No problem. This site has been great for me and I'm happy to help.
As for getting hired as an IP at my facility, my situation was definitely the exception, not the rule. While studying for the NCLEX, I was volunteering at the IP department and coincidentally, after I passed, the current IP decided to move to another hospital. I got along really well with the manager and expressed interest in the role. I got extremely, extremely lucky. I graduated with an ADN with a previous B.S. in Biology. No related certifications, training or degree but I conveyed that I'm interested in pursuing a Master's either in Nursing or Public Health (currently leaning towards PH) and also being certified in Infection Control (CIC) was on the top of my list (which I'm hoping to accomplish this year). I'm not 100% sure what the job description stated but I know it was written so that I had at least the minimum required qualifications (RN license, bachelor's degree in nursing or related field, certification preferred or within 2 years of hire). The size of my facility has over 300 beds and is a trauma 2 center in CA.
I'm sure every acute care facility has an IP committee because I believe it is a requirement of Joint Commission accreditation. If not, I would look into your Quality Management/Assurance department. Our IP department is under QM. There has to be at least one Infection Prevention Practitioner in your facility (or infection control practitioner) so I would hit them up for more info.
As for APIC, my dues are $185 + $15 for local chapter so also $200. Yes, you will need to join APIC to become a member of the local chapter but I know people just show up as "guests" to my local meetings. Everyone is really friendly. Here's a link to all the local chapters:APIC | Chapter Map
For the online extension class, you don't have to turn in anything. You just enroll during the appropriate time frame. You also get 12 CEUs for the class. There is 1 multiple choice final and you can choose whether you want a letter grade or pass/no pass. Pretty informal and easy.
APIC's EPI 101 & 102 is considered to be the "gold standard" in terms of the IP world for fundamentals classes. Since I'm not in a hiring position, I don't know how much weight EPI would be versus other fundamentals classes. Maybe someone else with more experience in the IP world can chime in on that.
Depending on what area you are in, I would look to see if your state's Dept of Public Health have their own HAI Liasion program. Our HAI liasions hosts 2 day in person trainings on the Basics of IP (one in SoCal and one in NorCal) for free. Here's CA's website: Healthcare Associated Infections (HAI) Program
The IP world is insanely large and vast and we pretty much have our toes in everything at the hospital (since everything is and can be an infection prevention/patient safety issue). It can be incredibly frustrating at times but this has been such a great learning experience for me and I love my job!