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Working as a Licensed Practical Nurse

A licensed practical nurse, also known as an LPN, works in a healthcare setting. Their responsibilities range from providing routine care to taking note of patients' health. The LPN is super-important to each patient's visit.

LPNs also serve a critical role in helping doctors and registered nurses when needed. Sometimes, as an LPN, you'll have to explain a lot, including medication, home-based care, and preventative lifestyle changes

While, you'll probably work a full-time schedule, it may look a little wonky. Some days you might work a shift that's longer than 8 hours or you might have to take a weekend or night shift. The schooling it takes to become an LPN isn't that long, in fact, most LPN programs take a year to complete.

What Does a Licensed Practical Nurse Do

Licensed practical nurses (LPNs) and licensed vocational nurses (LVNs) provide basic medical care. They work under the direction of registered nurses and doctors.

Duties

Licensed practical and licensed vocational nurses typically do the following:

  • Monitor patients’ health—for example, by checking their blood pressure
  • Administer basic patient care, including changing bandages and inserting catheters
  • Provide for the basic comfort of patients, such as helping them bathe or dress
  • Discuss the care they are providing with patients and listen to their concerns
  • Report patients’ status and concerns to registered nurses and doctors
  • Keep records on patients’ health

Duties of LPNs and LVNs vary, depending on their work setting and the state in which they work. For example, they may reinforce teaching done by registered nurses regarding how family members should care for a relative; help to deliver, care for, and feed infants; collect samples for testing and do routine laboratory tests; or feed patients who need help eating.

LPNs and LVNs may be limited to doing certain tasks, depending on the state where they work. For example, in some states, LPNs with proper training can give medication or start intravenous (IV) drips, but in other states LPNs cannot perform these tasks. State regulations also govern the extent to which LPNs and LVNs must be directly supervised. For example, an LPN may provide certain forms of care only with instructions from a registered nurse.

In some states, experienced licensed practical and licensed vocational nurses oversee and direct other LPNs or LVNs and unlicensed medical staff.

How To Become a Licensed Practical Nurse

Becoming a licensed practical or licensed vocational nurse (LPN or LVN) requires completing an approved educational program. LPNs and LVNs also must have a license.

Education

LPNs and LVNs must complete an approved educational program. These programs award a certificate or diploma and typically take about 1 year to complete, but may take longer. They are commonly found in technical schools and community colleges, although some programs may be available in high schools or hospitals.

Practical nursing programs combine classroom learning in subjects such as nursing, biology, and pharmacology. All programs also include supervised clinical experience.

Contact state boards of nursing for lists of approved programs.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

After completing a state-approved educational program, prospective LPNs and LVNs can take the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-PN). In all states, they must pass the exam to get a license and work as an LPN or LVN. For more information on the NCLEX-PN examination and a list of state boards of nursing, visit the National Council of State Boards of Nursing.

LPNs and LVNs may choose to become certified through professional associations in areas such as gerontology and IV therapy. Certifications show that an LPN or LVN has an advanced level of knowledge about a specific subject.

In addition, employers may prefer to hire candidates who are trained to provide cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR).

Important Qualities

Compassion. Licensed practical and licensed vocational nurses must be empathetic and caring toward the people they serve.

Detail oriented. LPNs and LVNs need to be responsible and detail oriented, because they must make sure that patients get the correct care at the right time.

Interpersonal skills. Interacting with patients and other healthcare providers is a big part of their jobs, so LPNs and LVNs need good interpersonal skills.

Patience. Dealing with sick and injured people may be stressful. LPNs and LVNs should be patient, so they can cope with any stress that stems from providing care to these patients.

Physical stamina. LPNs and LVNs should be comfortable performing physical tasks, such as bending over patients for a long time.

Speaking skills. It is important that LPNs and LVNs be able to communicate effectively. For example, they may need to relay information about a patient’s current condition to a registered nurse.

Advancement

With experience, licensed practical and licensed vocational nurses may advance to supervisory positions. Some LPNs and LVNs advance to other healthcare occupations. For example, an LPN may complete a LPN to RN education program to become a registered nurse.

