A Look at the Average RN Salary in Illinois: Comparisons, Benefits, & Tips

In Illinois, registered nurses (RNs) enjoy competitive salaries, excellent benefits, and a wealth of employment opportunities.

Are you considering a fulfilling nursing career in Illinois? This fast-paced and emotionally rewarding profession allows you to merge compassion and expertise to play a vital role in patient care. With a diverse population and bustling medical centers, Illinois presents a wealth of opportunities for registered nurses to make a lasting impact. 

In this post, we will break down the average RN salaries in Illinois, compare them to other states, examine factors affecting pay, and offer tips to boost your earning potential. So, let’s dive in and help you make an informed decision about your nursing career.



Registered nurses are like the lighthouses along a stormy coast — they are essential in guiding the way to a safe harbor. Just as a lighthouse illuminates the path for ships to avoid danger, nurses guide patients through their health crises, shining a light on treatment options, offering comfort, and collaborating with doctors for the best patient outcomes. Without them, the healthcare system would be lost in a sea of confusion and chaos, unable to provide the care and direction patients need. Therefore, it is only fair that their salaries reflect the critical role they play in navigating the turbulent waters of healthcare.

Average RN Salaries in Illinois

The average salary of registered nurses in Illinois is an important benchmark for gauging earning potential. As of the latest data, the average annual RN salary in Illinois is $87,949 per year. This average is slightly lower than the national annual RN salary, which is $98,685. However, it is crucial to remember that this figure can vary depending on experience, education, specialization, and geographic location within the state. The average salary stated above is the midpoint of the two salary ranges for the 25th and 75th percentile in Illinois, which can be as low as $64,000 or as high as $122,000 per year.

Illinois RN Salary Adjusted for Cost of Living

When evaluating RN salaries in Illinois, it is important to consider the state’s cost of living. The state has a diverse landscape, ranging from bustling urban centers to quieter rural areas. Therefore, the cost of living can vary significantly across regions. According to data, the cost of living index in Illinois is 92.6. Compared to the national average of 100, living in Illinois is significantly more affordable than in most other states within the U.S.

Some other indexes related to the cost of living in Illinois include:

  • Grocery index – 98.5
  • Housing index – 82.0
  • Utility index – 92.7
  • Transportation index – 105.8
  • Health index – 98.4

Top-Paying Areas for RNs in Illinois

Certain cities in Illinois stand out as hotspots for higher RN salaries. Areas in Illinois where RNs have the potential to earn above-average wages include the following:

  • Springfield
  • Peoria
  • Hoffman Estates
  • Glenview
  • Chicago
  • Aurora
  • Elgin
  • Rockford
  • Bloomington

Exploring opportunities in these locations in Illinois can be beneficial to maximize your earning potential.

Comparing RN Salaries in Illinois to Other States

When examining RN salaries nationwide, Illinois falls within the lower range since its average pay is lower than the national average. Still, it’s important to consider the regional differences in salary levels and the corresponding cost of living there.

For example, states like California and Hawaii are among the top-paying states in the U.S. for RNs. In both cases, the average salaries surpass the national average and reach six figures. However, they also exceed the national cost of living index. Hawaii’s cost of living index is 184 — almost double that of Illinois. Similarly, California and other high-paying states have indexes that surpass 100. Therefore, the RN salary in Illinois is highly competitive when including the cost of living into the equation.

Comparing RN Salaries to Other Nursing Roles in Illinois

While registered nursing offers rewarding career prospects, it is essential to consider how RN salaries compare to other nursing roles in Illinois. For instance, nurse practitioners and anesthetists often command higher wages due to their advanced practice and specialized training. Their average salaries are $123,467 per year and $209,192 per year, respectively.

On the other hand, some other nursing roles earn less than registered nurses in Illinois. For example, while working as a licensed nurse practitioner (LPN), you can make $53,964 per year. Similarly, you earn only $53,607 annually as a licensed vocational nurse (LVN) in Illinois.

Factors That Affect RN Salaries

Several factors can influence your salary as an RN, including experience, education, certification, and the healthcare setting where you work. Exploring these factors can help you understand how to enhance your earning potential and progress in your career.

Firstly, education and experience are among the first factors that determine your salary. The higher your education level and years of experience, the better the pay. The next factor to consider is specialization. Depending on the area of nursing you specialize in, you will have different responsibilities and be compensated based on your role.

The geographic area within the state can also affect your salary — areas with a higher cost of living or a shortage of registered nurses often offer higher wages to attract and retain qualified professionals. Then, the type of healthcare facility or organization you work in can impact your salary as well as the number of hours you work every week. Consider all these factors and more when analyzing your potential salary.

Tips for Maximizing Your RN Salary in Illinois

If you’re already an RN in Illinois or planning to pursue a nursing career in the prairie state, here are some tips to help you maximize your salary potential: 

  • Pursue advanced education and seek professional development opportunities: Whether it be pursuing a master’s degree or earning a certificate, employers will value your dedication and readiness to advance your knowledge and skillset as well as to stay up to date with the trends of the field.
  • Specialize in a high-demand area: The key to maximizing salaries comes down to the good old law of supply and demand. The higher the demand for professionals with specific skills and expertise, the higher the compensation.
  • Join professional organizations such as the Illinois Nurses Association: This way, you can stay up-to-date with industry trends, network, and have access to resources that help you navigate your career and potentially negotiate better salary packages.
  • Explore shift differentials offered by the healthcare facility you work at: Typically, these shift differentials come with additional pay incentives that can significantly boost your overall income.

Benefits and Perks of Being an RN in Illinois

Beyond the competitive salaries, being an RN in Illinois offers various perks and benefits. They include comprehensive retirement plans such as the Illinois Secure Choice Savings Program that provide workers with an easy way to save their own money for retirement and paid time off. Illinois signed SB208 into law, making it the first state in the Midwest to mandate up to 40 hours of paid time off within a year starting in 2024.

Additionally, the state offers flexible scheduling options and many career advancement opportunities. Understanding and utilizing these benefits can further enhance the overall value of your compensation package and general job satisfaction.

The Bottom Line

While Illinois may not claim the title of the highest-paying state, it undeniably offers registered nurses an appealing proposition. When considering the cost of living, the salaries in this state provide a fair compensation package. Nevertheless, it is crucial to recognize that multiple factors can influence your earning potential. Armed with this understanding, you can strategically navigate your way to financial success.

As we conclude, envision how this knowledge can shape your path as a nurse in Illinois. How will you leverage these insights to unlock new opportunities and maximize your earning capacity? Always remember that your success in the nursing field in Illinois lies in your hands, ready to be realized through wise choices and dedicated efforts.

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