Licensed Practical and Licensed Vocational Nurses

Career, Salary and Education Information

Following is everything you need to know about a career as a licensed practical or vocational nurse with lots of details. As a first step, take a look at some of the following jobs, which are real jobs with real employers. You will be able to see the very real job career requirements for employers who are actively hiring. The link will open in a new tab so that you can come back to this page to continue reading about the career:

Top 3 Licensed Practical Nurse Jobs

  • Licensed Practical Nurse - Community Care Network - Rutland, VT

    This position is eligible for our full array of benefits. Vermont LPN license and 10 years required. Experience with Trach management, suctioning

  • Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) - Pediatric Home Service - Saint Cloud, MN

    What you do: • Make a difference while utilizing your sophisticated nursing skills with high-tech & complex pediatric patients • Develop

  • LICENSED PRACTICAL NURSE - LTC - South Peninsula Hospital - Homer, AK

    This person takes as active role in planning resident care and ensures the quality of care given to the resident. The LPN/RN may function in the role

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Top 3 Licensed Vocational Nurse Jobs

See all Licensed Vocational Nurse jobs

What Licensed Practical and Licensed Vocational Nurses Do[About this section] [To Top]

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

Duties of Licensed Practical and Licensed Vocational Nurses

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 supervise and direct other LPNs or LVNs and unlicensed medical staff.

Work Environment for Licensed Practical and Licensed Vocational Nurses[About this section] [To Top]

Licensed practical and licensed vocational nurses hold about 724,500 jobs. The largest employers of licensed practical and licensed vocational nurses are as follows:

Nursing and residential care facilities 38%
Hospitals; state, local, and private 16
Offices of physicians 13
Home healthcare services 12
Government 7

Nurses must often be on their feet for much of the day. They are vulnerable to back injuries, because they may have to lift patients who have trouble moving in bed, standing, or walking. These duties can be stressful, as can dealing with ill and injured people.

Licensed Practical and Licensed Vocational Nurse Work Schedules

Most licensed practical and licensed vocational nurses (LPNs and LVNs) work full time, although about 1 in 5 work part time. Many work nights, weekends, and holidays, because medical care takes place at all hours. They may be required to work shifts of longer than 8 hours.

How to Become a Licensed Practical or Licensed Vocational Nurse[About this section] [To Top]

Get the education you need: Find schools for Licensed Practical and Licensed Vocational Nurses near you!

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

Education for Licensed Practical and Licensed Vocational Nurses

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 for Licensed Practical and Licensed Vocational Nurses

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 intravenous (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).

Advancement for Licensed Practical and Licensed Vocational Nurses

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.

Important Qualities for Licensed Practical and Licensed Vocational Nurses

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 communicate effectively. For example, they may need to relay information about a patient's current condition to a registered nurse.

Licensed Practical and Licensed Vocational Nurse Salaries[About this section] [More salary/earnings info] [To Top]

The median annual wage for licensed practical and licensed vocational nurses is $44,090. The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $32,510, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $60,420.

The median annual wages for licensed practical and licensed vocational nurses in the top industries in which they work are as follows:

Government $45,620
Nursing and residential care facilities 45,300
Home healthcare services 44,510
Hospitals; state, local, and private 42,660
Offices of physicians 39,990

Most licensed practical and licensed vocational nurses (LPNs and LVNs) work full time, although about 1 in 5 work part time. Many work nights, weekends, and holidays, because medical care takes place at all hours. They may be required to work shifts of longer than 8 hours.

Job Outlook for Licensed Practical and Licensed Vocational Nurses[About this section] [To Top]

Employment of licensed practical and licensed vocational nurses (LPNs and LVNs) is projected to grow 12 percent over the next ten years, faster than the average for all occupations.

As the baby-boom population ages, the overall need for healthcare services is expected to increase. LPNs and LVNs will be needed in residential care facilities and in home health environments to care for older patients.

A number of chronic conditions, such as diabetes and obesity, have become more prevalent in recent years. LPNs and LVNs will be needed to assist and care for patients with chronic conditions in skilled nursing and other extended care facilities. In addition, many procedures that once could be done only in hospitals are now being done outside of hospitals, creating demand in other settings, such as outpatient care centers.

See all nursing jobs.

Job Prospects for Licensed Practical and Licensed Vocational Nurses

Job prospects should be favorable for LPNs and LVNs who are willing to work in rural and medically underserved areas. Employers also may prefer candidates who have certification in a specialty area such as gerontology or intravenous (IV) therapy.

Employment projections data for Licensed Practical and Licensed Vocational Nurses, 2016-26
Occupational Title Employment, 2016 Projected Employment, 2026 Change, 2016-26
Percent Numeric
Licensed practical and licensed vocational nurses 724,500 813,100 12 88,600


*Some content used by permission of the Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor.

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