Illinois Nursing Workforce Center
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Nursing In Illinois

What is a nurse?
How do I become a nurse?
What are the types of nurses?
If I study to be a nurse, what are my career choices?
If I study to become a nurse, how is my job outlook?

What is a nurse?

Nurses are an integral part of the team of health care professionals responsible for the treatment, safety, and recovery of moderately, acutely, chronically ill or injured people, health maintenance of the healthy, and treatment of life-threatening emergencies in a wide range of health care settings. Nurses may also be involved in medical and nursing research and education, and perform a wide range of non-clinical functions necessary to the delivery of health care.

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How do I become a nurse?

To become a nurse, you will need to apply to a nursing program. Each program is different in its requirements for application. Since nursing is a science based program, you will need to consider the following essential coursework in your undergraduate studies: chemistry, anatomy, physiology, microbiology, nutrition and statistics, lifespan development, and other general courses which could include English composition, sociology and psychology. The number and types of courses you will be required to take will depend on the type of degree that you are seeking.

If you would like more information about nursing programs in Illinois visit our education opportunities page.

If you would like more information about what a nurse is and/or becoming a nurse, click on the following link for Nursing: The Ultimate Adventure Download PDF Reader - The information found in this link will be provided in a new browser window. or “Is Nursing For YouDownload PDF Reader - The information found in this link will be provided in a new browser window. from the National Student Nurses Association. Requires Adobe Acrobat Reader.

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What are the types of nurses?

There are three types of nurses specifically educated and trained to provide nursing care in Illinois. They are classified as follows:

Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN)

An LPN is a person who is specifically prepared in the techniques of nursing, who is a graduate of an approved school of practical nursing and whose qualifications have been examined by a state board of nursing, and who has been legally authorized to practice as a licensed practical nurse must have the basic nursing knowledge, judgment, and skill acquired by means of completion of an approved practical nursing education program. Practical nursing includes assisting in the nursing process as delegated by and under the direction of a registered professional nurse. The practical nurse may work under the direction of a licensed physician, dentist, podiatrist, or other health care professional.

Registered Nurse (RN)

A RN is specifically prepared and promotes health and the prevention of disease, and helps patients cope with illness. When providing direct patient care they observe, assess and record symptoms, reactions and progress, assist physicians during surgery, treatments, and examinations, administer medications and help in the convalescence and rehabilitation of patients.

Advanced Practice Registered Nurse (APRN)

An APRN is licensed as a registered professional nurse and meets the requirements for licensure as an advanced practice registered nurse. An APRN cares for patients by using advanced diagnostic skills, the results of diagnostic tests and procedures ordered by the advanced practice registered nurse, a physician assistant, a dentist, a podiatrist, or a physician, and professional judgment to initiate and coordinate the care of patient. An APRN can also order diagnostic tests, prescribe medications and drugs, and administer medications and drugs. Categories include certified nurse midwife (CNM), certified nurse practitioner (CNP), certified registered nurse anesthetist (CRNA), and certified clinical nurse specialist (CNS).

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If I study to be a nurse, what are my career choices?

Nurses are an important part of the healthcare environment, providing care in many different settings such as hospitals, clinics, schools, private homes, long-term residential centers and corporations. There are many wide and varied rewards and challenges to becoming a nurse.

Typical job opportunities for a nurse might include:

RN, Hospital Nurse, Office Nurse, Nursing Care Facility Nurse, Home Health Nurse, Public Health Nurse, Occupational Health Nurse, Head Nurse/Nurse Supervisor, Nurse Practitioner, Nurse Educator/Faculty, Nurse Scientist

For more information about nursing career choices, click on or

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If I study to become a nurse, how is my job outlook?

According to the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics:

  • registered nurses constitute the largest health care occupation, with 2.9 million jobs
  • about 3 out of 5 jobs are in hospitals
  • the three major educational paths to registered nursing are a bachelor of science degree in nursing (BSN), an associate‚Äôs degree in nursing (ADN) or a diploma from an approved nursing program. Registered nurses must be licensed.
  • registered nurses are projected to create the second largest number of new jobs among all occupations; job opportunities in most specialties and employment settings are expected to be excellent, with some employers reporting difficulty attracting and retaining enough RNs

Median annual earnings of registered nurses were $70,000 in May 2017. The middle 50 percent earned between $57,340 and $85,960. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $48,690, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $104,100. Median annual earnings in the industries employing the largest numbers of registered nurses in May 2017 were as follows:

Employment services Median Annual Earnings

General Medical and Surgical Hospitals


Office of Physicians


Home health care services


Nursing Care Facilities (Skilled Nursing Facilities)


Outpatient Care Centers


Many employers offer flexible work schedules, child care, educational benefits, and bonuses.

For more information about job outlook for nurses, click on the link to the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics at