Top 11 LPN Certifications

This article provides a comprehensive overview of the top LPN certifications available and how to obtain them.

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Brenna Goyette
Certified Professional Resume Writer, Career Expert

Published 16 min read

Certifications for LPNs are important in the job market because they demonstrate a level of competence and expertise in the field. Certified LPNs have proven their knowledge and experience to an outside agency, showing employers that they are capable and qualified for the position. Certifications provide assurance to employers that they are hiring a knowledgeable and experienced professional who is up-to-date on the latest trends and techniques in nursing care. Additionally, certifications can open up opportunities for career advancement or higher pay scales.

The purpose of this article is to provide an overview of the top certifications for LPNs and discuss how they can help to advance and enhance a LPN's career.

What are LPN Certifications?

LPN certification is an important credential for those wishing to work in the field of licensed practical nursing. This certification is awarded by a state board of nursing after students complete a state-approved practical nurse program and pass the National Council Licensure Examination for Practical Nurses (NCLEX-PN). In order to become certified, applicants must also meet their state's eligibility requirements, which may include age, education, clinical experience, and criminal background checks.

Having an LPN certification signifies that a nurse has the knowledge and skills required to provide safe and effective care to patients in various health care settings. LPNs are able to assess patient needs, administer medications, perform treatments, provide basic nursing care such as bathing and dressing wounds, collect specimens for lab tests, monitor vital signs and other patient data, observe changes in patient conditions, document patient progress reports and assist physicians with examinations and treatments.

With an LPN certification comes increased job opportunities in many different healthcare settings such as hospitals, long term care facilities, doctor’s offices or even home health agencies. The demand for qualified LPNs continues to grow due to the aging population that requires more medical attention. Having an LPN certification can also open doors to higher level positions such as becoming an RN or even advanced practice nurse. Additionally having an LPN certification makes it easier when applying for jobs since employers know they are hiring someone who is knowledgeable in their field.

Pro Tip: Make sure to research the requirements for LPN certification in your state before beginning the process. Each state has its own set of specific requirements that must be met in order for you to become certified as an LPN.

Related: What does an LPN do?

Top 11 LPN Certifications

Here’s our list of the best certifications available to LPNs today.

1. Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA)

A Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) is a healthcare professional who works under the supervision of a Registered Nurse (RN) or Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN). CNAs provide basic patient care, such as bathing, dressing, and feeding patients, taking vital signs, and assisting with medical equipment. They also help to keep patients comfortable by providing emotional support.

It typically takes around 6 to 12 weeks to become a CNA. The requirements vary by state but generally include completing an approved CNA training program that includes both classroom instruction and clinical practice. After completing the program, candidates must take and pass the National Nurse Aide Assessment Program (NNAAP) exam in order to be certified.

The cost of becoming a CNA varies depending on the state and type of program you choose. Generally speaking, it can range from $500-$2000 for tuition and fees. Additionally, there may be additional costs for books, uniforms, testing fees, etc.

2. Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN)

A Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) is a healthcare professional who provides basic care to patients under the direction of registered nurses and doctors. LPNs are typically responsible for providing direct patient care, such as taking vital signs, administering medications, changing dressings, and assisting with bathing and other activities of daily living. They may also provide education to patients and families about health maintenance and disease prevention.

It typically takes one to two years to obtain an LPN license. To become an LPN, you must first complete a state-approved practical nursing program which includes classroom instruction, laboratory practice, and clinical experience in a variety of healthcare settings. After completing the program, you must pass the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-PN).

The cost of becoming an LPN varies depending on the school or program you choose. Tuition costs at public institutions can range from $2,000-$5,000 per semester; private schools may cost more. In addition to tuition costs, you may need to pay for books and supplies as well as any additional fees associated with your program.

3. Certified Medical-Surgical Registered Nurse (CMSRN)

Certified Medical-Surgical Registered Nurse (CMSRN) is a certification that recognizes the specialized knowledge and expertise of medical-surgical nurses. It is offered by the Medical-Surgical Nursing Certification Board (MSNCB), which is part of the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC). The CMSRN certification demonstrates a nurse’s commitment to excellence in providing high quality care to patients with medical-surgical conditions.

To become certified as a CMSRN, nurses must meet certain eligibility requirements, including holding an active RN license, having two years of experience working in a medical-surgical setting, and completing at least 2,000 hours of practice in the field within three years prior to applying for certification. Once these requirements are met, nurses can apply for the exam.

The cost of taking the CMSRN exam varies depending on where you take it. Generally speaking, it costs around $300-$400 to take the exam. The exam consists of 175 multiple choice questions and takes approximately 3½ hours to complete. After passing the exam, nurses must renew their certification every five years by completing continuing education activities related to medical-surgical nursing.

