Becoming a CWS Certified Wound Care Specialist

What is a CWS Certified Wound Specialist?

A CWS is a Certified Wound Specialist. Anyone using the CWS initials after their signature is proving that they have already taken and passed the CWS exam offered by the ABWM. The CWS certification is a valuable and accredited wound care certification worth pursuing. can start you on your journey of becoming CWS certified.

How do you become a CWS?

Follow these simple steps to apply for the CWS exam.

  1. Download and review the
  2. Certified Wound Specialist® (CWS®) Candidate Handbook 
  3. Create an account and complete your application online. 
  4. Once your application to sit for the certification examination has been approved, you will receive an email notification directly from our testing company, Pearson VUE.  The notification will include information on how to schedule your exam.
  5. Once you have received your approval notifications, you may schedule your exam for any time in the following 90 days, based on availability at your local testing center.
    • For more information about selecting the date, time, and location of your exam, please view the Exam Scheduling page.
    • To view available test centers, visit and log in to your account or click “Find a test center” on the right sidebar.
  6. Upon completing the exam, a score report will be generated immediately. Candidates can also access score reports by logging in to their Pearson VUE accounts.  

What Exactly Three Years’ Experience Means

The three years of required wound care experience does not have to be consecutive or continuous. Part-time wound experience still counts! The ABWM clarifies the wound care experience requirement as: “Wound care does not have to be your primary responsibility to meet the requirement of 3 years of experience, just so long as long as you have a cumulative total of three years of experience in wound care related roles. “

Fellowship Option

An alternative to having three years of wound care experience is to complete a fellowship in wound care. This fellowship must be certified by a credentialing organization and at least one year. A letter of recommendation must be supplied from the fellowship program director and include a CWS Certified Wound Specialist that was actively involved in the wound training.

For either path to certification, Certified Wound Specialist candidates must possess a full and unrestricted professional license in at least one state and in all states in which the candidate currently practices.

Start with

Even if you do not have your three years of necessary experience or fellowship, you can still take the wound care certification course. (If you do not have the experience at this time, we recommend that you take the wound care certification course and obtain your “certificate of completion” and continuing education hours.

You can present this certificate of completion to your employer. This certificate will show that you have completed an advanced wound management course and may help you to get more wound care experience.

You will not be eligible to take the CWS exam yet, but you can take our wound care certification course right away. The course will provide you with the necessary wound care knowledge to pass your CWS exam later on. Once you have the required experience to sit for the wound certification exam, we will re-enroll you in the course at no charge provided it is within three years of purchase. The CWS exam can be difficult, but we are confident that if you complete our online wound care course, you can and will pass. Our wound care courses will also provide RN-BSNs, BSNs, and PTs with 57 CE hours. If you are an RN-BSN, we recommend taking our BSN wound care course over the RN wound care course, as the information presented in the BSN course is geared towards that knowledge and achievement level.

Who Becomes CWS Certified?

The number of nurses and healthcare professionals becoming wound care certified is rising, proving a need for distinguished wound care personnel in today’s industry. There are currently 2,503 certified CWS professionals – this is a small and prestigious group!

The majority of people possessing the CWS certification are RN-BSNs. Many PTs also choose to become CWS certified. Many of these professionals choose the CWS certification over the CWCN certification because the CWS certification is valid for ten years. The CWCN certification, on the other hand, is only valid for five years. Both certifications are nationally accredited, but only those with a Bachelor’s degree or higher are eligible to become CWS certified. The CWS and CWCN are the only two accredited certification options for BSNs, RN-BSNs, PTs, and NPs. We encourage you to make sure that your hard work pays off, no matter which certification you end up pursuing. We highly recommend choosing an accredited wound care certification.

Other ABWM Wound Care Certifications

To learn more about the ABWM and all certifications offered by the ABWM, visit our wound care certification information page. If you need more information on which certification is right for you, contact us! We love to help our students and future students become certified and find wound management jobs after certification.


  1. Hi. I hv taken online course n completed d hours. My name is Pirehma Marimuthu.
    I’m a parasitologist wt clinical education experience in wound care.
    Can i sit for the certification exam. BTW, I am from Malaysia.

    1. Congrats on completing your course! To check for a testing center in your area, please contact the wound care certification board you wish to complete your certification through. The test must be taken in-person.

        1. Pirehma, You can take our course anywhere – we ship to every country. For testing centers, you will need to contact PSI to see if they have them in your area. Their Candidate Services phone number is 1-888-519-9901. Please also keep in mind that you must get approval from ABWM to take the test. You cannot get approval through the testing center, but you can call to find locations in your area prior to seeking pre-approval.

    1. Mark,

      Our courses are 100% online, but come with wound care product samples, study guides, and a textbook to keep. You will typically receive your wound care course kit within 7-10 business days after purchase.

