How to Get Transplant Nurse Certification

Transplant Nurse Certification – Overview

Certification is not a requirement to begin working as a transplant nurse, but obtaining certification, such as the Certified Clinical Transplant Nurse (CCTN) credential, may enhance professional development and opportunities.

This certification allows nurses to take care of patients who are donating or receiving organs through a surgical transplant procedure.

These professionals are trained to prepare donors to donate tissues or organs for transplant.

They work to educate the donors about the details of the procedure, the recovery process, and any potential risks.

Transplant nurses also care for patients who have undergone a tissue or organ transplant by getting them ready for surgery, assisting during the surgical procedure and offering post-operative care.

This includes checking for complications, such as organ rejection.

Essential Steps to Be a Certified Transplant Nurse

Transplant Nurse Certification

Transplant Nurse Certification – Essential Steps to Be a Certified Transplant Nurse

Similar to other nursing careers, the first step to becoming a transplant nurse is to acquire a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) or Associate’s Degree in Nursing (ADN).

This gets you a basic nursing education. If you wish to specialize in tissue or organ transplant, it is highly recommended to take medical-surgical courses.

You should also gain experience in intensive and critical care units.

You need to then work as an RN for two years with 12 months of direct care of organ transplant patients.

To be eligible for the Certified Clinical Transplant Nurse (CCTN) exam, candidates must have two years of experience in clinical organ transplantation nursing and 1,000 hours of direct clinical experience in organ transplantation within the last two years, as specified by the ABTC.

Usually, a transplant nurse position at a healthcare organization requires the following qualifications:

#1. BSN or ADN degree

#2. Valid RN license

#3. The requirement for transplant nurses typically includes having a Basic Life Support (BLS) Certification and may strongly recommend or prefer having a Certified Clinical Transplant Nurse (CCTN) certification, but BLS is generally a basic requirement for all nurses

#4. Excellent communication skills to educate donors, recipients and family members about transplant procedures, risks and post-operative care

#5. Having proficiency in computer programs and data entry to maintain patient records

#6. Experience in critical care, operating room procedures, or intensive care

Educational Requirements for Certified Transplant Nurse

Transplant nurses usually need to have a BSN or ADN degree, preferably the former. They should also have a valid, unrestricted RN license in the state they wish to practice.

During nursing education, aspiring transplant nurses should also undertake medical-surgical courses. They are also required to get training in intensive and critical care settings.

Certifications and Credential for Certified Transplant Nurse

Registered nurses who aim to specialize in transplant nursing should consider becoming Certified Clinical Transplant Nurses.

The ABTC (American Board for Transplant Certification) holds this certification exam.

The CCTN exam requires candidates to be registered nurses with two years of RN experience and at least 1,000 hours of direct clinical experience in organ transplantation nursing within the 24 months prior to applying for the exam.

With this certification, RNs get a competitive edge and get choice placements when seeking employment.

Besides this, as most transplant nurses work directly with patients in critical care, many transplant nurses need RNs to have a Basic Life Support Certification.

You can choose to get one from the American Red Cross or the American Heart Association.

Job Opportunities for Certified Transplant Nurses

As a completely qualified and certified transplant nurse, you can expect to work with donor, recipients and their families in:

#1. Hospitals

#2. Special organ transplant facilities

#3. Ambulatory surgical units

Responsibilities of Certified Transplant Nurse

A transplant nurse helps in every phase of organ and tissue transplant procedure. This includes all the way from the preparation stage to the donation and all the way to recovery and discharge.

These professionals prepare donors for donation surgery. This involves educating the donor about the procedure, the recovery process and any potential risks related to organ or tissue donation.

These nurses also prepare non-living donors by monitoring and readying the donor’s body for the surgery.

Transplant nurses often assist surgeons during the transplant procedure.

They prepare the operating room and surgical instruments, which ensures a sterile and safe environment in the operating room. They also monitor the patient’s vital signs during a surgical transplant procedure.

A major responsibility of transplant nurses includes caring for organ recipients.

They care for patients who have received tissue or organs, prepare them for the surgery and offer post-operative care.

This includes monitoring the patient during the recovery phase and checking for signs of organ rejection.

They are also required to educate the patient regarding dressing wounds and post-operative care.

Employment and Salary for Certified Transplant Nurse

There is an incredibly high demand for organ transplants in the US, according to the Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network.

This has also increased the demand for certified transplant nursing professionals in the country.

According to reports from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), certified and registered transplant nurses can earn an average salary of up to $81,220 per year.

Those with specialized knowledge and skills end up earning significantly more than this.

Remember, salary ranges usually depend on the particular state you are practicing in, apart from education level and experience, certifications, etc.

Those nurses with higher-level certifications and significant experience end up earning more than other certified transplant nurses.


You can earn transplant nurse certification if you have a BSN or an ADN degree. Most employers prefer a transplant nurse to have a BSN degree as they can also act as case managers for transplant patients.

Still, before applying for a position as a certified transplant nurse, make sure to check the specific requirements of the individual employer.

See Also


Online DNP Programs

Florida Board of Nursing

Texas Board of Nursing

Ohio Board of Nursing

How to Deal With Rude Patients

Types of Nurses

Current Version
September 16, 2023
Updated By
Andrea Morales G.
March 23, 2024
Updated By
Tim Bevelacqua, MN, RN

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