Becoming an LPN provides a sound opportunity for Washington residents looking to quickly join the nursing profession and make a good living. If you’re thinking about a career as an LPN in Washington, you probably know you need to complete a college training program first. With a variety of campus-based and partially-online options available throughout the state, you can easily find an LPN program that offers the required state-approval and fits your budget and busy schedule.
Read on to learn about the best approved LPN programs in Washington, see what it takes to earn licensure after graduating, explore the state’s job market for LPNs, and find other helpful resources.
College Spotlights: Best LPN Programs in Washington State
Washington State offers a variety of LPN programs across the state, but finding the one that works for you can take some time and research. To help you in your search, we’ve rounded up three of the top state-approved LPN programs that score high marks in affordability, clinical teaching, and student support. Learn more about each program below, and see if one of them has what you’re looking for.
Located in Lynnwood, Edmonds College offers a part-time practical nursing program designed for those who currently work in healthcare but want to upgrade their credentials. The program goes across seven quarters and takes 21 months to complete. New students begin the program in the fall quarter.
Some of the topics explored in this program include principles of medication administration, mental health nursing, and nursing care of children, among others. Students also complete several practicum experiences to earn the required clinical hours for eventual licensure.
Admission requirements include a minimum 2.75 GPA, at least six months of recent patient care experience, passing TEAS exam scores, two professional recommendations, and document technology skills. Those who already hold CAN certification will be given extra consideration.
Clover Park Technical College in Lakewood provides a 60-credit practical nursing certificate program designed to be completed in just four quarters. New students can start their training program during the fall, winter, or spring quarters.
Some of the classes admitted students can expect to take include medical and surgical nursing, nursing clinical skills and data collection, and issues and trends in practical nursing. Students participate in four different practicum experiences throughout the program. In addition to holding approval from the State Board of Nursing, CPTC’s program is also accredited by the National League for Nursing Commission for Nursing Education Accreditation.
With three campuses in Tacoma, Bates Technical College offers a practical nursing certificate that takes four quarters to complete and offers new students entry during the spring and fall quarters. In addition to completing several prerequisites with a 3.0 or higher GPA, applicants must also pass a criminal background check, provide current immunization status, participate in a physical exam, complete CPR training, demonstrate nursing assistant training and certification, and complete a reading and writing assessment.
Classes taught in this program include medical surgical nursing, pharmacology and nursing math, nursing fundamentals, and newborn and maternal nursing. The program currently maintains an 89% graduation rate and an 83.5% NCLEX-PN first-time pass rate.
FAQs About LPN Programs in Washington State
What skills do you learn in LPN programs in Washington?
LPN programs in Washington provide the theoretical and practical knowledge needed to act as a vital part of the caregiving team for patients. In addition to covering basic information around human anatomy and physiology, contemporary health topics, and nursing basics, students also get the chance to dive into more advanced topics prior to completing practicum hours.
At Clover Park Technical College, the LPN emphasizes program outcomes related to human flourishing, nursing judgement, caregiving, professional identity, collaboration, and a spirit of inquiry. Above all, these programs teach students how to provide safe, patient-centered care based on best practices within the discipline.
How much do LPN programs cost in Washington?
The cost of LPN programs in Washington vary based on the type of institution you attend and how long it takes to graduate. Most community colleges and vocational schools providing LPN training charge on a per-credit basis; others may set the cost as a one-time payment for the certificate. Compare prices of three different options below.
Can I get financial aid to help pay for my LPN program in Washington?
While tuition for LPN programs at community colleges and vocational schools in Washington tends to be far less than earning a four-year nursing degree at a university, some learners may still need financial aid to help cover their costs.
The Washington Center for Nursing, a non-profit, provides a list of scholarships and grants available to students enrolled in an LPN program in Washington. In addition to these awards, plenty of professional associations, hospitals and clinics, nonprofits, and foundations provide LPN scholarships, both locally and nationally. Prospective students should make sure they understand the financial aid landscape before applying to any program, as this will help ensure they know how to navigate the process.
