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Top 11 School Nurse Certifications

This article provides an overview of the best certifications for school nurses, including requirements, benefits and how to apply.

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Brenna Goyette
Certified Professional Resume Writer, Career Expert

Published 18 min read

Certifications are important for school nurses in the job market as they demonstrate a nurse’s knowledge and expertise in their field. Certifications can also help employers differentiate between qualified and unqualified candidates, which is especially important when it comes to school nursing positions. Certifications also provide proof of a nurse’s commitment to staying up-to-date on the latest developments in their field, which is essential for providing quality care. Additionally, certifications can be helpful for career advancement, as employers may require higher levels of certification for certain positions. Finally, certifications can provide nurses with access to exclusive professional networks, such as membership in the National Association of School Nurses or other organizations.

This article reviews the top certifications for School Nurses and explains how they can help to further a school nurse's career.

What are School Nurse Certifications?

School nurse certification is a voluntary process that certifies nurses who specialize in providing healthcare services to students and staff in the school setting. This certification is offered by the National Association of School Nurses (NASN) and requires nurses to meet specific qualifications, including education, experience, and continuing professional development.

The benefits of school nurse certification are many. Certified school nurses have demonstrated a higher level of knowledge and expertise than non-certified nurses. This increased knowledge can help them provide better care for students and staff, as well as develop more effective health programs within their schools. Certification also helps school nurses stay current on the most up-to-date information regarding student health issues, which can help them provide better advice and guidance to parents and teachers. Additionally, having this certification may open doors for career advancement opportunities such as teaching or consulting roles. Finally, certified school nurses often have access to additional resources from NASN that can help them in their work.

Pro Tip: Make sure to research the requirements for school nurse certification in your state before starting the process. Every state has its own set of rules and regulations, so make sure you understand what is expected of you before beginning the application process.

Related: What does a School Nurse do?

Top 11 School Nurse Certifications

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

1. Certified School Nurse (CSN)

A Certified School Nurse (CSN) is a registered nurse who has specialized training in providing health care services to children and adolescents in school settings. CSNs are responsible for the assessment, planning, implementation, and evaluation of health care services for students in grades K-12. They work with teachers, administrators, parents, and other healthcare professionals to ensure a safe learning environment for students.

In order to become certified as a school nurse, one must first obtain a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree from an accredited nursing program. After completing the BSN degree, you must pass the National Council Licensure Examination - Registered Nurse (NCLEX-RN). Once you have obtained your RN license, you can then pursue certification as a school nurse through the National Board for Certification of School Nurses (NBCSN).

The NBCSN offers two levels of certification: Certified School Nurse (CSN) and Advanced Practice Certified School Nurse (APCSN). To become certified as a CSN or APCSN, you must meet certain educational requirements and demonstrate your knowledge of school nursing practice by passing an exam. The exam consists of multiple choice questions on topics such as health promotion and disease prevention; assessment; communication; legal/ethical issues; and professional standards.

The cost of obtaining certification varies depending on the level of certification desired. The cost to become certified as a CSN is $225 USD plus any applicable taxes or fees. The cost to become certified as an APCSN is $375 USD plus any applicable taxes or fees.

Once you have passed the exam and met all other requirements for certification, you will be issued a certificate that is valid for five years from the date it was issued. You will also receive continuing education credits during this time period in order to maintain your certification status.

2. Certified Pediatric Nurse Practitioner (CPNP)

A Certified Pediatric Nurse Practitioner (CPNP) is a registered nurse who has completed advanced training and education in the care of children. This certification is granted by the Pediatric Nursing Certification Board (PNCB). To become a CPNP, an individual must have a valid RN license and have completed an accredited graduate-level program in pediatric nursing or a related field.

The amount of time it takes to become certified as a CPNP depends on the individual’s educational background and experience. Generally, it can take anywhere from 2-4 years to complete the necessary coursework and clinical experience required for certification.

To get certified as a CPNP, individuals must first meet the eligibility requirements set forth by the PNCB. These include having at least 500 hours of clinical practice as an RN in pediatrics within the past 3 years, completing 45 continuing education credits in pediatric nursing within the past 3 years, and passing both written and oral examinations administered by the PNCB.

