How to Become a Nurse in Illinois: A Comprehensive Guide

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Are you passionate about helping others and making a difference in people’s lives? Becoming a nurse in Illinois can offer you a fulfilling career in the healthcare industry. Nursing is a vital profession that plays a crucial role in the well-being of individuals and communities. In this article, we will provide you with a step-by-step guide on how to become a nurse in Illinois, including the requirements, necessary steps, job opportunities, and frequently asked questions.

Requirements to Become a Nurse in Illinois

To embark on your nursing journey in Illinois, you need to fulfill certain requirements. The first step is to acquire the necessary education and training. Illinois offers various nursing programs, such as diploma programs, associate degree in nursing (ADN), and bachelor of science in nursing (BSN) programs. Each program has its own set of prerequisites and duration.

To practice nursing in Illinois, you must obtain a license from the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation (IDFPR). This involves passing the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN) after completing your nursing program. Additionally, certain certifications, such as Advanced Practice Registered Nurse (APRN) certifications, may require further education and exams.

Steps to Becoming a Nurse in Illinois

Step 1: Research and Choose the Right Nursing Program

Before committing to a nursing program, it is crucial to thoroughly research and understand the available options. Consider factors such as program accreditation, curriculum, faculty expertise, and clinical experiences. Evaluate whether the program aligns with your career goals and aspirations.

Step 2: Complete the Required Education and Training

Once you have chosen a nursing program, embark on your educational journey. Dedicate yourself to the coursework and clinical experiences provided by the program. Take advantage of opportunities to gain hands-on experience in healthcare settings, as this will enhance your skills and knowledge.

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Step 3: Pass the NCLEX-RN Examination

After completing your nursing program, you must pass the NCLEX-RN examination to obtain your license. This examination is designed to test your competency and ensure that you possess the necessary skills and knowledge to practice nursing safely and effectively. Prepare for the exam by utilizing study resources, practice exams, and review courses.

Step 4: Apply for Licensure in Illinois

Once you have successfully passed the NCLEX-RN examination, you can apply for licensure in Illinois through the IDFPR. The application process typically involves submitting an application, paying the required fees, and providing necessary documentation, such as your education transcripts and NCLEX-RN results. Be sure to carefully follow the application instructions provided by the IDFPR.

Step 5: Obtain Additional Certifications if Desired

If you wish to specialize in a specific area of nursing or advance your career, you may choose to pursue additional certifications. Illinois offers various certifications for Advanced Practice Registered Nurses (APRNs), such as Nurse Practitioner, Certified Nurse Midwife, and Clinical Nurse Specialist. These certifications often require further education, clinical hours, and exams.

Job Opportunities for Nurses in Illinois

Illinois offers a multitude of job opportunities for nurses across different healthcare settings. Nurses can work in hospitals, clinics, long-term care facilities, home healthcare agencies, and more. The demand for nurses in Illinois remains high, with an increasing need for healthcare professionals to meet the growing population’s needs.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, registered nursing has a favorable job outlook, with a projected growth rate of 7% from 2019 to 2029. Additionally, the average salary for registered nurses in Illinois is competitive, with variations based on experience, education, and location.

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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

What are the educational requirements to become a nurse in Illinois?

To become a nurse in Illinois, you must complete an approved nursing program, which can be a diploma program, associate degree in nursing (ADN), or bachelor of science in nursing (BSN) program. Each program has its own specific requirements and duration.

How long does it take to become a nurse in Illinois?

The duration to become a nurse in Illinois varies depending on the type of program you choose. Diploma programs typically take around 1-2 years to complete, while ADN programs generally take 2-3 years. BSN programs usually require 4 years of study.

What is the average salary of a nurse in Illinois?

The average salary of a nurse in Illinois varies based on factors such as experience, education, and location. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average annual wage for registered nurses in Illinois is $75,510 as of May 2020.

Can I become a nurse in Illinois without a bachelor’s degree?

Yes, you can become a nurse in Illinois without a bachelor’s degree. ADN and diploma programs offer pathways to becoming a registered nurse. However, a bachelor’s degree in nursing (BSN) may provide more advanced career opportunities and increase earning potential.


Embarking on a nursing career in Illinois can be a fulfilling and rewarding choice. By following the outlined steps, meeting the necessary requirements, and obtaining the required licensure, you can become a registered nurse in Illinois. With a favorable job outlook, competitive salaries, and opportunities for specialization, nursing in Illinois offers a promising future. Take the first step towards your nursing journey today and make a difference in the lives of others.

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Note: This article is meant for informational purposes only. Please refer to official sources and consult with relevant authorities for the most up-to-date and accurate information regarding nursing requirements and licensure in Illinois.

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