How long do LPN programs in Washington take to finish?
The majority of LPN programs in WA take approximately four semesters to complete if enrolled on a full-time basis. Other programs, such as the one provided by Edmonds College, are designed for working students who need more flexibility. The practical nursing program at Edmonds is taught on a part-time basis and takes seven quarters, or 21 months, to complete.
Students who want to graduate quickly and begin working in nursing may be able to find an accelerated program that takes three semesters to complete. Because LPN programs in Washington require students to complete prerequisites, getting these out of the way before enrolling can also speed up the process.
Inside Look at Online LPN Programs in Washington State
As of 2022, no fully online LPN programs in Washington State exist. The reason for this is that, as part of their training, future LPNs must take part in several in-person clinicals at approved medical facilities to complete licensure training requirements.
That said, some schools provide hybrid LPN programs allowing for some classes to be completed online. At Edmonds College, for instance, students can complete some of their theory courses via distance learning for added flexibility.
Students should prepare themselves for balancing campus-based classes with existing personal and professional responsibilities. While they may be able to take a few classes online, they will also need to visit campus regularly – along with their practicum site.
LPN Licensing Information and Requirements in Washington
Because each state sets its own LPN licensing requirements, it’s important for future students to understand the steps before ever enrolling in a program. The Washington State Department of Health’s Nursing Commission sets the rules around licensure, making it a vital resource in this process. We outline the steps below.
Education and Training
The Nursing Commission currently approves seven different LPN programs in Washington. To receive licensure, you’ll need to attend one of these approved programs. When possible, students should also try to attend a program accredited by ACEN, CCNE, or CNEA. Of the seven approved programs, four currently hold accreditation. These programs must also include a clinical training component that allows learners to gain hands-on training before graduating.
Professional Nursing Examination (NCLEX-PN)
After meeting all prelicensure requirements (e.g., education), students can begin the process of applying for a license by taking the NCLEX-PN examination. Pearson VUE will send an authorization to test (ATT) to applicants that allows them to schedule their in-person examination. Students must pay the examination fee prior to sitting for the test and receive a passing score. Those who need accommodations must provide these from their diagnosing physician or school.
As of 2022, the Nursing Commission only requires individuals with out-of-state applications or those with a criminal history within the state of Washington to complete a background check. If you fall under either of these categories, you will need to pay a fee of $34.25 to have your fingerprints taken and checked against the federal database. The Nursing Commission notifies applicants who need to complete this process, which can delay application processing.
After completing a Secure Access Washington (SAW) account, applicants can use the online application portal to apply for licensure. Applicants must pay a non-refundable application fee of $85 along with a $2.50 convenience fee for using Visa or MasterCard debit/credit cards. Applicants must also provide a certificate of completion for a nursing education program in Washington along with official transcripts sent directly from their school.
License Renewal & Continuing Education
LPNs looking to renew their licenses in Washington must do so annually by their date of birth. They must also provide evidence of working at last 96 hours the previous year and completing at least eight hours of continuing education programming. The license renewal fee is currently $85 and can be submitted online. Within this amount, students receive annual access to the University of Washington HEAL-WA website.
Salary and Job Outlook for LPNs in Washington
Those considering becoming an LPN in Washington can look forward to a favorable job market over the coming years. Projections Central, a site sponsored by the Department of Labor, expects jobs for LPNs in Washington to grow by 8.4% between 2018 and 2028, leading to the creation of nearly 700 new jobs. Additionally, nearly 800 jobs will open annually due to existing LPNs changing careers or exiting the workforce.
Washington-based LPNs earned median annual wages of close to $60,000 as of 2020, more than $12,000 more than the national average for this occupation. Individuals living in cities with higher costs of living, such as Seattle and Spokane, can expect to earn even more.
Job Outlook for Licensed Vocational Nurses in Washington State (2018-2028)
Source: Projections Central
Annual Earnings for Licensed Practical Nurses in Washington State
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, May 2020