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Arizona Nursing License Requirements

Those who wish to become a licensed practical nurse, registered nurse, or nurse practitioner in Arizona will apply to and follow the rules outlined by the Arizona State Board of Nursing. The Arizona State Board of Nursing ensures that all nurses who practice in the state promote the safety and welfare of Arizona’s citizens. The path to becoming a licensed nurse in the state begins with a specialized education in nursing, which may extend to the graduate level in the case of nurse practitioners. Learn more about the steps to becoming licensed as a nurse in Arizona by selecting one of the licensing categories below.

» How to become a licensed practical nurse (requires completion of a training program)
» How to become a registered nurse (requires an associate’s or bachelor’s degree)
» How to become a nurse practitioner (requires a master’s degree)

3 Steps to Become a Licensed Practical Nurse in Arizona

1. Complete a Licensed Practical Nurse Program.

Licensure as a licensed practical nurse in Arizona requires the applicant to hold either a diploma or certificate from a nursing program approved by the Arizona Board of Nursing.1 A list of programs approved by the Arizona Board of Nursing can be accessed on the board’s website, along with further information on equivalencies for programs located outside of Arizona.2

2. Complete the RN/LPN Licensure by Examination Form.

Following completion of the required education, prospective licensed practical nurses should complete the Arizona Board of Nursing RN/LPN Licensure By Examination form. This form verifies the candidate’s educational experience and eligibility to become a licensed practical nurse.1 All sections must be accurately and completely filled out to avoid delays in processing.1 Note that the form also requires that the nursing program from which an applicant graduated send official transcripts to the Arizona Board of Nursing.1

3. Complete the Fingerprint Card for Federal Background Check.

Those who have not previously held a health license in Arizona must complete a federal background check to become eligible for licensure.1 For this purpose, the Arizona Board of Nursing uses pre-printed data cards, which will be mailed to the applicant following receipt of the initial application for licensure.1 Note that the fingerprint card mailed by the Arizona Board of Nursing must be used due to its pre-printed data, and may not be substituted with another fingerprint card.1 The applicant may obtain fingerprints from any approved provider, such as a local police department.1 The Arizona Board of Nursing reports that the timeframe for fingerprint background checks is usually two to three weeks.1 Following receipt of the background check results by the Arizona Board of Nursing, if all other requirements are satisfied a license may be issued.1

4 Steps to Become a Registered Nurse in Arizona

1. Graduate From an Approved Nursing Program.

Prospective registered nurses must complete a diploma, associate’s degree, or bachelor’s degree in an approved nursing program to be eligible for licensure.1 Applicants can view a list of approved programs on the Arizona Board of Nursing website.2 The Arizona Board of Nursing also provides information on equivalencies for out of state schools and first-time pass rates for the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses.2

2. Register for and Take the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses.

The Arizona Board of Nursing suggests that prospective graduates register to take the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN) one month prior to graduating from the nursing program.1 However, graduates may still register to take the exam following graduation and/or the initial application for licensure. Eligibility to test will be issued by the Arizona Board of Nursing following receipt of the application for licensure and official transcripts from the program from which the applicant graduated.1

Registration for the NCLEX-RN is done with Pearson VUE, the company that administers the exam on behalf of the state of Arizona.3 Applicants have ninety days to test from the initial eligibility date; exam scores are mailed within seven to ten days following completion of the NCLEX-RN.1 Faster results may be obtained by calling 1-900-776-2539 from a landline phone 48 hours after the NCLEX-RN is taken.1

3. Submit the RN/LPN Licensure by Examination Form.

The Arizona State Board of Nursing RN/LPN Licensure By Examination form is used to request licensure for first-time applicants who are not licensed in another state. 1 All required fees, as outlined on the form, should be submitted together with the completed application. Applicants should also request official transcripts or other proof of graduation from an approved nursing program from the school(s) attended in earning a nursing diploma or degree.1

4. Complete the Fingerprint Card for Federal Background Check.

Arizona requires applicants for licensure who have not previously held a nursing license in the state to undergo a federal background check. Upon receipt of the RN/LPN Licensure By Examination form the Arizona Board of Nursing will send by regular mail to the applicant a fingerprint card pre-printed with tracking data.1 The applicant must obtain fingerprints from an approved agency, such as the local police. Note that other fingerprint cards are not acceptable; the card used must be the one received from the Arizona Board of Nursing due to the pre-printed agency data.1. Fingerprint results are typically completed in two to three weeks, after which point a license may be issued if all requirements are met. 1

8 Steps to Become a Nurse Practitioner in Arizona

1. Become a Registered Nurse.

Prospective Arizona nurse practitioners must first have active licensure as a registered nurse in Arizona or a multistate registered nurse license.4 This requires that the candidate complete the regular steps to becoming a registered nurse, including completion of an undergraduate nursing program and passage of the NCLEX-RN.4

