Steps to Becoming an APRN in Washington

washington nursing

1Get your Graduate Degree in Washington
2Earn your National Certification in Washington
3Apply for your License in Washington
4Renewing your License in Washington

The Washington State Department of Health, Nursing Commission (ph: 360-236-4700, is responsible for the issuance of licenses to qualified advanced registered nurse practitioners (ARNP) who practice in the state.

If you are interested in becoming licensed as an ARNP in Washington, it is more than likely you already hold a current RN license that is not subject to restrictions by the Commission. Holding an active RN license is a prerequisite to ARNP licensure in Washington.

Washington Job Statistics

  • 2015 mean salary for NPs in WA: $103,910
  • 2013 NCLEX-RN pass rate for Washington: 86.3%
  • As of 2015, 94% of ARNPs in Washington have a graduate degree
  • The majority of ARNPs in Washington (51.4%) are FNPs as of 2015
  • 46% of ARNPs in Washington prescribe Schedule II-V medications a moderate amount to a great deal
  • 77% of ARNPs in Washington favor changing their title to APRN (Advanced Practice Registered Nurse) to meet with the APRN Consensus Model

The following steps detail the process for becoming licensed as an ARNP in Washington State:


Step 1. Get Your Graduate Degree

You must have successfully completed your advanced nursing program within one year prior to applying for your ARNP license in Washington. You may petition the Commission to be made exempt from this stipulation in the event of undue hardship.

Specific requirements for advanced registered nurse practice educational programs in Washington State are described here.

Qualified Graduate Programs

Graduate level nursing programs must be accredited by an accreditation agency recognized by the United States Department of Education (USDE), or the Council of Higher Education Accreditation.

Since national certification in your chosen designation (NP, CRN, or CRNA) is required, the agency through which you pursue your national certification must approve of your advanced registered nurse program.

If you earned your degree outside of the United States, the program must be equivalent to the advanced registered nurse programs approved by the Washington State Department of Health, Nursing Commission. You must also hold current certification issued by a Commission-approved certification program.

Course Requirements

Advanced nursing educational courses must fulfill the following requirements as determined by the Washington Nursing Commission:

  • Clinical and didactic course work must prepare you to practice in the specific designation/area for which you seek licensure (NP, CRN, or CRNA)
  • Advanced physiology/pathophysiology
  • Advanced health assessment
  • Diagnostic theory and management of health care problems
  • Advanced pharmacology, including pharmacodynamics, pharmacokinetics, pharmacotherapeutics and pharmacological management of individual patients
  • No fewer than five hundred hours in direct patient care in the specific designation for which you seek licensure (NP, CRN, or CRNA) with clinical preceptor supervision and faculty oversight

Prescriptive Authority

In Washington State, choosing to be licensed with prescriptive authority is elective. If you choose to pursue licensure for prescriptive authority along with your ARNP license, you will be required to complete 30 contact hours of education in pharmacotherapeutics specific to your scope of practice. These 30 hours must be completed within two years prior to your application for prescriptive authority. This coursework may either be part of your ARNP graduate program, or taken as continuing education.

HIV/AIDS Training for Licensure

Your nursing license in Washington is also contingent on having HIV/AIDS training and education:

Step 2. Earn Your National Certification

The Washington State Department of Health, Nursing Commission recognizes three ARNP designations earned through a certification process facilitated by independent national certification agencies.

Certification will always involve a competency-based examination specific to each area of specialty. Each certifying agency has its own requirements for obtaining and maintaining active certification, which you’ll be expected to fulfill and maintain. You may opt to pursue certification in multiple areas, or limit your area of practice within the Commission-approved certification areas.

Advanced Nursing Designation Options

Designations recognized by the Washington State Department of Health, Nursing Commission:

  • Nurse practitioner (NP)
  • Certified nurse-midwife (CNM)
  • Certified registered nurse anesthetist (CRNA)

Certification Programs

The Commission recognizes certification exams approved by the National Commission on Certifying Agencies or the American Boards of Nursing Specialties specific to each designation:

  • Nurse Practitioners will take programs specific to areas of specialty:
    • Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP)
    • Pediatric Nurse Practitioner (PNP)
    • Neonatal Nurse Practitioner (NNP)
    • Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner (PMHNP) (family and adult)
    • Acute Care Nurse Practitioner (ACNP)
    • Adult Nurse Practitioner (ANP)
    • Diabetes Management- Advanced
    • Gerontological Nurse Practitioner (GNP)

Nurse practitioners can be certified through programs offered by four national certification programs approved by the Washington State Department of Health, Nursing Commission. Some agencies provide area-specific certification as noted:

If you have not yet become nationally certified, contact the certification agency of your choice before proceeding with the Washington State application process.

Step 3. Apply for your License

Under federal law, your application will require you to provide your US social security number. An Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) or Canadian Social Insurance Number (SIN) will not be accepted. Contact the customer service center at 360-236-4700 if you do not have a US social security number at the time of application.

Complete the ARNP with or Without Prescriptive Authority Application Packet.

The following items should be included with your Washington state ARNP license application:

  • Official transcripts – Must be submitted in a sealed envelope directly to the Washington Nursing Commission from the institution through which you earned your graduate degree
  • Proof of holding national certification – Must be submitted from your certifying agency directly to the Washington Nursing Commission
  • $92 initial application fee payable by check or money order to Washington DOH
  • Proof of current RN license issued by the Washington State Nursing Commission
  • If you completed your ARNP graduate program more than a year prior to submitting your application for licensure, submit proof of having no fewer than 250 practice hours in the past two years in your designated role based on the national certification you hold

Your completed application packet, along with all the above noted items, should be sent to the Washington State Department of Health, PO Box 1099, Olympia, WA, 98507-1099

All additional documents not included with the initial application should be sent to the Washington Nursing Commission, PO Box 47864, Olympia, Wa, 98504-7864.

