If your regular nursing job has gotten a little stale, there’s no shortage of unusual jobs for nurses that can help you mix things up a little. Nursing certifications give you career mobility and help you earn a higher salary. With today’s nursing shortage, virtually any nursing certification will help you immensely. Nursing in general is a high-paid, high-demand career, especially with the nationwide nursing shortage. That said, if you really want to make the most of your investment, look for the highest paying nursing certifications right off the bat. Or if you want something unusual, that guarantees you a job that hardly anyone else is looking for, you could consider some of the unusual certifications below.
The 10 Best-Paying Unusual Nursing Certifications are:
1. Dermatology Certified Nurse Practitioner or Nurse Certified (DCNP) – Salary Potential: $117,000
2. Women’s Health Care Nurse Practitioner (WHNP-BC) – Salary Potential: $117,000
3. Advanced Diabetes Management (ADM-BC) – Salary Potential: $91,800
4. Certified Urologic Nurse Practitioner or RN (CUNP) – Salary Potential: $86,600
5. Certified in Infection Control (CIC) – Salary Potential: $84,700
6. Certified Flight Registered Nurse (CFRN) – Salary Potential: $83,600
7. Certified Hospice and Palliative Care Administrator, LN, Nurse, NA, PN (CHPCA) – Salary Potential: $76,500
8. Certified Nephrology Nurse or NP (CNN) – Salary Potential: $74,000
9. Certified Neuroscience Registered Nurse (CNRN) – Salary Potential: $71,000
10. Faith Community Nursing (RN-BC) – Salary Potential: $71,000
At the end of the day, there’s no easy answer when it comes to nursing. However, if you look for options based on your own needs and lifestyle, you’ll see where your passions meet up with other people’s needs.
Finding Certifications for Unique Nursing Jobs
TopRNtoBSN editors sought out reputable nursing certifications from legitimate professional organizations with one main criteria: the certification had to be relatively rare, in some demand, and attainable. Some are available online, some are not; some are quite unusual, and some are a natural outgrowth of need.
Certifications are presented by average salary.
1. Dermatology Certified Nurse Practitioner or Nurse Certified – DCNP
If you plan to work with a dermatologist or want to work in the treatment of skin conditions, then becoming a Dermatology Certified Nurse Practitioner, or DCNP, may help with your goals. The certification is available through the Dermatology Nurses’ Association and provides certification for three years before you must complete recertification.
The DCNP exam requires you to have a master’s degree or higher in nursing before you qualify for the exam. You must also have a nurse practitioner license in your state or national certification as a nurse practitioner. You need at least 3,000 hours of experience as a nurse practitioner working in dermatology to qualify for the exam. A nurse practitioner in dermatology makes an average income of roughly $117,000 per year.
Salary Potential: $117,000
2. Women’s Health Care Nurse Practitioner – WHNP-BC
Working in women’s health care as a nurse practitioner offers the opportunity to obtain a WHNP-BC certification. The certification is available through the National Certification Corporation. As a nurse practitioner focusing on women’s health care, you may provide cervical exams or similar preventative care to your patients. You may also assist with the birth of children or the prenatal and postnatal care of a woman.
A nurse practitioner considering the WHNP-BC certification must have an active license to practice and complete an accredited graduate program for nurse practitioners. The exam requires a copy of your transcripts and diploma proving that you graduated. You must take the exam within eight years of completing your degree. The average income for a women’s health nurse practitioner is around $117,000 per year.
Salary Potential: $117,000
3. Advanced Diabetes Management BC-ADM
When you are looking into unique nursing jobs, you may want to consider an Advanced Diabetes Management position. The Board Certified Advanced Diabetes Management certification, or BC-ADM, assists patients with their healthcare needs when addressing concerns related to diabetes. They offer lifestyle counseling to help patients determine appropriate levels of exercise and proper nutrition for their needs. They also treat and monitor complications associated with diabetes. The certification is available through the American Association of Diabetes Educators.
