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, hsqa.csc@doh.wa.gov) 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

  • As of 2021, Washington still uses the ARNP acronym (Advanced Registered Nurse Practitioner), though most nurses favor changing the title to APRN to align with the consensus model
  • Washington grants full practice authority to all ARNPs, including prescriptive authority and independent practice
  • Washington nurse practitioners were the third highest earning NPs in the nation in 2020, with a median salary of $127,700
  • 2021 NCLEX-RN pass rate for graduates of Washington’s 4-year nursing schools: 90.85%
  • In 2020, 3,720 NPs; 660 CRNAs; and 110 CNMs were licensed to practice in Washington

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

Nurse practitioners and other advanced practices nurses do well for themselves in the great Northwest, with 2020 US Bureau of Labor Statistics data for nurse practitioners, nurse midwives and nurse anesthetists showing all three roles had average salaries that easily passed the six-figure mark.

The 3,700-plus NPs licensed in Washington State in 2020 earned an average salary of $126,480. NPs at the top of the salary scale in Washington who made it into the top ten percent earned more than $162,000 that year.

Area Name
Employment
Annual mean wage
Bellingham
60
107140
Bremerton-Silverdale
100
126290
Eastern Washington nonmetropolitan area
80
115020
Kennewick-Richland
80
115170
Longview
40
139560
Mount Vernon-Anacortes
40
111300
Olympia-Tumwater
100
118450
Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue
2490
128960
Spokane-Spokane Valley
230
120750
Wenatchee
50
123060
Western Washington nonmetropolitan area
160
121680
Yakima
100
114420

Washington Registered Nurse Salary

With Washington’s RNs holding qualifications that range from ADNs and even nursing diplomas at the low end, to the BSN and MSN, which are increasingly being seen as standard for new graduates and advancing RNs, salaries for registered nurses in the state can be as diverse as their educational backgrounds. Taken as an overall average, the RN salary in Washington in 2020 was $91,310, while at the high end of the range the top ten percent earned more than $125,970 that year.

Area Name
Employment
Annual mean wage
Bellingham
460
70160
Bremerton-Silverdale
1410
70870
Eastern Washington nonmetropolitan area
1430
83260
Kennewick-Richland
2080
81080
Longview
780
70880
Mount Vernon-Anacortes
1220
88360
Olympia-Tumwater
2120
93270
Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue
33660
95120
Spokane-Spokane Valley
6570
89890
Walla Walla
760
91280
Wenatchee
1390
88550
Western Washington nonmetropolitan area
2360
89400
Yakima
1860
74100

Washington Nurse Midwife Salary

There were just 110 licensed nurse-midwives offering their services statewide as of 2020, earning an average salary of $112,310. Washington CNMs earning salaries in the 90th percentile made more than $133,900 that year.

Area Name
Employment
Annual mean wage
Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue
50
116850

Washington Nurse Anesthetist Salary

In most states, nurse anesthetists tend to represent the smallest segment of the APRN workforce, but in Washington, some 660 CRNAs were licensed to practice statewide as of 2020. As is true almost everywhere, Washington’s CRNAs were the highest paid segment of the APRN workforce, bringing in an average of $197,740 that year. At the top of the scale, Washington’s CRNAs in the top 10 percent earn salaries that are higher than the BLS reporting threshold, which maxes out at $208,000.

Area Name
Employment
Annual mean wage
Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue
NA
195510
Spokane-Spokane Valley
30
191610

Washington Nurse Administrator Salary

Roles for master’s and DNP-prepared nurses in Washington outside of direct patient care were also strong, with nurse administrators earning salaries very similar to what APRNs in the state earn. The broad category for medical and health services managers, which includes Washington’s nurse administrators at all levels, showed an average salary of $132,620 in 2020, with the top ten percent earning more than $208,000 that year.

Area Name
Employment
Annual mean wage
Bellingham
90
95200
Bremerton-Silverdale
190
97520
Eastern Washington nonmetropolitan area
190
101620
Kennewick-Richland
190
127630
Longview
80
98340
Mount Vernon-Anacortes
120
129020
Olympia-Tumwater
240
127270
Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue
4000
141890
Spokane-Spokane Valley
420
125360
Walla Walla
50
120510
Wenatchee
110
121770
Western Washington nonmetropolitan area
240
111650
Yakima
170
124950

Washington Nursing Instructor Salary

From Seattle to Spokane, nursing instructors working in Washington’s nationally-recognized nursing schools housed in state colleges and private universities earn respectable salaries, with the state average coming in at nearly $87,000 in 2020. At the top of the ladder, experienced, tenured professors earned salaries that fell in the 90th percentile, bringing in more than $130,860 that year.

Area Name
Employment
Annual mean wage
Olympia-Tumwater
90
NA
Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue
NA
98620
Spokane-Spokane Valley
220
68930
Western Washington nonmetropolitan area
30
NA

 

2020 US Bureau of Labor Statistics job market trends and salary figures for Nurse Practitioners, Nurse Midwives, and Nurse Anesthetists, as well as Registered Nurses, Nurse Administrators (Health Services Managers), and Nursing Instructors represent state data not school-specific information. Conditions in your area may vary. Data accessed September 2021.

* These figures represent wages that are at or above the BLS reporting threshold of $100 per hour or $208,000 per year.

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