Steps to Becoming an APN in Illinois

illinois nursing

1Get your Graduate Degree in Illinois
2Earn your National Certification in Illinois
3Apply for your APN License in Illinois
4Renewing your License in Illinois

The Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation (1-888-4REGUL8) in collaboration with the Illinois Center for Nursing (1-888-NURSE07) hold authority over the issuance of licenses to qualified advanced practice nurses (APNs) practicing in the state.

Licenses are issued for four categories of advanced practice nurses in Illinois:

  • Certified nurse midwife (CNM)
  • Certified nurse practitioner (CNP)
  • Certified clinical nurse specialist (CNS)
  • Certified registered nurse anesthetist (CRNA)
Illinois Job Statistics

  • 2015 mean salary for NPs in IL: $90,620
  • 2013 NCLEX-RN pass rate for Illinois: 85%
  • 2015 Active RN licenses in Illinois: 183,893
  • As of 2015, 41.5% of APNs in Illinois are 55-65 years of age, predicting a looming APN shortage in the state

You must hold a current, unencumbered Illinois RN license to be eligible for APN licensure.

With an active Illinois RN license, follow these steps to apply for APN licensure.


Step 1. Get Your Graduate Degree

To be eligible for APN licensure, you must complete a graduate-level or higher nursing program in one of the advanced practice nursing clinical specialty categories.

The graduate program you select must be accredited by an institutional, specialized, or programmatic accrediting body recognized by the United States Department of Education (USDE).

In-state graduate programs that have been pre-approved by the Division of Professional Regulation are listed here.

Division of Professional Regulation-approved specialty area nursing administrator, nurse leader, and CNM programs accredited by the Commission of Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) and the National League for Nursing Accrediting Commission (NLNAC) are listed here.

Course Requirements

According to the Illinois Nurse Practice Act’s APN scope of practice, APN education should include the following courses:

  • Advanced nursing patient assessment and diagnosis
  • Ordering, performing and interpreting diagnostic and therapeutic tests
  • Ordering and using nursing medical, therapeutic, and corrective measures in treatment
  • End-of-life and palliative care
  • Advanced counseling
  • Patient education
  • Health education
  • Patient advocacy
  • Advanced pharmacology

Prescriptive Authority

If you wish to prescribe controlled substances, under the Illinois Controlled Substances Act, you must have completed 45 graduate contact hours in pharmacology as part of your graduate program.

To maintain prescriptive authority specific to controlled substances, you’ll be required to complete an additional 5 graduate-level contact hours in pharmacology every year thereafter.


Depending upon your eventual career goal as an APN, your graduate studies may involve a specialized program, concentrations, tracks and/or coursework. Concentrations that may be available in your graduate nursing program include Clinical Nurse Leader, Nurse Administrator, Nursing Education, Clinical Nurse Specialist, Nurse Practitioner, and Nurse Midwife, as well as options for specific patient population foci.

Some aspiring APNs choose to go for their DNP (Doctor of Nursing Practice) degree or receive a PhD in Nursing.

Temporary Permit

If you have completed your graduate nursing studies but have not yet taken the national certification examination, you may be eligible to receive a temporary permit. This allows you to work as an APN for as many as six months, provided you have registered to take the national certification exam. More information on this option is available on the APN Licensure Application.

Step 2. Earn Your National Certification

The Illinois Department of Financial & Professional Regulation requires that you earn your national certification prior to being issued APN licensure. Each general area of specialty category allows for certification from one or more national certification organization. The Illinois Department of Financial & Professional Regulation also recognizes specialty area and patient population focus certification. You must meet your chosen agency’s education, experience, and examination requirements in order to become nationally certified.

Maintaining national certification is a condition of maintaining Illinois APN licensure, and requires meeting qualifications for continuing education set forth by your national certification agency.

Advanced Practice Nursing Designation Options

The Department of Financial & Professional Regulation licenses APNs in these general categories:

  • Certified nurse practitioner (NP)
  • Certified nurse-midwife (CNM)
  • Certified registered nurse anesthetist (CRNA)
  • Certified clinical nurse specialist (CNS)

Certification Programs

These national certification agencies are recognized in Illinois for APN licensure purposes:

Contact the national certification agency representing the specialty in which you wish to become certified for further information.

