How to Become an LPN in Washington – A Simple Guide

How to Become an LPN in Washington - A Simple Guide

Looking to become an LPN?

That’s a fantastic choice! 

LPNs (just like all nurses) are in demand in Washington!

With the growing number of elderly patients and those with chronic diseases, more and more people are relying on nursing care. 

The job of the LPN is sought-after, rewarding, and meaningful.

But are you struggling to understand the process? Does it seem too overwhelming and complicated?

Don’t fret because we’ve got you covered! 

This article will simplify the entire process of how to become an LPN in Washington in just three steps.

We’ll also answer some FAQs, such as:

  • How much does an LPN in Washington make?
  • Where do most LPNs work?
  • Is Washington an NLC State?
  • What is the difference between CRA, LPN, and RN?

Let’s begin! 

How to Become an LPN in Washington – 3 Simple Steps

Here are the 3 simple steps to becoming an LPN in Washington:

Step #1: Apply to a Nursing School

Step #2: Get Your LPN License

Step #3:  Keep Your License Active

Let’s have a closer look at each one.

Step #1: Apply to a Nursing School

Like any other career, LPNs must also start at school and gain the appropriate training. 

The skills of an LPN are highly specialized since it requires working with people in various stages of health. 

You may even find yourself in emergency or critical, life-and-death situations. 

Thus, the need for proper training. 

But how do you ensure that you are getting the proper training to be the best LPN you can be? 

First, you better make sure the program is state-approved or even accredited. 

State-approval and Accreditation

Whatever LPN program you enroll in MUST BE state-approved. This is non-negotiable, otherwise, your education will count for nothing.

Here is a list of approved LPN programs from the Washington Board of Nursing. 

Aside from state approval, you can also find out whether or not the school is accredited. This is an additional layer of approval and evaluation to ensure excellent education. 

Accreditation is the sign of approval. In this institution, not only can you expect excellent teaching, but you can also expect employers to hire you in the future. 

To find accredited schools, check out the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN) website. 

But remember! Enrolling in a good school is not an automatic guarantee that you are going to do well in your career. It still depends on how hard you work and how well you prepare yourself. 

Admission Requirements

To enroll in an LPN program, there are some requirements you need to fulfill. 

These vary by institution, but generally include the following:

  • A General Educational Development (GED) or a high school diploma
  • Must be 17 years old or older
  • A CPR certification
  • A copy of college transcripts (if you attended college before)
  • A complete record of immunizations and vaccinations
  • Completion of all prerequisite exams and courses such as College level Maths, English, and ACT
  • Background check and drug screening

Program Length

Most LPN programs are designed to be completed in one year (12 months) if you are a full-time student.

But if you study part-time, this can extend to 18-24 months. 

Not too long, right?

It’s definitely shorter than a Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree for RNs, which lasts 4 years!

Program Content 

Most LPN programs have two main sections – classroom instruction and clinical training.

Classroom instruction covers topics like:

  • Nursing Fundamentals
  • Normal Growth and Development
  • Communicable Diseases
  • Pediatric Nursing
  • Maternal Nursing

Part of your training also includes applying what you learn in different healthcare settings. 

You will have the opportunity to observe LPNs in real-life situations and get to practice your skills under the supervision of professionals. 

Step #2: Get Your LPN License

Getting your nursing education means you know how an LPN works, but it doesn’t mean you can work as an LPN yet! 

For that, you need to acquire a license.

A license is a permit that allows you to practice as an LPN. Pretty important, right? So, how do you get one?

You can get an LPN license in Washington in two ways – through examination or endorsement. 

Let’s talk about each method. 

Licensure by Examination

This is the process for those who:

  • Have graduated from a state-approved LPN program
  • Have never yet been licensed as an LPN in any state

If you fit the criteria above, then you need to take and pass a licensing exam – the NCLEX-PN. 


We know, we know! You’ve gone through so many exams in nursing schools and now there is another one! But this is the last major exam you’ll need to take (unless you decide to pursue further education and upgrade your license). 

Although it may be the last exam, don’t take it lightly; it’s very important and a bit difficult. 

The NCLEX-PN is a national examination. All aspiring LPNs nationwide need to pass this exam. It is 85-205 questions long (depending on your performance) and is mostly MCQ-based. 

It tests you on all relevant topics of nursing, medicine, and care. The questions can range from basic ones to highly analytical ones. 

Here is an NCLEX practice test if you wanna get a feel of the exam.

Registration Process

To register for the exam, you need to send in your application to Washington State’s Board of Nursing. 

They will evaluate your credentials to see if you qualify.

Sending your exam application in Washington requires providing a series of documents and forms. 

Here is a step-by-step breakdown of what you’ll need to do:

  1. Complete the online application form and pay the $90 application fee. 
  • You will need to attach supporting documentation (such as court documents) to all “yes” responses to the personal data questions. 
  • You will need to submit verification of legal name change (if applicable).
  1. Certificate of Completion of Education. 
  • If you studied in Washington, the director of the nursing program you’ve studied from will send the certificate of completion (COC) automatically. 
  • If you studied in another state, you need to request your school to send your records directly to the BON.
  1. Official Transcripts
  • Ask the nursing program office where you’ve studied to send official transcripts either electronically to or through the mail.
  1. Undergo fingerprint background checks. 
  2. Register with Pearson VUE and pay the $200 examination fee. 
  3. Await the Authorization to Test (ATT) email.
  • If the BON accepts your application, you will receive an ATT form from Pearson Vue. 
  1. Follow the instructions of the ATT to finalize your exam date and location. 
  2. Take the NCLEX exam.
  3. Await your results.

