LPN 101

Everything You Need to Know About a Licensed Practical Nurse

LPN 101

If you'd like to break into the field of nursing and want to do so as quickly and efficiently as possible, you should consider becoming a licensed practical nurse, or LPN. With only about a year of training, you can gain the credentials that you need to become one of these valued health care professionals. On this site, you'll find everything that you need to know about the LPN profession, including how to get your career off the ground.

  • What is an LPN? - As the name implies, a licensed practical nurse, or LPN, is a health care professional who provides basic care to patients in medical and nursing home settings. Unlike registered nurses, or RNs, LPNs are entry-level professionals who work under the direct supervision of more senior nurses.

    In settings like nursing homes, hospitals and doctor's offices, LPNs work closely with patients to ensure that they receive top-notch care. Their duties include everything from bathing to feeding to cleaning patients' rooms. Known also as licensed vocational nurses, or LVNs, in California and Texas, LPNs are essential additions to any effective health care team. Since it's an entry-level position, it is a great starting point for anyone who wants a career in the nursing field.

  • How to Become an LPN - If you are serious about becoming an LPN, the first step is learning exactly what you need to do to make that happen. The steps include:

    • Enroll in and complete an accredited and approved LPN training program. This typically takes around one year.
    • Take and pass the NCLEX-PN licensing examination, which includes multiple-choice questions and a practical skills section.
    • Apply for and receive your LPN license. Note that many schools allow you to apply for your license before sitting for the exam.
    • Update your resume and start applying for LPN jobs in your area. Make sure to include accurate information about your LPN license so that prospective employers know you have the right credentials.

    That's all there is to it! In about a year's time, you can embark on a rewarding career as an LPN.

  • Work Environments - With a valid LPN license, you can find employment at a number of different places. Contrary to popular belief, LPNs don't exclusively work in nursing homes. Some of the most common work environments for LPNs in the United States include:

    • Nursing homes and other residential care facilities - The majority of LPNs work in assisted living centers and other residential care facilities, and this will continue to be the case for the foreseeable future. In fact, as baby boomers continue to age, there should be an uptick in demand for LPNs at nursing homes.
    • Hospitals - LPNs assist nurses and doctors in private and public hospitals around the country.
    • Doctor's offices - Many private doctor's offices employ LPNs.
    • Home health care - Increasingly, LPNs are finding jobs at home health care agencies, which are experiencing a surge in business due to the aging population.
  • Job Outlook - Before investing time and money into becoming an LPN, it's wise to ensure that you will be able to find work. Fortunately, there's nothing to worry about in that department. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the field is expected to grow by 16 percent from 2014 through 2024. As of 2014, there were approximately 719,900 LPN jobs in the country. By 2024, an additional 117,300 will be added. This rate of growth is much faster than that of most other fields, so there is no doubt that LPNs' job outlook is exceptional. Although LPNs are in higher demand in some parts of the country than in others, they can generally find jobs just about anywhere.

  • Average Salary - What kind of return can you expect to get from your investment in LPN training? With an LPN license, you will be eligible for positions that pay far above minimum wage. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median pay for LPNs in 2016 was $44,090, which is equal to around $21.20 per hour. The lowest 10 percent earned median pay of $36,510 while the top 10 percent earned median pay of $60,420.

    Compensation for LPNs often varies by work environment, so it helps to know what kind of pay to expect based on where you find work. Typical median salaries for LPNs in the following sectors in 2014 are as follows:

    • Doctor's offices - $39,990
    • Hospitals - $42,660
    • Nursing homes - $45,200
    • Government facilities - $45,620
  • Career Advancement - By earning an LPN license now, you can set the stage for a lifetime of exciting career opportunities. While many LPNs choose to remain in the profession permanently, plenty of others use it as a stepping stone to more advanced roles. In particular, LPNs are wise to consider advancing their educations to become registered nurses. This can be done by either earning an associate degree in nursing, or ADN, or a bachelor of science in nursing, or BSN. The former takes around two years, and the latter takes around four.

    Should you elect to earn a BSN, you can later move into an area of specialization if you so choose. From there, you can enroll in a BSN-to-MSN bridge program to earn your master of science in nursing with a specialization more quickly. With this step, you can move into advanced practice nursing, become a nurse practitioner or follow many other exciting paths.

Is a career as an LPN right for you? It is if you want to break into the field of nursing as quickly and easily as possible. While the training is often intense, it will be over before you know it. With your LPN license in hand, you will be able to take your pick from many exciting job opportunities.