How to Become a Registered Nurse in Washington

Washington map

Entering the nursing field in Washington is a guaranteed method of finding a rewarding, challenging, and stimulating career.

Many individuals enter the nursing field to fulfill a rewarding career of helping others.

This could be a student who graduated with a nursing degree or one who graduated with a different degree and wants to transition into the medical field.

For this reason, many enter the nursing field at multiple stages, whether in a direct path through nursing school or as a career change that occurs later in life.

Keep reading if you’re interested in entering the nursing field to enrich another person’s life!

5 Registered Nurse Schools in Washington

Washington has a variety of nursing schools, ranging from associate degree in nursing (ADN) programs to Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN), Master of Science in Nursing (MSN), and doctoral programs.

Many of the best schools listed below also boast a high National Council Licensure Examination – Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN) passage rate.

These include:

Gonzaga University

Gonzaga University Logo

One of the greatest benefits of attending Gonzaga University is nursing students greatly benefit from the on-site practice.

This means students can make decisions that significantly impact the lives of their patients, just like in an actual hospital or practice.

This type of experience before graduation greatly prepares students for the real world in medical practice.

With tuition of over $57,000 and an acceptance rate of 67%, the school is pricey and somewhat challenging to attend, but once accepted, students have a high job placement rate due to the high quality of education.

Seattle Pacific University

Seattle Pacific University Logo

Although Seattle Pacific University has an incredibly high annual tuition of over $56,000, the highlight of the school is its holistic approach to nursing, which is a different idea compared to the other traditional programs on this list.

In addition to its traditional BSN program, Seattle Pacific boasts three doctoral programs and a master’s in clinical leadership in nurse education and practice.

Their school admission rate is a reasonable 87%.

Seattle University

Seattle University Logo

One of the best aspects of Seattle University’s nursing school is its gerontology acute care nurse practitioner program, which is highly specialized.

Several ways of earning this graduate degree exist for those interested in this educational path, so there is the best fit for all students.

SU students also have countless scholarships, making the school more affordable than it initially appears.

The annual tuition is around $59,000 for the traditional SBN program, and the admission rate is 74%.

University of Washington

University of Washington Logo

Considered the top nursing school in Washington, the University of Washington has a challenging 45% acceptance rate but low in-state tuition of around $26,500.

Most students receive additional scholarship support to help cover the cost.

One of the best aspects of UW is its ability to help students research project grants, which makes the school an excellent opportunity for graduate students.

Washington State University

Washington State University Logo

While the Washington State main campus is based in Pullman, the school’s nursing program can be taken at five locations throughout Washington, giving students flexibility.

Each site offers the same educational quality level, so you know you’re getting one of the best educational opportunities, regardless of the campus.

The school admission rate is 73%, with a reasonable in-state tuition of $25,900.

Registered Nurse Schools in Washington – Summary Table

Top 5 Schools in Washington

School NameAddress
Gonzaga University502 E Boone Ave, Spokane, WA 99258
Seattle Pacific University3307 3rd Ave W, Seattle, WA 98119
Seattle University901 12th Ave, Seattle, WA 98122
University of WashingtonSeattle, WA 98195
Washington State University Pullman, WA


The national annual U.S. salary for registered nurses is $83,200, ranging from $59,000 to $106,000.

Comparatively, the salary for nurses in Washington is almost $91,000 per year, ranging from $65,000 to $116,000.

Annual Salary Range:

Average Salary of Registered Nurse (RN)s in Washington

City NameSalary
Federal Way$70,420
* Salary information last updated 2024

Regional Salary in Washington

RegionEmployedAvg. Annual SalaryAvg. Hourly PayTop 10% Annual SalaryBottom 10% Annual Salary
Bellingham, WA1,620$93,660$45.03$121,950$74,410
Bremerton-Silverdale, WA1,300$97,110$46.69$122,200$76,680
Kennewick-Richland, WA2,240$89,370$42.96$117,020$65,710
Longview, WA790$96,260$46.28$121,730$74,550
Mount Vernon-Anacortes, WA940$95,410$45.87$124,060$68,270
Olympia-Tumwater, WA3,270$97,540$46.89$137,870$82,730
Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue, WA37,120$105,540$50.74$132,970$80,770
Spokane-Spokane Valley, WA6,790$98,090$47.16$132,720$76,600
Wenatchee, WA1,130$93,680$45.04$104,600$70,220
Yakima, WA1,560$89,400$42.98$105,840$70,090
* Salary information based on the May 2022 Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) Survey for Registered Nurses, OCC Code 29-1141, BLS.
* Employment conditions in your area may vary.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can you become a nurse in Washington without going to nursing school?

No, students must have some form of education to become a nurse in Washington or any other state in the U.S.

In addition to providing students with the skills needed to be successful nurses, the education also prepares them for the NCLEX-RN exam, which is a national requirement for licensure.

What are the requirements to become a nurse in Washington?

Students who want to become nurses in Washington must first complete a state-accredited program.

Once the degree is earned, they must pass the NCLEX-RN examination, which helps prepare students by aligning the same content as the test.

The final step after passing the exam is to apply to the state for licensure, which permits students to work in the field.

Those without a license cannot legally work as nurses until all requirements are met.

Is it possible to become a nurse later in life in Washington?

Yes, students attend nursing school at any age.

There is no minimum age requirement for transitioning into new careers.

However, many students change careers due to pay, boredom, and wanting to have a more significant impact on an individual’s life or interest in the field.

For this reason, nursing schools have transitional programs whereby they admit students who already have associate or bachelor’s degrees that require core classes.

Can I get a nursing degree online in Washington?

Yes, some Washington schools offer online nursing degrees.

However, it’s also important to get clinical experience more closely related to real-life situations.

Therefore, when searching for a nursing school, consider those with internships or other clinical lab work over those that do not boast this option.

What is the fastest way to become a registered nurse in Washington?

If you’re interested in entering the medical field as fast as possible, then the ADN is the fastest path.

This only requires two years of education before jumping into the workforce.

Many ADN graduates quickly find a job and then have their employer pay for the BSN, which ensures low student loans after graduation while still learning at a higher level.

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