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Top 10 Chief Nursing Officer Certifications

This article discusses the most important certifications for Chief Nursing Officers to obtain in order to be successful in their roles.

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Brenna Goyette
Certified Professional Resume Writer, Career Expert

Published 17 min read

Certifications are important for a chief nursing officer in the job market because it demonstrates that they have achieved a certain level of expertise and knowledge. Certifications provide evidence that an individual has the necessary skills and abilities to be successful in their role as a CNO. They also show potential employers that the individual has received specialized training and is committed to staying current with industry trends. Certifications can also help to differentiate one candidate from another, particularly when competing against highly qualified applicants. Finally, certifications can provide a certain amount of credibility when applying for positions and negotiating salary offers.

This article reviews the top certifications for Chief Nursing Officers and explains how they can help to advance a CNO's career.

What are Chief Nursing Officer Certifications?

Chief Nursing Officer (CNO) Certification is a credential that recognizes the highest level of professional achievement for nurses in executive leadership roles. It is awarded by the American Organization of Nurse Executives (AONE), a specialty organization of the American Nurses Association (ANA). The certification acknowledges an individual's commitment to lifelong learning and their dedication to developing healthcare organizations that provide high-quality care and promote positive patient outcomes.

The CNO Certification demonstrates an individual's knowledge, experience, and leadership skills in nursing administration, management, and operations. It provides employers with assurance that certified individuals have the necessary skills to lead their organizations as well as providing recognition within the nursing profession.

Having a CNO Certification can help individuals stand out among other job candidates when applying for executive positions within healthcare organizations. It also provides them with opportunities to further develop their careers through continuing education courses, such as those offered by AONE, which can help them stay current on trends in healthcare quality improvement and regulatory compliance. Furthermore, it serves as evidence of their commitment to excellence in nursing leadership.

Pro Tip: Make sure to research the requirements of becoming a Certified Chief Nursing Officer (CCNO) before starting the certification process. It is important to understand what certifying body you will be using, what educational and experience requirements must be met, and any additional certifications that may be needed in order to become certified.

Related: What does a Chief Nursing Officer do?

Top 10 Chief Nursing Officer Certifications

Here’s our list of the best certifications available to Chief Nursing Officers today.

1. Certified Nurse Executive (CNE)

Certified Nurse Executive (CNE) is a professional credential that recognizes the expertise of registered nurses who have achieved advanced levels of leadership in their nursing practice. The CNE credential is awarded by the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC). To become certified, an individual must demonstrate mastery of core competencies in the areas of leadership and management, health care policy and advocacy, quality improvement and safety, finance, and informatics.

It typically takes two to three years to complete the certification process. The first step is to meet the eligibility requirements for certification. These include having a valid RN license, at least two years of experience in a nurse executive role or equivalent, and completion of 30 hours of continuing education related to nurse executive practice within the past three years.

The next step is to submit an application for certification. This includes providing proof of eligibility requirements such as transcripts and verification of work experience. Once the application has been accepted, applicants must pass an examination that assesses their knowledge and skills related to nurse executive practice.

The cost for certification varies depending on whether you are applying for initial or renewal certification. Initial certification costs $395 for members of ANCC or $495 for non-members. Renewal certification costs $295 for members or $395 for non-members.

2. Certified in Executive Nursing Practice (CENP)

Certified in Executive Nursing Practice (CENP) is a certification program designed to recognize nurses who have achieved a high level of expertise in the field of executive nursing. CENP certification is awarded to nurses who demonstrate a comprehensive knowledge and understanding of the principles, practices, and theories related to executive nursing. The certification is offered by the American Organization for Nursing Leadership (AONL).

It typically takes about six months to complete the requirements for CENP certification. The process includes completing an online application, providing documentation of professional experience and education, passing an examination, and agreeing to abide by AONL's Code of Ethics. The cost for the CENP certification program is $695.

To be eligible for CENP certification, applicants must hold a valid RN license in the United States or Canada; have at least five years of experience as an executive nurse; have completed at least 30 hours of continuing education related to executive nursing within the past three years; and have completed at least two leadership-related courses within the past three years.

3. American Organization of Nurse Executives (AONE) Certification in Executive Nursing Practice

The American Organization of Nurse Executives (AONE) Certification in Executive Nursing Practice is a certification program designed to recognize the knowledge, skills, and abilities of nurse executives. It is intended to demonstrate that the individual has achieved a level of excellence and expertise in executive nursing practice.

To become certified, individuals must meet certain requirements and pass an examination. The certification process includes completing an application, providing evidence of professional experience, and passing an exam. The exam consists of three parts: a written component, an oral component, and a portfolio review.

The written component consists of multiple-choice questions related to executive nursing practice. The oral component consists of an interview with a panel of experts in executive nursing practice. The portfolio review assesses the applicant's knowledge, skills, and abilities in executive nursing practice through the submission of documents such as job descriptions or performance evaluations.

