Learn how to become an LPN / LVN nurse with these simple steps.
What is an LPN? First, LPN stands for licensed practical nurse. In some areas, LPNs are called LVNs, which stands for licensed vocational nurse.
I can tell you that I have worked with some amazing licensed practical nurses throughout my nursing career, and I love LPNs / LVNs!
How Long Does it Take to Become an LPN?
If you’re interested in becoming a nurse, one of the fastest ways you can do it is by becoming an LPN. To become an LPN, you’ll need to attend an approved LPN program, which is usually offered at technical schools, community colleges, and some universities.
LPN program lengths can vary, but it typically takes around 1-2 years to become an LPN in the U.S., and it is common to find LPN programs that take around 12-18 months in length.
Therefore, you could realize your dream of becoming a nurse in as little as about one year.
LPN Program Admission Requirements
Before entering an LPN program, you will have to meet the admissions requirements of the school, which can vary for different LPN programs. Common admissions requirements include the following:
- An application to the program
- Taking an entrance exam such as the ATI TEAS exam
- Passing a drug test and /or background check
- Meeting health requirements, such as vaccination records and physical exam
- CPR certification
- Health insurance or personal liability insurance
Some programs may also require that you take a few general education courses prior to admission, such as Algebra, Medical Terminology, and so forth, but that will depend on the program’s specific admissions requirement.
LPN Licensing Exam
Once you enroll and complete the educational requirements for the LPN / LVN program, you will receive your diploma or certificate.
However, there is still one important step you’ll have to take, which is passing the NCLEX-PN exam, the state licensing exam for licensed practical nurses. When you pass the NCLEX-PN, you will be licensed and can practice as an LPN (or LVN).
LPN Job Duties: What Does an LPN Do on the Job?
What does an LPN do on the job? LPNs work with the healthcare team to provide direct and indirect patient care.
Some common duties of the LPN include the following:
- collecting vital signs of patients
- medication administration
- assisting with patient hygiene
- monitoring the patient’s health status
- collecting patient admission information
- and more
The scope of practice for LPNs can vary a lot from state to state, and some states allow for a much wider scope of practice for LPNs. In fact, sometimes LPNs can do many of the tasks that an RN can do. In addition, LPNs (or LVNs) can sometimes obtain additional certifications in some areas to further their scope of practice even more.
How much money does an LPN make per year on average? According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics , in 2020, the average salary for LPNs/LVNs in the United States was $50,090 per year or $24.08 per hour. You can see more details about the LPN salary in our detailed salary breakdown.
Again, that is the average for all the states combined, and some LPNs may earn more or less than those amounts, depending on their location, experience, certifications, industry, and so on.
LPN Job Outlook
What is the job outlook for LPNs? According the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the job outlook for LPNs is still good. They project the profession to grow by 9% between years 2020-2030.
Where Do Most LPNs Work?
Most LPNs work in the following settings, based on data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (2020):
- Nursing Care Facilities: the average salary for LPNs in this industry was $51,200 per year or $24.62 per hour. An estimated 199,760 were employed in this industry.
- Offices of Physicians: the average salary for LPNs in this industry was $45,550 per year or $21.90 per hour. An estimated 88,300 worked in this industry.
- Home Health Care Services: the average salary was $51,580 per year or $24.80 per hour for LPNs in this industry, and an estimated 84,460 were employed here.
- General Medical and Surgical Hospitals: the average salary was $47,310 per year or $22.75 per hour in this industry, which employed an estimated 80,820 LPNs.
- Continuing Care Retirement Communities and Assisted Living Facilities: the average salary was $51,010 per year or $24.57 per hour in this industry, which employed an estimated 53,280 LPNs.
LPN Career Advancement
The great thing about being an LPN is that you can always advance in your career. First, there are many different specialties in nursing, so if you dislike working in one nursing specialty, you can always move to another facility with a different patient population and focus.
In addition, you can gain certifications that can allow you to expand your scope of practice and earn a higher income as an LPN.
Finally, you could always go back to school to become a different type of nurse, such as an RN (learn how to become an RN). Many universities offer LPN to RN programs (LPN to BSN).
If you decide to advance even further you could always attend a master’s degree program to become an advanced practice registered nurse (APRN) such as a nurse practitioner (NP), CRNA, nurse midwife, and so on.
- Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics, Licensed Practical Nurses, May 2020 [www.bls.gov/]