Basic requirements for admission to a LPN program include a high school diploma or GED and possibly nursing assistant certification and the completion of certain classes. Students who complete LPN education programs are able to earn licensure and begin working within 1-2 years. To secure licensure, graduates must pass a licensing examination and maintain continuing education over a certain number of years. Classroom study is combined with practical components, during which students gain hands-on experience in a clinical setting to prepare them for work in hospitals and other healthcare settings.
Nursing programs are also available at the Bachelor's and Master's level for LPNs who want to continue their education.
Many LPN programs have specific course prerequisites, such as biology or a related medical science and college-level English. Core courses offer introductory and foundational training for aspiring nurses. This training includes a broad overview of the education that's paramount to providing nursing services for various groups of people in need. Common courses include:
- Fundamental nursing practices
- Legal and ethical nursing issues
- Medical-surgical nursing
Employment Outlook and Salary Info
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), jobs for licensed practical nurses were expected to increase 16% from 2014 to 2024 (www.bls.gov). This strong growth could translate into approximately 117,300 new job openings, some of which will be brought about due to the increased care needs of an aging population and the demand for medical treatment in ambulatory and outpatient care facilities. The BLS also reported that LPNs will be needed to treat diabetes and other chronic conditions.
As of 2015, the BLS reported the median annual wage for LPNs was $43,170. Those earning wages in the top tenth percentile earned $59,510 per year, and those with salaries in the bottom tenth percentile earned $32,040 per year.
Licensing and Continuing Education Information
To become a licensed practical nurse, individuals must complete an LPN education program and pass the National Council Licensure Examination for Practical Nurses (NCLEX-PN). LPN licensing requirements vary by state; however, continuing education is necessary to remain licensed through the National Council State Boards of Nursing (www.ncsbn.org).
Upon achieving LPN status, licensed or vocational practical nurses could go on to pursue advanced education. Bachelor of Science in Nursing and Master of Science in Nursing degree programs can lead to opportunities as registered nurses or even clinical nurse specialists. More pay and responsibility tend to result.
One- to two-year licensed practical nurse programs are typically best suited to students looking to get their start in the nursing field. This career has a solid outlook, and with continued education and completion of a bachelor's or master's degree program, can be an even more lucrative field.