How to Become an LPN in Illinois (A 2023 Guide)

How to Become an LPN in Illinois

Becoming an LPN is an excellent career choice — after all, they’re a crucial part of our healthcare system. 

As long as people need medical attention, you’ll never find yourself out of employment opportunities!

However, how to become a nurse may vary from state to state. You may need to fulfill different requirements or take your licensing exam through another provider.

It may seem confusing, but don’t panic! We’re here to help.

Our guide covers the end-to-end process of how to become an LPN in Illinois.

But we’re not only providing tips on choosing the right program and steps to get your license. We’ll also cover landing your first job and ensuring you don’t miss your license renewal.

Besides these, our guide also touches on the following in our FAQ section:

  • How much LPNs earn in the Prairie State
  • Possible career paths for LPNS
  • Popular LPN Certifications
  • Is Illinois a nursing compact state?

It’s all the information you need and more! Are you ready to begin? Let’s go!

How to Become an LPN in Illinois in 4 Steps

When you’ve got your sights on becoming an LPN, the first question is, “So where do I start?”

Now, without a roadmap, it’s easy to get overwhelmed. Although the process isn’t complicated, several areas need your attention.

We’ve narrowed everything down to four steps:

  • Completing your nursing education
  • Getting your license
  • Joining the workforce
  • Keeping your license active

Keeping these in mind can go a long way in establishing your LPN career.

Let’s go through each step and look at specifics.

Step #1: Complete Your Nursing Education

Unlike RNs, you don’t need an associate’s or bachelor’s degree to become LPN. However, it doesn’t mean that there aren’t any educational requirements.

After all, you’re still working with patients — you must know what you’re doing! 

You can usually finish an LPN program in Illinois in a year, but some schools offer an extended curriculum that may require you to stay in school for several months.

There are 36 approved providers for LPN programs in the Prairie State. You’ll find community colleges, vocational schools, nursing and hospital schools offering these.

The good news is you have A LOT of options. 

The bad news is you’re more likely to experience choice overload (when having too many alternatives lead to ineffective decision-making), especially if you’re not sure about what you want.

Finding the right school is essential because that’s where your career begins. To find the best program for you, consider the following factors:

  • Accreditation: Ensure your program is NLNAC (National League of Nursing Accrediting Agency)-approved. One of the worst things that could happen is spending your time and money on a course that won’t let you qualify for the licensure exam.
  • Cost: Each provider charges a different rate for an LPN Program. Comparing tuition fees before deciding on a program is a great way to manage your expenses. Don’t forget about other costs like transportation, books, and supplies. These can add up quickly.
  • Learning Options: Programs that deliver their curriculum using a hybrid setup may provide more flexibility for students working part-time or those with other obligations.
  • Practicum Facility: A part of your nursing program must be in a health facility for your clinical hours. Check out your program’s preferred partner if they have one.
  • Student Assistance: Some schools provide financial support, which is a significant advantage.
  • NCLEX Pass Rate: In 2021, the pass rate of Illinois for the NCLEX-PN was 83%. Each program has individual scores. The higher a program’s pass rate, the better they prepare its graduates for the exam.

Step #2: Get Your LPN License

Once you’ve completed your education, it’s time to earn your license! In Illinois, candidates can go about it in two ways: Acceptance of Examination or Endorsement.

Let’s look at how these two processes work.

Acceptance of Examination

Graduating from an accredited LPN program qualifies you to take the NCLEX-PN. 

All aspiring LPNs need to take this exam to become licensed. It is a national exam that tests your competencies. 

However, before you can do that, you must complete the following steps:

  1. Register to Continental Testing Services (CTS), Illinois’ testing vendor. It’s best to do this within 90 days of completing your nursing program. Be prepared to put in your Social Security Number and an active email address.
  1. Pay the $107 fee.
  1. Prepare documents to certify your education.
  • If you completed your LPN program in Illinois, your school must send an Official Student Roster, Official Transcript, or the ED NUR Form directly to CTS.
  • If you completed an out-of-state LPN program, the acceptable documents are an Official Transcript or the ED NUR Form.
  • The CGFNS or ERES must submit a credentials evaluation report if you completed a foreign program. You must also show a certification from TOEFL or IELTS if English isn’t your first language.
  1. Get proof of fingerprinting from an accredited Live Scan Fingerprint Vendor in Illinois.
  1. Mail all supporting documents to this address:

Continental Testing Services Inc.

547 South LaGrange Road

P.O. Box 100

LaGrange, IL 60525

NOTE: Remember, it’s your responsibility to ensure CTS receives your paperwork. Using UPS, FedEx, or Certified Mail may be a better option.