The requirements to obtain a BC-ADM certification start with your current position. You must be a registered nurse, physician, pharmacist, or registered dietitian to qualify for the examination and certification. Professionals must also have an advanced degree, such as a master’s degree, with at least 500 hours of clinical practice in diabetes management within the last four years. After obtaining the certification, it must be renewed every five years and practitioners must keep up with continuing education. It also requires at least 1000 hours of clinical practice to maintain the certification. While income level differs based on location and experience, the nurses working in advanced practice diabetes care can make as much as $91,800 per year.
Salary Potential: $91,800
4. Certified Urologic Nurse Practitioner or RN – CUNP
Becoming a Certified Urologic Nurse Practitioner, or CUNP, offers the opportunity to advance in your nursing career. The designation focuses on nurse practitioners who plan to work in reproductive health for men, as well as the treatment of urinary tract infections in men and women. You may work on identifying and treating reproductive health concerns in men as well as conditions in the urinary tract. The CUNP designation is available through the Certification Board for Urologic Nurses and Associates.
The CUNP exam requires nurses to meet specific standards. You must be a licensed practical nurse with at least one year of experience in urology to qualify for the exam. If you are seeking the certification as an associate rather than a nurse, then you must complete an accredited training program. You must also work for one year in urology and finish at least three years of in-service training under a nurse practitioner or a practicing urologist. The nurse practitioner or urologist must write a letter of verification to prove that you have completed the training. A urology nurse practitioner makes an average salary of roughly $86,600 per year.
Salary Potential: $86,600
5. Certified in Infection Control – CIC
Obtaining a CIC designation allows you to work on infection control as a nurse. Becoming Certified in Infection Control means you have opportunities within medical facilities to focus on the needs of patients who have a high risk of infection due to injuries, surgery, or related conditions. You may administer medications, provide instructions to patients to prevent infections, or take an active role in helping patients with recovery from injuries. The certification is available through the Certification Board of Infection Control and Epidemiology.
The requirements to take the exam for the CIC designation focus on education and experience. You need an associate’s degree or higher to qualify for the exam. You must also have at least two years of experience in infection prevention and control as a registered nurse. After two years of experience, you may qualify for the exam. A nurse working in infection control makes an average income of roughly $84,700 per year.
Salary Potential: $84,700
6. Certified Flight Registered Nurse – CFRN
When you are looking for unique nursing jobs, you may consider the possibility of working in emergency response as a Certified Flight Registered Nurse. The CFRN is available through the Board of Certification for Emergency Nursing. It prepares nurses to work on an emergency helicopter and provide treatment to patients who are airlifted to a hospital due to the severity of their injuries or their condition. Nurses work on a variety of injuries or ailments, so the focus of the experience is on emergency treatment with limited supplies.
The only requirement to obtain a CFRN is to have a license to practice nursing in your state. While two years of experience in nursing are recommended, it is not required to take the exam. You must also pass the examination to obtain the certification. After completing the certification, you are able to start working as a flight nurse. The average salary for a flight nurse is around $83,600 per year.
Salary Potential: $83,600
7. Certified Hospice and Palliative Care Administrator, LN, Nurse, NA, PN – CHPCA
Becoming a Certified Hospice and Palliative Care Administrator, or CHPCA professional, provides an opportunity to take on administrative roles within a hospice or related facility. The certification was provided by the Hospice and Palliative Credentialing Center. It was discontinued in 2018 and is no longer available for individuals who do not already have the certification. Recertification is still available to maintain the designation.
Since the certification was discontinued for individuals who do not already have the designation, it is only possible to certify an existing CHPCA designation. Recertification requires to have at least 100 hours of continuing education or complete work on professional publications over the four years between certification and recertification. The average salary for a hospice and palliative care administrator is around $76,500 per year.
Salary Potential: $76,500
8. Certified Nephrology Nurse or NP – CNN
Working as a nephrology nurse offers the opportunity to work with patients who have kidney problems or health conditions related to the kidneys. The Certified Nephrology Nurse, or CNN, designation from the Nephrology Nursing Certification Commission provides the opportunity to advance in a career by showing that you have the relevant skills within the industry for your goals. The designation means you have worked in a variety of areas related to nephrology and the treatment of kidney conditions.
