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LPN Training Programs Overview

Practical nursing certificate programs are found at community colleges, vocational colleges, and some 4-year universities. Practical nurse training qualifies individuals to take the national exam to become a licensed practical nurse (LPN).

Essential Information

Programs typically take one year to complete. Certificate programs feature learning in a live health setting, as well as training in a variety of laboratory skills. Students entering LPN certificate programs must have completed high school or its equivalent, and they might have to complete an aptitude test. Schools may also require you to have either CPR certification or be a certified nursing assistant (CNA). Since you are going to be working with people and handling sensitive information, you will need to complete a background check as well.

Practical Nursing Certificate Programs

LPN training programs feature a combination of learning experiences, which includes classroom lectures and participation in supervised clinical experiences. Prospective licensed practical nurses learn about science and health topics, as well as math for medical professionals and pharmacology. Additional common course topics include these:

  • Biology
  • Anatomy
  • Physiology
  • Medical ethics
  • Common nursing practices
  • Special needs individuals

Career Outlook and Salary Info

Licensed practical nurses, commonly known as LPNs, monitor and care for patients by taking vital signs, administering shots, nursing wounds, collecting body fluid specimen samples, and performing standard lab tests. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), opportunities for LPNs are expected to grow by 16% from 2014-2024, which is much faster than the average for all careers (www.bls.gov). An increase in the elderly population in the U.S. is projected to help fuel this growth. Nursing and residential care facilities are the largest employer of LPNs, followed by hospitals, physicians' offices, and home healthcare services. As of May 2015, LPN's earned a median annual salary of $43,170, according to the BLS. Licensed practical nurses that were in the top ten percent in earnings made more than $59,510 annually.

Licensing Requirements and Continuing Education Information

Although career and licensing requirements vary by state, all states require that practical nurses pass a licensing exam, according to the BLS. In order to earn the LPN designation, graduates of an accredited nursing school must pass the National Council Licensure Examination for Practical Nurses (NCLEX-PN). The NCLEX-PN is a computerized test, which is administered by the National Council of State Boards of Nursing (www.ncsbn.org). LPNs must complete continuing education courses in order to maintain licensure over time.

Licensed practical nurses may advance their careers by becoming registered nurses (RNs). This can be accomplished through completion of a registered nursing degree program and passing the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses.

The BLS expects faster-than-average job growth for LPNs through 2024, so individuals hoping to become licensed practical nurses can look forward to good employment prospects, provided they meet the educational and licensing requirements. Prospective practical nurses can earn certificates in the field within a year at a vocational, 2-, or 4-year college.


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