Licensed Practical Nurse Education Requirements and Career Info

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

Essential Information

Licensed practical nurses (LPNs) provide basic care to patients in a multitude of health care settings. They maintain and monitor patient health, perform wound care, update patient records, take vital signs and assist patients with personal hygiene. Such nursing professionals typically complete a diploma program lasting about a year and including clinical rotations. Successful completion of a national examination is necessary for licensing.

Required Education Diploma in practical nursing; certificates available in some areas
Licensure All licensed practical nurses must pass the National Council Licensure Examination for Practical Nurses (NCLEX-PN)
Projected Job Growth (2012-2022) 25%*
Median Salary (2013) $41,920 *

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Education Requirements for Licensed Practical Nurses (LPNs)

Starting a career as a licensed practical nurse begins with completion of a state-approved training program. Available at technical schools, community colleges and hospitals, LPN programs typically last one year and result in a diploma. Curricula include large amounts of practical experience in a clinical setting. Practical nursing students may also take courses in:

  • Basic nursing
  • Medical terminology
  • Infection control
  • Life span health care
  • Pharmacology


At the end of training, aspiring LPNs must register to take the National Council Licensure Examination for Practical Nurses (NCLEX-PN). Administered by the National Council of State Boards of Nursing, this adaptive exam requires a $200 fee and can be taken via computer ( The NCLEX-PN consists of both practical and written questions. After passing the exam, candidates receive LPN licensure and are eligible to practice in the profession.

Licensed Practical Nurse Career Information

Licensed practical nurses apply their patient care skills in a broad range of health care settings. They're often employed by independent doctors' offices, nursing homes, hospice facilities and home health care companies. The majority of licensed practical nurses work roughly 40 hours per week, though some work part-time. While many work only in one facility, some divide their hours between multiple locations. Practical nurses may even travel around the country, working for different hospitals a few months at a time.

Job Growth

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment of LPNs and licensed vocational nurses is expected to grow 25% for the years 2012-2022 ( This growth is due primarily to the increasing senior population, which will spur a greater demand for health care. Nursing care facilities will continue to be the largest source of employment for LPNs, but hospitals also employ many LPNs.

Salary Information

In May 2013, the BLS reported that licensed practical nurses and licensed vocational nurses earned a median yearly amount of $41,920. The highest-paid workers earned over $58,020 per year.

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