PRN Nursing Jobs in Illinois: Ultimate Guide [2024]

Illinois is an economic powerhouse with a strong healthcare industry. Nursing professionals living and working in Illinois have access to an abundant supply of staff positions and PRN nursing jobs throughout the state.

The following table shows the mean salaries for RNs, LPNs, and CNAs working jobs in Illinois according to metropolitan area.

Metropolitan Area RN Salary LPN Salary CNA Salary
Chicago-Naperville-Elgin, IL-IN-WI $85,260 $62,410 $38,200
Kankakee, IL $80,980 $57,240 $38,150
Champaign-Urbana, IL $79,310 $55,350 $35,670
Danville, IL $78,390 $55,730 $36,750
Springfield, IL $78,630 $52,220 $35,810
Decatur, IL $77,960 $56,890 $35,400
Rockford, IL $77,190 $57,190 $34,770
Bloomington, IL $74,600 $55,770 $33,720
Carbondale-Marion, IL $74,590 $48,940 $33,800
Peoria, IL $72,650 $55,270 $34,250

Nursing professionals in Illinois can find the answers to many of their most pressing questions in this ultimate guide to working in Illinois: average salaries, top hospitals and nursing schools, cost of living, and more. 

Salary information throughout this guide comes from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, and living wage information comes from the MIT Living Wage Calculator (most recent data as of December 2023). 

Table of Contents

How Much Do Nurses Living in Illinois Make?

Income for nurses and nursing assistants varies throughout Illinois; however, the following table shows the overall state averages.

License Hourly Mean Wage Annual Mean Wage
Registered Nurse $39.53 $82,220
Licensed Practical Nurse $28.29 $58,840
Certified Nursing Assistant $17.67 $36,750

Knowing the average wages you might expect to earn in certain areas is not enough. It’s important to understand how this wage relates to the cost of living in Illinois. The minimum wage in Illinois is $13.00 per hour, well below the mean hourly wage for Illinois nurses and nursing assistants. Still, the recommended living wage in Illinois for a single working adult with no dependents is $18.10 and rises based on number of dependents. You can look up your license using the Illinois nurse aide registry.

There are over 55,000 nursing assistants living and working in Illinois and over 145,000 nurses, many looking for more flexible and higher-paying income opportunities. Picking up high-paying per diem shifts through Nursa’s open healthcare marketplace offers the flexibility and the pay rates that transform the dream into a reality.

Some of the Best Hospitals and Medical Centers in Illinois

Unsurprisingly, Illinois has a long list of highly-ranked hospitals and medical centers, meaning opportunities for nurses and nursing assistants to be on the front lines of cutting-edge technology and innovative research in today’s healthcare. The following is a list of a few important hospitals in Illinois:

  • Northwestern Memorial Hospital: The flagship hospital for the health system Northwestern Medicine in Chicago is high-ranking and high-performing in multiple specialties and procedures. Northwestern Medicine has affiliated hospitals and medical centers in several other cities across Illinois, including Winfield, Geneva, Palos Heights, DeKalb, and more.
  • Rush University Medical Center: Another Chicago hospital on the list deserves mention due to its high national ranking in several adult specialties and its affiliation with a leading academic institution, Rush University.
  • OSF Healthcare Children’s Hospital: With pediatric services in over 40 subspecialties, this hospital in Peoria serves thousands of children in downstate Illinois—more than any other outside of Chicago—and is a teaching hospital for the University of Illinois College of Medicine.
  • NorthShore Evanston: This hospital in Evanston is another teaching hospital that serves as the home base for the Northshore Cardiovascular Institute and the Kellogg Cancer Center. With high performance in several procedures and adult specialties and a spot in national rankings, this hospital is part of the extensive health system Endeavor, which also has hospitals in Chicago proper and several of its suburbs, including Skokie.