If you pass the exam, then you’ve accomplished a BIG feat already! You will get your license and can start your nursing career.

However, if you don’t pass, you’ll need to retake the examination. The good thing is that you will have more experience and will know what to expect. 

Licensure by Endorsement

This is the second method for licensure, but it only applies to those who:

  • Are already LPNs in another state 
  • Want to work in Washington as an LPN

Endorsement is a method of licensure for already practicing LPNs (in other states), who want to move to Washington and practice there.

Since you are already licensed, it is assumed that you already took and passed the NCLEX-PN before, so you won’t need to do that all over again. 

To benefit from endorsement, you need to submit an application and provide the following:

  • Complete an online application and pay the $90 application fee. 
  • You will need to attach supporting documentation (such as court documents) to all “yes” responses to the personal data questions. 
  • Show proof of an active LPN license from another state.
  • If your LPN license is not active, then you will need to complete a refresher program approved by Washington State’s Board of Nursing. 
  • Have your initial LPN license verified.
  • To verify your license, you can do it through or have it sent directly from your initial BON.
  • Verify active practice employment hours. 
  • This is for those who graduated from non-traditional LPN programs. You must submit work verification of at least 1,000 hours in another state.

To read more about the endorsement process, you can go here

Take note that Washington is not yet a part of the NLC (although this may be implemented soon). This means that you need a license by endorsement if you want to practice in Washington. 

Step #3: Keep Your License Active

Congratulations! You’ve passed your exam and are now an officially approved licensed practical nurse!

But wait, is there still another step?

Well yes, but it’s more of something to keep in mind throughout your career. 

Washington LPN licenses are subject to expiration. 

Every year your license will expire if you do not renew it. 

Renewing is essential because if you do not you can incur penalty fees or lose your license altogether.

So, how do I renew my license?

Continuing education and practice hours.

The state of Washington requires 8 hours of continuing education and at least 96 hours of practice every year. 

As long as you can complete that, you are good to go without any hindrance to your LPN license. 

Frequently Asked Questions about Becoming an LPN in Washington 

And there you have it! Three simple steps to becoming an LPN in Washington!

But you still may have some questions about what it’s like for LPNs in Washington, right? 

“How much do they make? Where do they usually work?”

These are valid questions. Let’s answer them and a few other questions. 

How much does an LPN in Washington make?

LPNs in Washington have an average annual salary of $63,250, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics

This is significantly higher than the national average of $51,850.

That’s great news for LPNs in Washington. 

What’s even better is that you can still seek to increase your salary depending on which city you work in, what institution you are employed in, how many years of experience you have, and other factors. 

Where do most LPNs work?

Knowing where most LPNs work will help you when you’re trying to find a job. 

According to the BLS, most LPNs work in:

  • Nursing care facilities
  • Home healthcare services
  • Offices of physicians
  • General and surgical hospitals
  • Continuing Care Retirement Communities and Assisted Living Facilities for the Elderly
  • Psychiatric and abuse hospitals
  • Outpatient care centers

But remember, these are just the most common institutions. You can still find employment in other kinds of institutions, such as correctional facilities and schools. 

There are also less-conventional jobs for LPNs, such as insurance companies, healthcare stores, etc. 

You can be innovative when trying to find a job. Healthcare services are needed almost everywhere!

Is Washington an NLC State?

Very recently (April 20, 2023), the governor of Washington signed the bill to make Washington an NLC state. 

However, this is not yet implemented since the state will still have to adjust its process to conform to NLC standards. 

There is no official date or time frame yet as to when the NLC will be implemented.

As of now, those who want to practice in Washington State have to follow the process of endorsement. 

What is the difference between CNA, LPN, and RN?

Down below is a breakdown of all the terms commonly used in nursing: 

Type of NurseMeaningTime to Complete Training ProgramExaminationRequiredTasksJob Opportunity
CNACertified Nursing Assistant/ Certified Nursing Aide4-12 weeksState-approved exam (eg CNA Prometric Exam)Assistant role. Providing essential care services to patients, e.g. feeding, cleaning, and bathing. Commonly found in nursing or residential care homes
LPNLicensed Practical Nurse12-18 monthsNationwide Exam (NCLEX-LPN)Assisting RNs. Involved in more complicated tasks such as assisting RNs, administering medicines, and changing bandages. Senior positions in residential care homes but also found in hospitals, and doctors’ offices.
RNRegistered Nurse 2 years if you take the Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN)

and 4 years if you take the Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN)
Nationwide Exam (NCLEX-RN)ADN-RNCreate patient care plans, monitor patients, answer questions, assist with procedures, take vital signs, track patient progress, and guide LPNs, as well as CNAs.

BSN-RNIncludes all the tasks of an ADN but focuses more on specialization in certain areas as well as dealing in more administrative positions
Mostly found in hospitals, but also have a plethora of job opportunities.

Wrapping it up

Becoming an LPN isn’t easy, but it’s not impossible either. 

To get far in the nursing industry and make your dreams of becoming an LPN come true, you need to focus on systematically approaching the steps above.

Too often, students get caught up in trying to do and think of everything all at once, which often results in burnout and feeling overwhelmed. The best approach is to take everything one step at a time and enjoy the process. 

Although an LPN is a fantastic career choice, your dreams do not need to end there. There are a whole lot of options after becoming an LPN. RNs and even APRNs are nursing jobs that offer greater responsibility, salaries, and opportunities you can pursue following your LPN career. 

But working as an LPN is truly challenging, meaningful, and rewarding. 

Dream big and work hard!

We hope this will help you in your journey to becoming an LPN!

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