What Are the Education Requirements for LPNs?

Licensed practical nurses (LPNs) typically need a diploma or certificate in the subject. Additionally, they need to become licensed. Read on to learn more about the requirements for these programs and licensure.

Job Description

LPNs, also called licensed vocational nurses (LVNs), can work in doctor's offices, medical centers, senior-living facilities or convalescent homes. Under the supervision of a physician or nurse, an LPN can take samples, distribute medication, record vital signs and help with everyday activities, such as bathing, feeding or dressing.

Important Facts About LPNs

On-the-Job Training None required; work experience required for advancement
Key Skills Patience, detail oriented, interpersonal, compassionate, physically fit, clear written and spoken communication
Work Environment Hospitals, physicians' offices, nursing homes, extended care facilities, private homes
Similar Occupations Registered nurses, occupational therapy assistants and aides, nursing assistants and orderlies, psychiatric technicians and aides, surgical technologists

Educational Programs

Community colleges, junior colleges and technical schools offer practical or vocational nursing certificate programs. Practical or vocational nursing programs usually last one year and prepare you to take the National Council Licensure Examination for Practical Nurses (NCLEX-PN). The curriculum for these programs also includes clinical instruction, where you can gain experience by working in the field.

Entrance Requirements

While earning your high school diploma is essential before applying to a practical nursing program, it's also important to do well in specific courses. Nursing programs may require that your high school transcripts show a grade of C or higher in math, biology, science, computer science and English. When applying, you may also want to list any pertinent work or volunteer experience.

Some programs also require that you take the COMPASS test, which the American College Test Program (ACT) administers to evaluate your skills in math, reading and writing (www.act.org). The math test covers basic algebra, geometry and trigonometry, while the writing section focuses on grammar, punctuation and sentence structure. The reading section covers humanities, social studies, the sciences and fiction. You may need to score a C or higher on the COMPASS test to gain acceptance into a program.

Prerequisite Courses

Before you begin your program's nursing courses, you may need to complete prerequisites. These often include courses in math, psychology, anatomy, chemistry, physiology, English, computer concepts and microbiology. You usually have to pass these classes with a specific GPA to continue to the specialty courses.

Core Courses

The program usually offers advanced courses in pediatric, surgical and clinical nursing. In surgical nursing, you learn to work as part of a surgical team. Clinical nursing studies emphasize data collection, patient communications and the safe distribution of medications. Specific topics you might study include:

  • Practical nursing theory
  • Pharmacology
  • Medical terminology
  • Human development
  • Adult care

Licensure Requirements

After graduation, you must submit an application to your state board of nursing in order to qualify to take the NCLEX-PN with an authorization to test (ATT). The National Council of State Boards of Nursing provides you with exam places, dates and other information through its candidate bulletin (www.ncsbn.org).

After taking and passing the NCLEX-PN, you'll be licensed to be an LPN in your state. If you do not pass the exam, you must contact your state board to let them know that you need to re-take the exam. After you become licensed, you may also choose to pursue certification in a specialty, such as gerontology.

Employment Outlook and Salary Info

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), job growth for LPNs and LVNs will be much faster than average over the 2014-2024 period (www.bls.gov). The 16% employment growth is expected to result in 117,300 new jobs over that period. Chronic health conditions and the aging population both contribute to demand for more healthcare services. Prospects will also be good because many in the profession will be retiring. In May 2014, LPNs and LVNs earned average wages of $43,420, reported the BLS.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

The schools in the listing below are not free and may include sponsored content but are popular choices among our users. Tuition and costs will vary across programs and locations. Be sure to always request tuition information before starting a program.

Popular Schools

  • Strayer University

    Strayer University responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Strayer University:

    • Master
    • Bachelor Degrees
    • Associate Programs
    • Certificates

    Online Programs Available

  • Saint Leo University

    Saint Leo University responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Saint Leo University:

    • Doctoral
    • Master
    • Bachelor Degrees
    • Associate Programs

    Online Programs Available

  • The George Washington University

    The George Washington University responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at The George Washington University:

    • Master
    • Bachelor Degrees

    Online Programs Available

  • Ashford University

    Ashford University responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Ashford University:

    Online Programs Available

  • Purdue University Global

    Purdue University Global responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Purdue University Global:

    Online Programs Available

  • Capella University

    Capella University responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Capella University:

    • Doctoral
    • Master
    • Bachelor Degrees

    Online Programs Available

  • Grand Canyon University

    Grand Canyon University responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Grand Canyon University:

    • Doctoral
      • DBA in Management
    • Master
    • Bachelor Degrees

    Online Programs Available

  • Southern New Hampshire University

    Southern New Hampshire University responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Southern New Hampshire University:

    • Master
    • Bachelor Degrees
    • Associate Programs

    Online Programs Available

  • Full Sail University

    Full Sail University responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Full Sail University:

    Online Programs Available

  • American University

    American University responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at American University:

    • Master

    Online Programs Available

  1. 1
  2. 2
  3. 3
  4. Next »