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LPN Continuing Education: An Overview

Learn about the education and preparation needed to advance one's career as an LPN. Get a quick view of the requirements as well as details about degree programs, job duties and licensure requirements to find out if this is the career for you.

Essential Information

Continuing education is training that LPNs receive after completing required education and obtaining nursing licenses. LPNs can take continuing education classes in order to maintain their skills and better understand their field, or to earn additional degrees. Many LPNs go on to become registered nurses. Some states require LPNs to take classes in order to maintain their licenses.

Degree OptionsAssociate, bachelor's and master's degrees in nursing are available to LPNs who wish to become registered nurses as well.
Other RequirementsAdditional licensure necessary for registered nurses
Projected Job Growth (2012-2022) 25% for LPNs; 19% for RNs*
Average Salary (2014)$43,420 for LPNs; $69,790 for RNs*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Job Duties

LPNs may hope to pursue a career in a more specialized nursing field or higher professional level. For example, some nurses hope to have a career as a registered nurse (RN) or nurse practitioner (NP). Each career option requires additional education and may require additional licensing.

Associate Degree in Nursing

The first step in order to advance your career as an LPN would be to compete an associate degree in nursing (ADN). Some LPNs will have already fulfilled this requirement upon gaining their LPN license. However, since LPN status can be achieved without completing an ADN program, this is a necessary step for those who have not received the additional education. These programs require an additional year of studies, focusing on courses such as:

  • Human development
  • Family health
  • Advanced anatomy
  • Professional ethics

Bachelor of Science in Nursing

Some schools offer an LPN-BSN (Bachelor of Science in Nursing) degree option. These are for LPNs who have already received their associate degree in nursing. Completing this program would allow an LPN to attempt to become an RN by completing additional licensing. Common courses in these programs include:

  • Health assessment
  • Nursing management
  • Adult health issues
  • Clinical practice

Licensure

LPNs who want to become RNs must pass the National Council Licensing Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN), an advanced exam option of the NCLEX-PN, which licensed practical nurses have already completed. Passing this exam will allow LPNs to become RNs and likely earn greater income and further develop their careers.

Additional Continuing Education Options

LPNs who have become RNs can further their education in a variety of ways. Students can earn a Master of Science in Nursing degree, which can provide the path to gaining additional nurse classification. Some common specializations are:

  • Advanced practice nurse
  • Pediatric nurse practitioner
  • Clinical nurse specialist
  • Acute or primary care specialist
  • Geriatric nurse practitioner

These degree programs require an additional 2-3 years of study in a chosen field. Becoming specialized may require completing additional licensing, depending on the state or employer. Other options include graduate certificate education programs and doctor of nursing practice degree programs. Each option can lead to greater specialization and career advancement in a variety of areas, including teaching and research.

Career and Salary Information

The BLS predicts a 25% job growth for LPNs and licensed vocational nurses in the years 2012-2022. These nurses earned an average annual wage of $43,420 in May 2014, according to the BLS. Registered nurse positions are expected to increase by 19%. The BLS reports an average annual salary for these workers of $69,790.

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