Individuals seeking the CNN designation must have a license to practice as a registered nurse. They must also complete at least 3,000 hours of relevant work within the last three years in multiple areas of nephrology, such as dialysis, kidney transplant nursing care, treatment of kidney injuries, or a variety of other treatments related to the kidneys. Nurses must have a bachelor’s degree or higher to qualify for the exam and must complete at least 30 hours of continuing education. The average salary for a nephrology nurse is around $74,000 per year.
Salary Potential: $74,000
9. Certified Neuroscience Registered Nurse – CNRN
Working as a Certified Neuroscience Registered Nurse, or CNRN, allows you to work with patients who have gone through a neurological complication. You may work with patients who have neurological ailments or you may work with those who have neurological injuries. In the case of injuries, you may provide treatment to help patients recover or you may offer aftercare when patients go through certain treatments to help with injury recovery. A CNRN designation is available through the American Board of Neuroscience Nursing.
Nurses who want to obtain a CNRN designation must have a license in their state and must complete one year or more of neuroscience nursing. Nurses need at least 2,080 hours of experience within the last three years. The experience can be direct clinical experience working with patients or indirect experience with a focus on research or consultation as it relates to neuroscience. The average income for a neuroscience nurse is around $71,000 per year, though you can make more with appropriate experience and certification.
Salary Potential: $71,000
10. Faith Community Nursing – RN-BC
When you plan to work in faith community nursing, you may consider the specialized RN-BC program through the American Nursing Credentialing Center. The designation is no longer applicable to new nurses; however, it is possible to renew the designation if you previously completed the exams and want to maintain your designation.
The requirements to renew your RN-BC in Faith Community Nursing start with continuing education. You must complete at least 75 hours of continuing education. You must also complete one of the eight requirements for renewal. The requirements include giving presentations in faith community nursing, engaging in evidence-based practice, providing professional service, or working with a physician in multidisciplinary healthcare. The average income for a faith community nurse is around $71,000 per year.
Salary Potential: $71,000
11. Advanced HIV/AIDS Certified Registered Nurse – AACRN
If you want to find unusual nursing jobs related to HIV and AIDS care, then the AACRN certification from the HIV/AIDS Nursing Certification Board is a good choice for your goals. The certification focuses on setting a clear standard for HIV and AIDS care among advanced practice nurses. Nurses with the designation provide care to patients with HIV or AIDS and offer advice about ways to maintain their health in different situations. Nurses may also administer medications or work with a doctor to address specific health concerns.
Nurses who want to obtain an AACRN certification must have a master’s degree or higher in nursing with a valid license in their state. They need at least three years of experience in nursing and at least 2,000 hours working in HIV or AIDS care within five years prior to applying for the certification. A nurse must also provide contact information for a colleague or supervisor in a medical facility when applying for the certification online or must provide a written signature of a supervisor or colleague who attests to a nurse’s work experience. After applying for the exam and certification, a nurse must pass the exam. The average salary for a nurse working in advanced HIV/AIDS care is around $70,000 per year, but you can expect some variation based on your state and local area.
Salary Potential: $70,000
12. Blood & Marrow Transplant Certified Nurse – BMTCN
The decision to consider unique nursing jobs may result in evaluating a position as a Blood and Marrow Transplant Certified Nurse, or BMTCN. The certification is available through the Oncology Nursing Certification Corporation. Professionals with the designation specialize in preparing patients for a blood or bone marrow transplant, as well as assisting medical doctors with the transplant. They may also provide aftercare to help patients with recovery.
A BMTCN certification requires at least two years of clinical practice as a nurse with at least 2,000 hours working in blood and marrow transplant practice within the last four years. Nurses must take at least 10 hours of continuing education in blood and marrow stem cell transplant nursing within the last three years before applying for certification. After applying for the certification, a nurse must take the certification test. The average salary for a nurse in blood and marrow transplant roles with certification is around $69,200 per year.
Salary Potential: $69,200
13. Certified Correctional Health Professional-Advanced or RN – CCHP-A
When you want to work in a correctional health professional role, the Certified Correctional Health Professional-Advanced, or CCHP-A, is a good option for your goals. The designation is available through the National Commission on Correctional Health Care and it provides an opportunity to work in correctional facilities. The advanced designation is designed to assess the way professionals work in a correctional facility.
