LPN Charge Nurse: Responsibilities, Requirements and Career Outlook

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

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Licensed practical nurse (LPN) charge nurses supervise the work of other LPNs and nursing aids. These professionals are licensed as LPNs and must meet the requirements of that position. The job growth outlook for LPNs is much faster than average.

Essential Information

LPN charge nurses oversee the work of other licensed practical nurses and nursing aides, who all provide general care and monitoring of sick and injured patients under the supervision of physicians or registered nurses. They must complete a postsecondary training program, usually leading to a diploma or associate's degree, and pass an exam before receiving a license to practice.

Required Education Diploma or associate's degree in practical nursing
Licensing All LPNs must be licensed through the National Council of State Boards of Nursing
Projected Job Growth (2014-2024) 16% for all licensed practical and licensed vocational nurses*
Median Salary (2016) $41,806 for LPN charge nurses**

Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, **PayScale.com

Responsibilities of an LPN Charge Nurse

A licensed practical nurse (LPN) provides care and treatment for the sick, injured or disabled as prescribed by physicians. An LPN charge nurse manages the nursing staff that handles these standard duties. They direct nurses to observe and chart patients' vital signs, dress wounds, prepare equipment and assist with personal hygiene. They monitor patients' reactions to medication or treatment and report back to a supervising physician or registered nurse to modify a treatment plan.

An LPN charge nurse may also have administrative duties, such as scheduling patients and maintaining records. In a 2009 knowledge survey by the National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN), charge nurses identified their most important areas of expertise to be vital signs, critical signs and symptoms, medication administration rights, sterilization techniques and universal precautions (www.ncsbn.org).

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Requirements to Become an LPN Charge Nurse

LPN charge nurses must receive a license from the board of nursing in their state before working. According to a 2009 job analysis survey by NCSBN, over 86% of nursing candidates complete a state-approved practical or vocational nurse diploma program at a community college or vocational school, while roughly ten percent complete an associate's degree program.

Graduates of nursing programs are eligible to take the NCSBN's National Council Licensure Examination. The application process often involves submitting fingerprints and a criminal background check. LPNs are generally required to take a minimum number of continuing education courses every two years to maintain their license. Those with sufficient experience may advance to charge nurse positions.

Career Outlook and Salary for an LPN Charge Nurse

In 2014, there were 719,900 licensed practical nurses and licensed vocational nurses (LVNs) working in the U.S., according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). The BLS projected employment of all LPNs and LVNs, including charge nurses, to increase 16% from 2014-2024.

LPN charge nurses can find employment in nursing care facilities, hospitals, physicians' offices, home care services and elderly care facilities. Payscale.com reported a median salary of $41,806 for LPN charge nurses in 2016.

LPN charge nurses must complete an LPN program or an associate's degree in nursing and require licensing in all states. Licensing requirements usually include completing an accredited program and passing an exam. Employment of LPNs and LVNs is forecast to expand rapidly over the next several years.

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