Becoming an LPN in Iowa

The state of Iowa strives to provide quality treatment to a wide range of people, helping maintain a higher quality of life. Iowa is a member of the Nurse Licensure Compact (NCL) that makes up 24 states, allowing nurses to work in any state in the network without additional licensing. Licensed practical nurses (LPN's) outside of the compact are must apply for a license by endorsement. LPN jobs are on the rise and said to increase 10% in Iowa by 2024, according to a study by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.


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.

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.

Application for License by Examination:

An LPN's day-to-day may consist of strenuous activity requiring certain strength requirements. This activity is not just limited to heavy lifting, there is a great deal of standing, squatting, walking, and possibly even running for extended periods of time.

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. 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.

Iowa LPN Licenses must be renewed every 3 years, and the license holder is responsible for 36 contact hours of continued education.

Learn more about Iowa LPN Jobs & Employment Outlook.

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
Iowa City190$20.80$43,270

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

Top Ranked Iowa LPN Programs


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

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

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

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

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

#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

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