Job Outlook for a Licensed Practical Nurse
A great way to get the ball rolling on a career in nursing is by becoming a licensed practical nurse, or LPN. Training can typically be completed in a year, and the cost is typically quite affordable. Of course, there is no point in going through the training if you'll struggle to find employment. Fortunately, that shouldn't be an issue. As has been the case for many years now, job outlook for LPNs continues to look great. In fact, it is likely to get even better in the years to come.
Current Job Outlook for LPNs
To understand current job prospects for LPNs, it helps to understand how many such jobs currently exist and how many are projected to be created over the next several years. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), there were around 719,900 LPN jobs in the U.S. in 2014. The BLS projects that around 117,300 new LPN jobs will be added by the year 2024 - which will bring the total to more than 837,000. This represents a growth rate of around 16 percent, which is far, far faster than the projected growth rate of most industries.
Top Factors Affecting LPN Job Outlook
Thousands of LPNs are already employed in the United States. Why will so many more LPN jobs be added in the next handful of years? Many factors are responsible for this phenomenon, including:
- Aging Population - One of the top reasons for the huge spike in demand for LPNs around the country is the rapidly aging Baby Boomer population. This massive group is heading into their elder years - which means that there will be more demand for senior care services and the like.
- Health Insurance Reform - Thanks to health insurance reform, which continues to be an ongoing process, more people have access to coverage than ever. This means that people are more likely to visit the doctor, so there is more work for LPNs.
- Preventive Care - The rise of health insurance reform has prompted a surge in demand for preventive care services. As a result, more otherwise well people are going in for checkups than at any time in recent memory. This means that clinics and doctor's offices are busier, so the staff needs more support.
To a lesser extent, the increased demand for LPNs is also related to the recovering economy. During the downturn, hospitals and other employers pared way back on the number of LPNs that they employed. Now that things have turned around and the economy is on an upswing, employers are more willing to hire.
Top Places of Employment for LPNs
One reason that job outlook for LPNs is so strong is that they are hired by such a diverse array of employers. It's easy to assume that most LPNs work in hospitals, but they are actually far more frequently employed by nursing homes and other senior living facilities.
The job outlook for LPNs should be especially good across the following work environments:
- Nursing Homes - Nursing homes, assisted living centers, and other senior care facilities are far and away the top employers of LPNs and LVNs in the United States. The majority of the growth in this field will occur at facilities like these due to the quickly aging population of Baby Boomers. This is true throughout the country.
- Doctor's Offices - Now that the economy is improving, more LPNs are finding work at clinics and private doctor's offices. Still, this remains one of the least common work environments for LPNs.
- Hospitals - The second largest employer of LPNs, hospitals continue to provide plenty of jobs for these professionals and should continue to do so well into the future.
- Outpatient Centers - Thanks to advances in technology and techniques, many procedures that once required hospital stays can be handled on an outpatient basis. LPNs are popularly hired by outpatient medical centers, including surgical centers, to provide practical, basic care to patients.
Top States to Find Jobs as an LPN
LPNs can easily find work across all 50 states, but demand is higher in some areas than in others. As a result, there may be better opportunities or higher compensation in such areas. Currently, demand for qualified LPNs is highest in these states:
Since demand for LPNs is high across the country, there's no real need to relocate to find employment. Still, in areas where demand is particularly high, compensation tends to be far more competitive. If you want to keep working as an LPN, but want more pay, relocating to one of these areas may be the answer.
In 2017, the top three states for finding employment as an LPN were Texas, Florida, and California. Please note that just because demand is high in these states doesn't mean that pay is high too. It is still important to do plenty of research to determine whether or not LPN jobs in different parts of the country offer enough compensation.
Career Advancement Opportunities and Outlook for LPNs
In addition to having a very rosy job outlook for the foreseeable future, LPNs have the advantage of being able to progress into more advanced roles in this career. This usually begins with acquiring different specialty certifications to qualify for better jobs and better pay. As an LPN, you can always earn your ADN or BSN to become an RN, which qualifies you for better compensation and more exciting advancement opportunities. Even if you are happy working as an LPN, it is reassuring to know that if the economy and job market change, you can always go back to school to progress into more advanced nursing roles. Either way, though, you shouldn't have to worry about staying employed as an LPN.
Many things compel people to become LPNs, but job security is chief among them. Knowing that you will always be able to find gainful employment regardless of where you live is incredibly comforting. Better still, as an LPN, you will always be able to further your education to become an RN should you decide to do so.