For information on ARNP licensure in Washington by interstate endorsement, review WAC 246-840-090.

Step 4. Renewing Your License

You are responsible for taking steps to renew your Washington State Advanced Registered Nurse Practitioner license once every two years. Your biannual license renewal date is your birthday. Your application for renewal, fees, and associated documentation should be submitted prior to the expiration of your license.

In an initiative to eliminate the potential for license reproduction fraud, you will not be issued a hard copy of your renewed license. You can confirm that your renewal notice and related documents were received and processed by visiting the Provider Credential Search. The Provider Credential Search will also serve to provide verification to employers and clients that your Washington ARNP License is current and valid.

Required Practice Hours During Each Renewal Cycle

The state of Washington requires you to engage in no fewer than 250 practice hours specific to your area of specialty during each renewal cycle. You must attest to the completion of this minimum number of hours in practice each biannual cycle in order to have your license renewed.

Complete the Attestation of Advanced Nursing Practice (not required for first biannual renewal

Continuing Education

The state of Washington requires you to participate in no fewer than 30 continuing educations (CE) hours specific to your area of specialty during each biannual renewal period. Continuing education programs are available through your national certification agency.

If you have been licensed with prescriptive authority, you need no fewer than 15 additional hours of Pharmacology CE during each two-year renewal period

Complete the Attestation of Continuing Education (not required for first biannual renewal).

Your national certification agency will also require CE in order for your certification to remain current, which may or may not exceed the Washington State requirement for CE. Contact your certification agency for details on continuing education:

You will be required to submit proof of your active national certification during each biannual renewal period.

License Renewal Notice

The Washington State Nursing Commission will issue a courtesy renewal reminder by mail as your renewal date approaches. This will include all the required documents and specific instructions on how to proceed with renewal.

The following items will be required with your biannual license renewal:

  • Copy of current Washington State RN license (your RN license may be renewed along with your ARNP license)
  • License renewal fees:
    • RN $101 ($151 if submitted after your license expiration date)
    • ARNP $96 ($146 if submitted after your license expiration date)
  • Attestation of Advanced Nursing Practice form
  • Attestation of Continuing Education form
  • Proof of your current National Certification

Send all of the above noted documentation to Washington State Department of Health, Nursing Commission, PO Box 1099, Olympia, WA, 98507-1099.

Expired License Renewal Application

If your ARNP license has expired, submit the ARNP Expired Credential Activation Application Packet.

You will be subject to a late application penalty fee of $50. Your total license renewal fee for a license that was allowed to expire will be:

  • RN – $151
  • ARNP – $146

Advanced Practice Registered Nurse Associations in Washington

Consider joining one of the professional associations that support the profession in your state:

Washington Nurse Practitioner Salary

The 2011 American Academy of Nurse Practitioners’ National NP Compensation Survey showed that in the Far West region, including Washington, nurse practitioners earned an average base salary of $97,567, and a total average income of $107,518 when looking at their total compensation package. A 2011 survey conducted by Advance for NPs & APs, a peer reviewed journal for industry professionals, showed that NPs in Spokane and Tacoma earned an average of $85,100 and $88,666 respectively. Some of the highest nurse practitioner salaries in the state were reported by NPs in Seattle, where the average was $95,662 per year.

Registered Nurse Salary

Area name
Annual mean wage
Bellingham WA
Estimate Not Released
Bremerton-Silverdale WA
Kennewick-Pasco-Richland WA
Lewiston ID-WA
Longview WA
Mount Vernon-Anacortes WA
Olympia WA
Portland-Vancouver-Beaverton OR-WA
Seattle-Bellevue-Everett WA Metropolitan Division
Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue WA
Spokane WA
Tacoma WA Metropolitan Division
Wenatchee WA
Yakima WA
Northwestern Washington nonmetropolitan area
Southwestern Washington nonmetropolitan area
Central Washington nonmetropolitan area
Eastern Washington nonmetropolitan area

Health Diagnosing and Treating Practitioners Salary

Area name
Annual mean wage
Portland-Vancouver-Hillsboro OR-WA
Seattle-Bellevue-Everett WA Metropolitan Division
Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue WA
Spokane WA

Nursing Instructors and Teachers Salary

Area name
Annual median wage
Portland-Vancouver-Beaverton OR-WA
Seattle-Bellevue-Everett WA Metropolitan Division
Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue WA
Tacoma WA Metropolitan Division
Eastern Washington nonmetropolitan area

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

Area name
Annual mean wage
Bellingham WA
Bremerton-Silverdale WA
Kennewick-Pasco-Richland WA
Lewiston ID-WA
Longview WA
Mount Vernon-Anacortes WA
Olympia WA
Portland-Vancouver-Hillsboro OR-WA
Seattle-Bellevue-Everett WA Metropolitan Division
not available
Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue WA
not available
Spokane WA
Tacoma WA Metropolitan Division
Wenatchee-East Wenatchee WA
Yakima WA
Northwestern Washington nonmetropolitan area
Southwestern Washington nonmetropolitan area
Central Washington nonmetropolitan area
Eastern Washington 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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