2. Earn a Graduate Degree or Diploma in Advanced Nursing.

Nurse practitioners must obtain a master’s degree or post-master’s degree in nursing through an accredited nursing program.5 This program must hold national accreditation and include at least 500 hours of clinical practice as part of the curriculum.5 The Arizona State Board of Nursing also publishes a list of approved advanced practice programs, which can be accessed through its website.6

3. Declare a Specialty Area of Advanced Practice.

The Arizona Board of Nursing requires that nurse practitioners declare and earn certification in a specialty area, to which advanced nursing practice will be limited following licensing.5 The specialty area must be recognized by the Arizona Board of Nursing and recognized by a national certifying body that administers an examination to issue certification in the advanced practice specialty area.5 Recognized certifying bodies and allowable specialty areas of practice can be reviewed in the Arizona State Statutes.5

4. Obtain National Certification in the Chosen Specialty Area.

Nurse practitioners must be certified in their chosen specialty practice area prior to applying for licensure.5 Depending on the specialty selected, this certification may be from the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners; the American Nurses Credentialing Center; the Pediatric Nursing Certification Board; the National Certification Corporation for Obstetric, Gynecological, and Neonatal Nursing Specialties; or the American College of Nurse Midwives Certification Council.5 Individuals should apply to the appropriate board or association according to their specialty for further information on obtaining certification.

5. Submit the Arizona State Board of Nursing Application for Nurse Practitioner.

For initial licensure by examination, nurse practitioner applicants should complete the Arizona State Board of Nursing Application for Nurse Practitioner. Official, sealed transcripts and official verification of program completion with completed specialty area(s) must be sent to the Arizona Board of Nursing directly from the school(s) at which the nurse practitioner program was completed.4 In addition, the applicant must furnish along with the application official certification that he or she has been nationally certified by a recognized board or association in his or her specialty area(s) as a precondition for licensure.4

Note that applicants who meet all licensure requirements except for national certification may be eligible for temporary licensure provided that the agency at which certification is being pursued can issue verification that the applicant is eligible for and awaiting certification through examination.4

6. Complete a Fingerprinting Card for Federal Background Check.

Nurse practitioner applicants who have not completed a fingerprint card with the Arizona Board of Nursing in the two years prior to applying for licensure as a nurse practitioner must complete and furnish a fingerprint card for background check purposes.4 The Arizona Board of Nursing will send a pre-printed fingerprint card containing identifying data and instructions to the applicant following receipt of the Application for Nurse Practitioner; this card must be used to obtain fingerprints due to the pre-printed data it contains as part of the licensing process.4

7. Complete the Prescribing and Dispensing Privileges Requirements, if Applicable.

Prospective nurse practitioners who wish to request permission to prescribe and dispense controlled drugs may do so by completing the applicable sections on the nurse practitioner application. To be eligible for this authority, nurse practitioners must have completed 45 contact hours of education in pharmacology and/or clinical management of drug therapy.4 The contact hours must have occurred within three years of the request for prescribing authority.4 Once the Arizona Board of Nursing has granted preliminary authority, the applicant must apply to the US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) for a DEA number to prescribe controlled substances, if applicable, and provide a copy of the issued number to the Arizona Board of Nursing once received.4

8. Complete Death Certificate Education, if Applicable.

Nurse practitioners who are appropriately certified in Death Certificate Education have the authority to complete the Cause of Death section on death certificates issued in Arizona with immediate and contributing causes of death using the correct forms and accurate reporting of certain deaths to the appropriate authorities.7 To obtain certification, a nurse practitioner must read the materials provided on the Arizona Board of Nursing website and complete the online Death Certificate Education Evaluation form.7

Arizona Nursing Associations

There are numerous nursing associations and councils in Arizona that can help licensed and aspiring nurses learn more about the licensing process, build their skills, and acquire continuing education.

Arizona Nursing Salary

Occupation Number Employed Average Annual Salary
Nursing Assistants 14,900 $27,660
Licensed Practical Nurses and Licensed Vocational Nurses 6,440 $50,290
Registered Nurses 45,600 $71,390
Nurse Practitioners 1,900 $97,030

Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics as of May 2012.

References:
1. Arizona State Board of Nursing: RN/LPN Licensure By Examination Form
2. Arizona State Board of Nursing: Approved RN/LPN Programs
3. Pearson VUE: The NCLEX Examination
4. Arizona State Board of Nursing: Application for Nurse Practitioner
5. Arizona State Board of Nursing: Administrative Code Title 4 Chapter 19
6. Arizona State Board of Nursing: Advanced Practice Approved Programs
7. Arizona State Board of Nursing: Death Certificate Education