Washington Nurse Practitioner Licensure Steps - 2024

AKA: NP License, APRN Licensure


by NursePractitionerLicense.com Staff

Updated: February 13th, 2024

If you’ve chosen Washington State as your home to become licensed as an ARNP, you need to be well-informed of the process. The best place to check current licensing requirements is the Nursing Care Quality Assurance Commission (NCQAC) section on the Washington State Department of Health website. The first requirement is to acquire a Washington State license as a registered nurse. If you haven’t yet applied for your RN license, you can apply for both RN and ARNP licenses simultaneously.

Next, you must have an active national certification in a focus-specific program that is commission-approved. With your education, state RN license, and valid national certification, you are ready to apply for an ARNP license in Washington. A few other requirements include background checks, transcripts, and proof of clinical practice hours. Once you have obtained a valid ARNP license, you will be ready to legally practice as a nurse practitioner in the state.

One thing to consider before committing to Washington State for your practice is that it is not part of the Nursing Licensure Compact. This compact allows multi-state licenses that can be used to legally expand your practice to include more than 75% of the United States. Since Washington State has not joined, it means that your Washington ARNP license will be limited to the physical location of Washington State unless you pursue additional licensing in another state.

Nurse Practitioner Licensure Requirements in Washington

If you’ve determined it’s worth your while to look further into becoming a licensed nurse practitioner in Washington State, read on to learn how to become a nurse practitioner (NP) in Washington.

Initial Registered Nurse (RN) License

Already have your RN License?  Skip to the next section

Before jumping straight into the nurse practitioner role, you must first become licensed as a registered nurse (RN) in Washington State. RNs perform hands-on patient-care duties including administering medication prescribed by a physician, providing wound care, and documenting patients’ conditions.

Graduating from an approved nursing education program is required to become a registered nurse in Washington State. While your nursing degree can be obtained within or outside of the state, it must be NCQAC approved or equivalent. Approved programs include both associate degrees in nursing as well as BSN degrees, meaning it can take two to four years to graduate. A minimum GPA of 3.0 / 4.0 must be achieved to be considered as well as passing the NCLEX-RN exam.

The typical application process for Washington State RN licensure requires:

  • $120 application fee
  • Registration with Pearson Vue (for NCLEX exam)
  • Educational verification to NCQAC (transcripts & certificate of completion)
  • FBI Fingerprint Background Check

If you’re already actively licensed as an RN in another state, there is an alternative to taking the NCLEX-RN exam. You can pursue the route of licensure by interstate endorsement. The application process for endorsement licensure requires:

  • $120 application fee
  • Educational verification to NCQAC (transcripts & certificate of completion)
  • FBI Fingerprint Background Check
  • License verification through Nursys ($30 fee per license)

Depending on the nursing program you completed, NCQAC may require proof of 1,000 hours of work experience as a nurse in the licensed state. Once your application and license are approved, Washington State issues a temporary practice permit until your FBI fingerprints are accepted.

You can apply online or by paper application. Applying online can cut the process down to as little as five days from the time that you submit your application. The RN license in Washington State requires renewal every year. To maintain your RN license in Washington State you will need:

  • Annual renewal application with a fee of $120
  • Complete 8 hours per year of continuing education credits
  • Minimum of 96 practice hours per year

Advanced Education Requirements

Becoming licensed as an advanced practice nurse in Washington State requires a graduate degree from a commission-approved program.

You can complete the advanced education in as little as six years if opting for an approved master’s degree program. Before enrolling in a nursing program, it is imperative to verify that it is approved by the Washington State NCQAC.

To gain prescriptive authority as a nurse practitioner in Washington State, you must complete 30 contact hours of learning in pharmacology within two years prior to applying for prescriptive authority. If you’re applying within two years of graduating from an approved ARNP program, that may be sufficient for your pharmacology education.

National Certification

To be eligible for licensure as a nurse practitioner in Washington State, you must pass a national specialty licensing exam from an approved certifying body. These exams are specific to the population group or focus that you will be licensed to practice in. The current NCQAC-approved certifying bodies recognized by Washington State include:

To sit for an exam, you must fill out an application with the certifying body above and be deemed eligible to test. The national certifying body will verify your application details and notify you of eligibility to test so that you may schedule your exam at a facility within a four-month period.

The requirements to sit for a national certification exam will vary depending on the certifying body and the specialty focus. There is a fee to become nationally certified, typically less than $500 per initial certification and less for recertification. You must pass the exam to become officially nationally certified.

Gaining Final Authority to Practice as a Nurse Practitioner in Washington State

Once you have completed your Washington State RN licensure, graduated from an advanced-degree nursing program approved by the state, and passed the appropriate national certification exam, you are ready to apply for your ARNP license with the state. Here are the steps to gain final authority to practice as a nurse practitioner in Washington State:

  1. Fill out an application (paper or online)
  2. Submit application with the $125 fee and upload all documents
  3. Complete FBI fingerprinting
  4. Wait for confirmation of a pending credential number

A fifth step is required for applicants who have not worked 125 hours per year. Proof of 250 supervised advanced nursing practice hours within the past two years is required if this is your first ARNP license and more than one year has passed since graduation. Find more information on a supervised practice agreement on the state website.

The online application process is completed through the Secure Access Washington (SAW) website. The website will walk you through the process of verifying your identity and submitting documentation proving eligibility for licensure. The application will remain active for 14 days for you to upload all necessary documents.

You will be granted a temporary practice permit until your FBI fingerprint process is complete. You can expect your paper license to come in the mail within 7-10 business days once approved. To check your application status, visit the Provider Credential Search and enter your name or pending credential number. Your ARNP license must be renewed every other year in the state of Washington.