If you want to obtain a CCHP-A, then you must first obtain the basic CCHP certification and work in a correctional facility with the designation for three years. After that point, you can apply for the certification and provide appropriate documentation to show that you work in a correctional facility and have relevant training for the role. You must also complete the examination. The average income for a correctional nurse is around $68,000 per year, though advanced certification may offer opportunities to advance and increase your income.
Salary Potential: $68,000
14. Holistic Nurse, Board Certified; Advanced Holistic Nurse, Board Certified; Holistic Baccalaureate Nurse, Health and Wellness Nurse Coach – HN-BC
When you are looking for unique nursing jobs, you may consider working as a holistic nurse. A board-certified holistic nurse works directly with patients to find a holistic strategy to help with their health goals. You may recommend natural treatments that complement traditional medicine, proper dietary solutions to help with health outcomes, exercise programs, or other options that address the needs of your patients. The HN-BC certification from the American Holistic Nurses Credentialing Corporation may help you reach your career goals and advance as a holistic nurse.
The HN-BC certification requires nurses to have an active RN license. They must also complete at least 2,000 hours of holistic nursing within the last five years and complete at least 48 hours of continuing education in holistic nursing theory, research, or practice. After qualifying for the exam, a nurse must pass the exam. The average income for a holistic nurse is around $68,000 per year.
Salary Potential: $68,000
15. Rheumatology Nursing – RN-BC
When you want to work in Rheumatology, you may consider a RN-BC in Rheumatology Nursing through the American Nurses Credentialing Center. The Rheumatology Nursing certification is no longer available for new certificates; however, it is still available for renewal.
The requirements to renew the Rheumatology Nursing certification apply every five years. Nurses must complete at least 75 hours of relevant continuing education to maintain and renew certification. They must also participate in the appropriate practices, such as giving presentations or engaging in relevant research related to the field of study. A Rheumatology nurse makes around $66,600 per year.
Salary Potential: $66,600
16. Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner – Adult/Adolescent or Pediatric – SANE-A or P
When you are looking for unusual nursing jobs, you may consider working as a sexual assault nurse examiner. The certification allows you to work with law enforcement to identify sexual assault victims. You can focus on the adult or pediatric aspects of the exams. The certification is available through the International Association of Forensic Nurses.
The requirements to take the SANE exam and obtain certification start with your experience. You must have at least two years of experience as a registered nurse and a license to practice as a nurse. Nurses must also complete a 40-hour SANE course by an accredited provider and complete at least 300 hours of clinical practice in sexual assault nurse examination within the last three years. The average salary for a SANE nurse is around $60,000; however, the exact income varies significantly based on your location and experience.
Salary Potential: $60,000
17. Certified Continence Care Nurse – CCCN
The decision to seek out unusual nursing jobs offers the opportunity to obtain a CCCN certification. When you become a Certified Continence Care Nurse, you are able to provide care to patients who have problems with continence. You may work with children or adults who have medical conditions or health concerns that lead to bowel issues. The certification is available through the Wound, Ostomy, and Continence Nursing Certification Board.
When you want to work as a CCCN, you must have a bachelor’s degree or higher. You also need to have a current RN license in your state. You must have at least 1,500 hours of clinical work in treating patients with continence concerns within the last five years and at least 375 hours of that clinical work must be within the last year. Nurses must also complete at least 50 hours of continuing education within five years prior to applying for the certification. Nurses must complete the examination to obtain the designation. A continence care nurse makes around $64,000 per year.
Salary Potential: $64,000
18. Certified Wound Care Nurse – CWCN
If you want to work in wound care, then obtaining a Certified Wound Care Nurse designation offers the opportunity to start working in your career. The CWCN certification is available through the Wound, Ostomey, and Continence Nursing Certification Board. It focuses on nurses who work directly in the treatment and care of injuries and wounds.
The certification requires a bachelor’s degree or higher in nursing. It also requires at least 1,500 hours of clinical work with patients in wound care and 50 hours of continuing education within three years before taking the exam. At least 375 hours of clinical work must be completed one year prior to taking the exam. You must have an active license to practice nursing. The average income for a wound care nurse is around $64,000 per year.
