Registered Nurse Certification in How to Become an RN in Illinois: Nursing License Application and Renewal Guide

Nursing is growing much faster than other fields. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics expects the field to rise by 12% from 2018 to 2028. Reasons behind this include increasing rates of chronic diseases and increased emphasis on preventative care, among other factors. Today’s shortage of healthcare workers in Illinois and across the country makes tomorrow’s prospective nurses more important than ever. In 2007, the state created the Illinois Nursing Workforce Center to combat the shortage, provide resources, and recruit future nurses.

As of 2020, registered nurses in Illinois earned an average salary of $73,890 per year — significantly higher than their neighbors in Indiana and Missouri.

Illinois Department of Financial & Professional Regulation

Nursing licensure in Illinois is administered by the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation (IDFPR).

Professional nursing licenses issued by the IDFPR include:

  • Registered Professional Nurse (RN);
  • Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN);
  • Advanced Practice Nurse (APN);
  • Advanced Practice Registered Nurse – Full Practice Authority (APRN-FPA);
  • APRN – FPA Controlled Substance;
  • APN CE Sponsor;
  • LPN CE Sponsor;
  • RN CE Sponsor;
  • APN Controlled Substance.

Further questions or concerns may be directed to the IDFPR at:

Chicago Office
100 West Randolph, 9th Floor
Chicago, IL 60601

Springfield Office
320 West Washington, 3rd Floor
Springfield, IL 62786

IDFPR Phone Number:
(888) 473-4858

Registered Nurse Education Requirements

There are a variety of degrees that prepare students to become certified nurses, including bachelor’s, associate’s, and certified diploma programs. Aspiring nurses can choose to get their degree from accredited schools in Illinois and other schools across the country. Each degree type varies in terms of duration, cost, and preparation for career advancement. Advanced degrees generally allow for more opportunities for nurses, such as becoming an APN or Nurse Educator.

RN Licensure by Examination

In addition to completing an accredited degree program, aspiring nurses must also pass their boards, submit a background test, be fingerprinted, and occasionally meet a few other requirements. For those looking to obtain nursing licensure in Illinois, the following information should be closely adhered to.

Fingerprinting and Background Checks

Illinois requires that all nursing certification applicants undergo a background check and be fingerprinted. All nursing certification boards additionally require applicants to submit information regarding past criminal history. These processes ensure the health and safety of medical professionals and patients alike.

Approved Exams

After successful completion of an accredited program, students must take the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX) for registered nurses, which is organized by the National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN) and uses computerized adaptive testing (CAT). Practice test questions are available online to allow prospective nurses to prepare before sitting the exam. Students must also take a state-level exam, which will be explained in more detail below.

Applying to Take a Certification Exam

Nursing candidates must apply and register for the NCLEX online. Applications must be sent to the respective Nursing Regulatory Body. Each exam requires a $200 registration fee.

Further inquiries regarding national-level exams can be made to:

National Council of State Boards of Nursing, Inc.
Examinations Department
111 E. Wacker, Suite 2900
Chicago, IL 60601-4277

Likewise, candidates must apply and register for the state-level exam. Each exam requires a $98 registration fee. Applications for the state-level LPN and RN exams are included below:

Questions and concerns regarding state-level exams may be directed to:

Continental Testing Services, Inc.
P.O. Box 100
LaGrange, Illinois 60525
(800) 359 1313

Testing Vendors and Proctors

The national-level exam is conducted by the testing vendor Pearson VUE. Payment can be made online by credit, debit, or prepaid card (VISA, MasterCard, or American Express only). Interested applicants looking to make third-party payments through nursing schools, agencies, or employers must submit an inquiry to Pearson VUE NCLEX Candidate Services.

The state-level exam is administered by Continental Testing Services, a testing vendor that serves 7 states including Illinois, as well as the city of Chicago.

RN Licensure by Endorsement (Out-of-State Applicants)

Applicants who already hold a license in another state may apply for nursing licensure by endorsement in Illinois. Besides fulfilling the previously mentioned requirements, you must also submit verification of the license(s) you hold in each state. Endorsement candidates apply directly through IDFPR.

RN License Renewal

Nursing licenses expire on May 31st of every even-number year, regardless of the date of issuance. Licenses holders are reminded via postcard three months prior to the deadline. License renewal applications may be completed online through the IDFPR’s website. Each license entails its own renewal application and the associated fee.

Continuing Education Requirements

All Illinois nurses must complete 20 hours of continuing education courses in order to renew their licensing. At least 1 of those 20 hours must be a sexual harassment prevention training course.

The following applications may be used to verify continuing education sponsors:

Illinois Nursing License Verification

Utilize the IDFPR’s License Lookup to verify licenses in Illinois. Nurses may also wish to use IDFPR’s License Lookup to check the expiration date of their license.

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