Steps to CPN Certification

About This Exam

The Certified Pediatric Nurse (CPN) exam offers respected, accredited board certification since 1989 for RNs with experience in the pediatric specialty. CPN certification can open doors to advancement, increase confidence, and provide a personal sense of accomplishment. Recertification is annual.

1. Confirm Your Eligibility

You will need a current, valid, unrestricted, and unencumbered RN license plus:

  • A minimum of 1800 hours of pediatric clinical experience completed within the past 24 months, 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.

Examples of accepted experience are direct patient care 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.

Links & Downloads

2. Learn About Fees or No Pass, No Pay

The cost is $295, and re-testing is $245, but if your employer participates in our No Pass, No Pay program, you can apply with no fee. There is no cost for employers to participate. With No Pass, No Pay, PNCB absorbs the fee for unsuccessful exams, and employers are invoiced only for successful exam fees. No Pass, No Pay allows two unsuccessful exam attempts per candidate per employer contract year. SPN members save $45 on the initial exam (not available with No Pass, No Pay). See discount details in Step 5.

3. See a Timeline

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

Links & Downloads

4. Check Your Readiness & Prepare

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

5. Apply

Create your account in PNCB's database and complete the online application.

Society of Pediatric Nurses (SPN) member discount: $45 off 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 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. Discount cannot be retroactively applied or refunded to applications already submitted.


6. Schedule Your Exam

  • Don't forfeit your fees or miss out on 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.

7. Take the Exam

Test within your assigned 90-day window. Arrive 30 minutes early, proper IDs in hand, and take your exam. Pass/fail status is provided before you leave the center.

8. Get Official Results

You receive official results by mail 2-3 weeks after testing. PNCB sends free verification automatically to boards of nursing listed in your application. An archived copy of your results letter and more are at My Documents.

9. Use Your Credentials

Our suggestion is to always list your degree first, then licensure followed by certification. Should you have any awards or honors, these come last. Listing your highest degree first is fairly standard. If you have a non-nursing degree, this would come next then licensure. If you have multiple certifications, often people list the one earned first in the first position, and the one earned most recently in the final position.

       Terri Moore, BS, RN, CPN

Let others know the value of your PNCB certification 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. If you want to use your CPN credential when charting, be sure to check your employer's policy on doing so. The CPN credential is federally trademarked and may only be used by those who earn and actively maintain their certification.

10. Next Steps: Recertification & More

Recertification is annual, so start planning how you will fulfill requirements now. You will recertify between October 1 and January 31 prior to the expiration date on your online wallet card.
Use My ReCErt Tracker any time of the year to archive contact hours and other activities. When you recertify, these will conveniently pre-load in your Recertification application.
See the My CPN Corner resource page for free CE, volunteer opportunities, discounts on nursing-related products, and more.