Becoming an LPN is one of the fastest ways to break into the nursing field, with training taking an average of one year to complete.
Demand for qualified LPNs is high across the country, so you'll find employment quickly.
In 2016, the median pay for LPNs was $21.20 per hour, or $44,090 per year. LPNs also enjoy great benefits, including paid vacations and health insurance.
As an LPN, you will make a profound and direct difference in patients' lives every day that you are on the clock.
Room for Advancement
After breaking into the nursing field as an LPN, the sky is the limit in terms of job opportunities. You'll be well on your way to becoming an RN!
- STEP 1
Find an LPN training program. They are typically offered by community colleges and vocational schools. Complete some of your training online through a hybrid training program.
- STEP 2
Complete your LPN training. It will include a mix of classroom lectures, assignments, lab work, quizzes, and tests. Clinical training at local healthcare facilities is also required.
- STEP 3
Take the NCLEX-PN. Your accredited training program should have adequately prepared you for this crucial licensing exam, which includes a multiple-choice section and a practical skills section.
- STEP 4
Receive your LPN license upon passing the NCLEX-PN. Update your resume to include information about your license, and start applying for LPN jobs in your area.
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- 1. Will I be able to support myself with a career as a licensed practical nurse?
Given that you have to invest money to undergo LPN training, take the licensing exam, and acquire your license, it makes sense that you want to ensure that you'll get a good return on that investment. Happily enough, thousands of LPNs around the country support themselves and their families through this line of work.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, or BLS, reports that LPNs earned a median salary of $44,090 per year in 2016. This translates into around $21.20 per hour, which is nearly three times the federal minimum wage. Compensation varies by location and by industry or setting. For example, LPNs who worked in doctor's offices in 2016 earned around $39,990 per year in 2016; those who worked in government facilities earned around $45,620 per year; while those who worked in assisted living and nursing centers earned around $45,300. Remember that benefits like health insurance are compensation too, and some jobs offer better benefits than others.
- 2. How easy will it be to find work as an LPN? Is there decent job security in this line of work?
After going through all of that training, passing the NCLEX-PN, and getting your LPN license, the last thing that you want is to be left searching desperately for a job. Fortunately, that shouldn't be an issue if you are properly credentialed as a Licensed Practical Nurse, as LPN jobs are plentiful across virtually all markets.
According to the BLS, in fact, there were approximately 719,900 jobs for Licensed Practical Nurses in the U.S. in 2014. The agency projects that another 117,300 LPN jobs will be added between then and 2020, representing an increase of about 16 percent. By 2020, there should be around 837,200 LPN jobs in the country. Now is therefore an excellent time to get in, as you should be able to find gainful, full-time employment regardless of where you are located. This is another reason why so many start out their nursing careers as LPNs.
- 3. What if I want to advance further with my nursing career? How hard or easy will it be?
Like many aspiring LPNs, you may actually have long-term plans to eventually move into registered nursing before too long. You're making a great first step by becoming an LPN, as it serves as a great stepping-stone in what is sure to be a highly rewarding career. Within the field of licensed practical nursing itself, there are many areas of specialization to explore. You are likely to find yourself gravitating to some more than others as you gain more experience.
Should you elect to become an RN, you can likely complete a bridge program to get there more quickly. Complete an LPN-to-ADN bridge program to earn your associate degree in nursing, or ADN, in as little as 18 months. For even more opportunities in the future, complete an LPN-to-BSN bridge program to earn your bachelor of science in nursing in as little as two to three years. With a BSN in hand, many new doors will open for you, and it will be easier to move into even more advanced roles in the future.
- 4. What kinds of traits come in handy for people who work as Licensed Practical Nurses?
If you are thinking about becoming a Licensed Practical Nurse, the right training program will get you where you need to be. With that being said, naturally possessing certain traits will make the training easier and the work more enjoyable in general. In particular, it helps to have a genuine desire to assist others in need. Compassion is a must, as you will be dealing with people who aren't feeling well much of the time.
In addition to enjoying working with patients, you should be a detail-oriented person to ensure that you stay on top of your daily duties. It helps enormously to be a capable communicator, as you will be interacting not only with patients, but also with other healthcare professionals throughout the day. Stamina and endurance are also essential, as you will be on your feet for hours on end throughout a typical shift. To succeed in a career as an LPN or in nursing in general, it's also vital to be a driven, focused person who doesn't leave things unfinished.
- 5. Where can I find jobs as a Licensed Practical Nurse?
Like many people, you may assume that LPN jobs are mostly limited to nursing homes and assisted living facilities. While the majority of LPNs do indeed work in such settings, these professionals find employment at many other facilities and places too. In fact, LPNs in some settings tend to earn more than LPNs in others, so if you are primarily concerned about making a good living as an LPN, it pays to explore the possibilities.
According to the latest, available figures, approximately 29 percent of LPNs work in nursing homes and other assisted living facilities. The second most popular setting for LPNs to work is hospitals, which account for around 15 percent of all LPN positions these days. These include private hospitals and public hospitals. Approximately 12 percent of LPNs work in doctor's offices and private clinics, so jobs are readily available in such areas. Finally, around 9 percent of LPNs work in home healthcare, which means that they visit patients in their homes rather than working in an actual facility. This segment is growing rapidly as more aging baby boomers enter their golden years but aren't quite ready for full-time nursing care.
- 6. What kinds of things should I look for in an LPN training program?
Looking for an LPN training program can be a tall order. A lot is on the line, as the quality of the training that you receive will directly impact your ability to pass the licensing exam and obtain your license. First and foremost, it is crucial to select a program that is properly accredited. Look for an accreditation by either ACEN or CCNE at the bare minimum. While you are at it, check to make sure that the program is approved by your state board of nursing.
Choose an LPN program that is convenient for you. If you will attend on campus, select a location that is easy to get to. If you will mostly complete your studies online, make sure that the program that you choose offers convenient clinical training options, or you will have a hard time completing that requirement. Naturally, it is important to choose an LPN school that suits your budget. Many programs offer scholarships and other financial aid, so be sure to check into such opportunities.
- 7. Can I complete my LPN training online?
Although online LPN training programs are readily available, it is important to understand that they can't be completed entirely online. This is due to the clinical training requirement. All LPN training programs include in-person, hands-on clinical training. Typically, this training is conducted at local healthcare facilities. Naturally, there is no practical way to complete this portion over the internet, so even online LPN training programs have offline components.
When looking for online LPN training, seek programs that are conducted asynchronously. This means that students work independently to complete assignments by a certain deadline, which gives them the flexibility that they need to attend to their other responsibilities. Find out exactly how the clinical training portion is handled as well. Some schools automatically assign students to clinical training assignments, while others expect them to line up these opportunities themselves. Make sure that you can easily fulfill the clinical training requirements of the program that you choose. Without passing this portion, you will not successfully complete your LPN training and won't be able to sit for the NCLEX-PN.