        1. Michelle,

          The delivery time will vary based on where you are located in the US or elsewhere. Our wound care course kits make it to most Canadian destinations within 10 business days, less if you are here in America. This is a fairly large package complete with study guides, textbook(s), and wound care sample products. To keep costs as affordable as possible (since shipping cost is included in your course price) we do standard shipping. If you need your kit sooner, we can work out other options- just contact us!

          1. Hi. My name Martha
            Im a Certified Nurse Assistant.. Do i qualify to become a wound care specialist.

        1. Hi Monde, if you are interested in taking a short course, we do offer our 23-hour wound care course.
 This one will equip you with the basics, or help you brush up on existing wound care knowledge. This course is half the length of our full wound care courses which will help prepare you for wound care certification. If you need more help determining which will be right for you, contact us here –

        2. I am a certified hand therapist and have a doctorate is Ot with about 5 years of wound care experience. What exam should I be taking??

          1. Arpita,

            Anyone can enroll in the OT wound certification course. However, only students meeting the certifying body’s criteria are eligible to take the wound certification examination and receive certification credentials.

            The wound care certification examination and credentials are provided by a national inter-disciplinary certifying board for healthcare professionals involved in wound care. Occupational Therapists with either a Bachelors, Doctoral or Master’s degree in a life sciences-related field and who have three or more years of clinical wound care experience are eligible to take the CWS national wound certification examination. The test fee for the wound certification examination is $575 (this fee is not included in the price of the course).

            The CWSP, is also offered by the ABWM. It is a more challenging and exam, but is the highest credential you can receive. Our physician course provides CME credit hours, which could be an alternative course option for you!

  2. Hi I am an RN WCC CERTIFIED WITH 20plus years in wound care. I have an AA degree for my RN and a bachelors of science degree in Psychology. Would I qualify for CWS certification?

    1. Kim, Associate-level RNs should pursue the CWCA certification. Bachelor-degree RNs and BSNs should pursue the CWS certification. Both are offered by the ABWM. The ABWM states: “If you have at least a Bachelor’s degree, and you have a full and unrestricted license in at least one state and in all states in which you currently practice, you are eligible to apply for the CWS exam.”

      Good luck!

    1. Beverly, We recommend using our LPN/LVN course to prepare for wound care certification. The accredited choice for LPNs is the CWCA certification offered by the ABWM. If you do not have three years of wound care experience, you can always begin with the non-accredited WCC certification and work your way up!

    1. Gillian, We recommend using our LPN/LVN course to prepare for wound care certification. The accredited choice for LPNs is the CWCA certification offered by the ABWM. This certification requires you to have three years of wound care experience. You can submit your proof of active license and experience to the ABWM and request to be approved to take the exam.

      Best of luck!

    2. Please guide me to the appropriate certification. I am currently an RN (Associate Level) and do wounds/treatments in Acute Skilled Nursing. Also, was LPN 12 years who worked in Acute Skilled Care, with wounds and treatments.
      Would I qualify for CWS or CWCA?

      Wound care was not my primary role but had to do wound care and wound documentation.

      1. Kathy, in 2019 the ABWM changed the requirements for RNs, which means you are now allowed to take the CWS exam as an RN. Our RN course will prepare you for the CWS. Best of luck!

  3. Can I take this course in Korea? Is it availabe to send the course package to Korea?
    I am living in Korea now. I do have an active CA RN license.
    I used work in the US.

    1. Seyon, we do offer shipping worldwide! You can definitely take this course in Korea. If you have an active CA RN license, you will likely have to sit for the exam in the country you are licensed in. You can contact the PSI Examination Services at 1-888-519-9901 to see about testing centers in your area to make sure. Before you can sit for the exam, you must send all your pre-approvals (license proof, experience proof) to the ABWM. They will then approve you to schedule the exam through PSI testing centers.

  4. How does this certification compare to the WCC certification through the Wound Care Education Institute? I have a BSN as of 2015 and my WCC as of 2017. I have worked full time doing wound care in a rural access hospital since October of 2017. I am considering taking the course offered in Portland, OR in September (I believe), but I’m not sure how the two certifications compare.

    Thank you

    1. Hi Deanna, one important distinction to notice between the WCC and the CWS is that the WCC is offered to almost anyone, and the CWS is only offered to those with BSN, RN, PA, PT, RD, DO, DPM, DVM, MD, NP licenses. It is a more prestigious certification. In addition to that, the CWS is an accredited wound care certification, whereas the WCC is not accredited.

  5. I currently certified with my CWCN and I have taken this course in the past. Am I eligible to sit for the CWS exam as well?

    1. Lisa, what are your current licensing healthcare credentials (ie, RN, BSN, NP) and experience (three years, etc)

  6. My husband recently retired from the Air Force and we have relocated to Florida. I have not practiced in some time because of our multiple relocations. I have completed a RN Refresher Course and obtained my license. I hold a RN, BSN ( 4 Year). I have past wound care experience and I am interested in obtaining my CWS to better market myself as I return to work. Is this even possible since I lack the referral letters for the application process?

