CCRN Certification Requirements

Beginner’s Guide To Understanding CCRN Certification Requirements

Meeting your requirements is the first step toward becoming a CCRN.

There are numerous benefits to earning your CCRN. In this post you’ll learn all the CCRN Certification Requirements. The Certification signifies that you are committed to better patient outcomes and saving more lives. It also demonstrates your dedication to advancing your career and the nursing profession at large.
There are two main components to meeting the CCRN requirements. First, you will need to make sure you have a valid nursing license. Second, you need to meet a minimum number of hours working in a critical care setting. Let’s take an in-depth look at how to complete each of these requirements.

Step 1: Possess a current, unencumbered license as a Registered Nurse (RN) or Advance Practice Registered Nurse (APRN)

The first step in the CCRN Certification Requirements process is straight forward. In order to be a practicing nurse, you need to have a valid nursing license in the United States. Your license must be verified and approved by your state board of nursing. You will need to provide your RN or APRN license number when you fill out your CCRN application. 
To verify that your license is current, head to your home state’s Board of Professional Regulations and search by your name or license number. Keep in mind, if you are currently practicing in a health care setting, your license is likely valid as it is a requirement for employment as a nurse.
CCRN Certification Requirements

Step 2: Meet the clinical practice hours requirements

CCRN Certification Requirements
The next step in the CCRN Certification Requirements process is a little more in-depth. To sit for your CCRN exam, you must first show proof that you have worked in a critical care setting for a specific amount of hours. Additionally, you must have completed these hours relatively recently. 
The AACN (American Association of Critical-Care Nurses) gives nurses the following options for meeting clinical practice hours requirements:
Option 1 – Practice as an RN or APRN for 1,750 hours in the direct care of acutely ill or critically ill patients in the past 2 years. Of those hours, you must have accrued 875 hours (or half) in your most recent year before applying for your CCRN certification. 
Option 2 –  Practice as an RN or APRN for at least 5 years with a minimum of 2,000 hours spent in the direct care of acutely ill or critically ill patients. Of those hours, 144 must be accrued in the most recent year before applying for your certification.
This option allows nurses with more years of nursing the opportunity to sit for the CCRN exam, even if they have worked in other departments that provide acute care. For example, nurses who have worked in other hospital units or part-time can still obtain this certification, so long as they meet the hourly requirements.

Nurses who are eligible to sit for the CCRN exam usually work in the following settings:
  • ICUs
  • CCUs
  • Specialty ICUs (surgical, medical, cardiac, respiratory, neuro)
  • Pediatric ICUs
  • Neonatal ICUs
  • Critical care transport (ground and flight)
  • Trauma units
  • Emergency departments
  • Nurse anesthesia
Your eligibility depends more on your patients’ acuity than what unit you work on, so some nurses may have experience in other departments that will be accepted by the AACN.

Other specifications for meeting your hourly requirements:

CCRN Certification Requirements

Patient Age Demographics

Your eligible hours must apply to the age group for which you are testing. The CCRN allows nurses to obtain their certification in neonatal, pediatric, or adult critical care.
Thus, if you care for adult patients, you can only sit for the Adult CCRN exam. However, nurses who care for multiple patient populations that meet the hourly requirements may sit for multiple CCRN exams (such as pediatric and adult).

The geographic location of practice

You must complete your hours in a facility based in the United States or Canada. If your facility is not inside these countries, you will need to verify your facility meets the U.S. standard of acute and critical care nursing practice. These standards are set forth by the Joint Commission and the Magnet® designation. You can see if your facility meets these criteria at Joint Commission InternationalYour eligible hours must apply to the age group for which you are testing. The CCRN allows nurses to obtain their certification in neonatal, pediatric, or adult critical care.

CCRN Certification Requirements

You have now met your application requirements. Now what?

CCRN Certification Requirements
Once you have met these CCRN Certification Requirements you are ready to proceed with your next steps.
Fill out your application – Once you have verified your license is current, and you have met your clinical practice requirements, you can fill out your CCRN certification application. Part of the application process is paying your certification fees. For AACN members, your CCRN exam fee is $230. Non-members pay $335. 
Becoming an AACN member has more benefits than saving you money on your exam fees: it gives you access to critical care journals, free continuing ed opportunities, and a network of like-minded nurses.
Sign up for a test date – Your exam will take place at a designated testing center. You will be able to select your testing center based on your location and availability.

Find a CCRN Review Course – Now that you have scheduled your exam, it is time to prepare for it. How you can best prepare depends on the type of learner you are and how much time you can dedicate to studying. Some people prefer to study with a CCRN review book, whereas others prefer more interaction, guidance, and variety. 
One of the best ways to prepare is to take a CCRN review course. Reviews courses can be offered in-person or online. For nurses who are busy and have limited time to dedicate to studying, an online review course is ideal. 
With Critical Care Academy, you can study for your CCRN exam at your convenience. Our content is delivered online and is mobile-friendly, which is perfect for nurses on-the-go. You can master all of the content you need to know by watching our video modules and taking our quizzes and practice exams.
Real nurses deliver the information you need to know in an engaging, interpersonal experience. Additionally, our CCRN review course offers you up to 30 contact hours of continuing education credits just by preparing for your CCRN exam.

Accelerate your nursing career today and better your patient outcomes

by filling out your CCRN application and enrolling in Critical Care Academy today.