How to Become a Nurse in Illinois

Two Methods:Licensed Practical NurseRegistered Nurse

There are more than 167,000 registered nurses in Illinois, and demand continues to rise. Nurses fill vital roles in the health-care industry, and often are the first health-care professionals patients see. There are many different types of licensed nurses and nursing specialties, and all require extensive classroom instruction and clinical training. Follow these guidelines if you want to become a nurse in Illinois.


  1. Image titled Become a Nurse in Colorado Step 1
    Decide whether nursing is right for you. Nurses might be dedicated, compassionate and highly organized. In order to reach the highest levels of the profession, nurses must complete years of classroom instruction and hours of clinical training. All nurses must hold a certificate or degree from an institution approved by the Illinois Board of Nursing.
  2. Image titled Become a Nurse in Colorado Step 2
    Start your career in the health-care industry as a nursing assistant. Illinois requires all nursing aides to be state-certified. Certification can be achieved by completing 6 to 12 weeks of course work in an accredited program. Aides perform basic nursing tasks under the supervision of a registered nurse. Many nursing assistants advance their careers by pursuing additional education and training.

Method 1
Licensed Practical Nurse

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    Work toward a position as a licensed practical nurse, or LPN. Licensed practical nurses provide direct care for patients under the supervision of a registered nurse or physician. LPNs can work in specialized health-care facilities but usually provide general care. LPN programs are offered at approved vocational schools and 2-year colleges throughout Illinois. Most take at least 24 months to finish and combine classroom instruction with clinical practice. LPNs registered in another state may be awarded a temporary license in Illinois by the process of endorsement. Some of the duties LPNs perform include:
    • Performing basic laboratory tests.
    • Assisting physicians with medical procedures.
    • Collecting fluid samples from patients.
    • Keeping clerical records.
    • Assisting patients with personal hygiene.

Method 2
Registered Nurse

  1. Image titled Become a Nurse in Colorado Step 4
    Pursue a position as a registered nurse, or RN. Registered nurses perform all nursing functions but also have supervisory duties. In Illinois, registered nurses must have a 4-year, Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree from an accredited college or university. During the course of their studies, Illinois RN candidates can select a specialty. RNs who pursue a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) degree can advance to positions in upper management, as nurse practitioners and in specialized nursing. A postgraduate degree also is required to teach nursing.
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    Select your specialty in nursing. RNs often select a specialization and pursue it during the clinical phase of their training. Your focus can be based on advancement potential, job security, interest in a particular field of medicine, or salary level. Some of the leading nursing fields in Illinois are:
    • Emergency: This is a stressful and challenging specialty that requires decisiveness and an ability to withstand emotional pressure. Emergency-room nurses are needed all hours of the day.
    • Gerontology: One of the fastest-growing areas in nursing is the care of older patients. Much of this type of nursing is done in extended-care facilities. This field requires study of geriatric diseases like Alzheimer's. It also may require an emphasis on emotional and psychological facets of care.
    • Intensive care: Nurses who specialize in ICU closely monitor patients' vital signs and medications, and sometimes must perform emergency procedures. ICU nurses are needed 24 hours a day.
    • Obstetrics: Many nurses enjoy caring for expectant mothers.
    • Public health: Nurses working at public-health clinics help underprivileged patients and must be able to diagnose and treat a wide range of illnesses.
    • Surgical: RNs who specialize in this area of nursing assist surgeons during operations and must be detail-oriented.
  3. Image titled Become a Nurse in Colorado Step 6
    Take the state licensing exam. After completing your clinical and classroom work, you will be required to pass the National Council of State Boards of Nursing, or NCLEX, exam to become a licensed nurse. The NCLEX-RN exam is for aspiring registered nurses. The NCLEX-PN is for practical nurses in Illinois. All nurses must be licensed to practice in Illinois. Each applicant must:
    • Be an Illinois resident.
    • Be a graduate of an accredited LPN or RN program.
    • Pay all application fees.
    • Arrange to take the exam by registering online with the Illinois Board of Nursing.


  • As of May 31, 2012, Illinois RNs must complete 20 hours of continuing-education programs per 2-year renewal period to keep their licenses current. LPNs must meet the same conditions as of January 1, 2013.
  • Consult the Illinois Board of Nursing and Illinois Nurses Association for details on education and licensure requirements in the state. Nursing candidates must pass criminal-background checks before they are licensed.
  • Licensed nurses can earn recognition for achievement in a specific area of nursing by passing a credentialing exam. The American Nurses Association's credentialing center certifies specialty nurses with the designation RN-BC (registered nurse-board certified). By taking such initiative voluntarily, credentialed nurses sometimes position themselves for advancement.

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Categories: Health Care