How to Become a Licensed Practical Nurse

To become a licensed practical nurse (LPN), or licensed vocational nurse (LVN) as it is called in some states, one only has to complete a state-approved nurse training program that typically lasts one year. A high school diploma is usually required prior to entering a training program. These programs are offered through vocational and technical schools as well as junior colleges, and sometimes through high schools, hospitals, or universities. Learn more about available state board approved LPN and LVN programs. Once training is completed, prospective nurses must pass an exam to earn their license and begin practicing. The exam is given by the National Council of State Boards of Nursing.

LPN Job Description and Duties

Licensed practical nurses, or licensed vocational nurses, are nurses who care for people who are injured, disabled, or ill, under the supervision of registered nurses or doctors. The degree of direction or supervision may vary, however, based on the patient or employer and degree of care. LPNs sometimes work in specialized settings like doctor’s offices or nursing homes, but many work in hospitals. The care they provide can vary as well, but includes many generalized tasks such as taking vital signs, caring for them bedside, taking laboratory samples, taking health information, keeping records, or filling out forms. At times they might assist a nurse or physician carry out an exam or other procedure. They also assist patients with basic care like bathing, feeding, and dressing.

Practical Nurse Salaries and Job Outlook

The healthcare industry is one of the fastest growing industries in the United States, and there are projected shortages for all levels of nurses. According to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics, LPN job openings have been projected to grow 14 percent between 2006 and 2016. This is primarily due to a growing elderly population. However, large percentages of nurses approaching retirement also contribute to these projections.

Salary will vary based on region, years of experience, and employer. The median national salary for a licensed practical nurse in 2006 was $36,500. The highest earners topped $50,000. Generous health insurance and benefits are also perks of working in healthcare. The rapid growth of the industry can mean great employment opportunity for those interested in healthcare and helping people. Becoming an LPN can also be a stepping stone toward more advanced, specialized nursing further on in your career.

Need more information? You may wish to explore LPN and other nursing programs by state.

Back to the Top

Search the Site
Partner School