Health Insurance in Illinois

Nurses and nursing assistants are particularly aware of how vital health insurance coverage is. Not all employers provide health insurance plans; moreover, nurses and nursing assistants picking up per diem shifts as independent contractors need proper coverage that is affordable as well. Accordingly, the Illinois Department of Insurance created Get Covered Illinois (GCI), the state’s official health insurance marketplace. GCI helps Illinoisans shop, compare, and enroll in healthcare plans. 

Additionally, Illinois Medicaid is available for those who qualify. Illinois Medicaid is a joint federal-state medical assistance program.

What are Some of the Best Nursing Schools in Illinois?

The Illinois Board of Nursing is within the jurisdiction of the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation (IDFPR), which is responsible for licensing practical nurses, registered nurses, and advanced practice registered nurses. On the IDFPR website, you can look up an Illinois nursing license, find a list of approved nursing programs, and review their nursing program pass rates. Those lists are long, however, so we’ve done some research and put together a list of nursing programs that we think are some of the best in the state:

  • Ambria College of Nursing: Ambria College of Nursing, located in Hoffman Estates, has spring, summer, and fall enrollment to get nursing students in the classroom and then out in the field. With highly regarded LPN and RN programs, this nursing college offers part-time, accelerated, bridge, and flexible programs to meet the needs of its students. 
  • Western Illinois University: This university in Macomb offers a competitive nursing program, focusing on turning out RNs with Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degrees. Additionally, working LPNs and RNs with Associate Degrees in Nursing (ADNs) can bridge to BSN through the university’s RN-to-BSN online program. 
  • Southeastern Illinois College: The nursing department at Southeastern Illinois College in Harrisburg offers CNA programs at different times throughout the year, and its successful LPN and RN programs all have traditional fall enrollment.
  • Joliet Junior College: Joliet Junior College is a public community college in Joliet that offers CNA, LPN, and ADN programs and the option for LPNs to bridge to RNs with ADNs.
  • Rush University: Rush University’s College of Nursing focuses on graduate-level nursing degrees: Master of Science in Nursing, Doctorate of Nursing Practice, and Ph.Ds. Located in Chicago near the Loop in the heart of the medical district, nursing students can train and research at a nationally ranked medical center.

Specialized Nurses Working in Illinois

With such a robust healthcare industry in the state and so many top-rated hospitals, there are many emergency room (ER) and medical-surgical jobs needing specialized nurses proficient in working in fast-paced settings. Additionally, there is a demand for nurses qualified to work in intensive care units (ICUs), oncology, and pediatrics, among other specialties.

What are the Cheapest Cities in Illinois for Nurses?

Illinois is one of those states that ranks somewhere in the middle regarding affordability. Indeed, being home to a large metropolis—Chicago—increases the overall state averages. Although the Windy City’s public transportation system doesn’t encompass all of the northern regions, many commuters rely on public transportation for easy access to the city for work while maintaining a quieter, calmer home life in one of the many suburbs further out, including La Grange, Wheaton, Elmhurst, Vernon Hills, Lincolnshire, Chicago Heights, and Deerfield. Nevertheless, there are affordable towns and cities. Here are a few of our picks:

  • Decatur: This small city has a population of around 70,000. With good schools, affordable housing, and an infrastructure that offers entertainment, dining, shopping, and outdoor recreation, this city is popular among young professionals and families.
  • Canton: This town of around 13,000 residents offers affordable housing, lots of space, and a country-community vibe. It can easily serve as a home base for those commuting to nearby Peoria who prefer small-town living.
  • Park Forest: This town of around 20,000 residents is a small suburb of Chicago with parks, walking and biking trails, community events and celebrations, and affordable housing.
  • Moline: Situated near the Mississippi River, Moline is part of the Quad Cities. With good schools, affordable housing, and variety in community events, dining, and things to do, it’s big enough to have a city vibe without sacrificing space and a community feeling.
  • Wauconda: Wauconda isn’t a city; it’s actually a town. But that’s one of the reasons it’s on this list. It’s a community of less than 15,000 residents—many of which are families with children. With highly rated public schools, several public parks, a nearby forest reserve, a median home value below the national average, and a welcoming vibe, Wauconda is a great place to live. However, as it becomes more popular, prices are also on the rise. 