Salary Potential: $64,000
19. Tele-ICU Acute/Critical Care Nursing (Adult) – CCRN-E
When it comes to working as a critical care nurse, you may want to consider certification from the American Association of Critical Care Nurses. The CCRN-E certification relates directly to nurses who work in the Tele-ICU unit or a critical care unit of a medical facility. You may work directly with patients in emergency situations or focus on monitoring patients who have been injured and have a high risk of complications that may require constant vigilance.
The requirements to take the CCRN-E exam start with your license. You must be a registered nurse with a license to practice. You must also complete at least two years of work in a tele-ICU unit or direct care in an ICU unit. At least 1,750 hours of your experience must focus on critically ill patients. You must also complete at least 875 hours of the experience in the year prior to applying for certification. A nurse working in critical care makes around $63,000 per year, though you will notice some variation based on your location.
Salary Potential: $63,000
20. Genetics Nursing, Advanced – AGN-BC
Working as a genetics nurse offers the opportunity to work with patients who may have genetic conditions or to work in a research position under a physician. While the AGN-BC designation from the American Nurses Credentialing Center is no longer available for nurses who do not have the certification, it is possible to renew the certification. The certification must be renewed every five years to maintain the AGN-BC credential.
The requirements to renew the AGN-BC certification starts with your continuing education. You must complete at least 75 hours of relevant continuing education programs to keep up with your certification. You must also complete the requirements for renewal related to presentations, research, or related activities. The average income for a genetics nurse is around $62,500 per year.
Salary Potential: $62,500
21. Certified Dialysis Licensed Practical Nurse, LVN, Educator, Nurse – CD-LPN
When you want to work in an unusual job as a nurse, you may be considering a Certified Dialysis Licensed Practical Nurse designation from the Nephrology Nursing Certification Commission. The CD-LPN certification allows you to monitor patients during dialysis and provide care throughout the process. You may work in aftercare when dialysis is complete.
Although the designation is not available for professionals who do not yet have the certification, it is important for professionals to recertify and maintain certification over time. You must keep up with continuing education requirements to maintain your CD-LPN certification. Since the examination was discontinued in 2019, it is no longer possible for new nurses to obtain the certification. Dialysis nurses make roughly $60,000 per year, but exact income depends on your role in dialysis and your location.
Salary Potential: $60,000
22. Trauma Certified Registered Nurse – TCRN
When you want to help patients after a traumatic injury, you may consider a role as a Trauma Certified Registered Nurse. The TCRN certification is available through the Board of Certification for Emergency Nursing. The role of a trauma nurse focuses on assisting medical doctors when patients come into a hospital or facility with severe traumatic injuries. It is a fast-paced job that requires focus and skill.
The requirements to obtain the TCRN certification start with your degree. You must have the appropriate education to obtain a license as a registered nurse in your state. Two years of experience as a trauma nurse are recommended before you take the exam but are not required. The average salary for a trauma nurse is around $60,000 per year.
Salary Potential: $60,000
23. Certified Asthma Educator – AE-C
When you want to work with patients who have asthma, you may consider a role as a Certified Asthma Educator, or AE-C. The National Asthma Educator Certification Board provides certification to qualifying nurses. A nurse with the certification may work in medical facilities and hospitals to help patients with asthma. In some cases, nurses provide education or advice to help patients identify asthma triggers or set lifestyle goals.
Obtaining an AE-C designation requires a nurse to have an active license. They must also complete at least 1,000 hours in counseling, education, or coordinating services for patients with asthma. A supervisor must verify your work in asthma education before it is possible to take the examination. After applying for the designation, nurses must take an examination and pass the exam. The average salary for a nurse with an AE-C is around $54,000 per year.
Salary Potential: $54,000
24. Certified Addictions Registered Nurse or AP – CARN
The decision to work in addiction treatment may result in evaluating unusual nursing jobs within your field. Obtaining a Certified Addictions Registered Nurse certification, or CARN certification, may provide an opportunity to advance in your career. Nurses with certification work in addiction treatment programs to assist patients with the recovery process. It may focus on detoxification and treatment during the process. Nurses may also administer medication to patients in a treatment program.
