Licensed Vocational Nursing Education Requirements and Career Info

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

Licensed vocational or practical nursing is a career for those who like working with and caring for people. These professionals work in hospitals, doctor's offices, and nursing care facilities under the supervision of a physician or registered nurse.

Essential Information

Licensed vocational nurses must complete an accredited 1-year certificate or 2-year associate's degree program, generally at a community college or vocational school. These courses combine classroom instruction with supervised clinical experiences at healthcare facilities. Every state requires passing a national licensing exam. It should be noted that weekend, night and holiday shifts are often required for LPNs, and the job can be physically tiring.

Required Education Certificate or associate's degree in vocational or practical nursing
Other Requirements Licensing through the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-PN)
Projected Job Growth (2014-2024)* 16%
Median Salary (2015)* $43,170

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

Education Requirements for Licensed Vocational Nurses

Certificate and associate's degree programs in licensed vocational nursing are available, primarily from technical institutes and community colleges. High schools, hospitals and colleges and universities may also have training programs. Courses may include emergency care and first aid, anatomy and physiology, pharmacology, mental health and mental illness, health evaluation, microbiology and family-centered care. Most programs combine classroom study with supervised clinical care of patients in a hospital or other medical facility. Certificate programs typically take about 1 year to complete, and associate's degree programs for licensed vocational nurses take about 2 years, including the clinical experiences.

Licensing Information

Students who complete an accredited vocational nursing certificate or degree program have to pass the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-PN), administered by the National Council of State Boards of Nursing, to become a licensed vocational nurse. The exam tests knowledge of patient care, including psychosocial and physiological integrity and maintenance of a safe and effective care environment. All U.S. states require licensure.

Career Information

The BLS reported that the median wage of licensed vocational nurses was $43,170 in May 2015, and predicted 16% employment growth in the field over the years 2014-2024. The employment increase may be driven by increased demand for healthcare in general and the greater long-term care needs of an aging population in particular. Licensed vocational nurses may continue their education in LPN-to-RN or Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree programs to advance their careers.

Licensed vocational nurses must complete an accredited certificate or associate's program in this specialty before securing licensure via exam. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, job growth in the field is faster than the market as a whole.


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