Steps to CPN Certification

Distinguish yourself and your career, like these CPNs from Cook Children's Northeast Hospital
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Steps to CPN Certification

About this exam

Ready to reach for the gold standard in pediatric nursing? Since 1989, PNCB's Certified Pediatric Nurse (CPN) exam offers the most recognized, respected credential for pediatric RNs. Increase your confidence, professional credibility, chances for advancement, and feelings of accomplishment when you become a CPN.

Learn about the benefits of certification and role and competencies, then you'll be ready to explore the steps below.

You will need a current, valid, unrestricted, and unencumbered Registered Nurse (RN) license in the U.S., Canada, American Samoa, Guam, Northern Mariana Islands or the U.S. Virgin Islands at the time of application, plus:

  • A minimum of 1800 hours of pediatric clinical experience completed within the past 24 months as an RN, or
  • A minimum of 5 years as an RN in pediatric nursing and 3,000 hours in pediatric nursing within the last 5 years with a minimum of 1000 hours within the past 24 months (use only if unable to meet the above option)

Hours earned in a pediatric nursing residency program count toward the requirement. Pediatric nursing experience must have taken place in U.S. or Canadian facilities. However, if you possess an active, current unencumbered U.S. RN license, international practice experience is accepted.   

The CPN exam is not just for hospital registered nurses (RNs). Other eligible experience could be direct patient care in ambulatory or public health settings and/or teaching, administration, clinical research, school-based care, home health care, or consultation in pediatric nursing. You may have a diploma, associate's, bachelor's, master's, or doctorate in nursing.

The following fees apply for self-paying candidates. PNCB encourages you to share information about our no-risk No Pass, No Pay benefit with your employer. These fees also apply if you have already used a No Pass, No Pay charge code twice in a single employer's 12-month agreement period.

  • Exam cost: $295 - Includes $100 nonrefundable registration fee.
  • Re-exam cost: $245 - Not refundable. Current PNCB eligibility criteria must be met when re-applying. Candidate can reapply after official PNCB exam results are mailed. A new 90-day testing window is assigned.
  • Extension: $130 - See this page for full details.  

Society of Pediatric Nurses (SPN) member benefit: $45 discount on the initial exam*. To process your discount, you will need to enter your promo code on your application then submit an image of your current SPN membership card to PNCB by email to exam@pncb.org or fax to 1-301-330-1504. *For initial CPN exam applications only. Not available for retesting, free guest membership profiles, or for use with No Pass, No Pay. Discount cannot be retroactively applied or refunded to applications already submitted.

Payment accepted: Visa, MasterCard, Discover, American Express, electronic check, paper check, and money order. If paying by paper check, your application is not complete until your mailed payment is received and processed.

After review of your online application below, PNCB sends you an Approval & Scheduling Notice and a 90-day window in which to schedule and test. Approval happens quickly, so use this timeline to understand the process.

The exam is 3 hours long and asks 175 multiple-choice questions based on the exam content outline, an essential study reference. We offer these resources to help you prepare.

Apply for the CPN exam here. If your employer does not offer our charge code benefit, invite your leadership to explore No Pass, No Pay using this justification letter.

Society of Pediatric Nurses (SPN) member discount: $45 off initial exam. To process your discount, you will need to enter your promo code (available from SPN) on your application then submit an image of your current SPN membership card to PNCB by email to exam@pncb.org or fax to 1-301-330-1504. For initial CPN exam applications only, not available for retesting. Cannot be used with a No Pass, No Pay charge code benefit or free guest membership profile. Discount cannot be retroactively applied or refunded to applications already submitted.

Re-applying or requesting a testing window extension? Use the appropriate link below. No Pass, No Pay is not eligible for an extension.

Requesting ADA Act Special Accommodations? Note this on your application and promptly submit a completed Special Accommodations Form.

  • Don't forfeit fees or a use of your No Pass, No Pay charge code! It's your responsibility to understand all exam policies, procedures, and requirements before you arrive to test. Download your Candidate Testing Handbook now.
  • PNCB does not schedule your exam for you. You will schedule with Prometric, a licensed testing center with over 300 locations. Once your application is complete, PNCB emails and mails your Approval & Scheduling Notice with a personalized 90-day testing window. Promptly download your Eligibility Letter with instructions on how to schedule your exam, then set a date and time with Prometric. Learn how to schedule your exam plus tips on what to expect at the testing center.

Test within your assigned 90-day window. Arrive 30 minutes early with required IDs that match your name on the exam application, and take your exam. Pass/fail status is provided before you leave the center.

You receive official results by mail 2-3 weeks after testing. An archived copy of your results letter and more are at My Documents.

We suggest listing your highest nursing degree right after your name, then licensure, then certification. Honors like FAAN come last. If you have a non-nursing degree, this would come after your highest nursing degree. For multiple certifications, nurses usually list them in order of when they were achieved.

       Terry Moore, BSN, RN, CPN

       Joan Gonzalez, MSN, MBA, RN, CPN, CENP

Promote your certification achievement by wearing your lapel pin and introducing yourself as a Certified Pediatric Nurse to patients, their families, and peers. Mention your credential in your hospital staff bio. To use your CPN credential when charting, be sure to check your employer's policies. The CPN credential is federally trademarked and may only be used by those who earn and actively maintain certification.

  • Recertification is annual, so start planning how you will fulfill requirements now. You recertify between October 1 and January 31 prior to the expiration date on your online wallet card. If you passed this year, you won't need to recertify until the next calendar year.
  • Use My ReCErt Tracker any time of the year to archive contact hours and other activities. When you recertify, these conveniently pre-load in your recertification application.
  • See the CPN Corner resource page for free CE, volunteer opportunities, discounts on nursing-related products, and more.

Faces of Certification

PNCB-certified nursing professionals work in a variety of roles and settings throughout the US and beyond. Share your photo today!

Dorothy Chinnock, CPNP-PC Northern Valley Indian Health Chico, CA
Raulin Feria, CPN Huntington Memorial Hospital Pasadena, CA
Latasha Ivey, CPN Sibley Heart Center Cardiology Atlanta, GA
View more Faces of Certification