Understanding the Costs of Nursing Certifications and Licenses

September 19, 2023

Understanding the Costs of Nursing Certifications and Licenses

Obtaining certifications and licensure is a great way to advance your professional development and career prospects. But it is essential to understand the costs of nursing certifications and licenses before you begin your journey down this path. This blog post will help you understand the costs and fees of obtaining these certifications. Understanding the costs associated with certifications and licenses is essential to planning your resources and making the best decision for your future.

Different Types of Nursing Certifications and Licenses

The professional journey of nursing starts with nursing licensure, which grants permission to practice nursing in each state or country. Before graduating from an approved nursing course, students must prove competency to perform a unique scope of practice. This competency indicates a minimum required level of practice; the Board of Nursing will approve and oversee the process.

The following represent the three primary levels of nursing licensure:

  • Licensed Vocational/ Practical Nurse (LVN/LPN)
  • Registered Nurse (RN)
  • Advanced Practice Registered Nurse (APRN)

Nursing certifications are necessary steps in the career ladder that demonstrate a formal recognition of a higher level of skills, knowledge, and expertise in a specific area of nursing. Nurses that obtain certification have achieved professional standards recognized by non-governmental organizations. These organizations specialize in particular nursing specialties or areas.

Below is a short nursing certifications list, but nurses may find certifications in various specialty areas:

  • Adult-gerontology
  • Maternal newborn
  • Ambulatory
  • Oncology
  • Emergency medicine
  • Education
  • Perianesthesia
  • Pediatrics

The Process and Costs for Obtaining a Nursing Certification or License

The process and cost of nursing certification or licensure can be intimidating. To obtain nursing licensure, a student must graduate from an accredited school of nursing program for each respective level of nursing. After receiving a degree in the nursing program, a newly graduated nurse must sit for and pass a nursing licensure exam. College tuition and associated fees are the most substantial cost of licensure, but new graduates will also have fees to obtain a license; these licensure fees vary by state.

These fees may include the following:

  • Licensure fees
  • Criminal background check fees
  • Costs for a physical exam and immunizations

The process of obtaining a nursing certification starts with reaching a pre-set number of practice hours in the specialty or a specific amount of time as a nurse. Some certificates may require additional education or degree advancement. To become a Nurse Practitioner, Nurse Midwife, or Nurse Anesthetist, you must have a minimum of a master's degree.

Below are some of the certification fees:

  • Initial certification fee: anywhere from $100-$1000
  • Association membership fees
  • Exam fees
  • Recertification fees every one to five years

Other Fees Associated with Obtaining a Nursing Certification or License

Obtaining a nursing certification or license is a significant investment in your future. With the knowledge of the associated costs, you can prepare ahead of time. Associated fees will depend on the level of nursing licensure or certification.

Other costs associated with both licensure and certifications include the following:

  • Application fees
  • Renewal fees
  • Fees for evidence-based continuing education
  • Drug test fees

The career advancements and benefits of obtaining a nursing certification or license far outway the cost associated. In order to benefit from these certifications and licenses, it is essential to know when renewals and courses are due.

Keeping track of renewal dates of nursing certifications and licenses, along with the number and dates of continuing education courses, can be time-consuming and frustrating. Using a data management system can keep all your classes, certifications, and licenses in one conveniently located and easily accessed place. Nurses can customize data management systems like Staffgarden to automate assignment tracking, due dates, and reports to monitor their education. Reach out to Staffgarden today to get your live demonstration.


American Nurses Association. (n.d.). Three Types of Nurses and What They Do. https://www.nursingworld.org/practice-policy/workforce/what-is-nursing/types-of-nurses/

Kaplow, R. (2011). The value of certification. AACN Advanced Critical Care, 22(1), 25-32. https://doi.org/10.4037/nci.0b013e3182057738

Rebecca Flynn, MSN, RN, AMB-BC, NE-BC is a writer that specializes in nursing management, health, and wellness. She has 20 years of experience as a Licensed Vocational Nurse and 8 years as a Registered Nurse working in primary care and nursing management. Her years of working as a patient advocate and leader provide her with the knowledge to write with an understanding of the needs of patients and nursing staff.

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