Overview of Online Post-Baccalaureate Nursing Certificate Programs
For those who have already earned a bachelor's degree in nursing and want additional education, several schools offer certificate programs specifically designed for candidates who have a BSN. These programs focus on specialized areas of nursing such as education, leadership, and integrated care. Programs are also available in fully online formats, which allow candidates with busy schedules to study the same content as on-campus programs.
Programs can vary in length but usually take anywhere from one to two years to complete, depending on the school. Candidates who earn these certificates can serve as registered nurses or pursue further education (such as a master's degree) to move into more senior roles in the healthcare field. Some certificate programs also allow students to transfer any credits they earn towards a Master of Science in Nursing degree program.
Description of Online Post-Baccalaureate Nursing Certificate Programs
Although these certificate programs are not required prior to becoming a registered nurse, they can be extremely helpful in allowing nurses to gain specialized knowledge in a specific area. Certificate programs can focus on theoretical topics such as nursing research and nursing education or more practical areas such as integrated nursing care. Nurses can use these programs to get closer to a particular career; for example, nurses who earn a certificate will acquire the knowledge and skills that can help them pursue jobs as quality assurance managers and clinical research coordinators.
Coursework in these programs will vary from one program to the next depending on the specialization, although some core courses overlap. Regardless of which program students choose, they can expect courses that focus on healthcare policy and research methods. Nursing education programs focus on curriculum development and teaching methods while leadership programs teach students about strategic management, nursing informatics, and healthcare leadership.
Post-baccalaureate nursing certificate programs are not for entry-level students and applicants should have extensive knowledge of fundamental and advanced concepts in nursing. All programs require a bachelor's degree in nursing at the very least, with some programs also instituting a minimum GPA requirement. For many programs, prospective students must have a Registered Nurse license and the GRE is mandatory for some programs.
Career Outcomes for Graduates from Nursing Certificate Programs
Most candidates who go through post-baccalaureate certificate programs already hold bachelor's degrees in nursing, and the final step towards becoming a registered nurse involves passing the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN). Upon passing this exam, candidates can begin practicing in the state in which they have registered. Graduates can also use the specialized knowledge acquired in certificate programs to move into more senior roles such as nurse practitioner nurse anesthetist, and nurse midwife. These careers do require a master's degree, however, so candidates should be aware that further education will be required.
The job market for registered nurses is healthy, according to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). The BLS reported a median salary of $73,300 per year in 2019 and predicted that job opportunities in this field would grow 12% from 2018 to 2028, a rate that is much faster than the average for all professions and could create 371,500 jobs. The BLS cites an aging population for this increase and notes that as the elderly population grows, more nurses will be needed to care for chronic conditions such as dementia, diabetes, and amnesia.
Post-baccalaureate certificate programs in nursing provide advanced education in specialized topics and can be found in fully online formats. These programs allow those who have a bachelor's degree in nursing to further their skills and knowledge in preparation for moving on to a new career.