Continuing Education to Further Your Opportunities in Your Nursing Career

Continuing Education to Further Your Opportunities in Your Nursing Career

Ready to take the next step in your nursing career, but not sure where to start? The great thing about the healthcare field it that it’s relatively easy to advance your career by obtaining Continuing Education Units (CEU’s), certifications, returning to school for bridge programs, or advancing your degree. 

Currently a CNA? 

Some programs will allow you to use your CNA credits towards your LVN certification. Once you’ve completed your LVN, you can then advance into your RN after a few years of experience. 


Requirements: Successful completion of the LPN/LVN training program, & passing of the licensure exam for LPNs – NCLEX-PN. 

Growth Trends: 25% by 2022

Median Salary: $43,170

Currently an LVN or LPN?

You can obtain your RN by taking what’s called a “bridge program.” You can use your LPN education and experience as a starting point, LPN-to-RN programs, including LPN-to-ADN and LPN-to-BSN. Upon completion, a licensed practical nurse has the qualifications to sit for the NCLEX-RN.

Registered Nurse 

Requirements: Successful completion of the RN training program, & passing of the licensure exam for RNs NCLEX. 

Growth Trends: 16% by 2022

Median Salary: $83,170

Currently an RN?

There are what seems to be unlimited options in a nursing career. You can transfer departments at a hospital, working in a handful of different practices, work on a cruise ship, become a flight nurse, or even travel to various hospitals and facilities as a travel nurse. If you’re thinking about advancing your nursing career into a new department or field, there are a few certifications and requirements you’ll need first. 

Charge Nurse 

Requirements: Although an advanced degree isn’t required, having a BSN may make it easier to secure the role. Most facilities will require the following certifications on top of having your RN: BLS, PALS, and ALS. 

Job Growth: 16% BY 2024

Median Salary: $68,863 


Requirements: You’ll need to get two or more years of clinical experience. Although not required to work in a NICU, earning your CCRN, RNC-NIC, will help with career advancement. Licensed RNs with 24 months of specialty experience (2,000 hours) can sit for this exam. Additional certifications that all NICU nurses should pursue include Basic Life Support (BLS), Advanced Cardiovascular Life Support (ACLS), and Neonatal Resuscitation Program (NRP). 

Job Growth: up 16% by 2024 

Median Salary: $60,375

ICU Nurse (CCRN)

Requirements: Candidates must meet one of the following clinical conditions to take the CCRN exam: Practice as an RN or APRN for 1,750 hours during the previous two years. Eight hundred seventy-five of those hours must have been accrued in the most recent year preceding application. Alternative: Practice as an RN or APRN for at least five years with a minimum of 2,000 hours in direct bedside care of acutely and/or critically ill patients, with 144 of those hours accrued in the most recent year preceding application. Eligible hours are those spent caring for adult, pediatric, or neonatal patients in alignment with the exam for which you are applying. 

Job Growth: 26% by 2028

Median Salary: $64,764 – $93,717

Cardiac Care Nurse (RN-BC)

Requirements: RN-BC, have practiced the equivalent of 2 years full-time as a registered nurse, a minimum of 2,000 hours of clinical practice in cardiac-vascular nursing within the last three years. Must have completed 30 hours of continuing education in cardiac-vascular nursing within the last three years.

Job Growth: 12% by 2028

Median Salary: $66,466

Trauma Nurse 

Requirements: You must have a minimum of 2 years or 1000 hours staff nurse experience in an emergency department before you can. Obtain this certification from the Board of Certification for Emergency Nursing. Basic Life Support and Advanced Life Support certifications are also required. In addition, you’ll need to obtain a Trauma Nursing Certification. To obtain the certification you must take a trauma nursing course, then take the Trauma Certified Registered Nurse Exam. You’ll also need to secure your BLS, ACLS, PALS through the American Heart Association. The TNCC, a two-day certification course that prepares nurses for caring for trauma patients. ENPC, flight nursing, BCEN, CFRN, TCRN are also ways to advance your education to be ready for trauma patients. 

Job Growth: 26% by 2020

Median Salary: $66,307 

Medical-Surgical Nurse (CMSRN)

Requirements: Two years of experience, plus 2000 hours working in a surgical nursing facility. You must then pass the CMSRN exam.

Job Growth: 30% by 2022

Median Salary: $62,472

Hospice Nurse 

Requirements: Advanced Certified Hospice and Palliative Nurses (ACHPNs)

  • Must pass standardized ACHPN Examination
  • Candidates who sit for and pass the ACHPN examination are granted the credential of ACHPN

Job Growth: 15% by 2020

Median Salary: $96,126

Travel Nurse 

Requirements: Two years of nursing experience in one or more facilities and a BSN.

Job Growth: 20% by 2022

Median Salary: $70,000 + benefits and a housing allowance.

Certified Dialysis Nurse 

Requirements: 2000 hours of experience in caring for nephrology and dialysis patients over a period of two years. Fifteen hours of continuing education in nephrology and the capability to pass a certification test.

Job Growth: 26% by 2022

Median Salary: $63,500

Thinking of Obtaining Your BSN or MSN to advance in your nursing career?

Obtaining your BSN or even your MSN can prove to open countless doors to further your career journey. Most hospitals are now requiring a BSN, and if you plan on even stepping up the ladder you should put some time and think into how soon you’ll go after your BSN.

If you’re currently working, you may want to reach out to your HR department as many jobs will now pay for you to complete your BSN. Thinking of taking it a step further, your MSN will not only open doors it’s been known to significantly increase your annual salary and likeness to get hired once you have a few years experience under your belt. 

Nurse Practitioner

Requirements: 1-2 years working as a Registered Nurse. Obtain your MSN degree then pursue your graduate degree in nursing. 

Job Growth: 25% by 2020

Median Salary: $94,000 


Requirements: Master of Science in nursing and a midwife-specialty program.

Job Growth: 31% by 2022

Median Salary: $79,000 a year.

Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA) 

Requirements: Must complete a master’s degree from an accredited nurse anesthesia program and pass the national CRNA exam.

Job Growth: 25% by 2022

Median Salary: $154,300

Nurse Case Manager

Requirements: Some RN-MSN programs offer a case-management option.

Job Growth: 26% by 2022

Median Salary: $68,032

Oncology Nurse (OCN)

Requirements: BSN and experience working as a nurse for several years. You may then earn a certification oncology nursing.

Job Growth: 20% by 2022

Median Salary: $68,000

Thinking about getting your Ph.D.?

Nurse Educator

Requirements: Master’s degree in nursing, a doctorate is required to teach at most universities. A post-master’s certificate or degree in education, as well as certification for your area of specialty, could help to increase your chances as well as your annual Salary.

Job Growth: 19% by 2022

Median Salary: $65,000 
Didn’t find something that piqued your interest? There are over 100 different specialty certifications that can be obtained to advance your nursing career, but for the sake of this article, we are going to highlight the most common certifications and licenses. Good luck!

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About the author

Ashley Carty

Ashley Carty is a seasoned medical professional with over 8 years of experience working at the top hospitals in Southern California, including Hoag, Saddleback Memorial, and UCSD.

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