How to Become an LPN in Iowa – A Simple Guide

How to Become an LPN in Iowa - A Simple Guide

Do you want to pursue a career as an LPN in Iowa?

That’s great! Being an LPN is one of the most rewarding and stable careers.

Additionally, becoming one is not as time-consuming as other nursing careers such as becoming an RN. 

But how do you become one?

Is the process complicated? 

There are several requirements and processes to keep in mind to become an LPN, but we’re here to make it as simple as possible! 

We prepared a 4-step guide on how to become an LPN in Iowa.

This will help you through the process and hopefully give you a successful outcome. 

We’ll also answer FAQs, including:

  • How can I renew my Iowa LPN license?
  • How much do LPNs in Iowa make? 

Are you ready? 

Let’s dive in!

How to Become an LPN in Iowa in 4 Steps

Become an LPN in Iowa by following these simple steps:

Step #1: Complete an Accredited LPN Program

Step #2: Prepare for the NCLEX-PN Exam

Step #3: Get Your LPN License

Step #4: Land Your First LPN Job

Now, let’s dig deeper!

Step #1: Graduate from an Accredited LPN Program

Before you can start your nursing career, you have to complete a state-approved LPN program.

In Iowa, the approved LPN programs are offered at vocational schools, community colleges, and technical centers.

It is important to enroll in a state-approved program to ensure that you are getting the proper training to become an effective LPN. 

Programs that are not state-approved will be rejected by the Iowa Board of Nursing and will not qualify you to become licensed in the future. 

LPN programs usually take 1-2 years to complete—depending if you are a full-time or part-time student.

Once you’ve chosen your LPN program, you need to ensure that you meet the admission requirements. 

While requirements depend on the school, the basic requirements to become an LPN in Iowa include:

  • High school diploma or GED
  • A minimum GPA of 2.5
  • Letters of reference
  • Personal essay
  • Official school transcripts

The curriculum for LPN programs prepares students for entry-level career opportunities.  Students take a combination of clinical, theoretical, laboratory, and preceptor hours. 

Although topics vary from school to school, here are some of the basic topics included in an LPN program in Iowa:

  • Nutrition
  • Life Span Health Care
  • Medical Administration for Nurses
  • Developmental Psychology
  • Fundamentals of Nursing in Health Care
  • Mental Health

Step #2: Prepare for the NCLEX-PN Exam

As a graduate of an LPN program, you are required to take and pass the NCLEX-PN.

The NCLEX exam is designed to test how well you know various skills and topics. It also ensures that you have what it takes to safely practice as an LPN. 

The exam mainly focuses on the following areas:

  • Safe and Effective Care Environment
  • Physiological
  • Psychological 
  • Health Promotion and Maintenance

The whole point of the NCLEX-PN is not to focus on memorization, but on application, decision-making skills, and high-level thinking.

The NCLEX is a national exam and passing it is necessary to become licensed.

So it’s understandable if you feel a lot of pressure at the thought of taking it.

But the good thing is, your LPN education program and clinical training are designed to prepare you for the exam and the real-life work of an LPN. 

This is why choosing a good LPN school is crucial. Make sure to check the school’s NCLEX passing rate! 

Many online resources and practice exams are similar to the NCLEX. This can help you familiarize yourself with the format and content of the exams. 

While preparing for your exam, you should also be processing your exam application with the Iowa Board of Nursing. 

We will talk about how to apply for the exam in the next step. 

Step #3: Get Your LPN License

Before you can work as an LPN in Iowa, you need to be licensed. 

There are several ways to obtain your LPN license in Iowa, check which one applies to you. 

Licensure by Examination 

Iowa requires aspiring LPNs to pass the NCLEX-PN exam upon graduation. 

To apply for licensure by examination, you need to submit the following requirements:

  • NCLEX Registration
  • Official transcript from the LPN program
  • A criminal background check
  • Character certificate
  • Fingerprint cards
  • Signed waiver 
  • Non-refundable $93 application fee and $50 background check fee

You can submit your application online.

