Nursing Schools and Licensing Requirements in Illinois

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Data from the American Association of Colleges of Nursing shows there were more than 175,000 RNs in Illinois in 2014. There were also more than 7,800 APRNs working in the state as nurse practitioners, nurse anesthetists, clinical nurse specialists, and nurse midwives. Yet a 2015 report published by the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation states that one-third of nurses around the state will retire within the next five years. It estimates that the biggest losses will come from the school, psychiatric, community health, and home health nursing sectors. To learn more about how you can be part of a new generation of nurses, read on for salary info, degree program details, and licensure specifics.

Top 10 Nursing Schools and Licensing Requirements in Illinois

Rank School Location
1 Bradley University Peoria, IL
2 Governors State University University Park, IL
3 University of St. Francis Joliet, IL
4 Illinois State University Normal, IL
5 North Park University Chicago, IL
6 Millikin University Decatur, IL
7 Lewis University Romeoville, IL
8 Trinity Christian College Palos Heights, IL
9 University of Illinois at Chicago Chicago, IL
10 Trinity College of Nursing & Health Sciences Rock Island, IL

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  • Methodology


    To be considered for this ranking, schools were required to meet the following criteria:

    Accredited at the institutional level
    Private nonprofit or public school
    Minimum of 1 bachelor’s or master’s degree in subject area for 4-year schools
    Minimum of 1 associate degree or certificate program in subject area for 2-year schools

    Schools were then scored on factors such as:

    Cost & Financial Aid
    Number and variety of program offerings
    Student-teacher ratios
    Graduation rates (4-year schools only)
    Placement and support services offered
    Academic/Career counseling services
    Employment services
    Loan default rates

    These factors were assembled for each school and rated using a peer-based-value (PBV) calculation. PBV compares the cost of a program to the cost of other programs with the same (or similar) qualitative score and cost. PBV denotes the overall value or “bang for your buck” of a college or degree program.

Top Nursing Schools in Illinois

4 – Year Colleges

  1. Bradley University
    Location

    Peoria, IL

  2. Governors State University
    Location

    University Park, IL

  3. University of St. Francis
    Location

    Joliet, IL

  4. Illinois State University
    Location

    Normal, IL

  5. North Park University
    Location

    Chicago, IL

  6. Millikin University
    Location

    Decatur, IL

  7. Lewis University
    Location

    Romeoville, IL

  8. Trinity Christian College
    Location

    Palos Heights, IL

  9. University of Illinois at Chicago
    Location

    Chicago, IL

  10. Trinity College of Nursing & Health Sciences
    Location

    Rock Island, IL

2 – Year Colleges

  1. Rend Lake College
    Location

    Ina, IL

  2. Southeastern Illinois College
    Location

    Harrisburg, IL

  3. Shawnee Community College
    Location

    Ullin, IL

  4. Highland Community College
    Location

    Highland, IL

  5. Rock Valley College
    Location

    Rockford, IL

  6. Elgin Community College
    Location

    Elgin, IL

  7. Sauk Valley Community College
    Location

    Dixon, IL

  8. Kankakee Community College
    Location

    Kankakee, IL

  9. McHenry County College
    Location

    Crystal Lake, IL

  10. John Wood Community College
    Location

    Quincy, IL

How to Get an Illinois Nursing License

The Illinois Board of Nursing grants all types of nursing licenses. The board, part of the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation, enforces state nursing standards and regulates nursing education programs.

The Illinois licensure process is not the most straightforward, so it would behoove students, especially those with irregular circumstances, to contact the Board of Nursing as they begin the licensure process. The state offers phone assistance to applicants trying to fill out forms.

Who Is Eligible for an IL Nursing License?

Anyone graduating from a nursing program approved by the state can apply for a license by examination by downloading a form from the Illinois Board of Nursing website. Once they have earned their associate, bachelor’s or master’s degree, they should:

  • Apply to take the NCLEX-RN via the Continental Testing website and pay a $98 application fee
  • Register for the NCLEX-RN with Pearson VUE and pay a $200 fee
  • Have a nursing school official certify graduation from an approved nursing program
  • Get their fingerprints taken within two months of submitting an application
  • Submit a CT-NUR Form and proof of completed nursing education (out-of-state and international applicants only)
  • Pay for and provide a credential evaluation report of any foreign degree (international applicants only)

Applicants have 90 days from receipt of their authorization to test (ATT) to take the NCLEX-RN. If they fail to do this, or if they do not pass, they will have to reapply both with the state and with Pearson VUE and pay fresh application fees.