Step 3. Apply for Your APN License

Regardless of your APN category, you will use the Advanced Practice Nurse Licensure Application. Your application must include the following:

  • Indication of the APN category for which you are applying
  • Application fees ($125 for the APN application, plus additional fees for each category) payable to the Department of Financial & Professional Regulation
  • Your Illinois RN License number
  • Copy of your current national certification
  • Official, sealed college transcript showing receipt of a graduate degree in your category

If you have been licensed in another state in the past five years, you must also complete Document CT-APN, (included within the application packet). This must be forwarded to the Board of Nursing in any state in which you have practiced in the past five years. The Board(s) must then complete the document and return it to the Illinois Department of Financial & Professional Regulation.

If you are seeking APN licensure in more than one category, your transcript must show that your graduate education would support an additional license in another category. You must also submit proof of national certification in every category in which you wish to practice.

Send your application and all supporting documentation to the Illinois Department of Financial & Professional Regulation, ATTN: Division of Professional Regulation, P.O. Box 7007, Springfield, IL 62791.

Prescriptive Authority

If you are seeking an APN mid-level practitioner controlled substances license, complete Mid-Level Practitioner Controlled Substances License application (included in the application packet) and include the additional $5 licensing fee made payable to the Illinois Department of Financial & Professional Regulation.

Your collaborating physician must also complete the Notice of Delegated Prescriptive Authority for Controlled Substances (included in the application packet) to attest to an established collaborative agreement that will support your prescriptive authority.

Criminal History Background Check

As part of your APN application, you must fill out Document CCA, Health Care Workers Charged With or Convicted of Criminal Acts (included in the application packet). This authorizes the Department to investigate information pertaining to certain convictions or charges.

Step 4. Renewing Your License

Your APN license expires on May 31 of every even-numbered year and may be renewed online.

At the time of your APN license renewal, you will be asked to submit a copy of your national certification, copy of your active RN license, proof of completion of 50 hours of CE completed in the past two years, and renewal fees, payable to the Department of Financial & Professional Regulation.

If documents required for renewal are not accepted by the online license renewal system, send them to the Illinois Department of Financial & Professional Regulation, ATTN: Division of Professional Regulation, P.O. Box 7007, Springfield, IL 62791.

Continuing Education

You must complete 50 contact hours of continuing education (CE) every two years to maintain your APN license in Illinois. If you hold more than one APN license, you need only complete 50 total contact hours of CE.

Additionally, you must fulfill the CE requirements of your national certification agency. Contact your agency for details:

  • American Academy of Nurse Practitioners
  • American Nurses Credentialing Center
  • American Association of Critical Care Nurses
  • National Certification Corporation
  • Pediatric Nurse Certification Board
  • National Board of Certification & Recertification of Nurse Anesthetists
  • American Midwifery Certification Board
  • Rehabilitation Nursing Certification Board
  • Oncology Nursing Certification Corporation
  • American College of Cardiovascular Nurses
  • American Association of Neuroscience Nurses
  • American Board of Occupational Health Nurses, Inc.
  • American Holistic Nurses Certification Corporation
  • American Board of Perianesthesia Nursing Certification, Inc.
  • American Society of Plastic Surgical Nurses
  • HIV/AIDS Nursing Certification Board
  • Board of Certification of Emergency Nurses
  • Competency and Credentialing Institute
  • American Board of Certification for Gastroenterology Nurses
  • Dermatology Nursing Certification Board
  • International Board of Lactation Consultant Examiners
  • International Nurses Society on Addictions
  • Infusion Nurses Certification Corporation
  • National Board for Certification of School Nurses, Inc.
  • National Board of Certification of Hospice and Palliative Nurses
  • National Certification Board for Diabetes Educators
  • National Certifying Board for Ophthalmic Registered Nurses
  • Board of Nephrology Examiners Nursing and Technology
  • Orthopaedic Nursing Certification Board
  • Vascular Nursing Certification Board
  • Wound, Ostomy and Continence Nurses Certification Board

Proof of active, current national certification is required for APN license renewal.

