Eligible candidates must:

  1. Submit a copy of their license as a registered nurse (RN) in one of the United States.
  2. Submit proof of one of the following:
    1. A bachelor’s degree or higher in nursing or the equivalent in other countries
      1. Please see the candidate handbook for additional information regarding non-nursing degrees and required course credits
      2. (Please note that as of January 1, 2020 a bachelor’s degree or higher in nursing or the equivalent in other countries will be the requirement)
    2. Current certification by NBCSN as an NCSN.
  3. Meet the clinical practice requirements of a minimum of 1,000 hours that have been worked within the three years prior to taking the test.
  4. Complete the online exam application.
  5. Pay the required fee.

Clinical Practice Requirements for Certification

Clinical Practice in school nursing means employed or contracted to provide a direct or indirect professional contribution to the health and education of students and their families in public or private school settings. Please see the candidate handbook for activities that constitute direct or indirect practice.

Select activities are not considered clinical practice for the purpose of exam eligibility. Such activities include: per diem substitute nursing, one-to-one nursing, employment in direct sales, marketing or distribution of school nursing-related products or services in pharmaceutical, technology or other school health-related industries; community health screenings; work in a camp setting; preceptorship/mentor experiences; and roles unrelated to school nursing.

Eligibility versus readiness to take the exam

The NBCSN board advises that eligibility should not be confused with readiness. While some school nurses may be prepared to take the exam after meeting the minimum eligibility criteria, others may require more clinical experience and exam preparation. Please see the exam preparation page for suggested approaches to studying. Factors that may affect an individual’s readiness include:

  1. level of education
  2. formal coursework in school nursing and education systems
  3. nursing experience prior to school nursing (e.g., child and adolescent primary care and public health versus adult inpatient nursing)
  4. exposure to child health in age ranges outside of school assignment
  5. continuing education
  6. supervision by a school nurse administrator
  7. on the job reference materials
  8. formal or informal mentoring
  9. professional development and professional leadership provided within the school district and state.