Before you decide to take on the time and expense of certifying your skills, it’s only fair to ask yourself “Will I get a return for this?” Even in careers that already require mandatory registration or licensing, obtaining a voluntary certification can make a big difference in the respect you garner from your peers – and in applying for a job.

While prestige and potential job leads are all very well, there is one other aspect of certification that needs attention – income. Will getting certified make that much of a difference to your annual bottom line? To answer this question, we’ll consider two things. Who should apply for CCRN accreditation? How much does a critical-care nurse make?

What Is A CCRN?
A CCRN is a certified acute or critical-care nurse.To be eligible to take this exam, a registered nurse must have at least 2 years of professional experience and 1,750 hours in a direct care setting. He or she also needs a reference to verify these that requirements are met.

Completing these conditions and the CCRN exam demonstrates that a nurse has developed his or her clinical judgment and medical knowledge to a special degree. And this degree of skill often opens up a whole new income bracket.

How much does a critical-care nurse make?
According to the Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics, registered nurses in the U.S. earn between $44,000 and $95,000 per year, with the median salary being about $64,000. But a recent search on showed that certified critical-care nurses earn between $60,000 and $88,000 each year – a substantial increase over the median salary for all RNs.

Another study referenced on the website for the American Association of Critical-Care Nurses (AACN) notes that certified critical-care nurses earn an average of $18,000 more each year than their non-certified co-workers. (The AACN is the certifying body behind the CCRN designation.) Other surveys have shown that nurse managers, given a choice, are more likely to hire certified nurses.

So, before you settle down to spend upwards of $300 on the 150-question CCRN exam, ask yourself if you meet the requirements. If you do, you’ll probably agree with the more than 50,000 CCRN nurses practicing worldwide: certification is worth it, not just in respect and career advancement, but in income as well.