is a skill that can become a specialty. If you’re interested in overseeing patients’ care and connecting them with the right services, consider earning your certification as a certified managed care nurse (CMCN). 

Nurse clinician

Holding a CNS-BC will certify you as a certified nurse specialist, also known as a nurse clinician. CNS manages other nurses, offers more in-depth patient care, and oversees care planning like a nurse practitioner. 

Acute care physician 

An acute care physician is a doctor who holds a medical license. If you don’t want to attend med school, you can still become an acute care specialist by becoming an acute/critical care nurse practitioner (ACNP-BC). 

Burn unit nurse

Burn unit nurses treat patients in often critical conditions who have suffered burns.The CBRN (Certified Burn Registered Nurse) certification will be available in 2023. 

Nutrition specialist

Nutrition specialists help patients manage medical conditions through diet. Nurses can become health and wellness nurse coaches (HWNC-BC) or board-certified holistic nurses (HN-BC). 

Another option is to pursue separate certified nutrition specialist certification through the American Nutrition Association. This credential requires a master’s or doctoral in nursing, nutrition, or a similar field.

Paramedic

Paramedics are not nurses but still play a vital role in health care. They’re first responders who keep people alive and stabilize them until they reach the hospital. To become a paramedic, you must complete an accredited training program in your state. 

APRN

An advanced practice registered nurse (APRN) holds a master’s or doctoral degree. They can earn different certifications depending on their clinical focus. Some are nurse practitioners, some are clinical nurse specialists, and others are nurse educators and administrators. 

Forensic nurse

Forensic nurses help victims of violent crime. They also assist law enforcement officers as they conduct investigations. Forensic nurses must hold a SANE-A or SANE-P certification, which makes them certified Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners for adults or children, respectively. 

You can also earn an AFN, which is an advanced forensic nursing certification. 

Nurse case manager

Nurse case managers oversee their patients’ care and coordinate access to different health resources. They also help patients access affordable treatment, reach out to insurance companies, and help people stay consistent with their care plans.

An RN-BC in nurse case management is the best certification for this career path.

Oncology certified nurse

An OCN certification demonstrates a registered nurse’s experience and skill in working with cancer patients. OCNs are trained to help oncology patients manage their conditions and administer cancer-treating drugs through chemotherapy. 

Home health nurse (HHN)

RNs specializing in home healthcare are HHNs. They can pursue additional certifications to align with their patient's needs, such as mental health nursing or gerontology. 

Post-anesthesia care unit (PACU) nurse

PACU nurses care for patients who have immediately left the operating room or just gone under anesthesia for an outpatient surgical procedure. They care for their immediate needs, help them manage any uncomfortable symptoms, and watch out for any warning signs of complications. Working in this line of work requires a CPAN or a certified post-anesthesia Nurse certification. 

FNP (Family nurse practitioner)

Family nurse practitioners treat people across the lifespan. They’re experts in primary care at all ages and hold a master’s degree or doctoral in family medicine. FNPs have the FNP-BC certification.

Mental health nurse (MHN)

A mental health nurse is certified with the PMH-BC. They work with patients who suffer from psychiatric conditions, such as bipolar disorder, borderline personality disorder, and schizophrenia. They can also help care for patients who have severe anxiety, depression, or other mental health symptoms. 

CNM

A certified nurse midwife (CNM) certification allows an RN to work as a midwife for pregnant women. They also treat patients with various reproductive problems and can diagnose and treat sexually transmitted diseases.

Orthopedic nurse

Orthopedic nurses work with patients with conditions affecting their bones and musculoskeletal system. You can specialize in orthopedic nursing by earning your RN, then working toward your ONC certification. Additional studies can qualify you to become an orthopedic clinical nurse specialist (OCNS-C) or an orthopedic nurse practitioner (ONP-C). 

Nurse educator

Certified nurse educators (CNEs) train nursing school students and other nurses. They can work at the undergraduate or graduate level. They help students learn the ropes of nursing and help registered nurses develop new skills in a specialty area.

Public health nurse

Public health nurses work for local, state, and government organizations. They go where they’re needed, develop healthcare plans for different communities, and treat people who cannot easily access care.

Public health nurses are RNs. With enough experience, they may hold certification as an advanced public health nurse (PHNA-BC).

FAQs about specialty nursing certifications

What is the easiest nursing certification to obtain? 

The CNA takes the least amount of time to earn. Most CNAs have to complete between 80 and 130 hours of training before they’re licensed.

What nursing certifications are the most valuable?

Some of the most in-demand nursing certifications are CEN (Certified Emergency Nurse), CNOR (Certified Nurse, Operating Room), and Acute/Critical Care Nursing (CCRN). 

Do nurses in private clinics need any special certifications? 

It depends on the clinic. Some physicians may request that nurses hold certification in their areas of expertise, such as orthopedics, gerontology, or pediatrics. However, many nurses can get great jobs in private practices with only their RN license.