  1. Getting your license in Illinois involves a dual process. Besides applying for CTS, you must register with Pearson VUE and pay a separate $200 testing fee.
  1. You will receive an Authorization to Test from CTS after they review and approve your application, as long as you’ve registered with Pearson VUE.
  1. Schedule your exam with Pearson VUE by following the instructions on your ATT.
  1. Take and pass the NCLEX-PN.
  1. You will receive an Official Results Letter from CTS when you pass the licensure exam. It will also contain instructions on how to apply for your license from the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Responsibility.

NOTE: If you don’t pass on your first try, you must apply to CTS and Pearson VUE again. However, you can only sit in for an exam every 46 days.

Licensure Through Endorsement

Candidates with active out-of-state LPN licenses can get an LPN license from Illinois through endorsement. Here’s what you should do:

  1. Complete an online application through the IDFPR portal.
  1. Prepare the following information:
    • Birthdate
    • Place of Birth
    • Social Security Number or an SSN Affidavit
    • Temporary Military Permit (if applicable)
    • Details of Name Change ( if applicable)
  1. Verify your active license through Nursys.

NOTE: If your state is not in Nursys’ database, you must ask your Board to complete the license verification process.

  1. Provide proof of nursing education.
    • If you completed your program in the U.S., use the ED NUR Form with your school’s Dean or Director’s signature and a copy of your official transcript.
    • If you’re a foreign graduate, provide CGFNS or ERES certification. If you don’t have these, upload your VisaScreen Program Certificate and Certification of Foreign Licensure.
  1. Submit your fingerprint information.
  1. Complete the Temporary Nursing Permit Form if you want one while waiting for your permanent one.
  1. Provide personal information such as criminal records, felony convictions, and medical conditions that may affect your role as an LPN.
  1. Pay the $50 fee. You’ll pay an additional $25 if you apply for a temporary license.

Step #3: Join the Illinois Workforce

Getting your Illinois license means you can now start practicing! Woohoo!

Jumping into the workforce might sound a little scary. After all the effort you put into studying, what if you can’t get a job?

Here’s the good news — the Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that employment for LPNs will increase by 9% from 2020 to 2030. It means there will always be a need for Licensed Practical Nurses.

However, it doesn’t mean that you should accept the first offer you receive. Finding the right job is essential to building a successful career.

Keep these tips in mind during your initial search:

  • Expand your options: You’ll typically find LPNs in hospitals and nursing homes, but don’t limit yourself to those places. You can explore openings in doctors’ offices, schools, or government agencies.
  • Do your research: Potential employers may be looking for different qualities. Check these out and see how your experience, background, and profile can be a good fit.
  • Don’t send out identical applications: Arming yourself with information increases your chances of getting noticed — so put your research to good use! Customize cover letters and resumes. It’s a great way to market yourself and set yourself apart!

Step #4: Keep Your LPN License Active 

You must renew your LPN license biennially on odd-numbered years. The current renewal period is from February 2021 to January 31, 2023.

You don’t need to comply with renewal requirements for your first renewal. You can go to the IDFPR website, log in to your account, and follow the prompts. As of 2021, the renewal fee for LPNs is $80.

For all future renewals, you need to earn 20 hours of Continuing Education. One hour out of the twenty hours must be on sexual harassment. 

Renewing your license in a timely manner is crucial if you want to continue practicing as an LPN and if you want to avoid penalties and expensive fees.

Frequently Asked Questions About Becoming an LPN in Illinois

Now that we’ve completed our four-step guide, let’s answer some FAQs.

How much do LPNs usually earn in Illinois?

On average, LPNs across the country earn $51,850 a year. 

LPNs in the Prairie State have an average wage of $54,080. That’s around 4% above the national average.

Can LPNs find a career path outside a nursing home or hospital?

Yes! LPNs can take on a variety of roles. Here are some you may not expect:

  • Forensic Nursing
  • Subject-matter experts in the insurance industry
  • Nursing writer
  • Travel nurses

What certifications are available for LPNs?

If you want to continue developing yourself and your skills, taking an LPN to RN bridge course is an excellent way. However, you can go in a different direction and get specialty certifications.

Here are some for you to consider:

  • Pharmacology
  • IV Therapy
  • Long-Term Care
  • Research
  • Urology
  • Nephrology

Is Illinois a Nursing Licensure Compact State?

No, Illinois is not yet an NLC state. 

However, they are making moves to become one. There is pending legislation for it. 

So, it’s good for you to keep updated on this so that you can apply for a multistate license in the future!

Multistate licenses allow LPNs from one compact state to practice as an LPN in another compact state without having to apply for a separate license there. 

Wrapping Things Up

Are you still okay? We sure hope so — because now you have everything you need to know about becoming a Licensed Practical Nurse in Illinois.

Yes, there are several hoops to jump through. But now you know how to pick the ideal LPN program, get your license, and land your first job — that’s a lot!

Of course, you’ll need to renew your license after two years — and we covered that, too!

Feel free to use this article as your guide. We’re sure you’ll do great. 

Good luck!

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