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LPN: Job Outlook and Career Profile

Learn about the education and preparation needed to become a licensed practical nurse (LPN). Get a quick view of the requirements as well as details about training, job duties and licensure to find out if this is the career for you.

Licensed practical nurses (LPNs) work in hospitals and other medical facilities providing patient care under the supervision of a registered nurse or physician. The job growth outlook for LPNs is much faster than the job market as a whole, and the median annual salary for this position is around $43,000.

Essential Information

LPNs provide basic medical care in a variety of healthcare settings, including hospitals, physicians' offices and long-term care facilities. LPNs must complete a state-approved diploma or certificate program in practical nursing, which are commonly available at vocational schools and community colleges. They must also pass a national licensing exam.

Required Education Certificate or diploma in practical nursing
Other Requirements Practical nursing license
Projected Job Growth 16% from 2014-2024*
Median Salary $43,170 (2015)*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

Job Outlook

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment for LPNs and licensed vocational nurses (LVNs) is expected to increase by 16% from 2014-2024. This increase was due in part to an aging population requiring more medical care.

Salary Information

According to the BLS, in May 2015, the median annual salary for LPNs and LVNs was $43,170, with the lowest paid 10% making less than $32,040 and the highest paid 10% making more than $59,510.

Career Profile

LPNs, also referred to as licensed vocational nurses, are an important member of the medical team who provide basic care for patients in hospitals. Basic care includes duties such as taking vital statistics, helping patients with personal hygiene and eating, bedside treatment, and keeping records. A LPN may also clean and bandage wounds, give injections, administer enemas and provide alcohol rubs. LPNs may also be responsible for gathering medical history information from patients and completing insurance forms, referrals and other records.

The job duties of a LPN aren't limited to direct involvement with patients. They may work in laboratories, perform routine tests and make sure equipment is clean and ready for use.

While many LPNs work in hospital settings, others work in nursing homes, hospice services and physician's offices. They can find employment in both large cities and rural areas. LPNs work under the supervision of doctors, registered nurses and healthcare coordinators. Some LPNs may hold leadership positions and have other LPNs and nursing aides working under them.

Skills

LPNs must have good interpersonal skills, especially in communication because they communicate vital information to patients, patient's family members and other medical staff. According to O*Net Online, LPNs also need to be skilled at time management, critical thinking and decision making (www.onetonline.org).

LPNs must complete an accredited certificate or diploma program and obtain licensing by passing a national licensing exam. Most provide basic patient care in medical facilities, but there are other job opportunities, such as in medical testing labs. Jobs for LPNs are expected to grow at a much faster than average rate over the next few years.

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