Home / Nursing Careers / The Road to Becoming a Critical Care Registered Nurse

The Road to Becoming a Critical Care Registered Nurse

A critical care registered nurse helps patients who are in extreme medical situations. They may be suffering from severe injuries or devastating diseases. The job of a critical care nurse is difficult emotional, mentally, and physically, but it can be a satisfying job when patients are able to recover.

What Is a CCRN?

In the critical care nursing field, there are many levels of nursing. A critical care registered nurse or CCRN is one of the highest levels. This level of nursing is one of the most stressful ones, and requires a great amount of education and experience. Most CCRNs work in hospital settings, but some can work in urgent care facilities.

CCRN Salary

Nurses can earn as much as $95,130 per year. The average is $64,690. The amount that CCRNs earn depends on if they work in a large hospital versus a smaller one. Some registered nurses earn hourly wages. The average wage is $31.10 per hour.

CCRN SalaryCritical Care Nurse Job Description

A CCRN reports to a shift with files awaiting review. These files are those of patients that have entered the facility or continued to receive treatment. Once the records have been reviewed, the nurse will collaborate with other medical staff to find out additional information. The nurses will then meet with patients to take vitals and record the numbers on the machines.

After helping patients, CCRNs document everything in patient records, contact medical staff about changes, and continue to provide care and treatment. Sometimes, there are meetings in which the nurses must attend. These meetings serve to pass along vital information to improve the care of patients.


How to Become a CCRN

To become a critical care nurse, you must take a certification exam. Before this though, the nurse must work 1,750 hours in the previous two years. Of those hours, 875 hours must have been working in acute and/or critical care units.

CCRN Certification

To receive a certification, you will need to pass a CCRN exam. The American Association of Critical Nursing reports that you do not need to have a Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree. You just need to be licensed and worked the number of hours as a nurse indicated above.


To take the exam, you’ll need to pay $300. Some employers will pay for it because of its importance, so check with the medical facility you are working at for your hours. If they don’t pay for it, know that the amount of money you spend on the license will be well worth it because it’s likely you’ll have many more job opportunities available to you.

Move Up in Your Career as a CCRN

If you’ve been working as a nurse for a while, and you want to know if you’ve completed enough hours to sit for the CCRN exam, check with the human resources department of the medical facility. They will be able to pull your employment records to check this information for you. If you’ve completed the number of hours needed, you can contact the American Association of Critical Nursing to sign up for the exam.