Practical Nursing Certification: Program Summary

Under the supervision of licensed medical professionals, practical nurses provide nursing care to patients in hospitals, physician offices, and other health-related facilities. Practical nurses need to complete a certificate program and obtain a license before providing care.

Essential Information

A practical nursing certificate program enables students to practice nursing under the supervision of a registered nurse or physician. Students develop these skills while participating in clinical observations and experiences in hospitals, nursing homes, and clinics. Admission to a practical nursing certificate program may require a student to already be a nursing aide or assistant, and have completed course work in biology, chemistry, health, psychology or English. Upon graduation, students need to pass the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-PN) to get state licensure in practical nursing.

Graduates will have the necessary tools to be able to provide care to patients of all ages, from infants to elders, utilizing the effective written, verbal, and technical communication skills learned throughout the program.

Certificate in Practical Nursing

Practical nursing students learn both theory and hands-on nursing skills in addition to participating in clinical exercises. Program fields of study include nutrition, pharmacology, psychology, neonatal nursing, physiology and human anatomy and surgical nursing. The program lengths may vary, but they generally lasts around three semesters. Coursework includes:

  • English composition
  • Allied health mathematics
  • Nursing fundamentals
  • Patient care
  • Medical law and ethics
  • Mental health

Popular Career Options

LPNs can find voluntary certifications in the field available through the National Association of Practical Nurse Education and Service (NAPNES). Certifications are available in long-term care, IV therapy, pharmacology and rehabilitation. In order to earn these certifications, student must take and pass a course offered through the NAPNES. Practical nurses can find work in dental offices, home health care, hospitals, nursing homes, physician offices and state health facilities.

Job Outlook and Salary Information

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS),, employment of licensed practical and licensed vocational nurse will increase by 16% over the 2014 through 2024 decade ( Job openings will become available as practical nurses retire and the healthcare industry expands. As reported by the BLS in May 2015, salaries for most licensed practical and vocational nurses were from $32,040 to $59,510, with the median being $43,170.

Continuing Career Information

If they so desire, practical nursing students have the opportunity to pursue additional experience and education by obtaining an advanced nursing degree or an associate degree in another health-related field such as health arts.

Prospective nursing students interested in being able to provide nursing care to patients, under the supervision of a RN, physician or dentist, can enroll in a practical nursing certificate program. These programs prepare students to take the NCLEX-PN and meet the requirements to be an LPN.

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