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Average Salary$46,271
Job Growth Rate11%

Licensed Practical Nurse Career Paths

Top Careers Before Licensed Practical Nurse

Top Careers After Licensed Practical Nurse

Nurse
8.7 %

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Average Salary for a Licensed Practical Nurse

Licensed Practical Nurses in America make an average salary of $46,271 per year or $22 per hour. The top 10 percent makes over $61,000 per year, while the bottom 10 percent under $34,000 per year.
Average Salary
$46,271

Best Paying Cities

City
Average Salary
Boston, MA
Salary Range40k - 62k$50k$50,099
Rochester, NH
Salary Range39k - 61k$50k$49,571
Richmond, CA
Salary Range40k - 60k$49k$49,424
Portland, ME
Salary Range39k - 61k$49k$49,313
Springfield, OR
Salary Range37k - 60k$48k$47,933
New York, NY
Salary Range37k - 59k$47k$47,458
$33k
$62k

Recently Added Salaries

Job TitleCompanyCompanyStart DateSalary
Psych LPN
General Healthcare Resources
General Healthcare Resources
01/31/2021
01/31/2021
$56,34901/31/2021
$56,349
LTC LPN
LTC LPN
General Healthcare Resources
General Healthcare Resources
01/31/2021
01/31/2021
$58,43601/31/2021
$58,436
Cross Country Medical Staffing Network
Licensed Practical Nurse-LPN Long Term Care-LTC
Licensed Practical Nurse-LPN Long Term Care-LTC
Cross Country Medical Staffing Network
Cross Country Medical Staffing Network
01/30/2021
01/30/2021
$52,17501/30/2021
$52,175
Aveanna Healthcare
Licensed Vocational Nurse
Licensed Vocational Nurse
Aveanna Healthcare
Aveanna Healthcare
01/30/2021
01/30/2021
$50,08801/30/2021
$50,088
Licensed Practical Nurse
Licensed Practical Nurse
Commonwealth of Pennsylvania
Commonwealth of Pennsylvania
01/30/2021
01/30/2021
$48,19601/30/2021
$48,196
See More Recent Salaries

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Licensed Practical Nurse Resumes

Designing and figuring out what to include on your resume can be tough, not to mention time-consuming. That's why we put together a guide that is designed to help you craft the perfect resume for becoming a Licensed Practical Nurse. If you're needing extra inspiration, take a look through our selection of templates that are specific to your job.

Learn How To Write a Licensed Practical Nurse Resume

At Zippia, we went through countless Licensed Practical Nurse resumes and compiled some information about how best to optimize them. Here are some suggestions based on what we found, divided by the individual sections of the resume itself.

View Detailed Information

Licensed Practical Nurse Demographics

Gender

female

81.9 %

male

12.5 %

unknown

5.6 %

Ethnicity

White

61.0 %

Hispanic or Latino

15.0 %

Black or African American

14.8 %

Foreign Languages Spoken

Spanish

72.5 %

French

8.0 %

Tagalog

3.6 %
See More Demographics

Licensed Practical Nurse Education

Degrees

Associate

29.1 %

License

25.8 %

Diploma

17.0 %

Top Colleges for Licensed Practical Nurses

1. Emory University

Atlanta, GA • Private

In-State Tuition
$51,306
Enrollment
6,975

2. SUNY Farmingdale

Farmingdale, NY • Public

In-State Tuition
$8,306
Enrollment
9,394

3. New York University

New York, NY • Private

In-State Tuition
$51,828
Enrollment
26,339

4. Maria College of Albany

Albany, NY • Private

In-State Tuition
$15,140
Enrollment
876

5. Clarkson College

Omaha, NE • Private

In-State Tuition
$13,392
Enrollment
646

6. Inter American University of Puerto Rico Ponce

Mercedita, PR • Private

In-State Tuition
$5,914
Enrollment
4,155

7. SUNY at Buffalo

Buffalo, NY • Public

In-State Tuition
$10,099
Enrollment
21,404

8. Inter American University of Puerto Rico Arecibo

Arecibo, PR • Private

In-State Tuition
$5,872
Enrollment
3,553

9. Inter American University of Puerto Rico Bayamon

Bayamon, PR • Private

In-State Tuition
$5,940
Enrollment
4,169

10. Vermont Technical College

Randolph, VT • Public

In-State Tuition
$15,108
Enrollment
1,350
See More Education Info
Job type you want
Full Time
Part Time
Internship
Temporary

Top Skills For a Licensed Practical Nurse

The skills section on your resume can be almost as important as the experience section, so you want it to be an accurate portrayal of what you can do. Luckily, we've found all of the skills you'll need so even if you don't have these skills yet, you know what you need to work on. Out of all the resumes we looked through, 21.9% of licensed practical nurses listed lpn on their resume, but soft skills such as interpersonal skills and speaking skills are important as well.

