CEN - Certified Emergency Nurse

  • Cost $230 for professional association members
  • $370 for non-members
  • Renews every 4 years

COURSE FORMAT

Online
In Person

About

The Certified Emergency Nurse (CEN) is a national credential in recognition of the knowledge and expertise of nurses working in emergency care settings, such as:

  • Emergency Departments

  • Stroke Units

  • Cardiac Care Units

  • Burn Units

  • Trauma Departments

The Board of Certification for Emergency Nursing (BCEN) awards this credential by exam. 

ER nursing is highly specialized. These nurses thrive in fast-paced, challenging work environments. The CEN certification tells employers, colleagues, and patients that an ER nurse has the skills and abilities to provide the highest level of urgent, life-saving care. Over 41,000 nurses held CEN certification in 2022.

Course Format

Test Format

The CEN examination is a three-hour (timed), computer-based exam consisting of 175 multiple-choice items. Only 150 items are scored. The remaining 25 are pre-test questions used to gather statistical data for future exams and don't impact the final results. Currently candidates must answer 106 items correctly to pass. 

BCEN conducts job analysis and Role Delineation Studies (RDS) every 4-5 years to ensure that exam content reflects the most current and relevant practice. Passing scores may change if BCEN updates the exam.

In Person

In-Person Testing Center: PSI Exams is BCEN's in-person, computer-based test delivery provider. Candidates schedule their exam at one of over 300 PSI testing locations nationwide within a 90-day testing window.

Online

Live Remote Proctor (LRP): Candidates may take the exam online using a live remove proctor, available through PSI with online scheduling and equipment testing. This allows candidates to take the exam in a comfortable environment if they meet the requirements for LRP exams.

Certification

Prerequisites:

Nurses must hold a current, unrestricted registered nurse (RN) license in the U.S. or Canada to qualify for the CEN exam. International nurses with an equivalent nursing certificate also may be eligible but must be verified through the Commission on Graduates of Foreign Nursing Schools (CGFNS).

BCEN recommends two years of work experience to better prepare candidates for the exam. However, it's not required.

Nurses currently suspended, restricted, on probation, or otherwise under disciplinary action from a nursing board are disqualified from taking the examination.  

Steps to Obtaining CEN Certification:

  • Create a BCEN account on the BCEN Account login page

  • Check eligibility

  • Start a new application in the BCEN portal

  • Answer all required questions

  • Pay testing fees online or by mail

    • If paying by credit card or ACH, applications process immediately

    • If paying by check, print out the Confirmation of Form Completion and mail it along with payment, then allow BCEN 3 to 4 weeks to complete the application

  • Wait for exam eligibility email from BCEN with information on the 90-day test window and how to schedule an exam appointment with PSI

  • Schedule the CEN exam within 90 days

  • Study for the CEN exam

  • Take the CEN exam

    • Arrive at the testing site or log in for LRP 30 minutes before scheduled exam time

    • Bring a valid form of identification

    • Candidates have three hours to complete the exam

  • Retrieve exam results

    • In-person test takers receive score before leaving the test center

    • Online LRP test takers receive score on-screen immediately after completing the exam

Results

CEN exams are scored electronically with Pass/Fail results. BCEN mails official, detailed score reports after exam completion. Candidates who fail the exam receive instructions detailing how to reapply. They must pay a retest fee and wait 90 days before retaking the exam.

Test Fees

  • Initial Examination Fee: $370 and $230 for Emergency Nurses Association (ENA) members

  • Fee for Retest: $350

  • Discounted Fee for Military: $195

CEN certification is reimbursable under the MyCAA program for military spouses.

Renewal

Renewal Fees

  • Recertification Fee: $350 

  • Discounted Renewal with ENA membership: $210

  • Discounted Fee for Military: $195

Retired nurses can keep their certification through the CEN Retired Designation at a cost of $75 every four years.

Renewing CEN Certification

Nurses must renew their CEN certification every four years by attesting to 100 hours of continuing education (CE) credits or by re-examination. If renewing by exam, nurses may schedule and take their CEN exam at a PSI testing center or other location through Live Remote Proctoring, within a 90-day window.

Continuing Education

CE Renewal

All CE contact hours must be at the nursing practice level. At least 50 contact hours must come from an accredited source such as BCEN Learn, American Association of Critical-Care Nurses, American Nurses Credentialing Center, Emergency Nurses Association, or any State Board of Nursing or State Nurses Association. A minimum of 75 contact hours must clinical content specific to the nurse’s practice area, with the remaining 25 in clinical or non-clinical content.

Other Resources

The BCEN offers resources for exam candidates including:

Related Certifications

The BCEN also offers the following:

  • Certified Flight Registered Nurse (CFRN)

  • Certified Pediatric Emergency Nurse (CPEN)

  • Certified Transport Registered Nurse (CTRN)

  • Trauma Certified Registered Nurse (TCRN)

  • Burn Nursing Specialty Certification (CBRN)

Other related certifications offered by the Crisis Prevention Institute (CPI) include:

  • Verbal Intervention (VI): Teaches de-escalation skills, non-restrictive intervention techniques and the ability to control escalating behavior.

  • Dementia Capable Care (DCC): Equips health workers with the tools to provide the best care for people with dementia.

  • Dementia Capable Care Instructor (DCC-Certified-Instructor): For health workers that have completed the DCC training, they're eligible to become a certified instructor and teach others.

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Frequently asked questions

Will I receive continuing education (CE) credit for passing the CEN exam?

No, the CEN exam doesn't earn CE credit.

How difficult is the CEN exam?

The CEN specialty exam is difficult. Nurses must correctly answer approximately 75% of the questions to pass. The pass rate for the CEN exam in 2021 was about 51%.

What are some certifications I can pursue after obtaining CEN certification?

You can pursue Certified Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner-Adult/Adolescent (SANE-A), Certified Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner-Pediatric (SANE-P), Certified Transport Registered Nurse (CTRN) or Certified Flight Registered Nurse (CFRN), among others.

Will I get a discount on the CEN exam if I'm a member of my professional association?

Yes, professional association members pay $230 for taking the exam, while non-members must pay $370.

What happens if I miss my scheduled CEN exam appointment?

If you don't show up to take your exam on the date and time you scheduled to take, you forfeit all fees paid. You must complete a new application and submit another payment to reapply for eligibility to sit for the CEN exam.

How many times I can I take the Certified Emergency Nurse (CEN) exam?

You can retake the CEN exam an unlimited number of times. However, you must wait 90 days between each attempt.

What other certifications does the BCEN offer besides the Certified Emergency Nurse (CEN)?

The BCEN also offers the following certifications:

  • Certified Flight Registered Nurse (CFRN)

  • Certified Pediatric Emergency Nurse (CPEN)

  • Certified Transport Registered Nurse (CTRN)

  • Trauma Certified Registered Nurse (TCRN)

  • Burn Nursing Specialty Certification (CBRN)

What other certifications should I consider after getting the BCEN Certified Emergency Nurse (CEN)?

After obtaining the CEN, you might also pursue the Verbal Intervention (VI), the Dementia Capable Care (DCC) and the Dementia Capable Care Instructor (DCC-Certified-Instructor).