    I appreciate your time.

  7. Hi, I’m a licensed MD in the Philippines and currently a resident in-training under General Surgery. I am interested in the online courses but am I eligible to take the certifying exam?

    1. Johanna,

      Thank you for your interest in wound care! Our courses are available to ship worldwide, and all of the content is available online. To become fully certified, you will need to meet all requirements and sit for the exam. Many, like the ABWM, offer an international testing addendum as well – read more here: ABWM® Wound Care Certifications

  8. Hi, I am a PA with 32 years of experience, over the years I have participated in wound care of many patients but never full time wound care. Would I qualify to sit for the WCS exam after completing this course? Additionally, would those hours apply for CME credit?

  9. I have read the requirements, but am still unsure as to which course/exam would be appropriate. I am an ADN RN and have worked full time in a wound clinic for almost 5 years. Can you guide me please?

  10. I have reviewed the requirements and I worked long term care for 12 years were the LPN was responsible for daily wound care. I have worked as a RN for the past 8 years and we are responsible for daily wound care and physical assessments which include the skin. I just received my master degree and I am interested in a post master’s certificate for Advanced wound care. Please let me know if I qualify to attend this program to achieve my certificate.

    1. Aliya,

      We applaud your dedication to wound care! You have enough experience to apply for the CWS certification offered through the ABWM. Our online RN course will prepare you for the CWS exam (and give you 50 CE hours). You can also apply for your AWCC certification (which is brand-new!) after getting your CWS certification.

  11. Hello, My name is Hazim and I am a physician and anaesthetist in Jordan . I am wondering if I can the CSW course and exam . Thanks

  12. I am an Associate level RN who has worked with wounds (not my main responsibility) amongst my regular nursing duties for the past 3.5 years and now hold a position as a wound care coordinator at my hospital. I need to earn a certification by Sept 2021 as part of my employment agreement. Which certification am I eligible to pursue? There is conflicting information on your website as some parts say CWS is only for BSN but other parts say any healthcare professional with 3yrs experience. I would greatly appreciate some clarification on that! Thanks 🙂

    1. Hey Julie, the regulations for CWS were recently changed in 2019. Formerly, only BSN-RNs were able to become CWS certified, and in 2019, they expanded it to include all RNs, including Associate RNs. As someone who has more than 3 years of experience, we recommend pursuing the CWS as it is an accredited, 10-year certification. You can use our course to prepare for the CWS. Best of luck!

  13. Hello,
    I am a physical therapy student and have an interest in the wound care profession. which course I should take and how can I get experience after completing the course as these courses are online?

    1. Hi Anisha! You can take our PT course to gain necessary knowledge for wound care management. You can use the course completion certificate to leverage more experience with your current employer, or use it to gain new jobs. For accredited wound BOARD certification, I would check the requirements within your state. The WCC certification does not require 3 years’ experience like the CWS or CWSP certifications doe, but for PTs and OTs the availability of wound certification varies. Either way, our course is a good starting point to prepare you for the exams and teach you about wound care!

  14. Wondering why you just have PT included the WCS and why not OT? The WCS is my preferred course. I am a Certified Hand Therapist with military and civilian experience in wound care for over 30 years.

    1. Brenda – thank you for this observation. OTs CAN become CWS certified – in fact, we recommend OTs get their CWS certification over the WCC certification because it requires a higher level of education and preparation (aka more differentiation). It also is a ten-year certification vs a five-year certification. The original reason we left OTs out of this article is because not every state accepts the CE hours provided by the taking course itself.

  15. Hi,
    For foreign graduates/practicing outside the US/Canada, do you offer Wound Fellowship/training? I am a practicing Dermatologist in the Philippines and would like to be trained/get certification as a wound physician. If not, is there an affiliate society that you can refer me to?

  16. Hi I am an BSN, RN. I become registered nurse only last year. I would like to know if there is any option for me to take the course so I can practice as wound care nurse? Thank you.

    1. Maria,

      You can take our course with any level of experience. You have a few options – you can 1. take our course and use the course completion certificate to show your employer and leverage more wound-care related jobs. 2. You can use our course as the educational requirement to sit for the WCC exam, which doesn’t require prior experience 3. do both 1 and 2, or 3. Take the course now to gain more experience, then once you have 3 years of experience, register to take the CWS exam offered by the ABWM. If you need additional questions answered, don’t hesitate to reach out to us at [email protected].

      BSN course here – BSN Wound Care Certification Course

  17. Hi , is the course recognise in other country like Malaysia, Singapore etc?

    How do rectify the 3years experiences?

  18. Hi,

    I just want to confirm, I have a MSN,BSN degree and an active RN license. I am also presently studying as a nurse practitioner.Which course should I take to prepare for the CWS exam?


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