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Things are looking up for certified nurses
Certifications can help your nursing salaries surge
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Being able to increase income and future earning potential often is at the forefront when planning one’s career trajectory. For nurses, the path to pay raises and promotions can come from certifications — which hold benefits beyond bigger bank accounts.
It’s no secret certified nurses earn more money, according to an article by Robert G. Hess Jr., PhD, RN, FAAN, our executive vice president and chief clinical executive.

Hess cites results from our 2018 Nursing Salary Research Report showing certified nurses’ base salaries alone are greater than those of nurses who are not certified. In addition, many organizations pay for certification preparation exams and test fees, and they reward nurses with hourly certification differential pay, he said. Other benefits of certification include boosted confidence in the workplace, along with respect from colleagues, increased professional opportunities and better marketability and employ-ability in the job market. Hess points out the results of a survey which demonstrated that 90% of nurse managers would hire a certified nurse over a non-certified nurse, if everything else were equal. “Your organization culture itself may not support certification,” Hess said. “But that lack of advocacy is hard to sustain in the face of past and revised guidelines for the most current 2019 Magnet and 2016 Pathways to Excellence criteria that mandate continuous professional development that includes certification. You easily could become a certification champion in your place of employment — and that only can enhance your future career.”
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Close the gap
Jennifer Mensik, PhD, RN, FAAN, also discussed the positive impacts on salary of becoming certified in her article, “Can nursing certification help close the gender pay gap?”. With data from our salary research report showing men make more money than women, many nurses want to know why, she said. What the report found was although men had a shorter tenure in nursing yet made about $6,000 more than women, certification could close the gender wage gap. Mensik highlights numbers from the report showing certified male nurses earning an average salary of $81,672 and certified female nurses an average salary of $80,420. Without certification, men earned an average salary of $78,342 while women earned an average salary of $68,227. “Certification helps to close the salary gap for women in nursing,” Mensik said. “But why is there a pay gap in nursing? I still can’t answer that for you, and there is a lot of stipulation out there. I still am venturing to say there is an unconscious bias that influences offering pay regardless of human resource controls.” Certification ranks high in the article "10 tips for a successful nursing career in 2018". The list, authored by Hess, offers valuable advice with assessing plans for further education, including earning certifications, ranked No. 4. “Look for obvious holes in your education and find ways to fill them,” Hess said. “For example, have you been thinking about, but avoiding, a certification exam in your specialty? Maybe this is the year you prepare by completing a certification review course. Your education doesn’t need to be a looming, formal, academic program. Your learning should be ongoing, as in continuing education, and fun.”
You easily could become a certification champion in your place of employment — and that only can enhance your future career.”
— Robert G. Hess Jr., RN
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