PRN Nursing Jobs in Iowa: Ultimate Guide [2024]

Nursing professionals can find an array of job opportunities in Iowa. Discover what this state offers nurses and nursing assistants, including high-paying, flexible PRN nursing jobs.

Are you a nursing professional working in Iowa? Embark on a journey with us as we explore the Hawkeye State’s thriving nursing community. Iowa offers a rich tapestry of opportunities for nursing professionals from lively metropolitan areas to picturesque rural towns. Join us as we dig into the average wages for nursing jobs in Iowa, top nursing programs, cost of living, and PRN nursing job possibilities for healthcare heroes like you.

Table of Contents

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 February 2024).

Nursing Professional Mean Annual Wage Mean Hourly Wage
Registered Nurse (RN) $69,370 $33.35
Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) $51,400 $24.71
Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) $35,120 $16.89

How Much Do Nurses in Iowa Make?

In Iowa’s nursing landscape, salaries vary depending on the metropolitan area and nurse qualifications, among other factors. An RN’s salary will be higher than an LPN’s or a CNA’s, but even the income of nurses with the same license varies from city to city. The following table shows average wages in Iowa by metropolitan area and license type:

Metropolitan Area RN Annual Mean Wage LPN Annual Mean Wage CNA Annual Mean Wage
Omaha-Council Bluffs, NE-IA $75,250 $52,920 $36,450
Iowa City $74,230 $53,490 $35,580
Des Moines-West Des Moines $71,060 $52,180 $36,400
Cedar Rapids $70,050 $53,120 $35,400
Ames $69,260 $49,930 $35,190
Davenport-Moline-Rock Island, IA-IL $68,160 $52,180 $33,820
Waterloo-Cedar Falls, IA $67,750 $50,440 $35,180
Dubuque $66,890 $50,970 $35,120
Sioux City, IA-NE-SD $66,760 $50,530 $35,000

Thriving healthcare hubs like Council Bluffs, West Des Moines, Cedar Rapids, and Iowa City offer lucrative prospects, with CNAs, LPNs, and RNs earning competitive pay commensurate with their roles.

The pace shifts in regions such as Cherokee, Cresco, and Eagle Grove, where nursing income tends to be more modest than in urban centers. Nevertheless, these communities attract nurses seeking a tight-knit environment and a quieter lifestyle.

Compensation across Iowa’s cities presents a fascinating spectrum. In places like Ames and Waterloo-Cedar Falls, wages reflect the active healthcare scene, offering competitive pay to nurses. Meanwhile, cities like Bettendorf and Carroll provide balanced compensation that aligns with the local cost of living. In smaller towns like Corydon and Bellevue, wages match the community’s needs and resources.

To navigate this varied economic landscape, many nurses in Iowa seek flexible PRN nursing jobs with attractive hourly rates; if that is your case, Nursa can help you connect with high-paying RN, LPN, or CNA jobs across Iowa, providing flexibility and income while accommodating various healthcare settings and needs.

Best Hospitals and Other Medical Centers in Iowa

Whether you are interested in Acute Care, Emergency Room (ER), or Cardiovascular Intensive Care Unit (CVICU) jobs for nurses, you will be interested in knowing about Iowa’s healthcare landscape and facilities. Here are some renowned hospitals and healthcare centers in Iowa:

  • University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics (UIHC): Located in Iowa City, UIHC is a nationally ranked network of hospitals and academic medical centers known for its comprehensive services and cutting-edge research. With over 250 facilities in the UI healthcare network, it has received Magnet Recognition for Excellence in Nursing by the American Nurses Credentialing Center. Affiliated with the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics, the University of Iowa Stead Family Children’s Hospital in Iowa City is renowned for its work in pediatrics and state-of-the-art facilities.
  • Mayo Clinic Health System: With locations in Decorah, West Union, and Waukon, among others, the Mayo Clinic Health System in Iowa offers high-quality healthcare services backed by Mayo Clinic’s expertise and reputation in research. Their team-based approach could allow you to work with and learn from healthcare professionals focused on providing patients with earlier diagnoses and new treatments.
  • MercyOne: MercyOne has officially operated several hospitals and medical centers across Iowa since 1976, including MercyOne Des Moines Medical Center, MercyOne Cedar Rapids Medical Center, and MercyOne Dubuque Medical Center, providing a wide range of medical specialties and services. MercyOne has multi-specialist physician group practices, and MercyOne ACO (Accountable Care Organization) helps patients with chronic diseases manage and improve their health.
  • Genesis Health Group: With 73 locations in places such as Davenport, DeWitt, and Silvis, Genesis Health Group is recognized for its excellence in various specialties, including cardiac surgery, osteopathic manipulation, and neurology.
  • UnityPoint Health: Previously known as Iowa Health System, UnityPoint Health comprises hospitals and clinics throughout Iowa, such as UnityPoint Health - St. Luke’s Hospital in Cedar Rapids, UnityPoint Health - Fort Dodge, UnityPoint Health - Des Moines, and UnityPoint Health - Waterloo, offering not-for-profit compassionate care and advanced treatments. As part of Medicare, they provide a range of medical specialties, including internal medicine, surgery, cardiology, family medicine, pediatrics, obstetrics and gynecology (OB/GYN), and a diverse array of additional specialized services.
  • Broadlawns Medical Center: Serving the Des Moines community, Broadlawns Medical Center is an acute care, community-based hospital known for its commitment to providing accessible and affordable healthcare services.

