Steps to Becoming an Nurse Practitioner in Alberta

1Get your Graduate Degree in Alberta
2Pass the Necessary Examination(s) in Alberta
3Apply for your Registration in Alberta
4Renew your Registration in Alberta

The College & Association of Registered Nurses in Alberta (CARNA) registers qualified registered nurses to work as nurse practitioners (NP) in the province. According to CARNA, as of February 2011 there are 321 registered NPs working in Alberta, and 93 percent of these have a master’s or doctoral degree.

Alberta Job Statistics

  • 2011 average salary for general practitioners / family physicians in Alberta: $133,970
  • 2011 CARNA study found that 52% of RNs supported proposal to allow RNs limited prescribing authority
  • 2011 CARNA study found 33% of RNs regarded nursing shortage as most important healthcare issue in Alberta
  • 2011 CARNA study found 26% of RNs regarded availability/access as most important healthcare issue in Alberta

Within the nurse practitioner role, three streams of practice are recognized: Family/All ages, Adult, and Child or Neonatal.

Before you can register as a nurse practitioner in Alberta, you must be a registered nurse in the province.

  • If you are a graduate of an Alberta nursing education program within the past five years, you must apply to take the Canadian Registered Nurse Examination.
  • If you are currently registered as an RN in another Canadian province or territory, you must complete the application for registration in Alberta online.
  • If you attended a nursing program outside of Alberta, you must complete the IEN Self-Assessment online, or submit to CARNA an Application for Assessment of Eligibility for Registration. CARNA will determine if you are qualified to register and what, if any, requirements you need to fulfill prior to registration. You may need to take an English test, do a Substantial Equivalency Competency (SEC) assessment, or fulfill other requirements.
    • If you have not registered as an RN in the province, state or country in which you received your nursing education, you must do so before applying to CARNA. Verification of your initial registration/licensure as an RN from the regulatory authority where you completed your nursing education is needed by CARNA.
    • If you have undergone a competency assessment in another Canadian province or territory, you must have this assessment sent to CARNA.
  • If you have previously registered as an RN in Alberta but have been absent from practice, you must use the following: Returning to Practice.

You must be fully competent in four components of English: writing, speaking, reading and listening, before CARNA will accept your registration to work as an RN in the province. If there is any question, you may be asked to take an English language test.

With an active RN license, take the following steps to become a registered nurse practitioner in Alberta.

Step 1. Get Your Graduate Degree

The College & Association of Registered Nurses of Alberta (CARNA) regulates the registration of nurse practitioners (NP) in the province of Alberta. It states that you must have at least a bachelor’s degree and have completed a nurse practitioner education program in order to become an NP in the province. Nurse practitioner preparatory programs are most often at the master’s or post-master’s level.

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Qualified Graduate Programs

A program approved by the Nursing Education Program Approval Board (NEPAB) satisfies requirements for initial registration as a nurse practitioner in Alberta. A list of these programs may be found here.  Programs within Alberta that are currently approved for NP education include:

  • Athabasca University, 1 University Drive, Athabasca, AB T9S 3A3:
    • Master of Nursing: Advanced Nursing Practice Program
    • Post-Master’s Diploma: Advanced Nursing Practice Program
  • University of Alberta, Faculty of Nursing, Level 3, Edmonton Clinic Health Academy, 11405 87 Avenue, Edmonton Alberta T6G 1C9:
    • Master of Nursing: Family All Ages  Nurse Practitioner Program
    • Post-Master’s Certificate: Family All Ages Nurse Practitioner Program
    • Master of Nursing: Adult Nurse Practitioner Program
    • Post-Master’s Certificate: Adult Nurse Practitioner Program
    • Master of Nursing: Child Nurse Practitioner Program (includes neonatal specialization)
    • Post-Master’s Certificate: Child Nurse Practitioner Program (includes neonatal specialization)
  • University of Calgary, 2500 University Dr. NW, Calgary, Alberta T2N 1N4:
    • Integrated Master of Nursing Nurse Practitioner Program
    • Post-Master’s Nurse Practitioner Diploma Program

If you complete a NP program outside of Alberta, your credits will be evaluated by CARNA when you apply (see Step 4 below for more information).

Course Requirements

CARNA’s Scope of Practice for Nurse Practitioners lists the duties and practices considered to be fundamental to the work of an NP. The scope of practice can give you an idea of the courses that you will encounter during your NP education program:

  • Advanced health assessment and diagnosis
  • Diagnostic tests
  • Pharmacotherapy/advanced pharmacology
  • Treatment and advanced interventions
  • Monitoring client outcomes
  • Consultation and referral to other health care providers
  • Advanced pathophysiology
  • Foundations of advanced practice nursing
  • Philosophical foundations of nursing
  • Courses focusing on your intended stream of practice (Family, Adult or Child)

Prescriptive Authority

As an NP in Alberta you will have prescriptive authority over Schedule 1 drugs, as long as these drugs are relevant to your stream of practice. The advanced pharmacology and pharmacotherapeutics courses you take will prepare you for this responsibility. You will not be able to hold prescriptive authority over controlled substances.

