Waste of time/money to earn extra certifications?



I am still fairly new to where I am working. I wanted to study and pass the exam for a certification in the field I am working in. But a friend from school (who also is in nursing) stated that was a waste of time. Stating that "what is the use of extra certifications/licenses if you don't have the knowledge/skills/experience to back it up? People just like the certifications b/c it makes their resumes looks good or they can boast to others about it to make themselves look better."

I understand her reasoning but I can't agree with it. But I'm fairly still new and inexperienced my in own skills/experiences so I can't argue with her standpoint.

I understand her point. I plan on staying in my position for years to come, and I understand if you would compare me at five years of experience vs a new grad with zero experience but with an extra certification in that same field, I understand my 5 year experience looks better than a certification with no experience at all....

However. How can I response to that? She stated "Then what's the point of pursuing a med surg certification? Just work in med surg and gain experience/skills that way! Or what's the point of getting a end of life certification or oncology or rehab or women's health or so and so certification? "

We recently had someone hired into management position bc she had her MSN in that area (before she was floor nurse). My friend even said "What good is her MSN? She has zero experience and doesn't know what she's doing anyways."

I explained that school and experience is different and nobody knows everything when they're just hired anyways! But my friend is not convinced. She even thinks membership to nursing associations is a waste of time and money too. I wanted to do ACLS but she stated "you don't need ACLS where you work so why do it? Just do normal BLS." :/

I was excited to start studying for a certification in my field (the test itself is $300-400, $100s of studying material, months of studying/effort) but I wanted to do it. But now my friend said this, it dimmed my excitement and now I question myself I wanted to sit for this test.

I understand her reasoning but I can't agree with it. But I'm fairly still new and inexperienced my in own skills/experiences so I can't argue with her standpoint. I want to do this certification (not just to put on my resume) but to learn more specifically the details/skills of the field I am working in in hopes to boost my knowledge and strengthen my skills (to an extent).


klone, MSN, RN

Specializes in OB-Gyn/Primary Care/Ambulatory Leadership. Has 16 years experience. 14,251 Posts

It depends on what type of certification you're talking about. Specialty certifications usually require that you've practiced in that specialty for a minimum of 1-2 years, and generally indicate that you are an expert. So in that sense, I tend agree with your friend that a certification without the background experience and knowledge base is not very useful. However, I think all nurses should pursue education that furthers their practice and knowledge.

Something like ACLS, I think is beneficial training that most all acute-care nurses should have.



836 Posts

First, do what you want. The Magic 8 Ball is telling me your friend is scared to try to be certified, so she claims they are worthless. But no matter, what she does shouldn't hamper your goals.

Second, does your employer offer any incentive for being certified? Or education benefit to pay for the books/classes to study for it? Any study materials in the library or on your unit to borrow for free? Magnet hospitals love certifications. Even if your current employer doesn't care, it will help your job prospects if you go to another employer that values it (Magnet or not). Look at the job postings. Do they mention anything about certifications being preferred?

Third, and probably most important, certifications do increase your knowledge. I initially only got my certification because my employer paid for it, offered a (small) bonus and my manager hounded us about doing it. But, I learned a ton by studying for it. I'm a better nurse and a little bit more confident too. I'm actually working on another certification because I want to learn more (and I find certifications give me a roadmap and goal to stay on track).

Good luck with your decision. I vote for going for it! Most certifications require a couple years of experience, but you can start studying now if you want.

mtmkjr, BSN

352 Posts

"what is the use of extra certifications/licenses if you don't have the knowledge/skills/experience to back it up?

While it can't replace experience, certification is one way of increasing your knowledge early on. Most certifications require 2 years experience in that area of nursing, so a certified nurse has both experience and increased knowledge.

It is also possible through experience only to develop incorrect ways of thinking or doing things. I think it is usually better to gain experience and also get the certification so that you have in-depth knowledge and higher level of understanding in your specialty.

JBudd, MSN

Specializes in Trauma, Teaching. Has 41 years experience. 1 Article; 3,836 Posts

education is never wasted, I have an MSN and am still at bedside. Don't let her negativism drag you down too. The above posters have excellent advice.

applewhitern, BSN, RN

Specializes in ICU. Has 30 years experience. 1,871 Posts

There are hospitals in my area that do not care about a BSN, but do expect you to have a certification in your area.

Hoosier_RN, MSN

Specializes in dialysis. Has 29 years experience. 3,437 Posts

There are hospitals in my area that do not care about a BSN, but do expect you to have a certification in your area.

the hospitals in my area expect both (overload of nurses so it narrows the pack some). It's even getting to the point that the better quality LTCs expect the RNs to be BSNs as well, and pursue a geriatric cert. I have my MSN + multiple certifications, except for the field I work in currently. I will probably try for it eventually, as my other certs will expire and I haven't kept up my hours/CEU requirements


llg, PhD, RN

Specializes in Nursing Professional Development. Has 45 years experience. 13,469 Posts

The kind of specialty certification that you are considering Summers3, is a good thing to do and to have. They require some experience to take those exams and to pass them, you need more than an introductory level of knowledge. (I would not say "expert" ... I would say more like "above average.")

Being certified shows that you have some experience and above-average knowledge. It also shows that you are invested in your career and are the type of nurse who goes above and beyond the bare minimum. Employers generally look very favorably on nurses who have gone that extra mile and become certified.

I agree with the previous poster who suggested that your friend sounds like she if afraid to take the exam -- or who has a grudge against people who have more gumption than she does. She is trying to prevent you from moving ahead in your career because for some reason, she doesn't see herself as going "up there" with you. Don't let her hold you back.

Good luck!



171 Posts

Certification and certificate are two very different things, and most nurses don't understand the difference. Certificates (like ACLS, TNCC, ASLS, PALS) can be taken by anyone, and SHOULD be, if you work in areas that benefit from that knowledge.

Certification is a different animal. These are things like SCRN, CCRN, PCCN. They indicate that you are an EXPERT in your field, and require study, experience and an exam similar to NCLEX, but specific to that area of expertise.

Your friend may be as confused about the difference as most other nurses are.

Jedrnurse, BSN, RN

Specializes in school nurse. Has 30 years experience. 2,776 Posts

The study/prep you do prior to taking the exam will help you increase your knowledge and proficiency, even if you don't "care" about the certification itself. If you can afford the time and expense, go for it.

Rocknurse, MSN, APRN, NP

Specializes in Critical Care and ED. Has 33 years experience. 1,367 Posts

Certification can only be a good thing. Anyone that tries to talk you out of it would be exhibiting jealousy in my opinion. I have 3 certifications and not only does it look really good on my resume, but it has given me a ton of knowledge I wouldn't have had. It kind of forces you to learn at a very deep level. Your "friend's" descriptor happens to be partly true...it does look great on your resume and it does make you look better. Who wouldn't want that? Obviously she feels threatened by that. My certifications have gotten me jobs and respect from my managers, as well as showing an example to my peers. They've made me a better and more knowledgeable nurse, and they've allowed me to earn more too. You might not see a raise in your current job, but you have leverage to negotiate with future jobs because of the letters after your name.


Flatline, BSN, RN

375 Posts

Getting certifications is the only thing that allowed me to be competitive with nurses that had more experience than I had being alive. I owe my past several jobs and my ability to successfully transition into my ideal career making more money than I ever thought to those certifications. Certs allowed me to compete with MSNs and NPs.