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How to Become a Nurse in Washington State, WA


Becoming a nurse in Washington State is a smart career move. With Licensed Practical Nurses (LPN) averaging $44,000 per year, and Registered Nurses (RN) averaging close to a $70,000 salary (according to, there is currently a shortage of qualified Washington nurses and demand for nurses—along with their salaries—is only expected to grow in coming years.

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So, how to become a nurse in Washington State?

There are three common nursing education programs for aspiring Washington nurses. The quickest are LPN diploma programs, which take a year to complete. Then, there are two different RN programs: a two year Associate Degree, Nursing degree or four year Bachelor of Science, Nursing program, both of which lead to licensure as an RN.

Regardless of which Washington State nursing education program you choose, they all require prerequisites—usually at least a full quarter of studies for LPN training, and one to two quarters of class work for ADN or BSN degrees. Prerequisites focus on introductory topics, both in the sciences and arts—nursing requires, after all, both technical knowledge of health issues and patient care and emotional and psychological support skills for patients and their families coping with traumatic health issues. Typical courses include introductory biology, psychology, physiology, English, and so on.

Completing the prerequisites is no guarantee that you will get into a nursing education program or college of nursing in Washington State. Rather, there are many applicants, and good grades are essential to entry. Once accepted, one can move from an LPN to an ADN or BSN as well—you do not have to become a Registered Nurse right away. But, if you choose to become a Washington RN right off the bat, the major difference between a two or four year program is the degree of specialization available. An ADN education focuses heavily on practices, procedures, and management of lower level nurses, while a BSN takes it to the next level with further studies in nursing research, theory, and focused topics like pharmacology, radiology, or public health.
Washington State nursing education programs culminate with the nationalized NCLEX examinations. There are both LPN and RN versions, and they are the final step to becoming a nurse in Washington.

For more information, visit our in-depth Washington Nursing state pages.