Best States For a Licensed Practical Nurse

Some places are better than others when it comes to starting a career as a licensed practical nurse. The best states for people in this position are Hawaii, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and New Hampshire. Licensed practical nurses make the most in Hawaii with an average salary of $58,592. Whereas in Massachusetts and Rhode Island, they would average $49,956 and $49,847, respectively. While licensed practical nurses would only make an average of $49,626 in New Hampshire, you would still make more there than in the rest of the country. We determined these as the best states based on job availability and pay. By finding the median salary, cost of living, and using the Bureau of Labor Statistics' Location Quotient, we narrowed down our list of states to these four.

1. Maine

Total Licensed Practical Nurse Jobs:
1,371
Highest 10% Earn:
$73,000
Location Quotient:
2.38
Location Quotient is a measure used by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) to determine how concentrated a certain industry is in a single state compared to the nation as a whole. You can read more about how BLS calculates location quotients here

2. New Hampshire

Total Licensed Practical Nurse Jobs:
1,391
Highest 10% Earn:
$75,000
Location Quotient:
1.54
Location Quotient is a measure used by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) to determine how concentrated a certain industry is in a single state compared to the nation as a whole. You can read more about how BLS calculates location quotients here

3. Vermont

Total Licensed Practical Nurse Jobs:
722
Highest 10% Earn:
$73,000
Location Quotient:
2.08
Location Quotient is a measure used by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) to determine how concentrated a certain industry is in a single state compared to the nation as a whole. You can read more about how BLS calculates location quotients here
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How Do Licensed Practical Nurse Rate Their Jobs?

Zippia Official Logo

2.0

LpnSeptember +0000

2.0

Zippia Official LogoLpnSeptember +0000

What do you like the most about working as Licensed Practical Nurse?

Not much little freedom and talk to degraded by RNs on a regular basis. They have to sign off on all your work. Management does little about this because they have to keep Rn over Lpn. Show More

What do you NOT like?

Above says it all cant wait to be rn Show More

Zippia Official Logo

4.0

PediatricMarch +0000

4.0

Zippia Official LogoPediatricMarch +0000

What do you like the most about working as Licensed Practical Nurse?

Working with children and families most state regulations that inhibit the best care for patients from getting the least prohibitive care necessary for the best outcomes of treatment

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Top Licensed Practical Nurse Employers

We've made finding a great employer to work for easy by doing the hard work for you. We looked into employers that employ licensed practical nurses and discovered their number of licensed practical nurse opportunities and average salary. Through our research, we concluded that Maxim Healthcare Services was the best, especially with an average salary of $53,348. Golden Living follows up with an average salary of $50,712, and then comes Interim Healthcare with an average of $50,303. In addition, we know most people would rather work from home. So instead of having to change careers, we identified the best employers for remote work as a licensed practical nurse. The employers include Cigna, Saint Luke's Health System, and Matrix Medical Network

1. Maxim Healthcare Services
4.5
Avg. Salary: 
$53,348
Licensed Practical Nurses Hired: 
4,506+
2. Golden Living
4.2
Avg. Salary: 
$50,712
Licensed Practical Nurses Hired: 
1,370+
3. Interim Healthcare
4.4
Avg. Salary: 
$50,303
Licensed Practical Nurses Hired: 
1,187+
4. Kaiser Permanente
4.7
Avg. Salary: 
$46,203
Licensed Practical Nurses Hired: 
998+
5. United States Army
4.0
Avg. Salary: 
$46,787
Licensed Practical Nurses Hired: 
996+
6. Epic Health Services
3.9
Avg. Salary: 
$53,197
Licensed Practical Nurses Hired: 
846+

Licensed Practical Nurse Videos

Updated October 2, 2020