Considering a career in medicine? Congratulations, there are so many different career options when it comes to nursing and medicine. First, let’s straighten out what these options are before we list all accredited nursing programs in Illinois.

Working in nursing without medical training

If you have no medical training or certifications yet, you are only eligible to work as “Unlicensed assistive personnel”, or UAP. You’ll most likely be termed Nursing Assistant, Nursing Auxiliary, Auxiliary Nurse, or some similar term to denote your uncertified status.

Pay is usually on the low end, with a median salary of $28,000 in the Chicago area.

Working as a CNA

Nurses In Illinois

One step up is to seek certification and become a Certified Nursing Assistant, or CNA. In Illinois they’re actually termed Certified Nursing Aides, and there are around 300 state approved CNA training programs in Illinois where you can get your CNA license. The Illinois Department of Public Health is the authority that issues your certification, and there are a number of requirements you need to meet in order to qualify as an Illinois CNA.

An Illinois CNA can expect a pay bump of around $2,500 compared to an unlicensed nursing aide, and draws a median salary of $30,300.

Licensed Practical Nurse in Illinois

Next on the nursing career ladder is to become a Licensed Practical Nurse, often shortened to LPN. LPN training in Illinois usually lasts one year and is offered at many vocational and technical schools, and at community colleges around the state. There are nearly 50 LPN training programs in Illinois that are state approved.

As a Licensed Practical Nurse in Illinois your median salary is $43,900 (figures are for the Chicago area) – a big step up from CNA for sure.

Illinois Registered Nurse

To work as a Registered Nurse, or RN, you will need a diploma, associate degree, bachelor’s degree, or master’s degree in nursing at entry level. You also have to pass the Illinois Professional Nurse application test. This can be done in person or online – see more info at the Illinois Department of Financial & Professional Regulation. There’s a $91 fee you have to pay in order to take the test, and if you fail you have to wait 30 days until you retake the test, so make sure you’re ready before you take it. Another popular health care job in the state is physician assistant – definitely on the rise.

The median salary for Illinois RN’s is $69,800, and the top 10% registered nurses (or staff nurses) actually earn more than $83,000. The nurses who earn upwards of six figures do perform considerably more tasks than the regular nurse though. To generalize a bit, the top earners are more chief administrators than health workers.

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