Nurses Living in Northern Illinois

If you’re living in Northern Illinois, you’re more than likely part of “Chicagoland.” Chicago’s influence is widespread in the north as the metropolitan area expands. While deep-dish pizza and hot dogs are traditional favorites, the food scene is truly a delight in flavors, cultures, and settings. 

With the proximity of Lake Michigan, the climate in Northern Illinois is quite different from that of the other regions. Icy cold winds buoyed by the Great Lake are frequent in the winter, accompanied by around 40 inches of snow every winter season. Nevertheless, the spring and autumn seasons are quite lovely—if a bit mercurial. Summer tends to be hot and humid, but the Northern region comes alive in the summer with festivals that bring people in from far and wide.

Nurses Living in Central Illinois

Picture of Abraham Lincoln's home in Illinois
The Lincoln home is located in Springfield, Illinois.

The Heart of Illinois features smaller cities and towns, a solid agricultural base with crops mainly consisting of corn and soybeans, and a climate that changes with the four seasons. The region is home to many nature conservation areas, state parks, and the state capital, which houses the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum and the Lincoln Home National Historic Site. Central Illinois is also where you’re most likely to witness baseball loyalties and confrontations between the Chicago Cubs and the St. Louis Cardinals.

Nurses Living in Southern Illinois

Southern Illinois is an established region for vineyards and wineries, receiving much less snow and milder winters overall. Southern Illinois also boasts a lower cost of living, quality educational institutions, and proximity to big city amenities of other states’ metropolitan areas, namely St. Louis, Evansville, and Nashville.

Fun Illinois Facts

Chicago is one of those famous cities like New York or Los Angeles. Still, there is so much more to Illinois than its rockstar metropolis. 

  • Chicago is NOT the capital city of Illinois; Springfield is.
  • Morton, Illinois, and the surrounding area is America’s top producer of pumpkins.
  • Illinois exports around $4 billion in agricultural goods to other countries.
  • Illinois has 4.4 million acres of forest.
  • In 1900, the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal was completed to reverse the flow of the Chicago River, which had been dumping wastewater into Lake Michigan.
Image of Capitol Springfield, Illinois
Chicago is NOT the capital city of Illinois; Springfield is.

How to Find Per Diem RN, LPN, and CNA Jobs in Illinois

Illinois’s population surpasses 12 million, and nurses and nursing assistants in communities both big and small across the Prarie State work hard to provide compassionate healthcare to those in need. As hospitals and other healthcare facilities increasingly turn to fast-response staffing strategies such as Nursa’s open healthcare marketplace for nursing professionals, the opportunities for Illinois’s nursing professionals are growing. PRN nursing jobs cater to nursing professionals’ needs by offering both flexibility and high hourly pay. You can find per diem shifts near you by joining Nursa. Download the app, create a professional profile, follow the prompts for license verification, set up your Nursa Wallet, and search per diem shifts near you. Start earning higher pay rates on your terms by signing up with Nursa today.


PRN shift on your schedule in Illinois


Nursa isn't just about finding a job; it's about crafting your ideal work schedule by selecting shifts. Once you create a Nursa profile, you will experience the convenience of scheduling shifts in real-time.

Registered Nurse RN - Acute Care Intensive Care Unit $62.07 per hour
July 21, 2024
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00:00 - 12:30
Community First Medical Center - ICU Unit, Chicago Portage Park, IL
Registered Nurse RN - Acute Care Intensive Care Unit $62.07 per hour
July 27, 2024
Est. Total
View Shift
00:00 - 12:30
Community First Medical Center - ICU Unit, Chicago Portage Park, IL
Registered Nurse RN - Acute Care Intensive Care Unit $62.07 per hour
July 28, 2024
Est. Total
View Shift
00:00 - 12:30
Community First Medical Center - ICU Unit, Chicago Portage Park, IL

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