The cost of becoming certified as a CPNP varies depending on the individual’s specific situation. Generally, there is an application fee of $100-$200, plus additional fees for taking the written and oral examinations ($400-$500). Additionally, there may be costs associated with completing any required continuing education credits or other preparatory activities for taking the exams.

3. Certified Emergency Nurse (CEN)

Certified Emergency Nurse (CEN) is a certification offered by the Board of Certification for Emergency Nursing (BCEN). It is designed to recognize nurses with specialized knowledge and experience in emergency nursing. The CEN certification demonstrates that the nurse is knowledgeable in all aspects of emergency nursing, including patient assessment, diagnosis, treatment and management of emergency conditions.

The CEN certification process takes approximately 4-6 months to complete. To become certified, the nurse must first meet the eligibility requirements set by BCEN. These include having an active RN license and at least two years of full-time acute care experience in an emergency department within the past three years. Once these requirements are met, the nurse can apply for the CEN exam.

To prepare for the exam, nurses should review relevant material such as textbooks, study guides and practice exams. Additionally, some employers offer courses or seminars to help nurses prepare for their CEN exam.

The cost of becoming certified varies depending on where you take your test and what materials you use to prepare for it. Generally speaking, it will cost around $400-$500 USD to take the exam plus any additional fees associated with purchasing study materials or attending preparatory courses or seminars.

4. Certified Correctional Health Care Professional (CCHP)

The Certified Correctional Health Care Professional (CCHP) is a professional certification program offered by the National Commission on Correctional Health Care (NCCHC). The CCHP is designed to recognize individuals who have achieved a high level of proficiency in providing quality health care services in correctional settings. This includes both clinical and administrative duties.

To become certified, applicants must meet the following requirements:

1. Have an unrestricted license to practice as a health care provider in their jurisdiction;

2. Have at least two years of experience in providing health care services in a correctional setting;

3. Successfully complete an approved CCHP training program; and

4. Pass the NCCHC's CCHP examination.

The CCHP training program consists of four components:

1. A self-study course that covers topics such as medical ethics, legal issues, mental health, infectious diseases, and substance abuse;

2. An online assessment that tests knowledge gained from the self-study course;

3. An onsite practical skills assessment; and

4. A written exam administered by the NCCHC.

The cost for the CCHP certification process varies depending on the provider offering it, but typically ranges from $500-$1,000 USD for all four components combined. It usually takes about six months to complete the entire process from start to finish, including studying for and taking the exam.

5. Advanced Practice Registered Nurse – Board Certified in School Nursing (APRN-BCSN)

An Advanced Practice Registered Nurse – Board Certified in School Nursing (APRN-BCSN) is a specialized type of nurse with advanced knowledge and skills in school health. The APRN-BCSN is an expert in the field of school nursing, providing comprehensive care to children, adolescents, and their families in the educational setting.

In order to become an APRN-BCSN, a nurse must first obtain a Master's degree or higher in nursing from an accredited program and be licensed as a registered nurse (RN). Then, they must complete additional coursework related to school nursing, such as pediatric health assessment, psychosocial assessment and interventions, family-centered care, legal/ethical issues related to school health care, and more. After completing these courses, the nurse can then apply for certification through the National Association of School Nurses (NASN).

The process of becoming certified typically takes about 12-18 months depending on the individual's experience level. To get certified, nurses must pass an exam administered by NASN. The cost for certification varies depending on the state but typically ranges between $200-$400.

6. National Board for Certification of School Nurses (NBCSN)

The National Board for Certification of School Nurses (NBCSN) is a professional certification program that recognizes the expertise and commitment of school nurses. It is designed to ensure that school nurses have the knowledge and skills necessary to provide quality care to students in schools. The NBCSN certification is awarded after successful completion of an examination, which tests a nurse’s knowledge and competency in providing care for children in the school setting.