You need to register for the NCLEX-PN through Pearson VUE either by phone or online. You also need to pay the $200 examination fee. 

Once all requirements are met and approved, you will receive the Authorization to Test (ATT). 

Take note that the Iowa Application for Exam and Pearson Registration is only valid for 90 days. After 90 days, you need to re-submit the application and pay all the fees again.

If you pass the NCLEX-PN exam, you will receive a certificate of licensure by email. 

If you fail, you will receive the retake instructions by mail.

The results will be released within two weeks. Here’s how you can verify your Iowa licensure:

  1. You can check IBON online services and sign in using your account. You can check for your license number by entering your last name and the last 4 digits of your Social Security Number.
  2. You can also use Nursys.

Nurse Licensure Compact 

Are you an LPN from a state where compact legislation is in effect? 

Good news—you don’t need to apply for a separate license if you want to work in Iowa. Iowa is a member of the NCL agreement! 

This means you should only apply for multi-state licensure in your primary state of residence and you can work in Iowa using that multi-state license.

Likewise, if you have a multi-state license from Iowa, you can practice as an LPN in other compact states. 

However, the Iowa Board of Nursing recommends that candidates should apply for endorsement if they make Iowa their primary state of residence. 

If you’re an active license holder from a non-compact state or have an active single-state license from a compact state, you won’t be able to practice in Iowa until you have a license by endorsement. 

Licensure by Endorsement

This process is for LPNs from non-compact states who want to work in Iowa, or for LPNs who want to make Iowa their primary state of residence.

Basic qualifications for licensure by endorsement in Iowa include:

  • Graduate from a state-approved LPN program
  • Board approval for applicants with previous criminal history or record of disciplinary action
  • Passed the NCLEX-PN exam
  • The candidate should have proof of licensure in another state

You should complete your application within 12 months or else it will be archived and your submitted documents will be destroyed. If that happens, you will need to reapply and pay the fees again. 

Here are the following requirements to obtain your Iowa license by endorsement:

  • Completed application form online
  • Pay the non-refundable fee of $169 for the criminal history background check
  • Fingerprint cards
  • Signed waiver form
  • Submit information about any criminal convictions or disciplinary actions
  • A hard copy of the official nursing transcript
  • Verification of original license
  • Active federal government or military employee identification, if applicable

Step #4: Land Your First LPN Job

Congratulations on obtaining your Iowa LPN license!

Now, it’s time to look for your first job as an LPN. Most LPNs in Iowa are responsible for the care of the injured, sick, disabled, and convalescent under the supervision of RNs or physicians.

LPNs practice in different healthcare settings such as:

  • Long-term care
  • Chronic care
  • Acute care 
  • Community care
    • Patient’s home
    • School
    • Industry
    • Correctional facilities
    • Community mental health facilities
    • Physician’s offices

As you can see, there are lots of career opportunities in store for you! 

Frequently Asked Questions About Becoming an LPN in Iowa

And, just like that, we’ve completed the 4 steps to becoming an LPN in Iowa!

But you might still have a few questions. Let’s answer a few now. 

How can I renew my Iowa LPN license?

LPNs in Iowa are required to renew their licenses every three years. License renewals can be completed online. The license renewal costs $99.

License holders can renew their licenses at least 60 days before the expiration date. There is, however, a 3-day grace period. Late renewals are also subject to a $50 late fee. 

Additionally, LPNs in Iowa are required to complete 24 contact hours of continuing education for initial license renewal. Subsequent license renewals require at least 36 contact hours of continuing education.

How much do LPNs in Iowa make?

In Iowa, LPNs make an average of $54,768 per year—slightly higher than in other states. 

Those in the top 90% earn an average of $59,362.


By now, you should know the steps to becoming an LPN in Iowa, as well as what is needed to renew your license and how much LPNs in Iowa make. 

As you can see, being an LPN is one of the best career options, especially because of the high demand for LPNs. 

It is also a very meaningful job because you will be helping people with various health conditions. 

So, what are you waiting for?

You are one step away from gaining a rewarding career! 

We wish you all the best! 

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