How Long Does IT Take to Become a Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN)?

Practical nursing programs may be completed in approximately one year of full-time enrollment and include classes and internships in hospitals or nursing homes. Your training will also prepare you to sit for the National Council Licensure Examination for Practical Nursing (NCLEX-PN) to become a licensed practical nurse (LPN). Schools offering Nursing degrees can also be found in these popular choices.


Full-time licensed practical nurse (LPN) training programs typically take around 12 months to complete. These programs are available from many community colleges, vocational schools, and universities, and they may range from 43-72 credit hours. Most programs include a combination of classroom and clinical work.

Upon completion of a program, students are awarded a certificate in practical nursing and are qualified to take state exams and the NCLEX-PN. All states require you to pass the NCLEX-PN to become a licensed practical nurse.

Important Facts about this Occupation

Average Salary (2014) $43,420
Job Outlook (2012-2022) 25% projected growth in employment (faster than average)
Key Skills Skilled at: compassion, attention to detail, working with people, patience, communication
Similar Occupations Registered Nurses, Nursing Assistants, Physical Therapist Assistants, Psychiatric Technicians, Surgical Technologists

Source: US Bureau of Labor Statistics


Requirements for admission to an LPN training program vary by state and by school, but you typically must hold a high school diploma or have passed the General Educational Development (GED) exam. State requirements often include a drug test, up-to-date immunizations, and a tuberculosis (TB) screening. Additional requirements from individual schools may include:

  • Prerequisite courses in biology or math
  • Certified Nurse Aide (CNA) licensure and/or completion of a Nursing Assistant program
  • Physical exam administered by a licensed doctor
  • Criminal background check
  • Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) certification

Coursework and Practical Rotations

Most LPN programs include general education classes, such as composition and psychology. You also usually take core classes in anatomy and physiology, which include lab components. Coursework may also cover maternal and child health, mental health, pharmacology, and the role of the LPN on the health care team. You'll also spend a significant number of hours practicing in a hospital, clinic, nursing home, or health facility as part of the clinical rotation requirement.

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