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 board-approved provider.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 through Pearson VUE, the company that administers the exam on behalf of the state of Arizona.3 Applicants have 90 days to test from the initial eligibility date; exam scores are mailed within seven to 10 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
6 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 exam.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 on 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 verification of program completion within the desired 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 confirmation that he or she has been nationally certified by a recognized board or association in his or her specialty area(s).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.4
Optional: Complete the Prescribing and Dispensing Privileges Requirements.
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
Optional: Complete Death Certificate Education.
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, attributing immediate and contributing causes of death while 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 Association of Nurse Anesthetists
- Arizona Emergency Nurses Association
- Arizona Nurses Association
- Arizona Nurse Practitioner Council
- School Nurses Organization of Arizona
Arizona Nursing Salary
|Occupation||Number Employed||Average Annual Salary|
|Licensed Practical Nurses and Licensed Vocational Nurses||6,100||$51,670|
Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics as of May 2016.2,3,4,5
Job Search Advice
My answer to your question [about getting hired as a nurse] comes from over 35 years in the field of nursing. I have held many positions, mostly as an NP, but in nursing the advice is similar regardless of the specialty you seek, in my opinion. My best advice to nurses in getting hired is:
- Spend time developing and polishing your resume and cover letter.
- Be honest and market your best qualities-genuinely.
- Network with colleagues/nurses and when possible use a referring nurse’s name who is familiar to the agency. You are more likely to “get in the door” if you have a connection.
- Be wise and proactive in acquiring good references – people who think highly of your work, and people who will go the extra mile and write a splendid letter on your behalf.
- Don’t give up! Sometimes it’s that 50th cover letter that wins you an interview.”
-Karen Holder, FNP-BC, CNM, MHS is President of the Arizona Nurse Practitioner Council.
- Get involved as a student in your state’s professional organization. This will not only be an amazing learning experience, it also gives you the opportunity to meet professionals in the field of nursing. Networking is a great resource for getting a job. Participating in a meaningful way in your state organization is also a great item to put on your resume.
- Volunteer or get involved in the area you want to work in. Again, this gives you contacts. It also gives you volunteer experience to put on your resume.
- Get extra tutoring if needed to improve your writing skills. Your writing is usually the first thing a hiring manager sees about you, by reading your resume. Misspelled words, sloppy sentence construction, and poor punctuation send the message that you do not pay attention to details, at best. At worst it may be viewed as a reflection of your communication skills or even your level of education. In every communication with others ensure you are taking the time to show well-educated writing skills.
- Take advantage of job fairs, recruiting dinners, etc. Sometimes it is necessary to take a job simply to build your resume. Any job is better than no job. Also, take advantage of resume-writing sites which offer resume samples for different occupations. When you are looking for your first position as a nurse, you have to sell yourself. Be creative in the skills you list and job descriptions on your resume. Be sure your resume and cover letter exactly match the position you are applying for. And yes, this does mean editing both of them every time you send in a resume and cover letter.”
-Roni Fox is the Treasurer of the Arizona Nurse Practitioner Council
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
8. Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Employment and Wages, Nursing Assistants: https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes311014.htm
9. Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Employment and Wages, Licensed Practical and Licensed Vocational Nurses: https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes292061.htm
10. Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Employment and Wages, Registered Nurses: https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes291141.htm
11. Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Employment and Wages, Nurse Practitioners: https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes291171.htm