It typically takes between six months to one year to complete the certification process. The cost for taking the exam varies depending on where you take it; however, it typically ranges from $400-$600 USD.

4. Certified Nursing Administration (CNA)

Certified Nursing Administration (CNA) is a professional certification program that provides nurses with the knowledge and skills they need to manage nursing departments in a variety of settings. CNA focuses on the administrative aspects of nursing, such as budgeting, staffing, resource management, and other managerial tasks. It also covers topics related to patient care, such as quality assurance and risk management.

The CNA program typically takes about six months to complete. To get certified, you must first complete an approved course of study and pass an exam administered by the National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN). The cost for the course and exam varies by state but generally ranges from $200-$400. After successfully completing the program and passing the exam, you will receive your CNA certification which is valid for two years.

To maintain your certification, you must complete continuing education requirements every two years. These requirements vary by state but may include attending seminars or workshops or taking online courses related to nursing administration. The cost for these continuing education credits can range from $50-$100 per credit hour depending on the provider.

5. Advanced Nursing Administration Certification (ANAC)

Advanced Nursing Administration Certification (ANAC) is an advanced certification program for nurses who are interested in taking on a leadership role in their nursing practice. The ANAC certification is offered through the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC). It is designed to recognize nurses with advanced knowledge and skills in nursing administration, including management, finance, and quality improvement.

The ANAC certification requires applicants to have a minimum of three years of full-time experience as a registered nurse, hold a current RN license, and have completed at least 30 hours of continuing education in nursing administration within the past three years. In addition, applicants must pass an exam that covers topics such as healthcare policy and regulation, financial management, risk management, organizational behavior and communication.

The ANAC certification process typically takes about six months from start to finish. To begin the process, applicants must submit an application along with supporting documentation such as transcripts or proof of licensure. Once the application is approved by the ANCC board of directors, applicants will receive an exam voucher which they can use to register for the exam. The exam fee is $395 USD and it can be taken at any Pearson Vue testing center. After passing the exam, applicants will receive their official ANAC certificate in the mail within 6-8 weeks.

Overall, obtaining Advanced Nursing Administration Certification (ANAC) requires a significant amount of time and effort but can be very rewarding for those looking to take on more responsibility in their nursing career.

6. Board Certified Nurse Executive (BCNE)

Board Certified Nurse Executive (BCNE) is a certification for nurses who have demonstrated expertise in nursing administration and management. It is awarded by the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC). The BCNE certification is valid for five years, after which nurses must recertify to maintain their credential.

To become Board Certified Nurse Executive, nurses must meet the following requirements:

  • Have an active, unrestricted RN license in the U.S., its territories, or Canada
  • Possess a master’s degree or higher in nursing or related field from an accredited college/university
  • Have at least two years of experience as a nurse executive or administrator within the past five years
  • Complete 30 hours of continuing education related to nursing administration or management within the past three years
  • Pass the BCNE exam with a score of at least 500 on a scale of 200-800.

The cost for taking the BCNE exam varies depending on whether you are an ANCC member ($395) or nonmember ($495). Additionally, there may be additional fees associated with obtaining continuing education credits and other materials needed for preparation for the exam.

7. American Nurses Credentialing Center’s Magnet Recognition Program®

The Magnet Recognition Program® is a credentialing program offered by the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) to recognize healthcare organizations that demonstrate excellence in nursing practice and patient care. The program was created to recognize healthcare organizations that have achieved a high level of quality in nursing practice, patient care, and professional development.

To achieve Magnet Recognition, an organization must demonstrate a commitment to providing high-quality care through evidence-based practices, patient safety initiatives, and strong nurse leadership. Organizations must also demonstrate a commitment to professional development for nurses and provide evidence of positive outcomes for patients.

It typically takes two to three years for an organization to complete the process of applying for and achieving Magnet Recognition. During this time, the organization must complete an extensive self-assessment process and submit documentation demonstrating their commitment to quality improvement initiatives. The ANCC then evaluates the submitted materials and conducts an onsite visit before making a decision about whether or not the organization will receive Magnet Recognition.

The cost of applying for Magnet Recognition varies depending on the size of the organization. Generally speaking, it can cost anywhere from $10,000-$50,000 in fees associated with completing the application process. Additionally, there may be additional costs associated with implementing new processes or programs as part of meeting Magnet standards.

8. Certified in Healthcare Quality and Management (CHQM)

Certified in Healthcare Quality and Management (CHQM) is a professional certification program offered by the American Society for Healthcare Quality (ASHQ). It is designed to recognize healthcare professionals who demonstrate a high level of knowledge and expertise in quality management and healthcare operations.

The CHQM certification requires applicants to pass an exam that covers topics such as healthcare quality, patient safety, risk management, performance improvement, and data analysis. The exam consists of 150 multiple-choice questions that must be completed within three hours. To be eligible to take the CHQM exam, applicants must have at least two years of experience in healthcare quality or operations management.

