LPN/LVN Degree Program

Entering Nursing Career

  • If you're not quite ready to jump into college coursework but want to enter the nursing field quickly, you can earn a certificate as a licensed practical nurse (LPN).
  • In California and Texas, a licensed vocational nurse (LVN) is the job title used. To earn your LPN/LVN certificate, you'll need to complete between one and two years of training at a trade school, community college or technical school.

What degree levels are available for LPN/LVN?

Unlike other nursing jobs, licensed practical and licensed vocational nurses are not required to hold a college degree. However, training is required from an accredited school resulting in a postsecondary non-degree award.

What certification will I need?

  • After completing your degree program, you'll need to take the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX).
  • In order to sit for the exam, you'll need to apply for a nursing license from your state board of nursing. Since each state has different eligibility criteria, check with your state board to ensure you've met the requirements in order to take the exam.

How long is a program?

  • Generally, most LPN/LVN programs take about a year, but some can be as short as seven months with others lasting 24 months.

Are online programs available?

Community colleges and vocational schools offer LPN/LVN programs, many of which are online. If you enroll in an online program, you will most likely do your clinical work at a local hospital coordinated by the school.

How much will my education cost?

  • Tuition for LPN/LVN programs usually start at the $2,000 range. Financial aid and grants are often offered by many of the schools making it easier to pay for your education.
  • If you decide in the future to go back to school to become an RN or to earn your bachelor's degree, many schools will give you credit for LPN coursework, saving you time. And, if you've racked up some LPN/LVN work experience, some schools will allow you to test out of certain classes, saving you money.

Are there prerequisites?

  • LPN/LVN programs at community colleges and vocational schools require candidates to have a high school diploma or equivalent.
  • Some schools and programs will also require candidates to pass an entrance exam so it's a good idea to confirm this when applying to programs.

What accreditation is there for my program?

  • Accreditation is a definitive way to know if a program meets nationally-recognized nursing education standards.
  • Independent accrediting organizations register schools once they've undergone a rigorous application process. Because these organizations stay up to date on state governments and health departments, they know whether a school or program provides the necessary training to an LPN/LVN student in their respective state.
  • For students, accreditation can help with financial aid eligibility. Earning a degree at one accredited school also allows a student to pursue further education at other accredited schools. Plus, if you move to another state, training from an accredited school can make getting a new license easier.
  • A quick tip: Accreditation isn't earned and maintained in perpetuity. Accreditations are usually given for a certain amount of time, usually between 5 and 10 years, and are different for each school. It's a good idea to check with your potential program about the length of time it's accredited for.
  • Main Accrediting Bodies are:
  1. The Accreditation Commission For Education in Nursing (ACEN), formerly NLNAC: Accredits the entire spectrum of nursing programs (associate's, diploma, bachelor's and master's)
  2. And one more thing:  State boards of nursing approve schools so they can prepare students for the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX).
  3. However, state board approval does not automatically equal school accreditation from one of the national organizations. While most accredited schools are state board-approved, it's always a good idea to check.
  • Non-accredited schools: 
  1. If you're thinking of attending a non-accredited, but state board-approved school, there can be drawbacks.
  2. While you can still take the NCLEX, your nursing profession may stall out if you're seeking additional education.
  3. Generally, education from a non-accredited school doesn't qualify students to attend an accredited school. 

LPN/LVN Salary and Job Growth

LPN and LVN salaries don't top the scale to start, but there are several ways to improve your earnings.

Median Annual Salary LPN/LVN Salary and Job Growth

  1. Although licensed practical and licensed vocational nurse jobs (LPNs/LVNs) don't pay as much as other nursing roles, the job can be incredibly rewarding and there's always room to grow with further education.
  2.   Median expected annual salary for LPNs/LVNs is $41,540. Actual salaries may vary greatly based on specialization within the field, location, years of experience and a variety of other factors.
  3.   Like other nursing jobs, an LPN/LVN's salary is often based on where exactly they work. According to the National Federation of Licensed Practical Nurses, large city hospitals will usually pay a higher salary than a nursing home.
    • And like most professions, salary is often commensurate with experience meaning the more you have, the chance for better pay. Keep in mind that if you find you're not happy with an LPN/LVN salary, you can always get the training and degree to become a registered nurse.

How do LPN-LVN salaries compare?

Nursing Career

Median annual Salary

Nursing Assistants and Orderlies

$24,400

Registered Nurses

$65,470

Medical Assistants

$29,370

Physical Therapist Assistants and Aides

$39,430

 

Is there demand for this career?

  • Without a doubt! Not only is the U.S. struggling with a nursing shortage, but as the population ages, LPNs are needed in nursing care facilities.
  • Additionally, technological advances have allowed many people to avoid long hospital stays and instead recover at home making home health care LPN/LVN jobs very necessary.
  • A "large number" of LPN/LVNs will retire in the next 10 years opening up plenty of job opportunities for those in LPN/LVN training.

What is the job growth for the field?

  • LPN/LVN employment will grow 25 percent through 2022, which is much faster than average. Be aware that national long-term projections of employment growth may not reflect local and/or short-term economic or job conditions. 
  • While there will always be a need for LPN/LVNs in hospitals, the amount of those jobs may lessen over time as more outpatient procedures occur or treatment is done in a doctor's office. On the other hand, home health care service is a large growth area for LPN jobs.

How much competition will I face for a job?

  • Licensed practical and licensed vocational nurses looking for jobs in physician offices and outpatient care centers may find they face some competition because these facilities usually offer regular, week-day hours and a more comfortable workplace environment.
  • Hospitals and other around-the-clock facilities need LPNs/LVNs on nights, weekends and holidays, which may not be as appealing to some job seekers making competition less fierce.

What kinds of institutions hire LPNs/LVNs nurses?

Aspiring LPNs/LVNs have a range of options when it comes to their work location. The reports state the following industries employ the largest number of LPNs/LVNs:

  1. Nursing care facilities
  2. Home health care services
  3. Continuing care retirement communities and assisted living facilities for elderly

How do I advance in my licensed practical nurse career?

  • In most fields, furthering your education can help propel you to the next phase of your career. It's no different for LPNs/LVNs. Earning a bachelor's of science in nursing (BSN) can sometimes translate into more job responsibility and higher pay.
  • Another gateway to career advancement is working in a hospital. According to the National Federation of Licensed Practical Nurses, hospitals often give LPNs/LVNs advanced nursing duties, such as working in a critical care setting or acting as a special procedure nurse.

Advancing career through further education

Associate's Degree Programs

If you're interested in advancing your career and becoming an RN, consider enrolling in an LPN-to-RN program. Getting an associate's degree from scratch usually takes two to three years, but with LPN/LVN course credits, you can usually earn the degree in a shorter span of time.

Bachelor's Degree Programs

  1. For an LPN/LVN looking to become an RN, you have the option to enroll in an LPN-to-BSN program which is geared specifically for LPNs and take about three years. Schools offering these programs tend to focus on nursing courses where students learn better leadership skills.
  2. If you decide you want to become a registered nurse (RN) in the future, you'll need to earn either an associate's (LPN-to-RN) or bachelor's degree (LP-to-BSN), but your LPN training will count as credit toward your degree.

 

 

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