Last Updated/Verified: June 23, 2021
If you’re looking for a fast track to a nursing care career, consider becoming an Illinois LPN (Licensed Practical Nurse). Illinois, where 17% of all nurses are LPNs, is a great state in which to pursue a nursing career. In Illinois, as in other states, the most employment opportunities are in the big cities, most notably Chicago.
LPNs in Illinois Quick Facts
- LPN school typically takes 12 months to complete
- LPNs in Illinois earn an average of $28.28/hr and an annual income of $50,759
- The LPN job outlook is bright with a 9% increase predicted from 2019 to 2029
- LPNs make up 17% of Illinois’ nursing population
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Overview of LPN Programs in Illinois
Illinois LPNs monitor patient health, check blood pressure and administer medications. They also attend to patients’ hygiene and comfort needs. LPNs might work in hospitals or care facilities.
As in the rest of the country, LPNs in Illinois need to complete a state-accredited practical nursing program. These programs usually take 12 months to complete, but they can take a little longer. If you choose part-time studies, expect your course to take 18 months to 2 years.
LPN training includes in-class learning and “hands-on” clinical experience hours. During the training program, you need to complete a series of courses or modules that deal with specific elements of the job. These may include:
- Fundamentals of nursing
- Geriatric and adult nursing
- Medical and surgical nursing
- General patient care
Community colleges, vocational schools, and hospitals offer LPN courses. Remember that to get your license, you must complete an education program with accreditation. Be sure to check all the accreditation details of any LPN program before you apply.
Potential LPNs must take an LPN program that is accredited by a regional or national organization, or both. Students can check a program’s credentials with the Illinois Board of Nursing and the national Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing.
Admission processes differ from school to school and program to program, but most share the same basic requirements, including being at least 18 years old. These typically include:
- High school diploma or GED and a transcript with a GPA of 2.5 or more.
- Transcripts of any previous college work
- Pass a drug test and background check
- CPR certification
Some programs and schools will ask for letters of recommendation. You might also need a CNA or nurse’s aide certification, a CPR certification, and other documentation.
Research a few different schools and learn about their admission requirements. If you don’t qualify for one program, you might meet the requirements for an alternative one. Further, you might qualify for multiple programs, and can then select the one that best fits your needs.
Tuition and Costs
Fees and course costs can vary widely by program and school, so it’s a good idea to shop around before you decide where to apply. Also remember that there will be extra costs such as lab fees, scrubs and uniforms, course materials, and transport costs.
Most schools offer financial aid to qualified students. You will need to apply for financial aid and prove that you meet the criteria. There are also various grants and scholarships available. Find an up-to-date list on the Illinois Nursing Workforce Center website.
LPN Licensing Requirements in Illinois
After you have completed your LPN training program, you still need to apply for a license to practice. You have three years from the date you complete your nursing program to get your license; otherwise, you will have to retrain. You also have to renew your license every two years. During that two-year period, LPNs must complete 20 hours of continued education training.
There are several steps to complete the licensing process:
- Get your LPN certification from an accredited training facility.
- Apply for licensing in writing.
- Pass the NCLEX-PN licensure examination.
- Pass a background check.
All nurses seeking accreditation must get a passing grade on the NCLEX-PN Exam. This exam is administered by the National Council Licensure Examination. It tests candidates on a range of subjects including patient care, medical procedures, and health promotion. It’s a good idea to take a practice test online before sitting for the exam.
Many states have reciprocal licensing agreements or are members of the Nursing Licensure Compact. This system allows licensed nurses from member states to work in other member states without re-licensing. Illinois is not a member state yet, but as of March 2021, a bill to join the Compact has passed the state senate. If signed into law, the bill will make Illinois a Compact signatory.
At this time, nurses from other states who want to practice in Illinois must complete the following steps:
- Complete a Board-recognized certified LPN nursing education training program in another state
- Have a license in another state
- Submit a written application to the Illinois Board of Nursing
- Pass a background check
Nurses who are from another country first have to have their credentials certified by the Commission of Graduates of Foreign Nursing Schools or CGFNS. They must also pass an approved English language test.
