Nurse Executive

Nurse executives have various foci, though common elements within their practice include managing networks of care providers, facilitating collaboration between health care professionals, ensuring collective accountability, handling partnerships with consumers, advocating for patients, and leading cost-effective patient care. Typically, nurse executives hold top positions in managing day-to-day operations of facilities.

Nurse Executive Career

Nurse executives are members of the senior leadership team, which necessitates their participation in collaboration, coaching, mentoring, communications, coordination, and management.

They may also facilitate the design of patient care delivery, build relationships between staff and colleagues, and work to advance nursing as a discipline. Nurse executives demonstrate leadership by serving as role models, encouraging and educating staff, promoting quality improvement, and demonstrating financial accountability. They may work in a variety of settings including hospitals, nursing homes, clinics and schools of nursing. Nurse executives must be effective communicators.

Nurse Executive Education

To prepare for certifications as a nurse executive by the American Organization for Nursing Leadership (AONL) or the American Nursing Credentialing Center (ANCC), nurses must have, at least, pursued and obtained licensure as a RN in their state. The ANOL offers two paths for eligibility: (1) RN license and a Masters in Nursing or higher plus two years in executive nursing roles – with one of the degrees in nursing or (2) a RN license and a bachelor’s level degree in nursing plus four years of executive nursing experience.

What your state requires for RN licensure may vary. Some states only require an associate’s level degree, while others are more explicit on earning a bachelor or science in nursing (BSN). You may need to enroll in additional nursing programs for certification purposes.

Nurse Executive Certification

ANCC – Nurse Executive Certification (NE-BC)

Eligibility Requirements:

  • Current, active RN license
  • Bachelor’s degree or higher in nursing
  • Full-time, two year experience as a mid-level administrative or higher position, a faculty position teaching graduate students nursing administration, or in a nursing management or executive consultation position in the last five years.
  • 30 hours of continuing education in nursing administration within the last three years.

Fees: $395 for non-members and $295 for American Nurse Association (ANA) members
Renewal: NE-BC certifications are valid for five years. Renewal costs $350 for non-ANA members or as low as $250 for ANA members.

AONL – Certified in Executive Nursing Practice Certification (CENP)

Eligibility Requirements:

  • Current, active RN license and a master’s degree or higher with two years of experience in an executive nursing role [one of the degrees must be in nursing] or;
  • Current, active RN licensure and a bachelor degree in nursing with four years of experience in the executive nurse role.
  • Meet the “target practitioner definition”

Fees: $450 for non-members and $325 for AONL members
Renewal: The CENP certification is valid for three years. Recertification can be obtained through re-examination or completion of 45 contact hours of professional education. Recertification fees are $275 for non-members and $200 for AONL members.

Information for the ANCC and AONL certifications for nurse executives was retrieved as of February 2020. For the most up-to-date information, refer to the certifying body’s websites.

State Nursing Certification Information

Sponsored Online Nursing Programs


Earn a Master of Science in Nursing online from Simmons University.

  • Accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE)
  • Preparation to pursue certification as a Family Nurse Practitioner
  • Part-time, full-time, and extended plans of study

Earn an MS in Nursing online from Georgetown University.

  • Earn your MS in Nursing in as few as 23 months
  • Choose from one of four APRN specialty areas: AG-ACNP, FNP, NM/WHNP, or WHNP
  • Gain hands-on clinical experience in evidence-based practice

Earn an M.S. in Nursing online at the Wegmans School of Nursing

  • The Wegmans School of Nursing is ranked among the top 100 nursing schools nationally, and is No. 6 in New York state1
  • Part-time and accelerated tracks available
  • Four program options: PCFNP, PMHNP, AGACNP, AGPCNP

Earn your MSN online from USC’s Top-Ranked School of Social Work.

  • Prepares RNs to pursue board certification as family nurse practitioners
  • Earn a CCNE-accredited MSN in as few as 21 months
  • Choose from part-time and full-time study options

1 U.S. News & World Report, 2022 Best Nursing Schools: Master’s. Ranked in 2021.