Steps to CPN Certification

Distinguish yourself and your career, like these CPNs from Cook Children's Northeast Hospital
YOU CAN NOW TAKE THE CPN EXAM AT HOME!
Live remote testing is convenient and user-friendly. In-person testing remains available too. Click here to learn about your testing options.

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.

Special Note: Beginning in October 2022, the exam administered will align with the revised content outline (published May 2022), which was a result of a formal Job Task Analysis (JTA) process. Visit the CPN Exam Resources page and expand the “Essential: Content Outline” section for more information.

NEW! Now nurses have a choice of where and how to test when they seek their Certified Pediatric Nurse (CPN) credential from PNCB. Learn about the live remote proctoring option.

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: $300 - 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, and ACH electronic check.

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.  You will log in or create an account with the link. In your portal under Navigation, select the Exam Applications link to find your exam type. If your employer does not offer our charge code benefit, invite your leadership to explore No Pass, No Pay using this justification letter.

Now nurses have a choice of where and how to test when they seek their Certified Pediatric Nurse (CPN) credential from PNCB. Apply to take the exam at a physical testing center, or at home with the live remote proctoring option.

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? Use the application link above.

Need an Extension? To request an extension for your current testing window, contact PNCB at 1-888-641-2767 or exam@pncb.org. 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 PNCB Exam Candidate Handbook now.
  • PNCB does not schedule your exam for you. Once your application is complete, PNCB emails and mails your Approval & Scheduling Notice with a personalized 90-day testing window.
    • For Testing Centers - You will schedule with Prometric, a licensed testing center with over 300 locations. 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.
    • For Live Remote Proctoring - You will schedule with Examity, PNCB’s secure, online proctoring partner. Promptly download your Eligibility Letter with instructions, then set a date with Examity. Learn about system requirements and other FAQs here.

Test within your assigned 90-day window. Arrive 30 minutes early (in person at a Testing Center, or online with your Live Remote Proctor) with required IDs that match your name on the exam application, and take your exam. In most cases, unofficial pass/fail status is provided on-screen before your exam attempt concludes.

You receive official results by email 2-3 weeks after testing. An archived copy of your results letter and more are at your Message History Report.

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 November 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!

Karen Capusan, CPNP-PC Northwell Health New Hyde Park, NY
Jesse Kay, CPN, CPNP-AC Children's Hospital Los Angeles Los Angeles, CA
Tyler Simpson, CPNP-PC, CPN Arkansas Children's Hospital Little Rock, AR
View more Faces of Certification