When to Renew a License in IL

Nursing licenses must be renewed every two years and expire on May 31 of even-numbered years. During this time period, RNs must take 20 hours of continuing education credits, and advanced practice nurses must fulfill 50 hours. Applicants who are renewing an RN license for the first time are exempt from this requirement. The renewal fee is $60.

How to Gain Advanced Practice Licensure in IL

Nurse midwives, nurse practitioners, registered nurse anesthetists, and clinical nurse specialists who are certified are all considered advanced practice nurses (APNs) in the state. APNs can get a license in Illinois by submitting the following:

  • An application form
  • A check or money order for $125
  • A current copy of national certification from a designated certifying body in their specialty
  • Official transcripts from a graduate program in their specialty
  • A $5 fee and separate application for the ability to write prescriptions

Get more information on APNs and the licensure process in Illinois at the Illinois Department of Financial & Professional Regulation.

Earnings for Illinois’ Nurses

Most of the state’s nurses make between $55,000 and $65,000, but a 2014 report by Illinois Center for Nursing found significant earnings differences based on type of degree. According to this report, BSN holders made seven percent more than RNs with an associate degree. Advanced practice nurses had even higher earning potential. Take a closer look at how nurses’ pay stacks up in Illinois:

Top-Paying Areas for RNs in Illinois

AreaHourly Median WageAnnual Median Wage
Chicago-Joliet-Naperville IL Metropolitan Division$34.67$72,100
Chicago-Joliet-Naperville IL-IN-WI$34.21$71,150
Kankakee-Bradley$33.23$69,110
Lake County-Kenosha County IL-WI Metropolitan Division$32.81$68,250
Springfield$29.45$61,250
Danville$28.47$59,220
Bloomington-Normal$28.02$58,290
Rockford$27.86$57,940
Champaign-Urbana$27.79$57,800
Peoria$26.68$55,490

Source: US Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2014

Illinois vs. National Numbers

Salary

Registered NurseCertified Nurse MidwifeNurse AnesthetistNurse Practitioner$0$50,000$100,000$150,000$200,000

YearAnnual salary(25th percentile)Annual salary(median)Annual salary(75th percentile)Annual salary(25th percentile)Annual salary(median)Annual salary(75th percentile)
Registered Nurse$54,060$66,080$80,610$0$54,620$66,640$81,080
Certified Nurse Midwife$78,760$89,740$102,780$0$82,580$96,970$114,090
Nurse Anesthetist$86,630$146,470$176,710$0$132,380$153,780$181,860
Nurse Practitioner$78,260$90,480$104,150$0$82,720$95,350$113,470

  • Annual Salary (25th percentile)
  • Annual Salary (median)
  • Annual Salary (75th percentile)

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2014 Employment Total Employment (2014) 050,000100,000Registered NurseCertified Nurse MidwifeNurse AnesthetistNurse Practitioner1507803,6005,11036,590

TypeIllinoisNational
Registered Nurse111,6002,687,310
Certified Nurse Midwife1505,110
Nurse Anesthetist78036,590
Nurse Practitioner3,600122,050

2022 occupational outlook 050,000100,0004201,6705,1307,70043,900

TypeIllinoisNational
Registered Nurse124,9903,238,400
Certified Nurse Midwife4207,700
Nurse Anesthetist1,67043,900
Nurse Practitioner5,130147,300

Avg. annual openings (2012 – 2022) 050,000100,0003,38010501802901,5605,850

TypeIllinoisNational
Registered Nurse3,380105,260
Certified Nurse Midwife10290
Nurse Anesthetist501,560
Nurse Practitioner1805,850

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2014 and Projections Central

Nursing Resources & Associations in Illinois

Illinois Board of Nursing

The Illinois Board of Nursing grants nursing licenses. It is the main resource for finding up-to-date regulations and licensure requirements.

Illinois Hispanic Nurses Association

The Illinois Hispanic Nurses Association is the state chapter of the National Association of Hispanic Nurses. It works to support nurses of Hispanic descent by providing scholarships, updating members on industry news and facilitating networking opportunities.

Illinois Nurses Association

The Illinois Nurses Association, or INA, is the state’s nursing union. The organization is dedicated to advocating on behalf of Illinois nurses and empowering nursing professionals to provide quality care.

Illinois Nurses Foundation

INF is focused on giving scholarships to nursing students. It also provides courses that can be applied toward continuing education credits.

Illinois Organization of Nurse Leaders

The Illinois Organization of Nurse Leaders is part of the American Organization of Nurse Executives. It works to foster leadership abilities among professional nurses.

Illinois Society for Advanced Practice Nursing

ISAPN is primarily an advocacy organization. It also hosts regular member dinners and publishes an active job board on its website.

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