Becoming an LPN in Washington
The state of Washington offers more than a dozen practical nursing programs for aspiring licensed practical nurses (LPNs) to choose from in locations across the state. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports an annual average wage for LPNs in Washington of $53,150, which is higher than the nationwide average salary for LPNs of $45,710. An aging population has led to an increase in practical nursing jobs across the country, and in Washington has led to aspiring nurses to seek state-approved schools for licensure.
There are more than 12 community colleges, vocational schools, and private colleges across the state of Washington that offer LPN programs.
Are you looking to become a licensed practical nurse in Washington? The school you choose is important when it comes to getting your license. Approved programs in Washington are offered at community colleges, technical centers, and private career schools - we list 13 schools across the state. After careful review of NCLEX-PN exam first-time pass rates over the past several years, we have ranked the top 5 programs. For more information on our LPN program rankings, see our Methodology page.
To see all the top ranked LPN programs in Washington click here.
Details on Washington LPN Schools & Classes
With more than a dozen practical nursing programs around the state to choose from, nursing students in Washington have several schooling options to consider. Most practical nursing programs can be completed in one to two years depending on whether a student attends classes on a full- or part-time basis.
A typical course load for an LPN program in Washington includes classroom and clinical learning experiences. Course titles may include the following:
- Nursing Fundamentals
- Nursing Math / Pharmacology
- Maternal/Newborn/Reproductive Nursing
- Pediatrics Nursing
- General Anatomy & Physiology
- Lifespan Psychology
- Medical Surgical Nursing
When researching practical nursing programs, it is important to consider program accreditation. A properly accredited program meets or exceeds high standards set by third-party accrediting organizations such as the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing. This means that a student can be assured that the program will provide a high quality nursing education and will prepare him or her for the important NCLEX-PN exam following graduation. Nursing students in Washington can check with the Washington Board of Nursing’s Nursing Care Quality Assurance Commission for a listing of state-approved practical nursing programs.
Before applying to any LPN program, it is critical to make sure you meet or exceed all the entrance requirements. While specific entrance requirements may vary slightly from school to school, they often include:
- Completion of high school or GED program (including transcripts)
- Cumulative GPA of 2.5 in all relevant coursework including prerequisite courses
- Completion of all prerequisite courses, such as college-level Math, English I and Basic Physiology & Human Anatomy
- Standardized test scores, if necessary, such as the ACT or TEAS V exam
- Personal interview
- Background check, drug screen and proof of required immunizations
- Submission of completed application and associated fees
Tuition and Costs
The cost of a practical nursing program can be a deciding factor for some students. All schools will have their own unique set of fees, so make sure you understand the full range of costs associated with your program before you apply. In general, costs for a practical nursing program include tuition, mandatory school and course fees and supplies (including textbooks, stethoscope, etc.). In addition, students should factor in the costs of housing and/or commuting to classes into the total price tag. Financial aid, loans, and scholarships are options to consider for those who need assistance covering the costs of their LPN program.
To provide an example, the estimated cost for the 4-quarter practical nursing program at Yakima Valley College is estimated at $6,983. This estimated cost includes tuition, required textbooks, campus lab fees, LPN license and exam fees and immunization and CPR certification fees. It does not include room and board or commuting costs.
Washington LPN Licensing Requirements
To become an LPN in Washington, individuals must be complete a state-approved nursing program. Once that is complete, he or she must sit and pass the NCLEX-PN exam—the required state-test to show proficiency.
In order to receive state licensure, the applicant must submit an application to the state of Washington Department of Health, including:
- Official transcript from state-approved nursing program
- Proof of passing score of the NCLEX exam
- Submit fingerprints for a FBI background check
- Complete a personal information statement that includes information about physical and mental health status, lack of impairment due to chemical dependency/substance abuse, felony convictions, disciplinary actions, and other areas
- Completion of 7 hours of required HIV/AIDS training
Washington LPNs must renew their license every year on or before their birthday. A continuing competency program is in place requiring 531 practice hours and 45 continuing education hours every three years.
NCLEX Exam Information
Before a practical nursing program graduate can receive licensure, they must first sit for and pass the NCLEX-PN examination. Your LPN program coursework should adequately prepare you for this important exam. To read more about the NCLEX-PN exam, please visit our overview page here. In addition, our NCLEX-PN practice test is available to help students prepare and study.
LPN Reciprocity and eNLC
Washington is not a state that has opted in to the Enhanced Nurse Licensure Compact (eNLC), so those rules do not apply. LPNs who have a valid license in another state can apply for licensure in Washington by endorsement by submitting proof of current licensure and having passed the NCLEX.
In addition, applicants must also submit:
- Fingerprints submitted digitally to the state
- Authorization for release of FBI information for criminal background check
Washington also allows foreign applicants with LPN equivalent background to apply for licensure in the state. In order to do so, applicants must submit their transcripts for a course by course evaluation with a state-approved evaluation service, pass an English language proficiency exam, complete a Personal Vocational Relationship Course online, submit fingerprints for a background check and pass the NCLEX exam.
The table below lists career information organized by the Bureau of Labor Statistics for licensed practical nurses in Washington. The table is sorted by total employment, with the largest metropolitan areas listed first.
|Area||Total Employment||Average Hourly Wage||Average Annual Salary|
|Seattle, Bellevue, Everett||2,550||$25.93||$53,930|
|Spokane, Spokane Valley||740||$23.18||$48,210|
|Mount Vernon, Anacortes||160||$21.91||$45,570|
For those interested in advancing their nursing career, see our Washington LPN to RN/BSN programs page.
Yakima Valley Community College (YVCC) is a public, two-year institution of higher learning located in Yakima, Washington, with an additional campus located in Grandview. YVCC seeks to enrich and enhance both the student and the community's lives, delivering accessible education by providing basic education, academic courses, professional programs, and workforce development options.
Big Bend Community College (BBCC) is located in Moses Lake, Washington. BBCC offers a variety of academic programs with a flexible schedule and even distance learning--educational opportunities include earning an associate's degree, transfer education, career certification, or completing a workforce development program.
Columbia Basin College (CBC) is a comprehensive two-year college, located in Pasco, Washington, with an additional campus located in Richland, providing quality education and job preparation. CBC provides opportunities for students to achieve higher education, meaningful employment, and basic skills development, as well as promoting culture enrichment for the entire community.
Centralia College, located in Centralia, Washington, with an additional campus located in Morton, provides an increasing number of educational programs for students. Centralia College seeks to promote learning activities within the community by offering programs that not only allow provide degrees and certifications for students, but they also allow members of the community to advance in the workplace.
North Seattle Community College, located in Seattle, Washington, is committed to changing lives through education, offering comprehensive education opportunities and promoting continuous learning and growth. North Seattle Community College promotes collaborative, self-directed learning as well as engaging coursework and faculty.
Continued List of All Programs in Washington
1620 Edward P Smith Dr, Aberdeen, WA 98520
1300 5th St,, Wenatchee, WA 98801
500 Tausick Way, Walla Walla, WA 99362
12401 SE 320th St, Auburn, WA 98092
1600 Chester Ave, Bremerton, WA 98337
1900 SE Pioneer Way, Oak Harbor, WA 98277
1101 S Yakima Ave, Tacoma, WA 98405
4500 Steilacoom Blvd SW, Lakewood, WA 98499
Additional WA Nursing Resources
- Washington State Department of Health - Nursing Commission
310 Israel Rd SE
Tumwater, WA 98501-7864
Phone: (360) 236-4700
- Washington State Nurses Association
575 Andover Park West, Suite 101
Seattle, WA 98188
Phone: (206) 575-7979
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