How much does a Behavioral Health Nurse make in Washington?

Average Behavioral Health Nurse Salary

High Confidence

$2,470/week

The average salary for a Behavioral Health Nurse in Washington is $2,470 per week. This is 4% higher than the US average of $2,368.

Estimate based on 438 active jobs in the last 90 days.

What is a Behavioral Health RN?

Behavioral health nursing requires an advanced knowledge of the behavioral sciences, addiction disorders, and mental illnesses. It can be a stressful yet rewarding career path for nurses seeking an in-demand specialty with numerous career opportunities. Behavioral health nurses work in a wide array of settings, including psychiatric hospitals, substance abuse treatment centers, and inpatient, outpatient and community behavioral health clinics. Work setting is one component determining a behavioral health RN’s salary, along with several others.

Behavioral health nurses are registered nurses who specialize in caring for patients with behavioral disorders. Some patients also may experience mental health issues, which is why the duties, patient populations, and work settings often overlap with those of mental health nurses. Behavioral health nurses are experts at recognizing and intervening during behavioral and mental health crises and delivering care based on specific clinical needs.

The educational requirements for behavioral health nurses begin with earning an Associate Degree in Nursing or a Bachelor of Science in Nursing from a program accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) or the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN). Graduates must pass the NCLEX-RN exam to become registered nurses. Further training in the behavioral health field may be completed at the employing facility or through accredited programs.

How a Behavioral Health RN salary is based

Healthcare facilities may use a variety of factors to calculate the base salary for behavioral health nurses, but one of the biggest is experience in the field. An entry-level behavioral health RN generally has a smaller starting salary than one with several years of experience. While experience only comes with time on the job, you can take proactive steps to encourage a higher base salary.

Education is one area you can improve in a relatively short time. Becoming a behavioral health nurse only requires an ADN but a BSN is often preferred. Base salaries may reflect this preference. Nurses with an ADN can complete an accelerated ADN to BSN program in as little as a year and potentially boost their salary base.

A healthcare facility may partially base a behavioral health RN’s salary on additional skills relevant to the field. Nurses with crisis prevention training may have a higher base salary due to their enhanced skills in dealing with crises. Fully accredited nonviolent crisis intervention training and verbal intervention training programs also qualify for continuing education credits, which may further improve base salaries.

Certifications are another area that could factor into salaries. Behavioral health RNs must have Basic Life Support certification, so this likely won’t influence starting salary. Some positions also require Advanced Cardiovascular Life Support certification, but if they don’t, having it may improve your salary. Professional certifications also help and are often encouraged.

How to increase your Behavioral Health RN salary

Obtaining an advanced degree almost always pays off in the healthcare field. Behavioral health RNs could give their salary a bump by earning a Master of Science in Nursing, which also opens new avenues in your career path. MSN-trained behavioral health nurses can pursue a role as a Psychiatric-Mental Health Nurse Practitioner (PMHNP), which leads to a larger paycheck.

Certified nurses often earn higher salaries than those who aren’t certified and certification provides opportunities for advancement throughout your nursing career. Certification confirms you have specialized knowledge beyond the basic nursing credential. Although there isn’t a specific behavioral health certification, logical certifications exist.

Earning the Certified Addiction Registered Nurse credential from the Addictions Nursing Certification Board makes sense because it's relevant to behavioral health. Sitting for this exam requires 2,000 hours of experience relating to addictions nursing and 30 hours of continuing education credits.

If you’ve earned your advanced practice degree, the ANCB also offers a Certified Addiction Registered Nurse-Advanced Practice credential. To sit for this exam, you must hold an MSN or higher and have a minimum of 500 supervised hours in addictions, 1,500 hours of nursing experience in addiction as an APRN, and 45 hours of continuing education.

Because the duties of a behavioral health RN frequently overlap with those of a mental health RN, consider taking the Psychiatric-Mental Health Nursing Certification exam to become board certified through the American Nurses Credentialing Center. This exam tests your clinical knowledge and skills in the psychiatric–mental health specialty. You must have practiced full-time as an RN for two years and have at least 2,000 hours of clinical practice and 30 hours of continuing education in psychiatric-mental health nursing.

What cities in Washington pay the most for Behavioral Health Nurse?

CityAverage Weekly SalaryMax Weekly Salary
Wenatchee, Washington$4,006$4,598
Olympia, Washington$3,742$3,861
Bellingham, Washington$3,719$5,607
Seattle, Washington$2,703$3,805
Burien, Washington$2,507$4,360
Tukwila, Washington$2,487$2,764
Toppenish, Washington$2,465$3,051
Everett, Washington$2,421$4,710
Yakima, Washington$2,324$2,324
Medical Lake, Washington$2,320$4,374

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How does the pay for Behavioral Health Nurses in Washington compare to nearby states?

Average Weekly SalaryMax Weekly Salary
Idaho$2,697$4,362
Alaska$2,670$4,575
Oregon$2,632$5,427
North Dakota$2,493$3,830
Montana$2,415$3,766
California$2,274$4,579
Nevada$2,201$3,537
Colorado$2,133$4,853
Utah$2,025$4,104
Wyoming$1,480$1,890

Top Behavioral Health Nurse Jobs

View job details for Travel Nurse RN - PsychiatricArdor Health Solutions
Travel Nurse RN - Psychiatric
Lakewood, Washington
Ardor Health Solutions
2 hours ago
Dec 1313 wks3x12 hrsDaysCOVID19
$2,603/wk
Travel contract
I'm interested
View job details for Travel Nurse RN - PsychiatricStability Healthcare
Travel Nurse RN - Psychiatric
Seattle, Washington
Stability Healthcare
2 hours ago
ASAP12 wks5x8 hrsDays
$2,230/wk
Travel contract
I'm interested
View job details for Travel Nurse RN - PsychiatricStability Healthcare
Travel Nurse RN - Psychiatric
Medical Lake, Washington
Stability Healthcare
2 hours ago
ASAP13 wks5x8 hrsDays
$2,030/wk
Travel contract
I'm interested
View job details for Travel Nurse RN - PsychiatricStability Healthcare
Travel Nurse RN - Psychiatric
Medical Lake, Washington
Stability Healthcare
2 hours ago
ASAP13 wks3x12 hrsNights
$1,896/wk
Travel contract
I'm interested
View job details for Travel Nurse RN - PsychiatricStability Healthcare
Travel Nurse RN - Psychiatric
Lakewood, Washington
Stability Healthcare
2 hours ago
ASAP13 wks3x12 hrsNightsCOVID19
$1,819/wk
Travel contract
I'm interested

What are the highest paying Agencies for Behavioral Health Nurse jobs in Washington?

Average Weekly SalaryMax Weekly Salary
Sharp Nursing Medical Staffing$5,000$5,000
Synergy Medical Staffing$4,561$4,561
Gale Healthcare Solutions$3,617$4,374
Focus Staff$3,003$4,059
CareStaff Partners$2,912$2,912
Aureus Medical Group - Nursing$2,774$3,377
TotalMed Staffing$2,744$5,607
Anders Group$2,723$3,571
Stability Healthcare$2,710$4,710
Coast Medical Service$2,633$5,305