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LPN Career Factsheet

By: Kelly McCloskey

Professional Profile
# of people in profession 702,400
Avg. hrs per week 32-40 hrs
*75th percentile earn $51,220
Average Income $44,090
25th percentile earn $37,040
Education Associates Degree.

Alternate Titles: Licensed Practical Nurse, Licensed Vocational Nurse.

What is an LPN?

A Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) works with patients to provide a caring and supportive environment in a number of different ways. These health professionals are incredibly versatile members of any patient's medical team. They are trained and certified by the state board and must complete their education, work in a hospital setting and pass a board exam before being able to gain employment. Depending on the situation and work environment, these qualified nurses can:

  • Gather patient health information
  • Take vital signs
  • Prepare and deliver injections
  • Provide patients and their families with health education
  • Collect samples and perform many routine lab tests
  • Help care for and feed infants / Help new mothers
  • Supervise nursing assistants and aides

Licensed practical/vocational nurses can also help in other areas of supportive healthcare, including extensive nursing home work responsibilities. This can include anything from helping patients or residents with their own personal hygiene needs to discussing their ongoing care with their family. Many LPNs find work initially in nursing homes as nursing homes make an ideal initial employment opportunity. The environment allows new graduates to get a wide range of experience as the patient needs in a nursing home or assisted living situation are varied.

Video Career Profile

Education & Training Requirements

Licensed Practical Nurse education involves both classroom and on-the-job experience. A program through a vocational schools or nursing college is supplemented with a minimum of one year of study and training in a hospital setting. The coursework completed through school will cover all the basics of health care as well as specifics about anatomy, biology and physiology. The extra time spent training and learning in a hospital setting will allow students to see how their education is applied in a truly real world setting. All programs need to be accredited through the student's state Board of Nursing and then the student must pass the board exam before becoming fully licensed.

Salary Expectations and Future Job Prospects

With everything these nurses can do, they are able to work in a number of medical and health care settings. Hospitals, nursing homes, doctor's offices and home health care providers all routinely employ LPNs as part of their core care staff. The salary for an LPN can vary depending on the environment in which they work as well as their overall experience. According to the US Department of Labor, the average salary for an LPN nationwide is just over $44,090 per year, or roughly $21.20 per hour. As LPNs grow their skill set and gain more experience, this salary can grow accordingly.

As part of the medical and health care world, the career outlook for qualified LPNs/LVNs is rather good.  These nurses are in high demand in both the public and private sector.  The demand for LPNs is not expected to diminish anytime soon as the Baby Boomer generation approaches retirement and, eventually, looking into nursing homes or assisted living facilities.  This influx of new patients coupled with a general national interest in overall health and disease prevention results in a higher demand for many health care workers, including LPNs.  In fact, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics' 2016 Occupational Outlook Handbook the field of nursing for LPNs is expected to grow by 16% through 2024.   Overall, the outlook in terms of growth for LPNs exceeds to growth expectations for many other career choices.

*Source: Salary ranges obtained from : Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Employment and Wages 2016 for Licensed Practical and Licensed Vocational Nurses

For further career advice on the Licensed Practial Nurse Job Profile read our articles below:

Training LPNs
Training Process to Become an LPN
A look at how to become a licensed practical nurse, coursework involved and review of the LPN degree process.
Starting, Average and Top Paying Salaries for Licensed Practical Nurses
A guide to salary levels for LPN's including a realistic analysis of national pay scales, beginners pay and how to increase your overall worth to your employer an LPN.

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