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Steps to Becoming an APRN in Montana

montana nursing

Get your Graduate Degree in Montana
Earn your National Certification in Montana
Apply for your License in Montana
Renewing your License in Montana

The Montana Board of Nursing (406-841-2340 or licenses advanced practice registered nurses (APRN) to practice within the state.

The Board licenses APRNs in four roles: nurse practitioner (NP), clinical nurse specialist (CNS), certified nurse midwife (CNM), and certified registered nurse anesthetist (CRNA).

You must possess a current, valid Montana registered nurse (RN) license before the Board will consider you for APRN licensure. If you do not already have one, follow the appropriate method below to obtain one:

Montana Job Statistics

  • 2015 mean salary for NPs in MT: $94,720
  • 2013 NCLEX-RN pass rate for Montana: 87.7%
  • Montana joined the Nurse Licensure Compact in 2015
  • 2014-24 projected increase in NP jobs in Montana: 32.3%
  • 2014-24 projected increase in RN jobs in Montana: 22.1%
  • If you completed your RN training in a foreign country, you must have an official, course-by-course evaluation report conducted by a Board-approved credential evaluation service prior to applying for Montana RN licensure. Contact the Board for a list of approved foreign credential evaluation service.
  • If your Montana RN license is currently inactive, use the RN Renewal Process to re-activate it.

Once you have obtained a current, valid Montana RN license, follow these steps to become a licensed APRN in the state.


Step 1. Get Your Graduate Degree

The Montana Board of Nursing requires that you hold a master’s degree, post-graduate certificate, or doctorate from a nationally accredited advanced practice nursing program in order to become a licensed APRN in the state. Your program must be at least one year in length.

Qualified Graduate Programs

The Montana Board of Nursing requires that the graduate nursing program you choose be nationally accredited by an institutional, specialized, or programmatic accreditation agency recognized by the United States Department of Education (USDE).

Course Requirements

The Montana Board of Nursing administrative rules state that your APRN education program must include the following:

  • At least 250 hours of didactic instruction
  • At least 500 hours of preceptorship

Additionally, specific courses are required for specific APRN roles, based upon the scope of practice for each:

Nurse Practitioner– coursework must cover:

  • Advanced health assessment
  • Continuity of care
  • Diagnosis
  • Interpreting diagnostic test results
  • Disease prevention and wellness programs
  • Counseling/instructing clients and families
  • Collaboration with and referral to other health care providers

Certified Nurse Midwife– coursework must meet the standards of the American Midwifery Certification Board, and include:

  • Health promotion and risk reduction
  • Antepartum care in women
  • Intrapartum, postpartum and newborn care
  • High-risk perinatal nursing
  • Well woman and gynecological care
  • Collaboration with and referral to other health care providers

Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist– coursework must meet the standards of the National Board of Certification & Recertification of Nurse Anesthetists, and include:

  • Anesthesia physiology and pathophysiology
  • Physics/chemistry of anesthesia
  • Health assessment
  • Perioperative technology
  • Pharmacology for the practice of nurse anesthesia

Clinical Nurse Specialist– coursework must cover:

  • Advanced health assessment
  • Diagnosis
  • Health promotion and disease prevention
  • Therapeutic interventions including:
    • Direct nursing care
    • Ordering durable medical equipment
    • Ordering nonpharmacological treatment
    • Prescribing medications
    • Diagnostic procedures
    • Counseling/teaching clients/families
    • Collaboration with and referral to other health care providers

Psychiatric/Mental Health Clinical Nurse Specialist- coursework must cover:

  • Pharmacology
  • Advanced health assessment
  • Continuity of mental health care
  • Management of therapeutic regimens
  • Ordering of treatments and modalities
  • Interpreting diagnostic test results
  • Promotion of mental health wellness and psychiatric disease prevention
  • Collaboration with and referral to other health care providers

Prescriptive Authority

As a licensed APRN in Montana, you may apply for prescriptive authority (except if you are a regular clinical nurse specialist, in which case you are not eligible). You must be able to document the completion of certain courses, including:

  • 45 contact hours in pharmacology, pharmacotherapeutics, and the clinical management of drug therapy related to your APRN specialty, completed within three years of applying for prescriptive authority
    • No more than 6 of these contact hours may cover herbal or complementary therapies
    • 18 of these contact hours must have been completed within two years of applying for prescriptive authority
    • 15 of these contact hours must be from face-to-face or interactive instruction

Information on applying for prescriptive authority will be discussed in Step 3.


Although as a Montana APRN you will not be licensed in a sub-specialty, specialization in one (or more) population focus is a common practice among APRN students. In Montana, specializations for NPs and CNS exist in the following population areas: adult; family; geriatric; acute care; adult, neonatal and pediatric critical care; adult, family and child/adolescent psychiatric/mental health; and women’s health care.

