Licensed vocational nurses (LVNs), also known as licensed practical nurses (LPNs), work directly with medical patients in a variety of settings. Students can prepare for careers as LVNs by earning certificates in vocational nursing. LVN programs are most commonly offered at vocational/technical schools and community colleges. They usually last 1-2 years. In addition to courses in nursing and science, a few of which may be offered online, these programs require many hours of clinical work. Vocational nursing programs also prepare students to take the NCLEX-PN licensing examination, which, along with clinical work of some sort, must be successfully completed to receive state licensure.
Certificate Programs in Nursing
Applicants to vocational nursing certificate programs need to hold a high school diploma or equivalent. Some vocational nursing programs require applicants to complete one or more introductory courses in biology, health sciences and nursing fundamentals prior to admission. A typical school's vocational nursing curriculum includes courses such as:
- Anatomy and physiology
- Health assessment
- Measuring patients' vital signs
Employment Outlook and Salary Information
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), licensed vocational nurses earned a median annual salary of $43,170 in 2015. LVNs with job experience may earn more than LVNs new to the profession; the location and employer type can also affect the annual salary. The BLS reported that the number of LVN positions is expected to increase by about 16% between the years 2014 and 2024, which is much faster than average.
Continuing Education Information
Before beginning work, graduates of LVN certificate programs must pass the NCLEX-PN exam and receive state licensure. LVNs interested in working in a specific area of nursing can seek additional training in areas like gerontology and long-term care.
A limited number of schools offer 2-year associate's degree programs in licensed vocational nursing. These programs often prepare LVNs to specialize in a particular area of patient care. LVNs hoping to advance may go on to earn associate degrees in nursing. After completing an associate degree program, graduates can take the NCLEX-RN exam and become registered nurses.
Vocational schools typically offer certificate programs that prepare students to become LVNs or LPNs, though a few specialized 2-year degree programs are also available. Before qualifying for a job, you must complete the NCLEX-PN exam to gain state licensure.