Licensed Practical Nurse Education Requirements and Career Info

Oct 30, 2019

What Training Does a Licensed Practical Nurse Have?

Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) education requirements generally consist of completing a certificate or diploma program in practical nursing and then obtaining a state license. Here we break down each process and provide some important information for students interested in starting their career as an LPN.

Licensed Practical Nurse Programs

LPN certificate and diploma programs are fairly common and may be available in hybrid formats with some online coursework. However, traditionally, these are on-campus programs that provide aspiring LPNs hands-on training through practicum experiences, labs and working directly with patients. These programs may include coursework that covers topics in areas like:

  • Mental health
  • Pharmacology
  • Nursing care
  • Medical terminology
  • Nursing issues
  • Anatomy and physiology

Usually, to be admitted into an LPN program, students must hold a high school diploma or GED and take the ACT. Students usually need to submit to a background check and/or drug screening. Some programs may also require students to complete prerequisites before starting the LPN program, such as a nursing course and/or anatomy and physiology.

Some students may decide to go on and pursue advanced degrees in nursing. There are many Registered Nurse (RN) colleges available that offer undergraduate degree programs in nursing, as well as nurse practitioner schools that provide graduate-level training in the field.

LPN Schooling Time

LPN degree programs are generally short, with most taking 11 to 12 months to complete. This is usually the minimum amount of time it takes to complete a practical nursing program as well. Students can find programs that are available in part-time formats that may take a little longer but allow for more flexibility in scheduling.

LPN Qualifications and Licensing

To obtain a state license to practice, LPNs must take the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-PN) after completing their practical nursing diploma or certificate program. Typically, LPNs also need to be certified in cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and they may choose to pursue additional certifications in specialization areas, such as intravenous (IV) therapy.

Although it is not a formal requirement, LPNs need to be detail-oriented to take care of patients well. These professionals also need to be compassionate and patient with people who may be in pain, feeling scared, or experiencing a wide range of emotions. It also requires a high level of effective communication to be able to explain procedures and answer any questions patients may have concerning their experience.

LPN Career Info

Degree Required Postsecondary nondegree award
Other Requirements License
Median Pay (2018)* $46,240 (for Licensed Practical and Licensed Vocational Nurses)
Estimated Job Growth (2018-2028)* 11% (for Licensed Practical and Licensed Vocational Nurses)

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

LPNs generally work full-time and may work non-traditional hours, as patients may require care 24/7. Many LPNs work in nursing and residential care facilities, followed by hospitals and physicians' offices.

LPNs are primarily responsible for providing basic medical care to patients and assisting RNs and doctors. Depending on their work setting, LPNs may be responsible for tasks such as:

  • Checking vital signs
  • Helping patients care for themselves, such as bathing or eating
  • Changing bandages
  • Maintaining patient records
  • Answering patients' questions
  • Collecting samples for medical tests
  • Caring for infants
  • Starting IV drips (depending on the state)
  • Administering medication (depending on the state)
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