Additional specializations are available within many masters of nursing science degree programs. To broaden your career opportunities, you may choose to take program concentrations in nurse informatics, nurse administration, business administration, nurse education, or nurse leadership.

Step 2. Earn Your National Certification

You must become nationally certified by a certifying agency representing your APRN role before Montana APRN licensure will be issued. Various national certification agencies exist for each APRN role, each with its own eligibility requirements specific to education and experience. All APRN generalist role and patient population-specific national certification requires the completion of an APRN generalist role or patient population-specific exam. You may seek national certification in one or more specialties, but must become nationally certified by at least one organization in order to become a licensed Montana APRN.

Certification Programs

Listed below are the APRN national certification agencies and designations accepted by the Montana Board of Nursing for certification in the APRN specialties listed below each agency:

      • Acute Care Nurse Practitioner (ACNP)
      • Adult Nurse Practitioner (ANP)
      • Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP)
      • Geriatric Nurse Practitioner (GNP)
      • Pediatric Nurse Practitioner (PNP)
      • Adult Psychiatric & Mental Health Nurse Practitioner (PMHNP)
      • Family Psychiatric & Mental Health Nurse Practitioner (PMHNP)
      • Adult Health Clinical Nurse Specialist (AHCNS)
      • Child & Adolescent Psychiatric & Mental Health Clinical Nurse Specialist (PMHCNS)
      • Adult Psychiatric & Mental Health Clinical Nurse Specialist (PMHCNS)
      • Pediatric Clinical Nurse Specialist (PCNS)
      • Adult Nurse Practitioner (ANP)
      • Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP)
      • Geriatric Nurse Practitioner (GNP)
      • Acute Care Nurse Practitioner (ACNP)
      • Adult Critical Care Clinical Nurse Specialist (ACCNS)
      • Pediatric Critical Care Clinical Nurse Specialist (PCCNS)
      • Neonatal Critical Care Clinical Nurse Specialist (NCCNS)
      • Neonatal Nurse Practitioner (NNP)
      • Women’s Health Care Nurse Practitioner (WHNP)
      • Pediatric Nurse Practitioner – Acute Care (ACPNP)
      • Pediatric Nurse Practitioner – Primary Care (PCPNP)
      • Certified Nurse Midwife (CNM)
      • Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA)

Step 3. Apply for your License

Download the APRN Application. Indicate at the top of the form the APRN role for which you are applying (NP, CNM, CNS, CNS-Psych/Mental Health, or CRNA), and whether you are also applying for prescriptive authority. Along with your completed application:

  • Enclose correct fee(s) ($75 for each APRN specialty recognition for which you are applying, $100 for prescriptive authority, and $35 for temporary permit) payable by check, money order, or cashier’s check to the Montana Board of Nursing
  • Have your graduate nursing program send an official transcript directly to the Board of Nursing. This transcript must also show any necessary coursework and preceptorships.
  • Enclose a copy of your national certification
  • You need not fill out the Practice Site Form that is included within the application until you have established a relationship with a physician and initiated APRN practice. This form must be filed with the Board within 30 days of initiating APRN practice (see below).

Mail all of the above to the Montana Board of Nursing, P.O. Box 200513, Helena, MT 59620-0513. If there are any deficiencies in your application, the Board will notify you. Your licensure status may be checked online. When licensure has been approved, the Board will mail your APRN license to you.

Graduate Status/Temporary Permit

If you are a new graduate and wish to work as an APRN immediately, you may apply for a temporary permit. This permit is valid for 90 days. Use the APRN application above and complete the Temporary Permit section. To be eligible, you must provide proof that you have been authorized to take a national certification exam (enclose a copy of your exam authorization letter or notice). You must have a consultant (either a licensed Montana APRN or physician within your scope of practice) sign the application. This consultant must always be available to you while you are practicing under a temporary permit. When you pass the national certification exam, you may still work under the temporary permit until the Board grants you full APRN licensure. If you fail the national certification exam, your permit is revoked immediately.

Prescriptive Authority

If you plan to work as a CNM, NP, CNS-Psych/Mental Health, or CRNA, you may apply for Prescriptive Authority. Indicate on the APRN application form if you wish to do so, and enclose the $100 fee. Your transcript must indicate that you have completed the necessary pharmacology coursework (as stated in Step 2 above). Prescriptive authority for APRNs in Montana is independent, without restrictions, and includes controlled substances. If you choose to prescribe controlled substances, however, you must register with the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA).

