How much money do licensed practical nurses (LPNs), also called licensed vocational nurses (LVNs) make per year or per hour? According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics [1,2], in the United States, the average salary for an LPN / LVN was $50,060 and the average hourly wage was $24.08 in 2020.
Again, keep in mind that these are only averages, which means they’ve taken all available salary or wage data, added them together, and then divided by the total number of figures in their data set. You could earn more or less than these amounts, depending on things like your location, experience, industry, and so forth.
And I’m going to show you the salary averages for all 50 state in just a moment.
LPN / LVN Median Salary & Hourly Wage Percentiles
When looking at salary data, is also helpful to look at the median salary and wage, which is the middle number of a sorted data set. The median salary for LPNs / LVNs was $48,820 and the median hourly wage was $23.47 in the United States in 2020.
Licensed Practical Nurse Percentile Wage Estimates
The Bureau of Labor Statistics [1,2] also publishes percentile estimates. LPNs or LVNs earning 35,570 per year or $17.10 per hour were in the 10th percentile, meaning 90% of the licensed practical nurses (or vocational nurses) earned more than that.
LPNs or LVNs earning $65,520 per year or $31.50 per hour were in the 90th percentile, meaning only 10% of LPNs or LVNs are estimated to earn a higher salary than that.
Here are the percentile estimates for salary and hourly wages for LVNs and LPNs:
- 10th Percentile: $35,570 per year; $17.10 per hour
- 25th Percentile: $42,060 per year; $20.22 per hour
- 50th Percentile: $48,820 per year; $23.47 per hour
- 75th Percentile: $57,860 per year; $27.82 per hour
- 90th Percentile: $65,520 per year; $31.50 per hour
LPN / LVN Salary Growth & Effects of the Pandemic on Wages
Now let’s take a look at the growth rate for LPN / LVN income. As you can see from this chart, I have the average salaries listed for the past five years, and I’ve calculated the percentage increase from year to year.
Has the pandemic affected LPN / LVN salaries? In 2020, there was a 3.278% increase from the previous year’s salary average, which is the biggest percentage increase for the past five years. However, like I said in my RN salary article, this is the latest data available from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, and it’s from May 2020.
Therefore, we haven’t seen the full effects of the pandemic yet. We’ll have to wait a year to two to see how things have progressed.
LPN / LVN Salary for all 50 States
Now let’s take a look at the average salary and hourly wage for licensed practical nurses (LPNs) and licensed vocational nurses (LVN) in all 50 states, as well as the U.S. owned territories of Guam and Puerto Rico.
As you take a look at this map, the darker shades of purple represent the states tended to pay higher on average, and the lighter shades tended to pay a lower average salary.
Highest and Lowest Paying States for Licensed Practical and Vocational Nurses
Alaska was the top paying state for the LVN / LPN, paying an average salary of $67,620 and an average wage of $32.51 per hour.
West Virginia was the lowest paying state for LPNs / LVNs, paying an average salary of $38,940 and an average hourly wage of $18.72.
Here is a list of all 50 states in alphabetical order, including the employment number for each state:
|State||Employment||Hourly mean wage||Annual mean wage|
|District of Columbia||1,390||$27.80||$57,810|
Again, if you are looking to move or relocate, you have to keep in mind that just because a state pays a higher average salary, it doesn’t necessarily mean you’d be doing better financially when compared to another state with a lower paying average.
You have to look at the overall cost of living (housing, taxes, insurance, groceries, utilities, etc.) to make that determination. Sometimes it makes sense to move, and sometimes it doesn’t.
Highest and Lowest Paying Areas for LVN / LPN Nurses
In addition to state income averages, the Bureau of Labor Statistics also calculates averages based on metropolitan and non-metropolitan areas in the United States. As you look at this map, you can see right away that even within an individual state, you can have high paying areas, represented in the darker shades of purple, and lower paying areas, which are represented in the lighter shades.
The highest paying area in the United States was the San Jose – Sunnyvale – Santa Clara, CA area, which paid an average salary of $75,950, and an average hourly wage of $36.51.
|Area||Employment||Hourly mean wage||Annual mean wage|
|San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, CA||2,690||$36.51||$75,950|
|Santa Rosa, CA||800||$35.97||$74,820|
|San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, CA||6,580||$35.83||$74,520|
|Alaska nonmetropolitan area||90||$33.02||$68,670|
|Eastern Sierra-Mother Lode Region of California nonmetropolitan area||280||$32.06||$66,690|
|San Diego-Carlsbad, CA||6,030||$31.68||$65,900|
The lowest paying area in the United States was Beckley, West Virginia. They paid LPN / LVN nurses an average salary of $35,080 and an average hourly wage of $16.87. Again, these are only averages, you can earn higher or lower than these amounts in these specific areas, depending on several factors.
NOTE: The Bureau of Labor Statistics tracks hundreds of cities, metropolitan areas, and non-metropolitan areas in the United States. To see the complete list of LPN and LVN salaries and hourly pay rates for these areas, look at our top paying cities for LPN and LVN nurses article.
Top Paying Industries for LPN / LVN Nurses
Now let’s take a look at the top paying industries for licensed practical and vocational nurses. Junior Colleges was the industry that paid LVNs and LPNs the most money, paying an average of $60,570 and an hourly wage of $29.12. However, only 60 were estimated to be employed in that industry.
Outpatient care centers had a much higher employment number for practical nurses, estimated at 33,540, and they paid an average salary of $56,320 and an average hourly pay of $27.08.
LPN Top Employment
Finally, let’s look at the LVN / LPN income averages for where most of these nurses actually work.
The industry with the highest level of employment was the Nursing Care Facilities industry, employing an estimated 199,760 LPNs / LVNs. This industry paid an average salary of $51,200 and an average hourly wage of $24.62.
Offices of Physicians was the 2nd industry with high employment numbers (88,300), and this industry paid an average salary of $45,550 and an average hourly wage of $21.90.
- Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics, May 2020 [www.bls.gov/]
- Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics, May 2020 OEWS Maps, Employment of healthcare occupations, by state, May 2020, accessed 08/25/2021, [https://www.bls.gov/]