LPN Salaries in Illinois
LPN salaries in Illinois are typically above the national average. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), Illinois has 19,630 residents employed as LPNs, as of May 2020. They make an average hourly wage of $28.28 and an average annual salary of $50,759. This is slightly higher than the national median wage of $48,820 reported by the BLS, making Illinois an attractive location if you’re pursuing a career as an LPN.
Wages and salaries are usually lower outside larger urban centers. However, the cost of living is also significantly lower outside big cities. You might find that the standard of living is higher, even with a lower wage.
Here are the average salaries for LPNs in the state’s largest metropolitan areas as of May 2020:
- Chicago, Naperville, Elgin: $59,170
- Peoria: $47,430
- Springfield: $45,740
- Rockford: $54,070
- Decatur: $45,480
Job Outlook for LPNs in Illinois
The demand for LPNs in Illinois is much higher than the demand for most other professions in the country. In fact, a study predicted that employment in this career will grow by 9% between 2019 and 2029. Note that this was a pre-pandemic study, so that figure may be even higher than predicted. Another key takeaway is that demand for LPNs will rise both in metropolitan areas and outside of major cities.
Many long-time licensed LPNs choose to upgrade their education and qualifications to become RNs. There are programs that offer this option at some colleges.
Top LPN Schools in Illinois
There are many schools that offer LPN programs in Illinois, in every corner of the state. While proximity is always a factor, you may also find that some programs offer lower tuition or an accelerated program, which might make them a better choice. If you can’t find the right program below, you can find a complete list of accredited programs on the Illinois Nursing Workforce Center website.
When considering which college or institution to attend, be sure to take their graduate NCLEX-PN pass rate into account. This is a good indicator of the quality of the program.
Joliet Junior College – Joliet
This institution has been around since 1901, and usually has very high NCLEX pass rates. The program is for 12 months and includes practical training in high-end simulation labs.
1215 Houbolt Road, Joliet, IL 60431
Southeastern Illinois College – Harrisburg
This college offers a top-rated LPN course that starts every fall. There is space for 60 full-time and 20 part-time students. This program offers high-quality education combined with one of the lowest tuition costs.
3575 College Road, Harrisburg, IL 62946 firstname.lastname@example.org
Harper College – Palatine
Established in 1965, Harper College – Palatine is now one of the largest community colleges in the country. There are two intake dates for the LPN program, in summer and fall.
1200 West Algonquin Road, Palatine, IL 60067
Ambria College of Nursing – Hoffman Estates
Ambria College of Nursing specializes in the nursing field. It offers ladder programs for students who plan to start as an LPN and advance their career to become an RN later.
5210 Trillium Blvd., Hoffman Estates, IL 60192
John A. Logan College – Carterville
This college offers two LPN program options: a full-time course that takes 9 months, and a part-time course that takes 16 months.
700 Logan College Drive, Carterville, IL 62918
Illinois Eastern Community College – Olney
Illinois Eastern Community College offers an affordable LPN program that you can complete in 40 weeks.
233 East Chestnut Street, Olney, IL 62450
Capital Area School of Practical Nursing – Springfield
This school has been training nurses since 1957. It offers two LPN courses per year, with intake in August and February.
2201 Toronto Road, Springfield, IL 62712
Lake Land College – Mattoon
The Lake Land College LPN program takes one year to complete. Students must achieve a GPA of at least 2.0 for all courses to pass. Graduates of this program have a very high NCLEX pass rate.
5001 Lake Land Blvd., Mattoon, IL 61938
Danville Area Community College – Danville
Danville Area Community College is a 70-year-old institution with modern facilities and programs. Its campus features several historic buildings. The college’s LPN course takes one year to complete.
2000 East Main Street, Danville, IL 61832
Career Center of Southern Illinois – Red Bud
The nursing center at the Career Center of Southern Illinois is on its own separate campus. The institution offers an 11-month LPN course.
6137 Beck Road, Red Bud, IL 62278
The Illinois Board of Nursing website https://www.idfpr.com/profs/nursing.asp offers a comprehensive collection of information. It’s a great resource whether you want to become a nurse or already work in the health care industry.
The Illinois Nursing Workforce Center offers career-focused information. It is also useful for anyone interested in joining the nursing profession at any level.
NursingLicensure.org has information about how to become a licensed nurse in Illinois and other states. It also offers information on how to maintain your license.