LPN Programs in Iowa

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 10 LPN Programs in Iowa

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Top LPN Programs in Iowa

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  • 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


  1. Hawkeye Community College
    Location

    Waterloo, IA

  2. Northwest Iowa Community College
    Location

    Sheldon, IA

  3. Indian Hills Community College
    Location

    Ottumwa, IA

  4. Northeast Iowa Community College
    Location

    Calmar, IA

  5. Western Iowa Tech Community College
    Location

    Sioux City, IA

  6. Southwestern Community College
    Location

    Sylva, NC

  7. Iowa Lakes Community College
    Location

    Estherville, IA

  8. Eastern Iowa Community College District
    Location

    Davenport, IA

  9. Kirkwood Community College
    Location

    Cedar Rapids, IA

  10. Southeastern Community College
    Location

    Whiteville, NC

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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.

[School Searches]

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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

[Chart]

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

AreaTotal Employment (2014)
Southeast Iowa nonmetropolitan area1,230
Des Moines-West Des Moines970
Davenport-Moline-Rock Island IA-IL750
Northeast Iowa nonmetropolitan area720
Northwest Iowa nonmetropolitan area720
AreaTotal Employment (2014)
Southwest Iowa nonmetropolitan area700
Waterloo-Cedar Falls460
Cedar Rapids410
Sioux City IA-NE-SD300
Dubuque270

Sources: US Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2014

Employment of LPNs in Iowa
2012 – 7,630
2022 – 9,210
Average Annual Openings 350

Sources: Projections Central

Resources and Associations

Future of Nursing Campaign for Action: Iowa Action Coalition
This is the state website for the Campaign for Action, a non-profit organization sponsored by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP). The Campaign’s goal is to promote the implementation of recommendations in the Institute of Medicine’s report, The Future of Nursing: Leading Change, Advancing Health.

Iowa Association of Nursing Students
Website provides information on association membership, policy and procedures, and the association’s annual convention. The association is a chapter of the National Student Nurses Association.

Iowa Board of Nursing
The Iowa Board of Nursing oversees all aspects of education and licensing of nurses in the state. Its mission is to protect public health, safety and welfare by regulating the licensure and practice of nurses, and through nursing education and continuing education.

Iowa Department of Education
Website offers useful information on education throughout the state, including info on community colleges, career planning, and veterans and military education.

Iowa Department of Public Health
Government website with information regarding all aspects of public health in the state. Excellent source for Iowa health news and links to other state resources.

Iowa Hospital Association
The Iowa Hospital Association is an organization that represents and supports Iowa hospitals in achieving their missions and goals. Their website offers links to a wealth of nursing and health-related resources.

Iowa Nurses Association
The INA is the professional association of registered nurses in Iowa. INA provides excellent information on a variety of LPN subjects including nursing careers, continuing education and public policy.

Iowa Organization of Nurse Leaders (IONL)
The IONL’s mission is to, “represent and support nurse leaders in the state of Iowa as catalysts for innovation.” Its board consists of executives from leading hospitals and medical centers throughout the state

.National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN)
The NCSBN is a not-for-profit organization whose members include the boards of nursing for all 50 states, Washington D.C. and four U.S. Territories. The NCSBN provides education, service and research to promote regulatory excellence in patient safety and public protection.

Visiting Nurse Association
Headquartered in Iowa City, the Visiting Nurse Association is a non-profit organization that provides medical services to individuals with acute or chronic illness or disability throughout Johnson County.

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