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, one other aspect of certification 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 two years of professional experience and 1,750 hours in a direct care setting. He or she also needs a reference to verify that these 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 $59,450 and $120,250 per year, with the median salary being about $82,750 as of May 2021.

A recent search on showed that certified critical-care nurses earn between $72,000 and $95,200 each year with a median of $82,200 – a substantial increase over the median salary for all RNs.

Another study referenced on the website of 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.

Does a CCRN increase a Nurse’s Pay?

The CCRN, or Critical Care Registered Nurse certification, is a professional certification that can enhance a nurse’s qualifications and demonstrate their commitment to the critical care field. While the certification itself may not directly increase a nurse’s pay, it could potentially lead to higher wages indirectly. Here’s why:

Negotiating Power: Being a CCRN can give a nurse more leverage when negotiating salaries or raises, as it demonstrates a high level of knowledge and experience in critical care.

Job Opportunities: The certification may open up more job opportunities. Some higher-level or specialized positions may prefer or require CCRN certification, and these positions might come with higher pay.

Professional Development: Pursuing a CCRN certification is a sign of professional growth and dedication to the field. Employers may value this, and it could potentially lead to promotions or increases in salary.

It’s important to note that these potential benefits can vary by employer, location, and specific job role. It’s also crucial to consider the costs of obtaining and maintaining the certification. These can include fees for the exam itself and continuing education requirements.

So, before you settle down to spend upwards of $365 on the 180-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.