What Can I Do With a SANE Certification?
June 2023

What is a SANE Certification and SANE Nurse Salary?

What Can I Do With a SANE Certification?

What is a SANE Certification?

SANE certification stands for Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner and is for RNs with training in forensic nursing and sexual assault. The demand for SANE nurses is on the rise, and for those that want to go beyond typical nursing duties, entering the field of forensic nursing might make for an excellent fit. Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners (SANEs) are RNs with training to deal with the medical forensic care of someone who experienced sexual assault or sexual abuse.

It’s important to remember that SANE nurses must deal with both the medical aspects of their job as well as the criminal justice aspects. These two things together can present a rewarding challenge for those looking to do more with their nursing degree while making a very real difference in the lives of the people they treat.

What Does a SANE Nurse Do?

As a forensic nurse, the SANE nurse job requirements include aiding law enforcement directly by collecting evidence from victims. However, applicants should also know the breadth of duties assigned to a SANE nurse can vary widely depending on the location and laws governing SANE nurses in any particular area.

Collect Evidence

What does a SANE nurse do? These nursing professionals provide direct patient care to people who are victims of sexual abuse or assault who don’t have the means to seek more standard types of treatment.

Additionally, SANE nurses consult on exams and document evidence collection. They also provide court testimony and assist in connecting victims to needed resources. And support or participate in legal proceedings for sexual assault cases and provide expert testimony.

Physical Exam

SANE Nurses provide specialized forensic examinations of victims of sexual assault and abuse. They also provide assessment, intervention, and medical care to victims in both inpatient and outpatient settings.

A SANE exam may include a medical-forensic exam, testing for pregnancy, testing for sexually transmitted infections, photos to document abuse. They also treat sexually transmitted diseases, offer pregnancy prevention, and gather photographic documentation of injuries.

Emotional Support

SANE nurses can also have specialized roles such as psychiatric and mental health nursing. They work with a sexual assault victim on follow-up referrals for medical and psychological care. Still, psychiatric and mental health nursing is only one aspect of what that SANE nurse would do in their day-to-day job duties. Applicants who achieve SANE certification should carefully study the expected job duties for whatever position they’re applying for.

Where Do SANEs Work?

SANEs work in a variety of medical settings, such as emergency departments, trauma centers, pediatric clinics, and victims’ advocacy centers. The role of the SANE is to provide comprehensive medical care and evidence collection services in response to sexual assault or abuse.

SANE nurse jobs predominately take place in hospitals. In addition, a SANE nurses may work irregular hours when on-call for hospitals, law enforcement, and other agencies that may have to deal with a victim of sexual abuse or assault.

The emergency room is one place that sees a lot of SANE nurse jobs and nursing activity. In addition, places like jails and clinics also can make good use of a SANE nurse. In some cases, a SANE nurse can spend time with nonprofits and other organizations.

How Do You Become a SANE Nurse?

How to become a SANE nurse: Applicants must already have their RN status or otherwise have a degree for an advanced nursing practice. SANE training can also dictate the nurse has two or more years of practice, specifically with physical assessment. Below are the steps to become a SANE nurse.

Become a Registered Nurse (RN)

To become an RN, you would need to earn a bachelor of science in nursing (BSN) degree and then obtain a state license to practice nursing.

Gain Experience

Once you have obtained your RN license, you will need to gain experience in medical and surgical nursing, trauma care, or psychiatric emergency care. Many nurses gain this clinical experience working in Emergency Rooms, Trauma Departments, ICUs, and Women’s Health Centers.

Complete a SANE Education Program

These programs offer courses and clinical rotations related to the care of victims of sexual assault and domestic violence. Applicants must learn their local SANE requirements, as there are some variations to the training depending on location. Once armed with the required knowledge, an applicant can apply for a SANE course. The course will prepare an applicant for sitting for the SANE Certification Exam.

Complete the Certification

Finally, once you have completed the SANE program, you must obtain certification from the International Association of Forensic Nurses (IAFN) as a SANE nurse. The certification has two options. Applicants can choose to pursue the SANE-A, which is a certification for treating adults and adolescents. The SANE-P certification is for treating children.

SANE A Certification
  • To sit for the SANE exam applicants must have at least two years of bedside experience treating adults and adolescents.
  • Complete a 40-hour course
  • Participate in a clinical preceptorship
  • Demonstrate 300 hours of SANE-related practice within the past 3 years, with at least 200 of those hours spent working with the intended exam population.
SANE P Certification
  • Have at least three years of bedside experience treating children.
  • Complete a 40-hour course
  • Participate in a clinical preceptorship
  • Demonstrate 300 hours of SANE-related practice within the past three years, with at least 200 of those hours spent working with the intended exam population.

What are Additional Requirements of SANEs?