4. Certified Dialysis Nurse (CDN)

A Certified Dialysis Nurse (CDN) is a registered nurse who has specialized in the care of patients with kidney failure and those receiving dialysis treatments. The CDN certification is offered by the Nephrology Nursing Certification Commission (NNCC). To become certified, a nurse must have at least one year of experience in nephrology nursing and must pass an exam administered by the NNCC.

It typically takes about two to three months to prepare for the exam, depending on how much knowledge and experience you already have in nephrology nursing. You can find study materials online or purchase them from various vendors. Once you are ready to take the exam, you will need to register with the NNCC and pay a fee of $350. The exam consists of 150 multiple-choice questions that cover topics such as anatomy and physiology, pathophysiology, pharmacology, nutrition, patient education, infection control, quality assurance/performance improvement and professional practice issues.

Once you have passed the exam, you will be awarded your CDN certification. This certification is valid for five years and can be renewed by completing continuing education activities or retaking the exam. There is an additional fee for renewal of $200 every five years.

5. Certified Wound Care Nurse (CWCN)

Certified Wound Care Nurse (CWCN) is a credential that recognizes nurses who have specialized knowledge and experience in the care of wounds. This certification is offered through the Wound, Ostomy and Continence Nursing Certification Board (WOCNCB). To become a CWCN, you must meet the following criteria:

1. Have an active license as a registered nurse (RN) or advanced practice nurse (APN).

2. Have at least two years of clinical experience in wound care nursing.

3. Complete 30 hours of continuing education in wound care within the past three years.

4. Pass the CWCN exam administered by the WOCNCB.

The CWCN exam consists of 175 multiple-choice questions covering topics such as wound assessment, treatment, prevention, and management; skin integrity; nutrition; pharmacology; documentation; and legal/ethical issues related to wound care nursing practice. The exam takes approximately four hours to complete and costs $320 for members of the WOCNCB or $400 for non-members.

6. Gerontological Nursing Certification (GNC)

Gerontological Nursing Certification (GNC) is a credential that recognizes nurses who have specialized knowledge and expertise in caring for older adults. The certification is offered by the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC), which is part of the American Nurses Association.

To qualify for GNC, nurses must have a valid RN license, two years of full-time experience in gerontological nursing practice within the past five years, and at least 2,000 hours of direct care to older adults within the past three years.

The process to obtain GNC takes approximately four weeks from start to finish. To begin, nurses must create an account on the ANCC website and submit an application form with their credentials and supporting documents. After submitting their application, they will be asked to take an online exam that consists of 160 multiple-choice questions. Once they pass the exam, they will receive their certification in 4-6 weeks.

The cost to apply for GNC varies depending on whether or not you are an ANCC member. For non-members, it costs $360 to apply; for members, it costs $300. Additionally, there is a $200 fee for taking the online exam.

7. Advanced Cardiac Life Support Certification (ACLS)

Advanced Cardiac Life Support (ACLS) certification is a medical training course that teaches healthcare professionals the skills needed to recognize and treat life-threatening cardiac emergencies. This includes recognizing cardiac arrest, providing basic life support, using a defibrillator, and administering advanced medications. ACLS certification typically takes 8-12 hours to complete and can be obtained through an accredited provider such as the American Heart Association or Red Cross. The cost of ACLS certification varies depending on the provider, but usually ranges from $200-$300.

8. Palliative Care Certification (PCCN)

Palliative Care Certification (PCCN) is a certification program designed to recognize the specialized knowledge and skills of nurses who provide care for individuals with serious illnesses. The certification is offered by the American Association of Critical-Care Nurses (AACN).

To become certified, an individual must have a valid RN license, at least two years of experience in direct patient care in an acute or critical care setting, and 1,000 hours of direct palliative care experience within the past three years. Applicants must also pass a PCCN exam administered by AACN.

The PCCN exam consists of 175 multiple-choice questions that cover topics such as symptom management, communication strategies, ethical decision making, and family dynamics. It takes approximately 3 hours to complete the exam.

The cost of the PCCN exam varies depending on whether you are an AACN member or not. For non-members, the cost is $395; for members it’s $295. There may also be additional fees associated with applying for the certification and taking the exam.

Once you have passed the exam and met all other requirements, you will receive your PCCN certification from AACN. This certification is valid for five years before needing to be renewed.

9. Pediatric Advanced Life Support Certification (PALS)

Pediatric Advanced Life Support (PALS) certification is a program designed to teach healthcare professionals the skills and knowledge necessary to assess and manage critically ill infants and children. It is based on the American Heart Association’s 2015 Guidelines for Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation and Emergency Cardiovascular Care of the Pediatric Patient. The program includes lectures, videos, group discussion, and hands-on skill stations.