The process for obtaining the NBCSN certification typically takes about 6-9 months. To get started, applicants must first complete an online application, which includes submitting transcripts from all nursing education programs attended, completing an essay, and paying a $150 application fee. Once the application has been approved, applicants must then register for and take the NBCSN exam. The exam consists of 200 multiple-choice questions covering topics such as health assessment, health promotion, disease prevention, and crisis management. After passing the exam, applicants will receive their certificate within 8 weeks.

The cost of becoming certified by the NBCSN includes both an application fee ($150) and an examination fee ($350). In addition to these fees, there may be additional costs associated with obtaining necessary documents or materials needed to complete the application process or prepare for the exam.

7. Certified School Health Specialist (CSHS)

A Certified School Health Specialist (CSHS) is a professional who specializes in the health and wellness of children and adolescents. CSHSs are certified through the National Board for Health and Wellness Coaching (NBHWC). This certification requires a minimum of 60 hours of training and education, including courses in health promotion, nutrition, physical activity, mental health, substance abuse prevention, and school-based health care. The cost for this certification varies depending on the provider but typically ranges from $400-$800.

In order to become certified as a CSHS, an individual must first complete an approved course of study that meets NBHWC standards. After completing the coursework, applicants must then pass a comprehensive exam administered by the NBHWC. Once certified, individuals must maintain their credentials by completing continuing education credits every two years.

The CSHS credential demonstrates that an individual has met the highest standards in school health education and is qualified to provide comprehensive services to students and families. It also signals to employers that an individual has specialized knowledge in school health issues and can be trusted to provide quality services.

8. Certified Occupational Health Nurse-Specialist (COHN-S)

A Certified Occupational Health Nurse-Specialist (COHN-S) is an advanced practice nurse who specializes in the field of occupational health. They are responsible for providing comprehensive care to workers, including assessing and treating work-related illnesses and injuries, as well as promoting workplace safety and health. COHN-Ss also provide education and training to employers, employees, and other healthcare professionals on the topics of occupational health.

In order to become a COHN-S, one must have a current RN license in the state they wish to practice in, plus at least four years of full time experience in occupational health nursing within the past five years. Additionally, applicants must pass an exam administered by the American Board for Occupational Health Nurses (ABOHN).

The exam consists of two parts: a written exam and a clinical simulation exam. The written portion is composed of multiple choice questions that cover topics such as epidemiology, environmental health, safety management systems, legal aspects of occupational health nursing, and more. The clinical simulation portion requires applicants to demonstrate their ability to apply knowledge gained from the written portion in simulated scenarios.

The cost for taking the COHN-S certification exam varies depending on where you take it; however it typically ranges from $400-$600 USD.

9. Certified Public Health Nurse – School Health Concentration (CPHN-SHC)

A Certified Public Health Nurse-School Health Concentration (CPHN-SHC) is a specialized certification for nurses who wish to focus their practice on school health. This certification is offered by the National Board of Public Health Examiners (NBPHE) and requires that an individual have a valid RN license, at least two years of full-time experience in school health nursing, and a master’s degree in public health or a related field. To obtain the CPHN-SHC certification, an individual must pass a comprehensive exam administered by NBPHE.

The exam consists of four sections: Foundations of School Health Nursing; School Health Program Planning, Implementation and Evaluation; School Health Promotion and Education; and Professional Practice. Each section contains multiple choice questions as well as case studies. The exam takes approximately four hours to complete and costs $450.

Once an individual has passed the exam, they will become certified as a Certified Public Health Nurse-School Health Concentration (CPHN-SHC). This credential demonstrates that an individual has achieved a high level of expertise in school health nursing and can be used to demonstrate competency when applying for jobs or advancing one's career.

10. Advanced Practice Registered Nurse – Board Certified in Public/Community Health Nursing (APRN-BCPHN)

Advanced Practice Registered Nurse – Board Certified in Public/Community Health Nursing (APRN-BCPHN) is a certification that recognizes the specialized knowledge and skills of nurses who provide public health services. This certification is offered by the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC).