What Are the Cheapest Cities in Iowa?

Although high salaries often catch our attention, residing in an area of Iowa with a low cost of living is equally crucial if you opt for slow living and higher savings. The following are affordable and overall excellent cities to live in Iowa:

  • Sioux City: Nestled along the Missouri River, Sioux City boasts a cost of living lower than the state average, making it an attractive option for residents seeking affordable living. The city offers a mix of public transportation options, including bus services and ride-sharing platforms, providing convenient connectivity within the area. 
  • Cedar Rapids: Located in Eastern Iowa, Cedar Rapids offers a reasonable cost of living and a range of amenities for residents. Cedar Rapids is approximately 120 miles from Des Moines, the state capital. It offers residents a balance of affordability and access to urban conveniences, making it an attractive destination for individuals seeking a comfortable lifestyle.
  • Dubuque: Situated along the Mississippi River, Dubuque boasts a cost of living below the state average, making it an affordable choice for residents. Dubuque is approximately 180 miles from Chicago, Illinois, providing residents access to diverse cultural and recreational attractions. The city’s historic charm, scenic riverfront, and vibrant downtown area make it a desirable place to live and work.
  • Waterloo-Cedar Falls: Located in Northeastern Iowa, Waterloo-Cedar Falls offers a cost of living comparable to the national average, making it an attractive option for individuals seeking affordable housing. Close to Cedar Rapids, it gives residents access to various shopping, dining, and entertainment options.
Securing health insurance is important as a per diem nurse in Iowa.

Health Insurance in Iowa

Like in any other state, in Iowa, it is challenging yet essential to find the right health insurance to fit your lifestyle, particularly if you work per diem independent contractor nursing jobs. 

Iowa residents can access various health insurance options, including plans offered through the federal Health Insurance Marketplace, private insurers, and government-funded programs like Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). 

When evaluating different options on the market, always remember your needs and budget to help you find the right healthcare package for you and your family.

What Are Some of the Best Nursing Schools in Iowa?

Do you still need an Iowa-approved nursing license? If you are still in the lookup stage of getting your nursing license, allow us to give you a hand.

Here are some of the top nursing programs that can help you on your way to getting a license from the Iowa Board of Nursing:

  • University of Iowa College of Nursing: The Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) program at the College of Nursing holds the impressive rank of No. 4 nationwide, as indicated by the 2024 U.S. News & World Report Best Colleges rankings. Noteworthy features include its distinguished pediatric primary care doctor of nursing practice and its adult/gerontology acute care doctor of nursing practice programs.
  • Iowa State University College of Nursing: Their RN-to-BSN program caters to RNs seeking to advance their nursing careers and education to the next level. Located in Ames, this program offers specialized areas of emphasis, such as nutrition and wellness, health coaching, gerontology, leadership, and management.
  • Briar Cliff University Department of Nursing: The Department of Nursing at Briar Cliff University, situated in Sioux City, provides a variety of scholarships, along with various nursing programs such as a Nursing Pre-Licensure, RN-to-BSN, and a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) program, with the latter two available online.
  • Allen College: This college offers a range of nursing programs, including a Bachelor of Science in Nursing, Master of Science in Nursing, and Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP). Students at Allen College benefit from rigorous academic curricula and hands-on clinical experiences. Moreover, the college provides various financial aid options, including loans, grants, and scholarships, to support students’ educational endeavors. Additionally, for those seeking flexibility, Allen College offers online options for specific nursing programs, allowing students to balance their studies with other commitments.
  • University of Northern Iowa School of Health Sciences: The Health Sciences department offers a range of academic pathways, including a Bachelor of Science in Nursing, Master of Science in Nursing, and Doctor of Nursing Practice. Students benefit from a supportive learning environment, experienced faculty, and opportunities for hands-on clinical training. The department is committed to providing financial assistance to students through various financial aid programs. Additionally, for students seeking flexibility, the University of Northern Iowa offers online options for specific nursing programs, enabling students to pursue their education while balancing other commitments.