Obtain Your Experience/Practice Hours

CARNA will not accept your Nurse Practitioner registration if you do not have the required experience.

You must have worked at least 4500 hours as a registered nurse or nurse practitioner prior to registering as an NP with CARNA.

You must also have worked 1125 hours as a nurse practitioner within the past five years, and 600 hours within the past two years providing direct NP clinical care. If you graduated from your NP education program within the past six months, you are exempt from the NP practice hour requirement.

Your NP education program will likely contain a clinical component that will prepare you for working as an NP in the “real world.” This practicum may last a semester or two, depending upon your NP program. You will be exposed to working with clients in the stream of practice in which you are training to specialize (family, adult or child/neonatal). You will work under the direct supervision of a nurse practitioner or physician who, along with staff from your NP program, will observe and evaluate your performance.

If you choose to attend distance education for your NP education, CARNA specifies that you must complete the clinical practica portion of the education in Alberta.

Step 2.  Pass the Necessary Examinations(s)

If you meet any of the following requirements, you are ready to apply to CARNA to take the Nurse Practitioner Exam in Alberta:

  • You are registered as an RN in Alberta and a graduate of an approved Alberta nurse practitioner education program
  • You are registered as an RN in Alberta and have completed a Canadian nurse practitioner program via distance education, with the clinical portion of the program completed in Alberta
  • You are a currently registered NP approved by CARNA to add another stream of practice to your registration

You may apply to take the examinations prior to completing your education, but you must complete your program no later than two weeks prior to taking the examination.

Which examination(s) should you take?

Family or All Ages Stream of Practice

If you plan to work in the Family/All Ages NP stream of practice, you must pass the Canadian Nurse Practitioner Examination (CNPE). This examination is administered twice a year (usually May and October) in Edmonton. The four-hour examination consists of 190 to 220 multiple-choice questions. Study guides and blueprints for the CNPE are available here.

Adult or Child Stream of Practice

If you plan to work strictly with adults or children, you may take the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) Adult or Child/Pediatric Exam. Administered by Prometric, these exams are offered in May and October. Test Centers are located in Edmonton and Calgary. More information on the Adult NP Exam may be found here. More information on the Pediatric NP exam may be found here.


If you plan to work as a Neonatal Nurse Practitioner (NNP), you must pass the ANCC Child NP Exam and take the OIIQ NNP Exam (of the Order des infirmieres et infirmers du Quebec). It has three parts: an oral exam, a written exam and an observed clinical exam. A preparation guide for this exam is here.

Application for Examination

Before submitting your NP Exam Application to CARNA, send the Confirmation of Nurse Practitioner Program form to your NP education program. They must complete the form and return it directly to CARNA to verify that you have completed your program.  It must be returned to:

College and Association of Registered Nurses of Alberta
Attention: Deputy Registrar
Special Registers
11620 – 168 Street
Edmonton AB T5M 4A6.

Download the Nurse Practitioner Examination Application. CARNA will review your completed application and review it and all supporting documentation to verify which exam(s) you must take for your intended stream of practice. Depending upon which exam(s) you are applying for, you must submit additional information and meet deadlines as follows:

  • If you are taking the CNPE:
    • Submit a copy of your birth certificate
    • Submit a copy of one other form of photo identification such as a driver’s license or passport
    • If you plan to take the May 9 exam:
      • You must complete your NP education by April 25
      • Applications are accepted by CARNA from February 1 to March 14
    • If you plan to take the October 17 exam:
      • You must complete your NP education by October 3
      • Applications are accepted by CARNA from July 11 to August 22
  • If you are taking the ANCC:
    • No additional documentation besides the application form is necessary. An ANCC exam coordinator will contact you to schedule your exam appointment through Prometric.
    • If you plan to write the exam from May 24 to June 28:
      • You must complete your NP education by May 10
      • Applications are accepted by CARNA from January 26 to March 8
    • If you plan to write the exam from October 2 to October 30:
      • You must complete your education by September 18
      • Applications are accepted by CARNA from June 5 to July 17
  • If you are taking the OIIQ:
    • Contact CARNA directly at 800-252-9392 ext 539 for more information.

You will be required to identify your program by code (listed in this application information booklet).

Include an application fee of $1155. This must be paid via money order payable to CARNA, by credit card (on the application form), or by debit card or cash at the CARNA office. Mail your completed application, fee and supporting documentation to CARNA at the above address.

After two weeks, CARNA will email you and let you know that your application is complete.

