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Average Starting Salaries For LPN's

By: Kelly McCloskey

What is an LPN and What Do They Do?

Outlook Very Good
Salary Range $32,510 - $60,420
Data Source: US Dept. of Labor

A licensed practical and licensed vocational nurse, is a trained health care professional who helps patients and their families through treatment, preventative care and with their overall health issues. LPNs/LVNs work along side as well as under the supervision of physicians and Registered Nurses (RN) and they may supervise Nursing Aides and other hospital care staff. LPNs play a vital role in patient care and are often part of the front line of medical staff a patient sees upon entering a hospital, nursing home or doctor's office.

Among the duties these professionals routinely perform, basic patient care is by far the most common. They are responsible for recording a patient's vital signs as well as taking health history and details for new patients. Often they will also speak to a patient and their family about ongoing and preventative care and, in that way, these nurses act not only as a health care provider, but also as an educator. Since these nurses are so versatile, they are able to work in almost any healthcare or medical setting. Whether the employment opportunities come from a hospital, nursing home, assisted care facility, physician's office or home health care service, LPNs are able to rise to the challenge.

Industry Salary Levels for LPN's

Since LPN's work in such a wide variety of healthcare fields, their yearly salaries reflect this. According to the US Dept. of Labor:

  1. The * average yearly salary for all LPNs was $44,090 yearly, or $21.20 per hour.
  2. This reflects a range of salaries, with the bottom 10% of LPNs earning $32,510 yearly ($15.63 per hour)
  3. and
  4. The top 10% earning around $60,420 annually ($29.05 hourly). This range in pay scales reflects how an a licensed practical nurse can earn more in certain work environments as well as their earning power after being in the career for a few years.

For example, Nursing Homes and other similar ongoing care facilities employ 12.91% of all LPNs nationwide and pay, on average, $46,020 a year, or $22.12 per hour. Meanwhile, Physician offices employ nearly 3.71 % of all LPNs and pay an average of $41,720 per year, or $20.06 annually.

Starting Salary Levels vs. Experienced LPN

A Licensed Practical Nurse fresh out of school can, on average, expect to earn $12-20 per hour but those payscale expectations can jump dramatically year by year.

An LPN with five years worth of experience can then expect up to $23 per hour and, a few years later can expect to earn at the higher end of the national scale which hovers around $25 per hour. 

Top 5 Paying States

Geography can also have an impact on an LPN's earning power so if you can re-locate even better.

  1. In 2016, Connecticut topped the list of states offering top pay for these nurses with a statewide average of $55,720 annually.
  2. Rhode Island paying $55,410
  3. Disrict of Columbia $55,200
  4. Massachussetts $55,190
  5. Alaska $53,760

2 Ways to Make You More Valuable and Profitable

One of the basic ways LPNs increase their overall earning power is simply by putting in the time in order to gain experience. An licenced practical/vocational nurse who has worked for 10 years will undoubtedly be a more valuable employee than one fresh out of school if only because he or she has experience with a wide variety of patients and medical emergencies, making them overall more knowledgeable.

  1. LPNs can also specialize in a niche area of medicine in order to make more money or simply have more to offer a prospective employer. Some LPNs begin to specialize in elderly care as they take an interest in working with Alzheimer's patients or dealing with the special challenges associated with other diseases of dementia.

  2. Secondly, LPNs can increase their overall earning potential by building on their degree and furthering their education to earn a degree as a Registered Nurse (RN). Still others, move on to nursing education once they have earned their Masters Degree in Nursing. This is one of the ways in which a career in Nursing can offer increased flexibility as many professionals choose to advance their career and earnings while still working in their chosen field.

* U.S. Department of Labor, “Occupational Outlook Handbook”, (May 2016), http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes292061.htm.


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