A CARN designation requires a nurse to have an active license in their state. They must also have 2,000 hours of work in addiction treatment within the last three years and at least 30 hours of relevant continuing education within the last three years. After applying for the designation, nurses must take an examination and pass the exam. Nurses must also go through recertification every four years after passing the exam. Nurses working in addiction treatment make roughly $50,000 per year, though exact positions and experience may impact salary expectations.
Salary Potential: $50,000
25. Certified Foot Care Nurse – CFCN
A Certified Foot Care Nurse, or CFCN, is a specialized area of nursing that focuses on the care and treatment of the feet. You may help patients with foot conditions that range from fungal infections to foot injuries. The designation is available through the Wound, Ostomy, and Continence Nursing Certification Board.
The requirements to take the CFCN exam start with your education. Nurses need a bachelor’s degree or higher to take the exam and must have an active RN license. It also requires at least 40 clinical hours of work under the supervision of a foot specialist, such as a podiatrist or physician. The experience must be relevant to foot care to qualify. Nurses must also complete continuing education related to foot care for the certification. The average income for a foot care nurse is around $43,000 per year.
Salary Potential: $43,000
I’m Bored With Typical Nursing – What Else Is There?
Do you enjoy traveling? Do you prefer spontaneity over predictability? Then you might enjoy a career in travel nursing. Travel nursing isn’t exactly among the most unusual nursing careers, – a lot of nurses choose travel these days – but it does offer a lot of excitement. You can stay in different locations across the US for several weeks at a time and broaden your horizons. In your time off, you can explore, hike, and get to know lots of local areas. Travel nursing programs help fill the gap in places that have been hit especially hard by current nursing shortage. As a result, travel nurses are in high demand. If you’re the adventurous type, you should absolutely look into this option.
You have other exciting options, too. There are lots of unusual nursing opportunities for those who take the time to research. For example, you could be a theme park nurse and maybe ride a roller coaster during your break. You could be a yacht nurse if you want to travel in style, or become a flight nurse if you need extra excitement.
Want to add excitement to your career while staying closer to home? In that case, certification is your best bet. With certification, you can break into options like case management, dialysis, and a lot more. You can find a career that aligns more closely with your passions than regular nursing. When it comes to unusual jobs for registered nurses, all you have to do is look around. With a little persistence and creativity, you’ll find an exciting job that suits your needs.
So, what certifications are in demand for nurses? Nurse Journal points out that some specialties are in especially high demand. These specialties come with plenty of job prospects and high salary potential. You can get certified as a Nurse Anesthetist, Nurse Midwife, Nurse Case Manager, or several other choices. Take some time to research your choices and find the ones that look most appealing to you.
Should I Get a Certification Right Out of Nursing School?
Should you get a certification right out of the gate? That depends on you. Some people graduate and then immediately search things like “nurse certifications for new grad.” Others want to take more time. Nursing certification is challenging. If you’re feeling burnt out on studying and are ready to get straight to work, or if you need time to pay off some loans before adding to your education, there’s nothing wrong with waiting before looking for specialty certifications.
However, there are also a lot of benefits to pursuing certification right away. Certification will help you advance your career, for example. New grad nurse certifications will help you move on from an entry level job quickly. Certifications for new nurses can pave the way to to better pay and a more exciting career.
Are Some Nursing Certifications Easier Than Others?
As a nurse or a nursing student, you know that there’s no such thing as easy. While a search for “hardest nursing certifications” will give you plenty of results, a search for “easy nursing certifications” or even “what is the easiest nursing certification exam” will require a lot of digging. All nursing certification exams are designed to be challenging. The challenge is what assures patients that their nurses have expert knowledge.
That said, there are several things you can do to minimize your specialization stress. First, instead of looking for an easy exam, look for the least stressful nursing jobs and then pursue certification based on your goals. This way, you can minimize burnout and look forward to a relatively simple career. Second, pursue a certification based on your interests and passions. When you’re passionate about a subject, you’ll be far more motivated to study for it. Your exam will be a challenge, but it may feel easier because of your excitement about the material. Finally, look for certification programs that fit your schedule and lifestyle. For example, some specializations let you earn your certification online. With enough flexibility and time to study, you can minimize stress and make your certification more manageable.