How to Become a Registered Nurse in Iowa

Iowa map

Do you think you’re ready to train for an RN position?

It may only take you about a year if you’re already an LPN and have an associate degree.

Iowa Licensing Requirements to Become a Registered Nurse in Iowa

You would answer the Iowa Board of Nursing if you want to become an RN in this state.

The license you apply for would last you from 24-36 months.

You can renew it for three years after the first time you have acquired one.

The Iowa Board also has a licensing through endorsement program.

This allows you to prove that you have the credentials for working as an RN.

You do this when you verify your experience gained in another state, such as through a signed confirmation from a former employer.

You must pass your NCLEX-RN exam in Iowa before becoming an RN, however.

The state does provide information about this.

You also can visit the National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN) and NCLEX websites to find more information about Iowa RN licensing requirements.

5 Registered Nurse Schools in IOWA

When seeking an RN school in Iowa, make sure it’s approved by the Iowa Board of Nursing.

The training you seek should also prepare you for your NCLEX-RN.

Don’t just assume the coursework lines up with state requirements, but verify that it does before signing up for classes.

1. Iowa College of Nursing

Iowa College of Nursing Logo

What better way to become an RN in Iowa?

This school specializes in providing education in the field you would work in.

New accelerated nursing programs will start in 2023 that cover all the practical and administrative sides of becoming an RN you want to learn.

It’s possible to earn a bachelor’s, master’s, and Ph.D. here.

You’ll not only enhance the skills you learned as an LPN, but you will also prepare to lead departments and healthcare systems.

2. Allen College (UnityPoint Health)

Allen College Logo

Allen College offers a bachelor’s degree nursing program.

You can either take it as an RN who already has an associate degree, or you can start fresh and gain experience while enrolled.

Traditional and accelerated learning options are available with opportunities to complete courses online.

You’ll have plenty of chances to earn your clinical time too, which prepares you for real-life jobs.

3. Mercy College of Health Sciences

Mercy College of Health Sciences Logo

At Mercy College, you can start out earning an Associate of Science in Nursing if you want.

This would suit you if you’re currently an LPN and want to transition to becoming an RN within a year.

You can also continue on in your RN training and earn a bachelor’s degree, and you can participate in Continuing Education for Nurses once you graduate.

4. St. Luke’s College (UnityPoint Health)

St. Luke’s College Logo

UnityPoint Health, a network of hospitals, doctor’s offices, and clinics, provides education in several locations.

St. Luke’s College is one of them.

You can earn a nursing associate degree here and continue on with nursing refresher courses.

In addition, you have the opportunity to earn an RN bachelor’s degree and take Radiologic Technology, Respiratory Care, and other courses.

In addition, you can earn your RN-BSN or BHS (Bachelor of Health Sciences) degree.

5. Des Moines Area Community College (DMACC)

Des Moines Area Community College Logo

DMACC provides an Associate Degree in Nursing.

This training would fit someone desiring to become an LPN before working toward an RN certification.

This instruction puts you closer to becoming a registered nurse after acquiring some practical nursing experience.

You may want to contact the school and discuss four-year-college credit transfer options.

Registered Nurse Schools in Iowa – Summary Table

Top 5 Schools in Iowa

School NameAddress
University of Iowa College of Nursing50 Newton Rd, Iowa City, IA 52242
Allen College1990 Heath St, Waterloo, IA 50703
Mercy College of Health Sciences928 6th Ave, Des Moines, IA 50309
St. Luke's College2800 Pierce St Suite 410, Sioux City, IA 51104
Des Moines Area Community College1144 7th St, Des Moines, IA 50314


A 2022 report says that an RN that is a “new graduate” earns an annual salary of about $63,675.

Your yearly income may range from $57,119 to $72,791, depending on where you work.

It’s also possible to raise your earnings to more than $81,091 per year with additional certifications and training.

You probably can find RN jobs just about anywhere.

If you’re not sure where to start searching, however, try looking for openings in Algona, Burlington, Cedar Rapids, or Council Bluffs.

Annual Salary Range:

Average Salary of Registered Nurse (RN)s in Iowa

City NameSalary
Des Moines$64,130
Cedar Rapids$59,740
Sioux City$56,520
Iowa City$62,490
Council Bluffs$62,790
West Des Moines$64,130
* Salary information last updated 2024

Regional Salary in Iowa

RegionEmployedAvg. Annual SalaryAvg. Hourly PayTop 10% Annual SalaryBottom 10% Annual Salary
Ames, IA900$69,260$33.3$80,450$58,550
Cedar Rapids, IA2,800$70,050$33.68$80,760$59,310
Davenport-Moline-Rock Island, IA-IL4,080$68,160$32.77$79,930$57,300
Des Moines-West Des Moines, IA7,840$71,060$34.16$81,650$59,690
Dubuque, IA1,330$66,890$32.16$77,400$54,090
Iowa City, IA4,250$74,230$35.69$93,600$62,170
Sioux City, IA-NE-SD1,790$66,760$32.1$81,020$52,970
Waterloo-Cedar Falls, IA1,800$67,750$32.57$80,910$52,150
* Salary information based on the May 2022 Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) Survey for Registered Nurses, OCC Code 29-1141, BLS.
* Employment conditions in your area may vary.

Frequently Asked Questions

How much does the Iowa RN licensing cost?

The Iowa Board of Nursing offers a complete fee schedule.

The cost varies according to whether you’re applying by endorsement based on prior experience in another state or not.

New licensing fees cost more because more is required, such as a $200 fee paid to the NCSBN.

What do RNs in Iowa do?

They oversee the LPNs, nursing staff, medical assistants, and other staff.

RNs will report to a doctor, but they lead most medical decisions, including medications, IVs, and physician therapy treatments used on patients.

Although doctors also communicate with patients, RNs coordinate more of the daily activities involved in taking care of patients than a doctor does.

Where do RNs in Iowa normally work?

Iowa RNs typically find employment anywhere doctors work.

This includes hospitals, long-term care facilities, public and private clinics, and specialty care centers.

How long does Iowa RN training take?

RN training typically takes about two years as opposed to LPN training, which normally starts at only one year to complete.

Many factors influence how fast you can complete your training, such as whether or not you decide to take the accelerated or degree training paths.

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