Becoming an LPN in Iowa

Looking to enter the healthcare industry in Iowa? Becoming a licensed practical nurse (LPN) is a rewarding and promising career, with the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicting growth of nearly 12% for the industry through the year 2026. LPNs in Iowa earn an average hourly wage of $19.57, which equates to a salary of roughly $40,700 annually. Those ready to take the first step on this nursing journey should research and enroll in an LPN program in the state.

13
5

2017 Best LPN Programs in Iowa

Are you wanting to become a Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) in the state of Iowa? If so, you're probably looking to large cities like Des Moines or Cedar Rapids for a school that teaches the state-required curriculum. You may be surprised to learn that LPN programs are also offered in smaller community colleges and vocational learning centers closer to you. Iowa has roughly 15 LPN schools, and we've reviewed NCLEX-PN pass-rates for all of them, compiling a special list of the top 5 just for you. For more information on school rankings, see our Methodology Page.

To see all the top ranked LPN programs in Iowa click here.

Details on Iowa LPN Schools & Classes

There are plenty of schools in Iowa with LPN programs, from community colleges to vocational schools. Programs typically take between one and two years to complete, depending on full or part-time attendance.

The curriculum for LPN programs in the state will include a mix of introductory nursing courses and labs. Titles may include:

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

Accreditation

Looking for a properly accredited school with an LPN program should be at the top of any prospective student’s list. National organizations such as the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing offer accreditations that signify quality and academic excellence. Regional accreditations are also sometimes offered. Last but not least, the Iowa Board of Nursing is an excellent resource for finding approved LPN programs.

Admission Requirements

Choosing the right school is just the first step toward a career as an LPN; you’ll also need to make sure you meet the admissions requirements. While these may differ depending on school, common requirements include:

  • High school graduate or GED
  • Minimum GPA of 2.5
  • Official transcripts from high school and/or any colleges attended
  • Two letters of reference
  • Personal essay

Tuition and Costs

Due to the relatively short duration of the LPN program, it is one of the most affordable nursing programs available. Students will need to cover the costs of tuition, mandatory fees, books and supplies, and other miscellaneous expenses. For example, the total cost of the LPN program at Northwest Iowa Community College in Sheldon is approximately $10,150 for in-state residents, or $10,510 for non-residents. For those worried about paying for LPN school, financial aid and scholarships are typically available for well-qualified applicants, just inquire with your school of choice’s financial aid department.

Iowa LPN Licensing Requirements

Iowa has educational requirements that must be fulfilled by attending a state-certified LPN program. Once the student has completed the required coursework, he or she must sit for and pass the NCLEX exam.

In order to receive state licensure, the applicant must submit an application to the state, including:

  • Official transcript of state-approved nursing program.
  • Completed fingerprint cards and signed waiver.
  • Information regarding criminal offenses—submit a criminal background check.
  • NCLEX registration.

Iowa LPN Licenses must be renewed every 3 years, and the license holder is responsible for 36 contact hours of continued education. For detailed information about LPN licensure by examination in Iowa check out:
https://nursing.iowa.gov/licensure/licensure-faq/licensure-examination

NCLEX Exam Information

Upon graduating from an LPN program, students are required to take and pass the NCLEX-PN exam in order to earn their license. This exam consists of roughly 100 questions spanning various aspects of nursing. For more information about the NCLEX-PN exam, check out our comprehensive guide here. Students are also encouraged to take an NCLEX-PN practice test to prepare for the real thing.

LPN Reciprocity and eNLC

The Nurse Licensure Compact (NLC) consists of 24 states—1 of which is Iowa, which allows nurses to register a primary state but work in other states within the NLC without additional licensure. As of January 2018, the Enhanced Nursing Licensure Compact (eNLC) will go into effect, which adds extra protections to the original NLC. Nurses already under the original NLC will be grandfathered in to the new eNLC.

Nurses from other states, outside of the compact, are required to apply for an Iowa state license by endorsement if they are seeking licensure in the state. They will also be required to submit the following:

  • Official transcripts from state-approved nursing program.
  • Verification of original license.
  • Completed fingerprint cards and signed waiver.
  • Information regarding criminal offenses—submit a criminal background check.

Graduates from a foreign nursing school, holding a license in another country, can apply for a license in the state of Iowa. As well as the items listed above, they will be required to also submit the Commission on Graduates of Foreign Nursing Schools (CGFNS) evaluation of their official transcript and proof of English proficiency.

For detailed information about LPN endorsement by application in Iowa check out:
https://nursing.iowa.gov/licensure/licensure-faq/licensure-endorsement

LPN Salary in Iowa By Area

The table below lists career information collected by the Bureau of Labor Statistics for licensed practical nurses in Iowa. The table is sorted by total employment, with the largest metropolitan areas listed first.

AreaTotal EmploymentAverage Hourly WageAverage Annual Salary
Des Moines, West Des Moines990$20.06$41,730
Davenport, Moline, Rock Island660$20.19$41,990
Waterloo, Cedar Falls480$18.30$38,070
Cedar Rapids420$19.32$40,190
Sioux City350$17.86$37,150
Dubuque250$20.51$42,670
Iowa City190$20.80$43,270
Ames110$19.69$40,960

For those interested in advancing their nursing career, see our Iowa LPN to RN/BSN programs page.

Top Ranked Iowa LPN Programs

1

Northeast Iowa Community College District

1625 Hwy. 150, Calmar, IA 52132 - (563) 562-3263 - Visit Homepage

Northeast Iowa Community College (NICC), located in Calmar, Iowa, with an additional campuses throughout, offer high-quality programs with excellent faculty at an affordable price. NICC wants their students to take steps toward a bright future, preparing them to respond to workplace needs, and providing students with the educational requirements needed to success in their field of choice.

Overall Score: 97.20 - Request Info on Northeast Iowa Community College District
2

Des Moines Area Community College

1100 7th St, Des Moines, IA 50314 - (800) 362-2127 - Visit Homepage

Des Moines Area Community College is home to an excellent nursing program with small class sizes. The DMACC Nursing Program has been leading the way in nursing and preparing exceptional clinicians for decades. DMACC is dedicated to students' personal and professional success.

Overall Score: 96.20
3

Iowa Valley Community College District

3702 S Center St, Marshalltown, IA 50158 - (641) 752-4643 - Visit Homepage

Iowa Valley Community College District is made up of two schools offering LPN programs, 1) Marshalltown Community College (MCC) is located in Marshalltown, IA and 2) Ellsworth Community College (ECC) located in Iowa Falls, IA. With small class sizes and one on one attention it's a wise decision to consider their offerings considering the successful NCLEX-PN pass rates over the past 5 years.

Overall Score: 96.00 - Request Info on Iowa Valley Community College District
4

Western Iowa Tech Community College

4647 Stone Ave, Sioux City, IA 51106 - (712) 274-6400 - Visit Homepage

Western Iowa Tech (WIT) Community College is located in Sioux City, Iowa, consisting of a large array of programs and services to help students further their education. WIT's faculty and staff are focused on making sure students have all the resources they need for success-certificate, diploma, degree, or other education pathway.

Overall Score: 95.50 - Request Info on Western Iowa Tech Community College
5

Iowa Central Community College

1 Triton Cir, Fort Dodge, IA 50501 - (515) 576-7201 - Visit Homepage

Iowa Central Community College provides quality educational opportunities in and out of the classroom. ICCC's Practical Nursing (PN) Program prepares students for entry-level positions, to provide nursing care under the supervision of a Registered Nurse or Physician. The Practical Nursing Program prepares students for a career in a wide-range of health care settings.

Overall Score: 94.40 - Request Info on Iowa Central Community College

Continued List of All Programs in Iowa

RankedProgramScoreDetails
#6 North Iowa Area Community College
500 College Dr, Mason City, IA 50401
(641) 423-1264 Visit Homepage
94.20Request Information
#7 Northwest Iowa Community College
603 W Park St, Sheldon, IA 51201
(712) 324-5061 Visit Homepage
94.10Request Information
#8 Iowa Western Community College
2700 College Rd, Council Bluffs, IA 51503
(712) 325-3200 Visit Homepage
92.70Request Information
#9 Southeastern Community College
1500 W Agency Rd, West Burlington, IA 52655
(319) 752-2731 Visit Homepage
92.10Request Information
#10 Indian Hills Community College
525 Grandview Ave, Ottumwa, IA 52501
(800) 726-2585 Visit Homepage
88.90Request Information
#11 Hawkeye Community College
1501 E Orange Rd, Waterloo, IA 50701
(800) 670-4769 Visit Homepage
88.60Request Information
#12 Eastern Iowa Community College District
306 W River Dr, Davenport, IA 52801
(563) 441-4001 Visit Homepage
88.50Request Information
#13 Iowa Lakes Community College
300 S 18th St, Estherville, IA 51334
(712) 362-7231 Visit Homepage
68.00Request Information

Additional IA Nursing Resources

  • Iowa Board of Nursing
    River Point Business Park
    400 S.W. 8th Street, Suite B
    Des Moines, IA 50309-4685
    Phone: (515) 281-3255

Recent Articles