Receiving Your Exam Results

The Canadian Nurses Association (CNA) will send the results of the CNPE to CARNA. The American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) and Order des infirmieres et infirmers du Quebec will send the results of the ANCC and OIIQ exams to CARNA as applicable. CARNA will send you your results via postal mail about six to eight weeks after taking the test. If you have passed the exam and fulfilled all other requirements, instructions will be included on how to apply for NP registration in Alberta. If you fail the exam, you will be given preparation tips and dates to apply for future exams.

Step 3.  Apply for Registration

Once you have been notified by CARNA that you have passed the necessary exams, you are ready to apply for NP registration in Alberta. Use the proper form as indicated below:

Canadian NP Applicant: Use the Canadian Nurse Practitioner Registration and Practice Permit Application form if you completed your NP education in Canada. Along with your completed application, send:

  • A photocopy of your birth certificate
  • A photocopy of another form of identification (drivers license, passport)
  • Complete the Confirmation of Eligibility page of the application, and add additional documentation if you answer yes to any questions
  • Enter your NP educational institution information
  • Have your NP educational institution send transcripts directly to CARNA (only if your school was located outside of Alberta)
  • Complete the information on NP exams you have taken
  • Register your stream of practice
  • Complete the verification of your nursing registration by sending this form to any other jurisdictions in which you have been registered for the past five years
  • Complete the chart verifying your practice hours
  • Document your most current nursing employment.  If you have had more than one practice setting in the last six months, provide references from each one. Have your supervisor complete the “Nurse Practitioner Employer Reference.”
  • Complete the Continuing Competence section as directed
  • Sign and verify the form
  • Enclose the correct application fee as directed in the application (either with or without membership in the Canadian Nurses Association (CNA))

International NP Applicant: Contact to find out if you have enough RN hours. Complete all of the steps above. In addition:

  • Enclose a copy of your updated resume
  • Request that verification of your initial Registered Nurse registration be sent directly to CARNA from the jurisdiction you received your education in and where you were initially registered as an RN
  • Request that verification of your  Registered Nurse registration be sent directly to CARNA from all jurisdictions in which you are/have been registered within the past five years
  • Request that verification of your initial Nurse Practitioner registration be sent directly to CARNA from the jurisdiction in which you received your education and were initially registered as a NP
  • Request that verification of your Nurse Practitioner registration be sent directly to CARNA from all jurisdictions in which you are/have been registered with in the past five years
  • Forward the Nurse Practitioner Employer Reference form to your current or most recent employer(s)
  • Forward the Nurse Practitioner Practice Reference form to a peer Nurse Practitioner/physician at your current or most recent practice setting to be completed and sent directly to CARNA;
  • Enclose a $682.50 application fee.

Mail all applications, fees, and supporting documentation to College and Association of Registered Nurses of Alberta, Attention: Deputy Registrar, Special Registers, 11620 – 168 Street, Edmonton AB T5M 4A6.

Graduate Nurse Practitioner Application

If you have completed your nurse practitioner program but have not yet taken the exam, you may apply for a Graduate NP temporary permit. You must have met all other requirements to become an NP. The permit is valid for six months and may be renewed twice. It allows you to work as a Graduate Nurse Practitioner (GNP) performing the full scope of practice of an NP. If you are interested in pursuing this, fill out the appropriate part of the NP Registration application form.

Step 4.  Renewing Your Registration

Your NP registration in Alberta must be renewed yearly to keep it active. It expires October 1 of each year. You may renew your NP registration and pay all renewal fees (currently $530.25 for NP renewal) by logging onto MyCARNA and clicking on MyCCP to complete Element 1.  To do so, you will:

Throughout the year, you must complete Element 2. This involves continuing professional development. You must:

  • Implement learning plans through appropriate activities
  • Evaluate the influence of learning on your practice
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You may be chosen for a random audit by CARNA each year. If so, you will be given instructions on how to submit information for this audit.

Nurse Practitioner Associations in Alberta

Now that you are a registered nurse practitioner in Alberta, think about joining one of the following professional membership groups:

Alberta Nurse Practitioner Salary

According to information provided by Statistics Canada, as of 2011, nurse practitioners in the Edmonton area of Alberta earned an average of $36.22 per hour, which represented an average annual salary of $75,337. Those in the top ten percent earned roughly $14,700 more, averaging $90,064, which represented an average hourly wage of $43.30. The highest paid nurse practitioners were found in the Calgary, Banff, Jasper, and Rocky Mountain House areas where they averaged $75,608 per year, while those in the 90th percentile in this area averaged $90,896.

Occupational Classification
Number of Professionals
Average Income
Nurse Supervisors and RNs
Head Nurses and Supervisors
Registered Nurses
General Practitioners and Family Physicians

Employment and salary data included in these tables was produced by Census Canada in 2006 and originally published by Statistics Canada in 2008. To provide comprehensive information for comparative purposes, the data includes all Statistics Canada Occupational Classifications in which advanced practice nurses were identified.

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