How to Become a Nurse in Arizona

There are currently more than 91,000 registered nurses licensed by the Arizona Board of Nursing. Nurses working in Arizona are governed by the Arizona State Board of Nursing. Arizona is part of a nursing compact that includes 28 states. The compact licensure allows for nurses to practice in their home state and other states within the compact with the same nursing license. Demand for nurses in Arizona is expected to grow exponentially, with a shortage of 50,000 nurses anticipated by 2030. Those interested in becoming a nurse in Arizona can read the licensing requirements for CNAs, LPNs, RNs, and APRNs below.

How to Get a CNA Certificate or LNA license in Arizona

Arizona has two levels of nursing assistant: certified nursing assistant (CNA) and licensed nursing assistant (LNA). In order to get an Arizona CNA certificate and be registered on the CNA registry maintained by the Arizona State Board of Nursing, applicants must complete an approved nursing program and pass the nursing assistant state exam. Certification is free of charge, and CNAs must practice 8 hours every two years to maintain their registration on the registry.

The requirements for an Arizona LNA license are the same as the CNA requirements, but with the addition of a $50 licensing fee and a background check costing $50. The Arizona Board of Nursing has more oversight over LNAs. The LNA license must be renewed every two years and costs $50 to renew. To renew a license, LNAs must have practiced a minimum of 160 hours within the previous two years.

How to Get a Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) License in Arizona

The Arizona LPN license application process is the same as the RN process. LPN applicants are required to pass the NCLEX-PN test. Although LPNs have a different scope of practice, their requirements for an Arizona nursing license are exactly the same as that of an RN applicant. LPNs also benefit from being able to practice in other compact states without having to apply for a new license.

LPNs earn an average of $22 to $24 per hour in Arizona, which is slightly above the national average. LPN programs are more commonly found at community colleges than universities, which tend to offer bachelor's degree programs.

LPN needs are expected to grow roughly 12 percent between 2016 and 2026, an above-average rate compared to other occupations.

How to Get a Registered Nurse (RN) License in Arizona

There are two primary ways to get certified as a nurse in Arizona. Newly graduated nurses who were educated in the United States need a diploma, associate degree, or bachelor's degree in nursing from an approved program. After the completion of an approved program, students become eligible to schedule their NCLEX-RN examination. Applicants must pass this exam to obtain their Arizona nursing license. Graduates from out of state must submit their transcripts to the Arizona State Board of Nursing.

If already licensed as an RN in another compact state, applicants need not apply for an Arizona RN license unless they are making Arizona their primary state of residence. Individuals who are licensed in a state outside the compact will need to have passed the NCLEX or State Board Test Pool Exam, have a previous license in another state, and hold a degree in nursing from an approved program (diploma, associate degree, or BSN). Additionally, applicants will have to have met one of the following criteria within the past five years:

  • Practiced for 960 hours or more
  • Graduated from a nursing program
  • Completed an Arizona Board-approved nursing refresher
  • Obtained an advanced nursing degree

In order to complete licensure, applications must submit an online application with fees, provide proof of citizenship/nationality/alien status documentation, and submit a fingerprint card.

How to Get an Advanced Practice Nurse (APRN) License in Arizona

The Arizona State Board of Nursing recognizes the following roles as advanced practice nurses (APRNs): registered nurse practitioner (RNP), certified nurse midwife (CNM), clinical nurse specialist (CNS), and certified registered nurse anesthetist (CRNA). Arizona advanced practice nurse license applicants will have their school fill out a letter outlining their completed courses, type of degree, and length of their program. Temporary certificates are available when applying for an advanced practice nurse license and are good for six months from the issue date. Temporary certificates expire if the applicant fails the national certifying exam.

Arizona nursing license applicants who require the ability to prescribe, such as nurse practitioners and certified nurse midwives, must complete question 20 on the application and submit proof of at least 45 contact hours in pharmacology or clinical management of drug therapy in the past three years. Additionally, advanced practice nurses will need to apply for a DEA number from the Drug Enforcement Administration. Applications can be found on the DEA website.