LPN Programs in Iowa

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According to a recent article from the Associated Press, Iowa’s nursing shortage, which spans across multiple nursing categories, has reached an alarming stage. Many nursing leaders have beefed up their efforts to provide better training programs to help prepare for a growing number of vacancies in the upcoming decade, as well as encourage current and prospective nurses to stay in the profession long-term. If you’re considering the practical nursing field and are interested in opportunities in Iowa, keep reading to search LPN programs, learn about state licensing requirements, and get salary and employment information.

Top LPN Programs in Iowa

Methodology +
Lpn Programs

The top LPN programs listed in this state's ranking were determined by comparison of three primary, equally-weighted criteria including

  • Student-to-faculty ratio
  • In-state tuition
  • Graduation rate

Additional details for each school were included:

  • Count of programs available
  • Public and not-for-profit schools
  • Normalized on a 100 percent curve

The methodology used for tie-break is as follows...

  • Ties are broken based on lowest average net price for full-time, first-time undergraduates paying in-state tuition (average cost of tuition and expenses after grants and scholarships).
  • If necessary, the lowest in-state tuition rate is used as a second tie-break
Rank School Name Score Tuition Student/Teacher ratio Graduation Rate
1 Hawkeye Community College 94.67 $$$$$ 15:1 28%
2 Northwest Iowa Community College 94.33 $$$$$ 13:1 54%
3 Indian Hills Community College 94 $$$$$ 17:1 24%
4 Northeast Iowa Community College-Calmar 94 $$$$$ 14:1 34%
5 Western Iowa Tech Community College 93 $$$$$ 17:1 18%
6 Southwestern Community College 93 $$$$$ 15:1 40%
7 Iowa Lakes Community College 93 $$$$$ 15:1 48%
8 Eastern Iowa Community College District 92.67 $$$$$ 17:1 28%
9 Kirkwood Community College 92.33 $$$$$ 18:1 22%
10 Southeastern Community College 91 $$$$$ 18:1 29%
11 North Iowa Area Community College 91 $$$$$ 20:1 41%
12 Des Moines Area Community College 90.67 $$$$$ 20:1 20%
13 Iowa Central Community College 90 $$$$$ 20:1 37%
14 Iowa Western Community College 88.67 $$$$$ 19:1 18%
15 Marshalltown Community College 88 $$$$$ 26:1 18%
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Search for the Right LPN Program in Iowa

There is no getting around the licensure process if one wishes to practice and find employment as a practical nurse in Iowa. One crucial requirement for licensure is completion of state-approved postsecondary nursing education, either in the form of a diploma, certificate, or associate degree. Accredited LPN programs in Iowa offer quality education and training to prepare its graduates for employment within state borders. Use the search tool below to filter for and compare available academic options across the state.

Degree Level
School Type
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Obtaining LPN Licensure in Iowa

There’s no getting around it – Iowa state licensure is an absolute must for LPN practice within the state, and responsibility for meeting all licensing requirements rests solely with the nurse. Below is a description of those requirements and what an applicant must do to meet them.

Basic Eligibility

  • Graduate from a state-approved LPN nursing program
  • Report any past felony convictions or record of prior disciplinary action against you, regardless of jurisdiction. These must be reviewed and approved by the Iowa Board of Nursing prior to license issuance.
  • Pass the NCLEX examination

LPN Education

The Iowa Board of Nursing is responsible for the approval of all LPN programs with a physical presence in the state. The Iowa Board of Nursing does not approve out-of-state programs, but will accept an applicant for initial licensure/endorsement who has graduated from an approved out-of-state program.

The majority of LPN programs in Iowa can be found at community colleges throughout the state. Most of these programs can be completed in two semesters of full-time study, culminating in the award of a certificate. Some programs can lead to an associate of applied science degree (AAS), but this option usually takes two years.

Licensure Fees and Logistics

  • Must have graduated from high school or received a GED
  • Must hold a valid Social Security number
  • Must submit an official transcript from his or her nursing program denoting the degree awarded and date of graduation directly to the Board. Only mailed hard copies will be accepted.
  • Submit two completed fingerprint cards and pay a $143 fee ($50 for fingerprint card processing and $93 for exam application processing) to the Iowa Board of Nursing
  • Under the Home Base Iowa Act, military service applicants can submit a military service application, which allows the applicant to apply verified military education, training, and service credit towards any licensure experience or educational requirement
  • Iowa is a member of the multi-state Nurse Licensing Compact that allows a nurse who resides in a compact state to hold one license (from the nurse’s primary state of residence) and practice in all other states in which the compact is in effect

License Renewal

License renewal can be done online through IBON Online Services and include a $99 fee. Expiration dates are indicated on each wallet card, but can also be viewed online through the Online Verification System. LPNs can renew their license up to 60 days before the expiration date, and Iowa law requires that it be renewed no later than 30 days prior to expiration. There is no monetary penalty for missing this cut off; however, it is not guaranteed that the new license will arrive before the old one expires. Paper renewals that are returned to the applicant for any reason and then resubmitted after the 15th of the applicant’s birth month are considered late renewal and are subject to a $50 late fee. The state does not prohibit the practice of practical nurses who are waiting for a new licensure during the 30-day grace period. Employers, however, can prohibit practice.

Additionally, LPNs must complete a continuing education requirement for license renewal. The first renewal requires 2.4 Continuing Education Units or 24 Contact Hours for renewal. Subsequent renewals require 3.6 CEUs or 36 Contact Hours.

Wages for Iowa LPNs

Iowa is a state whose population is spread throughout a number of modest-sized cities including Des Moines, Cedar Rapids and Davenport, as well as small rural communities and farms. Check the tables below for more detailed information on LPN salaries in Iowa.

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Top Paying Metropolitan Areas

Employment Trends for Iowa LPNs

According to the Iowa Center for Nursing Workforce, Iowa has a ratio of three LPNs per 1000 residents, substantially higher than the national average of two LPNs per 1000 residents. Below is a look at some helpful employment statistics and trends for Iowa LPN job seekers.

Top Employment Locations

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