Working directly under the supervision of a health practitioner such as a registered nurse or a doctor, a licensed practical or vocational nurse (LPN/LVN) provides basic patient care and education. This is done in addition to monitoring the patient's health and progress and maintaining detailed records of the patient's condition. For medical assistants or certified nursing assistants who would like to advance in their careers, there are courses and programs available to transition to an LPN.
Individuals interested in becoming nurses without significant training may choose to pursue practical or vocational nursing. LPNs and LVNs provide care under the supervision of a higher level health practitioner, like a registered nurse. Aspiring LPNs and LVNs need to complete an accredited certificate or diploma program. They then qualify to sit for a licensing examination. These professionals should see faster-than-average job growth in the coming years.
|Required Education||Certificate or diploma in licensed practical nursing|
|Licensure||Required; all LPNs must pass the National Council Licensure Exam for Practical Nurses|
|Projected Job Growth (2016-2026)*||12%|
|Median Salary (2018)*||$46,240|
Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
LPN Certificate Programs
Many two-year community colleges and trade schools offer LPN certificate programs. Students can earn a certificate in licensed practical nursing within a year, or two to three semesters. During that time, they gain nursing experience through both classroom and laboratory work, learning how to care for patients across a variety of healthcare settings.
Aspiring students must first earn a high school diploma or GED certificate. Colleges may also require applicants to pass basic aptitude tests, which gauge fundamental English and math skills. Additionally, some schools necessitate that applicants complete introductory biology courses before enrolling.
LPN Certification Courses
While earning an LPN certificate, students learn how to apply didactic lessons in a clinical setting. Common courses cover:
- Human behavior
- Critical thinking
- Patient care
- NCLEX preparation
LPNs need licensure rather than certification. The National Council Licensure Exam for Practical Nurses is commonly known as the NCLEX-PN. Registration for the examination can be secured through the National Council of State Boards of Nursing (www.ncsbn.org). Taking the exam requires submission of education transcripts and paying a registration fee.
The NCLEX-PN is a pass or fail exam using a Computerized Adaptive Testing (CAT) process. It features pertinent nursing questions, which require both written and practical answers. Once a student successfully completes the exam, licensure to officially become an LPN is granted.
Continuing Education Information
LPNs can go on to earn an associate's or bachelor's degree in nursing, both of which qualify them to take the NCLEX for registered nurses (RNs). Registered nurses supervise licensed practical nurses and work more closely with physicians.
Career and Salary Information
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) stated that LPNs and LVNs earned $46,240 as a median annual income in May 2018. The BLS also estimated that LPN and LVN jobs will increase 12% for the years 2016 through 2026.
Once you earn your LPN certificate, you must become licensed in order to actually work as an LPN. Specific duties are determined by state regulations and may vary between states. Licensed LPNs can opt to advance their careers and/or their standings by earning specialty certifications from a variety of LPN specialties, such as gerontology, IV therapy, long-term care, or pharmacology. Certification programs are offered by professional organizations such as the National Association of Practical Nurse Education and Service and the National Federation of Licensed Practical Nurses.