LPN Career Outlook

Licensed Practical Nurse/Licensed Vocational Nurse (LPN/LVN)

The field of nursing is divided into three distinct types of nurse, based on schooling and training. While the most prevalent and well-known degree and title is registered nurse (RN), there are in fact other types of nurses, including Licensed Practical Nurses (LPN) and Licensed Vocational Nurses (LVN).

The titles “licensed practical nurse” (LPN) and “licensed vocational nurse” (LVN) are two names for the same occupation. LPN/LVNs are concerned with basic patient care, and are almost always under the supervision of doctors or RNs. The range of responsibilities of LPN/LVNs is far less than that of RNs, and is usually restricted to routine bedside duties such as delivering medications, assisting patients with simple activities such as eating, bathing and using bedpans, and taking and recording patients' vital signs.

Resources in this Article

Education & Training for Licensed Practical Nurse/Licensed Vocational Nurse

The LPN/LVN degree can be earned with about one year of schooling in a practical nursing program. There are currently about 1,200 accredited LVN/LPN programs in practical nursing in the U.S., including community colleges, vocational colleges, and online colleges.

In all 50 states and the District of Columbia, once the LVN/LPN student has graduated from an approved practical nursing program, he or she must then pass the NCLEX (National Council Licensure Examination), a national examination, in order to obtain a nursing license. Most states also have their own additional requirements beyond these national requirements. In addition to passing the NCLEX, for example, LVN/LPNs must be licensed by the state in which they will practice.

Although requirements vary from state to state, licensed LPNs and LVNs for the most part qualify for entry-level positions as staff nurses as well as many other positions. There are also numerous opportunities to move beyond these basic degree programs, as there are currently more than 674 accredited nursing programs that offer a four-year course of study culminating in a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree, about 417 nursing schools currently offer master's degrees in nursing, and 93 schools that offer nursing doctoral degrees.

Find the right nursing degree for your career goals. Find all nursing schools..

Explore Career Opportunities for LPNs/LVNs

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that employment opportunities for nurses of all varieties, including LVN/LPNs, is expected to grow “much faster than average for all occupations” during the upcoming decade.

According the U.S. Department of Labor, approximately 726,000 individuals were employed as LVN/LPNs in 2004. Nearly one-quarter of these worked in hospitals, another quarter in nursing care facilities, and about 12 percent in doctors' offices. The average annual salary for LVN/LPNs in 2004 was $33,970, with a range running from a low of about $24,500 to a high of over $46,000.

Once one has attained a nursing degree as an LPN or LVN, many choose a specific area of interest in which to specialize. Among the most popular specialty LPN/LVN careers:

LPN or LVN to RN
These college programs allow the LVN/LPN to obtain the more advanced degree of registered nurse.

Nursing Care Facility
LVN/LPNs who choose this occupation care for institutionalized elderly patients.

Posted in Nursing Employment, Nursing Salaries  |  Leave a comment