Use of Credentials

A “credential” is the term used for a designation of achievement (usually in the form of an acronym) that is listed on the line after one’s name. Credentials include and signify academic degrees, professional licensure/registration, professional certification, and certain awards and honors. Credentials are typically listed in order of their permanence (or lack of ability to be revoked), as indicated below.

Academic Degrees

Academic institutions offer degrees that may be revoked in only rare circumstances. These degrees are listed first, beginning with the highest degree. If your highest degree is a nursing degree, list that degree first after your name (Jane Q. Doe, BSN). If your highest degree is a professional non-nursing degree, list that degree first (before your highest nursing degree) (e.g., Jean Q. Doe, JD, BSN).

Licensure/State or Provincial Registration

Licensure/registration provides the legislated authority to practice nursing in a state/province/country. Licenses/registrations are listed second (e.g., John Q. Doe, MPH, BSN, RN; Jane Q. Doe, MSN, BS, APRN).


Certification is the process through which an organization (e.g., IAFN) grants recognition to an individual who has met certain established criteria. Typically, certification involves passing an examination and maintaining certification through continuing education. Certifications can be taken away, expire, or not renewed. Certification credentials are listed third (e.g., Jo Ann Doe, AD, RN, SANE-A). If your state provides a credentialing process, check with the appropriate jurisdictional authorities to determine whether use of an acronym or job title is appropriate.


Honors are awards bestowed after years of work and the awards are given in the form of promotion to Fellow or Distinguished Fellow status. Honors are listed last (e.g., James Doe, MSN, RN, SANE-A, DF-IAFN).

Certificate or CE Courses

Completion of a course (e.g., sexual assault nurse examiner training) or program where a certificate of completion is provided does not mean that the nurse is certified. These courses are considered continuing education; do not list a title/acronym following your name. You may, however, list these trainings in a section on your resume or cv as specialized training. For more information, see this explanation.

Job Title

If you are currently practicing as a Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner–but are not yet board-certified–you may designate your job title by spelling out “Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner” below your name:
Jeri Q. Doe, RN
Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner

How to Display Your Credentials
American Nurses Credentialing Center (2013)

The Complexity of Nursing Credentials and How to Present Yourself
Nursing Education Perspectives
January/February 2016, Volume :37 Number 1 , page 2