What Are Fun Things to Do in Iowa?

Between daily life responsibilities, such as going to work and paying the bills, it is easy to forgo the enjoyment of the present, but the enjoyment of the now helps us maintain a higher perspective of why we do what we do. As a PRN nurse working in Iowa or anywhere else in the world, making time for yourself and filling your cup to continue holding space and caring for others is essential. 

With that in mind, we have created a virtual cheat sheet of how and where to have fun during your free time in Iowa. 

Outdoor Life

Fresh air and movement are the best medicines to recharge the body and the soul.

Besides cities and towns such as Albia, Belle Plaine, West Burlington, and Primghar, here we list some unmissable places to pay a visit:

  • Spencer: You can find endless outdoor recreation opportunities, from boating and fishing to hiking and biking.
  • Montezuma: Nestled along the Iowa River, it offers scenic hiking trails and outdoor adventures. 
  • Maquoketa: From hiking and camping to birdwatching in its beautiful state parks, you can enjoy the beauty of this town. 
  • Keosauqua: Situated along the Des Moines River, it offers scenic river views and opportunities for canoeing and kayaking. 
  • Guttenberg: This is where to go if your hobbies are boating and fishing. 
  • Glenwood: Outdoor enthusiasts can visit Glenwood for hiking, camping, and wildlife viewing opportunities. 
  • Fontanelle: With its beautiful parks and recreational facilities, you can enjoy picnicking, hiking, and fishing.
Nature lovers will be sure to enjoy the state of Iowa.

Fun Facts & Small Town Charm

Other charming cities and towns scattered throughout Iowa include McGregor, Marengo, Marcus, New Hampton, Inwood, Griswold, and George. Additionally, here are some must-visit places if you enjoy calm, small-town vibes:

  • State Center: Its annual Rose Festival celebrates the town’s floral abundance.
  • Shenandoah: Dubbed the “Christmas City,” Shenandoah delights visitors with its festive decorations and holiday events. 
  • Riceville: A small, charming town, it is perfect for a peaceful retreat surrounded by picturesque countryside. 
  • Indianola: Host to the National Balloon Classic, Indianola offers breathtaking hot air balloon rides and picturesque countryside views. 

For the Foodies

What is life without flavor? With places such as Marshalltown, ideal for its dining scene, and Holstein, which hosts an annual Sauerkraut Days festival celebrating its German heritage, Iowa’s culinary highlights are perfect for food enthusiasts.  

Check out the must-visit places to indulge:

  • Pella: Known for its Dutch heritage, it enchants visitors with its charming windmills, tulip gardens, and authentic Dutch pastries. 
  • Le Mars: Dubbed the “Ice Cream Capital of the World,” it delights visitors with its delicious frozen treats and charming downtown area.
  • Elk Horn: Known for its Danish heritage, Elk Horn invites visitors to explore its lovely downtown area and indulge in authentic Danish pastries.

Culture & History

Fort Madison, Dunlap, and Waverly offer a mix of historic landmarks and vibrant arts scenes if you would rather nurture your mind. But let’s get more precise: 

  • Toledo: Rich in Native American heritage, it offers fascinating historical sites such as the Wieting Theatre and the Tama County Museum. 
  • Mount Pleasant: Home to the Midwest Old Threshers Heritage Museum, it provides a fascinating glimpse into Iowa’s agricultural history. 
  • Mason City: Famous as the hometown of renowned architect Frank Lloyd Wright, it boasts stunning Prairie School architecture and cultural landmarks like the Music Man Square. 
  • Knoxville: Home to the National Sprint Car Hall of Fame and Museum, Knoxville celebrates the thrilling world of motorsports.
  • Council Bluffs: Situated on the banks of the Missouri River, it boasts cultural attractions such as the Union Pacific Railroad Museum and the Lewis and Clark Monument Park.
  • Clarinda: The birthplace of renowned bandleader Glenn Miller, Clarinda celebrates its musical heritage with events like the Glenn Miller Festival. 
  • Centerville: Home to the National Scouting Museum, Centerville celebrates the legacy of the Boy Scouts of America. 

Find Your First Shift in Iowa

Now that you have made it to the end of this guide, the next step is to start looking for nursing jobs in Iowa. If you haven’t already, register with Nursa to pick up your first PRN nursing job now


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