The PALS certification course typically takes one day to complete. The course can be taken in person at an American Heart Association-approved training center or online through an approved provider.

The cost of a PALS certification course varies depending on the provider and location but generally ranges from $150-$300.

10. Neonatal Resuscitation Program Certification (NRP)

The Neonatal Resuscitation Program (NRP) is a certification program developed by the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Heart Association. It is designed to teach healthcare professionals how to effectively resuscitate newborns in an emergency situation. The program provides evidence-based guidelines for neonatal resuscitation, including basic life support and advanced life support interventions.

It typically takes about 8 hours to complete the NRP certification course. The course consists of online modules, lectures, videos, and hands-on practice sessions with mannequins or real babies. Participants must pass a written exam at the end of the course in order to receive their certification.

To get certified in NRP, participants must register for a class through an approved provider such as a hospital or medical school. The cost of the course varies depending on where it is taken, but typically ranges from $150-$200 USD per person.

Once certified, healthcare professionals must recertify every two years in order to maintain their credentials.

11. Basic Life Support Certification (BLS).

Basic Life Support Certification (BLS) is a certification program designed to teach healthcare professionals the skills necessary to provide basic life support in emergency situations. BLS is a combination of CPR and AED (Automated External Defibrillator) training. The certification is usually obtained through an accredited provider, such as the American Heart Association or American Red Cross.

The BLS certification course typically takes around 4-6 hours to complete, depending on the provider and the type of training being offered. During the course, participants learn how to recognize and respond to cardiac arrest, how to perform chest compressions and rescue breaths, how to use an AED correctly, and how to recognize and respond to choking emergencies.

To get BLS certified, you must first find an accredited provider that offers BLS courses in your area. You will then need to register for the course, pay any associated fees, and attend all required sessions. Once you have completed all of the necessary training and passed any assessments or exams required by your provider, you will be issued a certificate verifying your completion of the course.

The cost of a BLS certification course can vary depending on location and provider. Generally speaking, courses range from $50-$100 per person.

Do You Really Need a LPN Certificate?

The decision of whether or not to pursue an LPN certificate is a personal one. It depends on your individual goals and career aspirations. Some individuals may find that they can achieve their desired career objectives without the need for a certificate, while others may find that having a certificate is necessary to land the job they want.

For those who are looking to become a nurse, an LPN certificate is usually the first step in obtaining licensure as a registered nurse (RN). In some states, it is possible to obtain an RN license without first obtaining an LPN certificate; however, many employers prefer candidates with both certifications. This is because the certification demonstrates that you have completed the required coursework and training, making you more qualified for the position than someone who does not have this type of certification.

In addition to being beneficial for those looking to become nurses, an LPN certificate can also be beneficial for those already working in healthcare-related professions. For example, if you are interested in becoming a medical assistant or a certified nursing assistant (CNA), having an LPN certificate may make you more desirable in the eyes of potential employers. Furthermore, having this certification may make it easier for you to advance within your current profession or even transition into another related field.

Ultimately, whether or not you should pursue an LPN certificate depends on your individual circumstances and what you wish to achieve with your career. If you feel that having this type of certification will help you reach your goals faster and more effectively, then it may be worth considering.

Related: LPN Resume Examples

FAQs About LPN Certifications

1. What is an LPN Certification?

Answer: A Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) Certification is a state-issued credential that allows an individual to practice as a Licensed Practical Nurse in the United States. It is typically obtained through an accredited nursing program or by passing the NCLEX-PN exam.

2. How long does it take to get an LPN Certification?

Answer: The length of time it takes to obtain an LPN certification varies depending on the type of program you choose and your personal study habits. Generally, most LPN programs can be completed in around one year.

3. How much does it cost to get an LPN Certification?

Answer: The cost of obtaining an LPN certification will vary depending on the type of program you choose and other associated costs such as textbooks and materials. Generally, most programs are reasonably priced and range from $1,000-$20,000.

4. What are the requirements for becoming certified as a Licensed Practical Nurse?

Answer: Requirements for becoming certified as a Licensed Practical Nurse vary by state but generally include completing an accredited nursing program, successfully passing the NCLEX-PN exam, and meeting any additional licensing requirements such as criminal background checks or fingerprinting set forth by your state board of nursing.

5. Is continuing education required for maintaining my LPN Certification?

Answer: Yes, continuing education is typically required for maintaining your LPN certification in order to stay current with changes in the field of nursing and ensure quality patient care standards are met. Depending on your state board of nursing’s regulations, continuing education hours may range from 10-30 hours per year or more for some advanced certifications.

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