Practice Site Form/Quality Assurance Plan

Within one month of starting APRN practice in Montana, you must file a practice site form/quality assurance plan with the Board. The basic form to begin the process is located within the APRN Application. The following information must be included:

  • Location of your practice site(s)
  • Identification of your peer reviewer or peer reviewer organization (peer review must occur quarterly and include review of five percent of all charts handled by the APRN)
  • Standards of practice set by your national certification organization
  • Criteria for client referrals, patient outcomes and chart documentation set by your national certification organization
  • How your peer reviewer will address and follow up on areas in which you need to improve

On December 31 of even numbered years (during license renewal), you must submit a new quality assurance report to the Board. It must document that peer review has occurred according to the rules above.

APRN Scope and Standards

The Montana Board of Nursing follows the APRN scope of practice and standards of the national certifying organization(s) for each APRN specialty role. The organizations and documents containing the scope of practice and standards of each role are listed here.

Step 4. Renewing Your License

Your RN and APRN licenses expire on December 31 of even-numbered years. A renewal notice will be mailed to your address on file with the Board about 60 days prior to your license expiration. RN licensure in Montana and national certification must both be maintained to renew your APRN license.

Continuing Education

You must satisfy the continuing education (CE) requirements of both the Montana Board of Nursing and of your national certification agency to renew your APRN license. CE requirements of the Board and national certification agencies for APRN titles are as follows:

CNS-Psych/Mental Health

  • Board requirement: You must complete 40 CEUs (continuing education units) every two years.
  • National requirement of ANCC (American Nurses Credentialing Center):
    • You must complete 75 contact hours of CE in Category I, including 25 contact hours in pharmacology, and complete other professional development activities as specified, every five years. For more information, see the Certification Renewal Requirements.




  • Board requirement: You must complete 40 CEUs every two years. If you have prescriptive authority, you must complete 10 additional CEUs in pharmacology/pharmacotherapeutics.
  • National requirement of American Midwifery Certification Board:
    • You must meet AMCB continuing competency requirements
    • You must complete 40 CE hours every five years


You must submit proof that your national certification is active when you renew your Montana APRN license.

License Renewal

  • Complete the APRN Renewal Process.
  • Enclose $50 for each APRN specialty role which you are renewing, and $75 if you are renewing prescriptive authority, payable to the Montana Board of Nursing
  • Send a copy of your national certification

Mail everything to the Montana Board of Nursing, P.O. Box 200513, Helena, MT 59620-0513.

Audit Form

If the Board notifies you at the time of your APRN license renewal that you are being audited, you must submit the APRN Audit Form. Complete it in its entirety and mail it to the Board along with:

  • Copies of certificates of completion for all CE claimed
  • Complete documentation of prescriptive authority renewal if applicable and include CE certificates verifying pharmacology coursework
  • Include any additional comments to explain your situation, if necessary

Expired License Renewal Application

If your APRN license has expired, contact the Board at 406-841-2340 or for instructions on reinstating it.

Advanced Practice Registered Nurse Associations in Montana

These advanced practice registered nurse associations can provide valuable networking and support for APRNs practicing in Montana:

Montana Nurse Practitioner Salary

According to the 2011 National Salary survey conducted by the peer reviewed journal, Advance for NPs & PAs, nurse practitioners in Montana enjoyed one of the most dramatic increases in average salaries in the country, from $76,183 in 2010 to $88,620 in 2011, a positive change of 16%. Nurse practitioners in Missoula earned an average salary of $84,000 while the highest salaries in the state were found in Great Falls where NPs earned an average of $105,000. The 2011 American Academy of Nurse Practitioners’ National NP Compensation survey showed that in the mountain state of Montana, nurse practitioners enjoyed an average base salary of $85,384 with an average total income at $94,944.

Registered Nurse Salary

Area name
Annual mean wage
Billings MT
Great Falls MT
Missoula MT
Eastern Montana nonmetropolitan area
Central Montana nonmetropolitan area
Southwestern Montana nonmetropolitan area
Western Montana nonmetropolitan area

Nurse Administrator Salary
(Includes Nurse Managers, Directors, and Chief Nursing Officers)

Area name
Annual mean wage
Billings MT
Great Falls MT
Missoula MT
Eastern Montana nonmetropolitan area
Central Montana nonmetropolitan area
Southwestern Montana nonmetropolitan area
Western Montana nonmetropolitan area

These tables provide salary and employment information compiled by the US Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics in May 2011. The data contained herein does not include self-employed nurses in independent practice.

When responding to the salary survey, some advanced practice registered nurses identified themselves as RNs while others identified themselves as health diagnosing and treating practitioners. When available, both sets of data were included for comparative purposes.

* These figures represent earnings that are at or above $90.00 per hour or $187,199 per year. The Bureau of Labor Statistics does not publish earnings beyond $90.00 hourly or $187,199 yearly.

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