Below are some additional requirements of SANEs.

  • Comply with all HIPAA regulations while handling private patient information.
  • Be a licensed health professional in their area of expertise such as a nurse, physician, social worker, or psychologist.
  • Complete specialized training in forensic nursing, such as a Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE) training program.
  • Demonstrate proficiency in using forensic evidence collection kits, such as rape kits, and documenting the evidence.
  • Maintain credentials as a SANE by periodically attending trainings, conferences and seminars.
  • Be knowledgeable of their state laws and regulations regarding the admissibility of evidence, patient confidentiality, and proper chain of evidence.
  • Understand evidence collection and documentation, trauma, and the dynamics of sexual assault, intimate partner violence, abuse and neglect.
  • Collaborate with a variety of medical professionals, law enforcement and community agencies.
  • Have excellent written, verbal and interpersonal communication skills. 1
  • Consistently display professionalism and compassion throughout their practice.

What are the Continuing Education Requirements for a SANE Nurse? 

The continuing education requirements for a Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE) nurse vary by state, but generally require 20 or more contact hours of continuing education every two years, depending on the state’s specific requirements.

Additional training may be required in certain states, such as training in the evaluation and management of adult sexual assault and child abuse, evidence collection, and trauma informed care. The SANE nurse must also be certified by the state in order to maintain their credentials.

What are Closely Related Fields to a SANE Nurse?

  • Forensic Nursing
  • Psychiatric Nursing
  • Correctional Nursing
  • Legal Nurse Consultant
  • ER Nursing
  • Mental Health Nursing
  • Substance Abuse Counseling
  • Crisis Intervention
  • Social Work
  • Psychology

How Much is the Salary of a SANE Nurse?

SANE nurse jobs can vary in scope, but the SANE nurse salary always looks good. An RN alone can earn around $70k. The SANE certification only adds more to that salary outlook. SANE nurse salary will depend on where the nurse practices and how the organization the nurse works for will pay.

Some organizations have tight budgets, while some others have enough funds to pay a needed SANE nurse a very high salary. SANE nurse jobs should always bring in more like a specialization. Nevertheless, other factors will dictate salary. Start with the RN average of a particular state, then look at the SANE nurse jobs in the area. Below are some average salaries reported by popular employment sites.

SourceAverage Salary
ZipRecruiter SANE Salary$81,137
Talent dot com SANE Salary$93,111
Comparability SANE Salary$103,257
Salary dot com SANE Salary$73,681

What Is the Average SANE Nurse Salary by State?

ZipRecruiter also reports below the states with the highest SANE nurse salary.

StateAnnual SalaryMonthly PayWeekly PayHourly Wage
Rhode Island$81,481$6,790$1,566$39.17

How Much Do Forensic Nurse Practitioners Make?

Nurses with a SANE certification and an advanced degree in forensic nursing can greatly increase their earning potential and career advancement options. Below are some popular employment sites and what they report as a median salary.

SourceAverage Salary
ZipRecruiter SANE Forensic Nurse Practitioner Salary$131,543
BLS Nurse Practitioner Salary$124,680

What Is the Average Forensic Nurse Practitioner Salary by State?

And ZipRecruiter reports below the states with the highest salaries for forensic nurse practitioners.

StateAnnual SalaryMonthly PayWeekly PayHourly Wage
New York$145,873$12,156$2,805$70.13

Professional Resources for SANE Nurses

  • Academy of Forensic Nursing (AFN)
  • Canadian Forensic Nurses Association (CFNA)
  • American Academy of Forensic Sciences (AAFS)
  • International Association of Forensic Nurses (IAFN)
  • American Nurses Association (ANA)
  • RAINN Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN)
  • Journal of Forensic Nursing (JFN)
  • The Ultimate Source for Sexual Assault Forensic Examiner (more)

What is the Career Outlook for a SANE Nurse?

The career outlook in the nursing profession for a Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner is very positive. The demand for SANEs is rapidly increasing as the prevalence of sexual assault continues to be widely recognized in healthcare, legal, and public policy communities. Before a nurse can work as a sexual assault examiner, they must have an RN license. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) expects job opportunities for registered nurses to grow by 6 percent from 2021 to 2031. Additionally, the BLS expects job opportunities for nurse practitioners to grow by 46 percent over the same period.

Job opportunities in forensic nursing are robust for those who want to pursue the career path. And the number of forensic nurses is growing to meet public health demands. Currently, the International Association of Forensic Nurses (IAFN) reports there are 2,483 total SANE Certifications. Of those, there are 1,739 SANE-A certifications, 744 SANE-P certifications, and 555 dual-certified SANEs. With wider recognition of the importance of competent and compassionate care for survivors of sexual assault, more job opportunities for SANEs are likely to open up.


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