Expired License Restoration Application

If your APN license has expired or been on inactive status for more than five years, you may apply for its restoration. Use the Advanced Practice Nurse Licensure Application and fill out RS Form (Restoration) included in the packet.

You must provide proof of completing 50 contact hours of CE in the past two years, proof of current national certification, verification of any licensure from other states, and the restoration fee, payable to the Department of Financial & Professional Regulation.

Advanced Practice Nurse Associations in Illinois

Illinois APNs enjoy the option to join a number of professional organizations that provide continuing education and advocacy services to advanced practice nurses in the state:

Illinois Nurse Practitioner Salary

According to an annual survey conducted by the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners in 2011, NPs practicing in Illinois earned an average base salary of $88,140 and an average total income of $93,812. In Chicago, nurse practitioners earned an average salary of $94,218, according to Advance for NPs & PAs, a peer reviewed journal. NPs in the north central city of Rockford earned an average salary of $995,664, while nurse practitioners in the central city of Peoria enjoyed one of the highest average salaries in the state, at $122,100.

Registered Nurse Salary

Area name
Annual mean wage
Bloomington-Normal IL
Cape Girardeau-Jackson MO-IL
Champaign-Urbana IL
Chicago-Naperville-Joliet IL Metropolitan Division
Chicago-Naperville-Joliet IL-IN-WI
Danville IL
Davenport-Moline-Rock Island IA-IL
Decatur IL
Kankakee-Bradley IL
Lake County-Kenosha County IL-WI Metropolitan Division
Peoria IL
Rockford IL
St. Louis MO-IL
Springfield IL
Northwest Illinois nonmetropolitan area
West Central Illinois nonmetropolitan area
East Central Illinois nonmetropolitan area
South Illinois nonmetropolitan area

Health Diagnosing and Treating Practitioners Salary

Area name
Annual mean wage
Chicago-Joliet-Naperville IL Metropolitan Division
Chicago-Joliet-Naperville IL-IN-WI
Estimate Not Released
St. Louis MO-IL
Springfield IL
Estimate Not Released

Nursing Instructors and Teachers Salary

Area name
Annual median wage
Bloomington-Normal IL
Chicago-Naperville-Joliet IL Metropolitan Division
Chicago-Naperville-Joliet IL-IN-WI
Lake County-Kenosha County IL-WI Metropolitan Division
St. Louis MO-IL
West Central Illinois nonmetropolitan area
South Illinois nonmetropolitan area
Estimate Not Released

Nurse Administrator Salary
(Includes Nurse Managers, Directors, and Chief Nursing Officers)

Area name
Annual mean wage
Bloomington-Normal IL
Cape Girardeau-Jackson MO-IL
Champaign-Urbana IL
Chicago-Joliet-Naperville IL Metropolitan Division
Chicago-Joliet-Naperville IL-IN-WI
Danville IL
Davenport-Moline-Rock Island IA-IL
Decatur IL
Lake County-Kenosha County IL-WI Metropolitan Division
Estimate Not Released
Peoria IL
Rockford IL
St. Louis MO-IL
Estimate Not Released
Springfield IL
Northwest Illinois nonmetropolitan area
West Central Illinois nonmetropolitan area
East Central Illinois nonmetropolitan area
South Illinois nonmetropolitan area

These tables provide salary and employment information compiled by the US Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics in May 2011. The data contained herein does not include self-employed nurses in independent practice.

When responding to the salary survey, some advanced practice registered nurses identified themselves as RNs while others identified themselves as health diagnosing and treating practitioners. When available, both sets of data were included for comparative purposes.

* These figures represent earnings that are at or above $90.00 per hour or $187,199 per year. The Bureau of Labor Statistics does not publish earnings beyond $90.00 hourly or $187,199 yearly.

Back to Top

Search & Compare Nursing Programs