In order to obtain this certification, an individual must first become a Registered Nurse (RN) and have at least two years of full-time clinical experience in public/community health nursing. They must also complete 30 hours of continuing education related to public/community health nursing within the past three years. Once these requirements are met, the individual can apply for the APRN-BCPHN exam.

The APRN-BCPHN exam consists of 175 multiple choice questions covering topics such as epidemiology, population health, community assessment, program planning and evaluation, leadership and management, professional role development, legal and ethical issues related to public health nursing practice, cultural competence, research utilization and quality improvement. The exam takes approximately four hours to complete and costs $395 for members of ANCC or $495 for non-members. Upon successful completion of the exam, individuals will be awarded their APRN-BCPHN credential.

11. American Nurses Credentialing Center’s Pediatric Primary Care Nursing Certification Program (ANCC PPCNCP).

The American Nurses Credentialing Center’s Pediatric Primary Care Nursing Certification Program (ANCC PPCNCP) is a voluntary program that recognizes the specialized knowledge and skills of nurses who provide primary care to children. This certification program is designed to validate the expertise of nurses in pediatric primary care and promote excellence in practice.

In order to qualify for ANCC PPCNCP certification, an individual must hold a current, unrestricted RN license in the United States or its territories, have a minimum of two years of experience as a registered nurse within the past three years, and have completed at least 2,000 hours of nursing practice in pediatric primary care within the past three years.

The ANCC PPCNCP certification process includes an application, verification of eligibility requirements, and successful completion of an examination. The application process typically takes two to four weeks to complete. Once approved, applicants will receive instructions on how to schedule their exam. The exam consists of 175 multiple-choice questions and must be completed within 3 hours and 45 minutes.

The cost for ANCC PPCNCP certification varies depending on whether you are an ANCC member or nonmember. For members, the fee is $350; for nonmembers it is $450. Additionally, there may be additional fees associated with scheduling your exam at a testing center or utilizing online proctoring services.

Do You Really Need a School Nurse Certificate?

When it comes to deciding whether or not you need a school nurse certificate, the answer is ultimately up to you. A school nurse certificate is typically required for those who wish to become a school nurse, but depending on your career goals and objectives, it might not be necessary.

If you have an interest in working as a nurse in healthcare settings outside of schools, such as hospitals or nursing homes, then having a school nurse certificate may not be necessary. However, if you plan on working exclusively with children or adolescents in the educational setting, then having a school nurse certificate can open up many more opportunities for you.

School nurses are responsible for providing health care services to students and staff within a school setting. This includes assessing student health needs and providing preventative care; managing chronic illnesses such as asthma, diabetes, and allergies; responding to acute illness and injuries; developing individualized healthcare plans; and educating students on healthy lifestyle choices.

Having a school nurse certificate demonstrates that you have met the standards necessary to work in this field and that you are qualified to provide the necessary healthcare services to students and staff. It also shows potential employers that you have taken the initiative to specialize in this type of nursing practice and that you are committed to this area of healthcare.

In conclusion, whether or not you need a school nurse certificate will depend on your specific career goals and objectives. If you plan on working exclusively with children or adolescents in educational settings, then having a school nurse certificate can be beneficial in helping open up additional job opportunities for yourself.

Related: School Nurse Resume Examples

FAQs About School Nurse Certifications

1. What qualifications do I need to become a school nurse?

Answer: To become a school nurse, you must have a valid nursing license and pass the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN). You will also need to complete a state-approved program in school nursing.

2. How long does it take to get certified as a school nurse?

Answer: It typically takes two years of full-time study to complete the required courses and clinical experience necessary for certification as a school nurse.

3. What is the cost of becoming certified as a school nurse?

Answer: The cost of becoming certified as a school nurse varies depending on the state you live in, but typically includes fees for tuition, textbooks, and licensing exams.

4. Do I need to renew my certification as a school nurse?

Answer: Yes, most states require that you renew your certification every few years in order to remain eligible for employment as a school nurse.

5. Are there any continuing education requirements for maintaining my certification as a school nurse?

Answer: Yes, most states require that you complete certain continuing education courses or activities in order to maintain your certification as a school nurse.