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Certified Emergency Room Nurse Education Requirements

Certified emergency room nurses require significant formal education. Learn about the degree programs, job duties and licensure to see if this is the right career for you.

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Essential Information

Certified emergency room nurses are registered nurses who specialize in providing immediate care to patients with acute injuries, critical illnesses and other potentially life-threatening conditions. These nurses must efficiently respond to a variety of medical situations, including respiratory, cardiovascular and other trauma emergencies. They need a nursing diploma or degree and a state license. They can earn optional professional certification as an emergency room nurse by passing examinations.

Required Education Diploma, associate's or bachelor's degree in nursing
License State nursing license; certification available through the Emergency Nurses Association
Projected Job Growth (2012-2022) 19%*
Median Salary (2014) $59,659**

Sources: * U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), **

Certified Emergency Room Nurse Overview

Emergency room nurses work directly under doctors in hospital emergency room or urgent care settings and are responsible for attending patients with serious illness or injuries. Duties might include patient assessment and diagnosis, tending to wounds and injuries, monitoring temperature and blood pressure, taking vital signs and setting up IVs. The majority of certified emergency room nurses work in hospitals, however, these nurses can also work in urgent care facilities, government offices, poison control departments, helicopters and ambulances, sporting events, cruise ships, prisons and other establishments.

Educational Requirements

At minimum, a certified emergency room nurse must have a registered nursing credential, which requires completion of a nursing program, usually taking 2-4 years. There are three ways to complete a registered nursing program, including earning an associate's degree, bachelor's degree or a diploma from an approved nursing school.

Though bachelor's degree programs usually offer students more clinical practice, all registered nursing programs prepare students with classroom instruction on important components of nursing, including classes on anatomy, physiology, nutrition, statistics, microbiology, ethics and client assessment. Through clinical practice, potential nurses learn to work with a variety of patients, including infants, adults and medical health patients.


Upon completion of a registered nurse degree program, students are eligible to sit for the National Council Licensure Examination for registered nurses, also known as NCLEX-RN. Those nurses interested in specializing in emergency room care can obtain an additional certification in the field by passing the Certified Emergency Nurse exam offered through the Emergency Nurses Association (ENA). This exam tests nurses on a variety of emergency room situations, including gastrointestinal emergencies, neurological emergencies, respiratory emergencies, substance abuse emergencies and wound management. Additionally, the ENA offers a Certified Pediatric Emergency Nurse (CPEN) certification, as well as courses in advance trauma nursing.

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Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics