What Are the Benefits of Extra Certifications for Nurses?

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A nurse practitioner sits on the floor and studies on a laptop computer.

In a June 2020 press release, the Association of American Medical Colleges projected a shortage of up to 139,000 physicians by 2033. This void presents an opportunity to consider the benefits of obtaining extra certifications in nursing. Specifically, registered nurses who already have their Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) degree can prepare to advance their careers and expand on the services they can deliver as primary care providers by becoming certified nurse practitioners (NPs).

Today, earning a post-master’s certificate in nursing can be completed entirely online in a short amount of time, preparing nurses for career advancement and specialization in areas such as pediatrics, family health, women’s health, psychiatric mental health, and adult-gerontology.

While becoming licensed is a requirement for nurses to work in a particular state, certification is a type of add-on that’s valued by nurses, their employers, and their patients. If licensure guarantees that a nurse has the essential qualifications to deliver care, then certification focuses on a nurse’s specialized ability and competence, providing a powerful way for nurses to distinguish themselves from their peers.

Among the benefits of completing a post-master’s certificate in nursing are professional advancement with the ability to climb clinical ladders, an enhanced sense of confidence in the capability to deliver professional care, and validation of nurses’ knowledge to employers and their patients.

What Are the Benefits of Post-Master’s Certificates?

To enjoy the benefits of extra certifications, nurses typically follow certain steps. Individuals can enter the field of nursing with an Associate Degree in Nursing and can choose to continue their education on the way to earning a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP). Nurses who have a nonclinical MSN or are practicing NPs might consider an online post-master’s certificate program in primary care specialties like gerontology, women’s health, mental health, family practice, or pediatrics.

Some certificate programs are available entirely online. Many students can complete the coursework in less than two years and prepare to take the certification exams to add the extra specialty to their practice, or prepare to practice on their own.

The first step to becoming a certified NP is to earn a master’s degree from an accredited program. There are several certification programs in areas such as pediatrics, women’s health, gerontology, mental health, and family practice. Some nonclinical MSN graduates complete the post-master’s certification programs and pass the certification exams of certification boards, including the American Nurses Credentialing Center, the American Association of Nurse Practitioners, the Pediatric Nursing Certification Board, the National Certification Corporation, and the National Association of Pediatric Nurse Practitioners.

Certification opens up a host of career opportunities at employers such as hospitals, outpatient care centers, and educational service programs. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics confirms that most NPs enjoyed the stability of working normal business hours while earning a median salary of $111,680 in 2020. Data from the compensation research site PayScale indicates that some nurses may receive bonuses and participate in profit sharing that can potentially increase their salaries by $26,000 per year.

Post-Master’s Certificate Specializations and Salaries?

As the examples below indicate, exploring different certification specializations is a good way to discover how extra certifications for nurses can affect NPs’ responsibilities and salaries.

Family NP

Family nurse practitioners (FNPs) treat and diagnose conditions in patients of any age and sometimes serve as primary care providers. According to March 2021 PayScale data, the median annual salary for FNPs is around $96,300.

Psychiatric Mental Health NP

Psychiatric-mental health nurse practitioners (PMHNPs) treat patients’ psychiatric disorders and frequently work with psychiatrists. According to March 2021 PayScale data, the median annual salary for PMHNPs is around $110,100.

Pediatric NP

Pediatric nurse practitioners (PNPs) work with newborns, children, infants, toddlers, adolescents, and young adults on the prevention and management of common pediatric illnesses and conditions. According to March 2021 PayScale data, the median annual salary for PNPs is around $91,000.

Women’s Health NP

Women’s health nurse practitioners (WHNPs) treat female patients in areas such as pregnancy and reproductive health. According to March 2021 PayScale data, the median annual salary for WHNPs is around $93,000.

Adult-Gerontology NP

Adult-gerontology nurse practitioners (AGNPs) specialize in diagnosing and treating adults and elderly patients. According to February 2021 PayScale data, the median annual salary for AGNPs is around $90,800.

Job Outlook for Certified Nurse Practitioners

According to the American Association of Colleges of Nursing, a shortage of registered nurses is projected in the U.S. through 2030, as baby boomers continue to age and the demand for health care increases. Further illustrating the need for registered nurses, the BLS anticipates 7% job growth for registered nurses from 2019 to 2029, exceeding the 4% projected job growth for all occupations.

The job outlook for NPs is even brighter. In its list of the 100 best jobs for 2021, U.S. News & World Report ranked NP No. 3. The BLS projects 52% job growth for NPs from 2019 to 2029.

Learn How a Certification Can Lead to Career Advancement

Extra certifications for nurses represent a good avenue for career advancement. Nurses who are interested in continuing their education can explore Regis College’s online post-master’s certificates, which offer a cutting-edge curriculum that enables nurses to become leaders in their field. Discover a path to a career-enhancing education today.

Recommended Reading

Can You Become a Nurse Practitioner Online?
Should Nurse Practitioners Have Full Practice Authority?
Nurse Practitioner (NP) Specializations and Concentrations


American Association of Colleges of Nursing, Nursing Shortage
Association of American Medical Colleges, New AAMC Report Confirms Growing Physician Shortage
National Center for Biotechnology Information, “COVID 19: An Unprecedented Opportunity for Nurse Practitioners to Reform Healthcare and Advocate for Permanent Full Practice Authority”
PayScale, Average Adult-Gerontology Nurse Practitioner (AGNP) Salary
PayScale, Average Family Nurse Practitioner (NP) Salary
PayScale, Average Pediatrics Nurse Practitioner (NP) Salary
PayScale, Average Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner (NP) Salary
PayScale, Average Women’s Health Nurse Practitioner (NP) Salary
U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Nurse Anesthetists, Nurse Midwives, and Nurse Practitioners
U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Registered Nurses
U.S. News & World Report, 100 Best Jobs