To obtain the CHQM certification, applicants must pay a fee of $450 USD. This fee includes the cost of the exam and access to study materials. After passing the exam, applicants will receive their official CHQM certificate from ASHQ. The certification is valid for three years from the date it was issued and can be renewed by taking an additional online course or retaking the exam.

9. Certified Professional in Healthcare Quality (CPHQ)

Certified Professional in Healthcare Quality (CPHQ) is a professional certification offered by the National Association for Healthcare Quality (NAHQ). This certification recognizes individuals who have demonstrated expertise and knowledge in healthcare quality management. It is designed to help healthcare organizations improve patient care, reduce costs, and increase efficiency.

To become certified, applicants must pass an exam that covers topics such as healthcare quality management principles, processes, standards, and regulations. The exam consists of 150 multiple-choice questions and takes approximately three hours to complete. To be eligible to take the exam, applicants must have at least two years of full-time experience in a healthcare quality role or a related field.

The cost of the CPHQ certification is $395 for NAHQ members and $495 for non-members. Once applicants pass the exam, they will receive their CPHQ certificate and may use the designation after their name. Certification must be renewed every three years by completing continuing education credits or retaking the exam.

10. American Association of Critical Care Nurses’ Certification for Nurse Executives

The American Association of Critical Care Nurses (AACN) Certification for Nurse Executives is a specialty certification that recognizes nurse executives who have achieved the highest level of professional development in the field of critical care nursing. The AACN Certification for Nurse Executives is designed to assess the knowledge and skills necessary to provide leadership and management in a variety of complex healthcare settings.

To obtain the AACN Certification for Nurse Executives, candidates must first meet certain eligibility requirements, which include having an active registered nurse license in good standing, at least two years of experience as a critical care nurse, and completion of a minimum of 15 hours of continuing education related to critical care nursing within the past three years. In addition, candidates must pass an exam that covers topics such as patient safety, quality improvement initiatives, financial management, human resources management, and organizational dynamics.

The cost to take the AACN Certification for Nurse Executives exam is $350. Candidates are allowed up to three hours to complete the exam and can expect to receive their results within four weeks after taking it. Once certified, nurses must renew their certification every five years by completing 75 continuing education credits and paying an additional fee.

Do You Really Need a Chief Nursing Officer Certificate?

The answer to this question depends on the individual. Some nurses may feel that a Chief Nursing Officer (CNO) Certificate is necessary in order to be successful in their nursing career. This certification can provide a nurse with the knowledge and skills required for managing and leading a nursing team, as well as providing guidance and direction to other members of the healthcare team.

For those who are already in an administrative position, obtaining a CNO Certificate may be beneficial in order to demonstrate their expertise and commitment to their profession. It can also help them move up the ladder of success within the nursing profession. A CNO Certificate can also provide more job opportunities as many organizations look for individuals who have demonstrated leadership and managerial skills through formal education.

However, for those nurses who are just starting out in their career, obtaining a CNO Certificate may not be necessary right away. Instead, they should focus on gaining experience in various areas of nursing practice before taking on additional responsibilities such as management or leadership roles. As they gain experience, they can then evaluate if pursuing further education is necessary in terms of advancing their career goals.

Overall, whether or not a nurse needs a Chief Nursing Officer Certificate depends on their individual situation and what they hope to achieve from it. It is important that nurses assess their current level of experience before making any decisions regarding pursuing this type of certification.

Related: Chief Nursing Officer Resume Examples

FAQs About Chief Nursing Officer Certifications

1. What certifications are available for Chief Nursing Officers?

Answer: The American Organization of Nurse Executives (AONE) offers the Certified Nurse Executive (CNE) certification, and the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) offers the Advanced Nurse Executive certification.

2. How can I become a Certified Nurse Executive?

Answer: To become a CNE, applicants must have a valid registered nurse license, have completed at least a master's degree in nursing or related field, have at least three years of experience in an executive role in nursing, and must pass the CNE exam.

3. What is the cost of taking the CNE exam?

Answer: The cost of taking the CNE exam is $450 for AONE members and $550 for non-members.

4. How often do I need to renew my Chief Nursing Officer certification?

Answer: The CNE certification needs to be renewed every five years by completing at least 400 hours of relevant continuing education activities and paying a $200 renewal fee. The ANCC certification needs to be renewed every four years with a minimum of 75 contact hours of continuing education activities and paying an annual maintenance fee.

5. Are there any financial assistance options for taking the Chief Nursing Officer certification exams?

Answer: Yes! AONE offers scholarships that cover up to 50% of the cost of taking their CNE exam and ANCC provides discounts on their ANCC exam fees for members who are unemployed or underemployed due to COVID-19 pandemic-related circumstances.