CCRN salary

CCRN Salary: Will Certification Boost Your Paycheck?

The potential for a salary increase is one of the many factors nurses consider when they are thinking about taking the CCRN certification. Certainly, the benefits of getting certification are plentiful, but financial gains can have a big impact on whether or not you put in the extra effort to take this next step in your career.

After all, many of us walked out of the NCLEX thinking we would never force ourselves to stress over another exam again. But, certification offers so many benefits and will not only better your skills but also likely give you a boost in your bank account. Here are answers to common questions about what a CCRN salary might look like for you.

Will I have a salary increase if I get certified?

Perhaps the most common question nurses ask when it comes to CCRN certification is whether or not they will get a salary increase once they pass the exam. In general, the answer is yes – most nurses will see their hourly rates or salaries increase once they have achieved certification. Now, changes in your compensation depend on a lot of factors, including your manager, your unit, and your overall organization.

Most organizations know that CCRN nurses have better patient outcomes and are more capable leaders both on the unit and in the hospital system at large. CCRN nurses tend to be educators and unit leaders, making them a precious resource. Thus, getting certified not only translates to hopefully more financial gains for you but also more money back in your hospital’s pocket from insurance reimbursement, grants, etc.

CCRN salary

What is the average CCRN salary?

CCRN salary

This question is state-specific and even organization-specific. If you have worked for multiple organizations or have compared various job offers, you will know that not every hospital compensates the same. Thus, not every hospital pays CCRN’s the same either.

One of the best ways to get a glimpse at what you may be able to expect (aside from directly asking your boss) is to research CCRN salaries in your state. According to, critical care nurses can earn around $75,000, on average. However, nurses with more experience and additional certification can earn even higher, especially if they work in busy metropolitan areas.

Furthermore, because many CCRNs end up in roles such as charge nurse or unit educator, they may have additional increases in their pay.

Doesn’t it cost a lot to get certified?

When you are thinking about money, you probably are also wondering how much it costs to get certified in the first place. To take the exam, you will need to pay either $245 if you are an AACN member or $360 if you are a non-member. 

To give you a little insight, AACN membership costs $78 per year. So, if you want to take your CCRN exam, you will actually save money by joining the AACN. Not to mention you will also gain access to leaders in critical care nursing and connect with nurses all over the country. Oh, and you will have plenty of CEUs at your disposal as well.

CCRN salary

How do I talk to my boss about a CCRN salary?

CCRN salary

Discussing money is uncomfortable for a lot of people. Yet, being compensated appropriately for your skills is vital for your overall happiness and success.

Be very frank with your boss about your interest in pursuing your CCRN certification and ask how your organization helps nurses achieve certification. For example, you can ask if the organization will cover your exam fees or even your review course. Then, ask if you will be in a position for an increase in your hourly rate.

Many nurses want to ask coworkers about their compensation before they ask their managers. However, it is best to go straight to your manager, as other factors can influence salaries, such as the number of years you have worked with the organization and your years of experience. In general, comparing your salary against others often has an effect you likely do not want.

It seems like salary increases may not be immediate. When does it finally pay off?

Here is another good question for your manager. Some nurses see immediate changes in their hourly rate, whereas others may not get an increase in their salary but may rather be extended more prominent roles down the road. So, if your organization does not increase your salary, look around and see if certified nurses are more likely to get promoted to leadership roles and thus have higher earning potential in the future.

Do I have to keep paying to maintain my certification?

CCRN salary

Yes, just like physicians have to re-take their boards every few years, CCRN nurses also need to reaffirm their understanding of critical care nursing. One of the reasons behind this is, as you likely already have figured out, medicine is constantly evolving, and our nursing practice must evolve as well. New research and changing standards of care require that we do not become stagnant in our designated fields.

Therefore, the AACN does require CCRNs to renew their certification every 3 years. You can choose one of two paths: either re-take the exam or renewal through Synergy CERPs (Continuing Education Recognition Points). The cost to renew is $170 for AACN members and $275 for non-members. Want a money-saving tip? Join the AACN.

If you are looking for higher earning potential as a nurse, you should definitely look into becoming certified in your area of expertise. Certification will not only increase your salary, but it will make it easier to promote you into leadership roles. Even looking at the bigger picture, certified nurses have better patient outcomes, so your organization is more likely to have better reimbursement and funding that can trickle down to its employees.

To obtain your CCRN certification and advance your career and earning potential, enroll in Critical Care Academy

We make it our business to make you a better nurse who will save more lives.