If you are interested in a nursing career, there are many ways you can fulfill this calling. You can start by enrolling in an LPN program if you want to test out the waters and decide if nursing is a good fit. You could also go for an Associate’s Degree or straight for a Bachelor’s. Regardless of what path you choose, there’s always room for improvement, for continuing education and career advancement.
As far as nursing careers go, you can become a Licensed Practical Nurse fairly quickly – training lasts around one year. Due to the substantial need for healthcare professionals, you are likely to easily find a job. Being an LPN serves as an excellent springboard for a future career in nursing. With an LPN program under your belt, it’s easier and faster to pursue either an ADN or a BSN program (depending on your goals, needs, and interests) and obtain that much desired RN role.
Naturally, due to the differences in education level, training and duties, Registered Nurses are, professionally, one step above LPNs and have much higher salaries. Yet, Licensed Practical Nurses are just as critical to the healthcare industry, and their wages are still above average compared to other occupations that require the same level of education.
Whether you already work as an LPN or are just considering embarking on this journey, it’s tremendously important to know what you can expect from a job. Find out everything you need to know from what LPNs do to how much they earn and how you can advance your career and earning potential if you start as a Licensed Practical Nurse.
What Is a Licensed Practical Nurse?
Licensed Practical Nurses (LPNs) – also known as Licensed Vocational Nurses in some states – are nurses who work under the supervision of Registered Nurses or physicians. Their role is, as their job title suggests, mostly practical.
Their primary duties include monitoring a patient’s health by performing tasks such as checking blood pressure. They can administer basic patient care that ranges from changing bandages, inserting catheters, and even starting intravenous drips in some states.
LPNs are also responsible for helping patients with everyday tasks, such as bathing, getting dressed, or eating. Generally, they must ensure patient safety and comfort while helping Registered Nurses provide the highest quality care to their patients. In some medical organizations, LPNs can also supervise Certified Nursing Assistants (CNAs). Their duties go beyond those of a CNA as LPNs offer more extensive care.
To become an LPN, one must complete an approved educational program, which generally takes around 12 to 18 months. This kind of program typically offers a certificate or diploma. LPNs must pass the NCLEX-PN in order to be able to practice. Still, the requirements for becoming an LPN are significantly less pressing than those for becoming a Registered Nurse. That also translates to lower pay and less responsibility. However, it is a great stepping stone on the way to becoming an RN.
Nightingale College’s Practical Nurse Diploma Program will prepare you for PN licensure and you’ll be ready to sit for the NCLEX-PN in as little as 12 months. It’s an excellent program specifically tailored to teach you to demonstrate quality, competent, and patient-centered nursing care.
How Much Do Licensed Practical Nurses Earn?
Similar to other nursing positions, LPN salary ranges depend on various factors, from the state in which they practice to years of experience or institution in which they work. However, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual salary for Licensed Practical Nurses in 2020 was $50,090.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2017, people who only hold a postsecondary non-degree award earned a mean wage of $37,670. On the other hand, LPNs earned in 2020 an average of $50,090. So, being an LPN is a great way to gain experience in nursing and get started on this meaningful career path. It’s also a good way to earn a fairly decent salary proportional to the investment of time, money, and energy you put in.
As a Licensed Practical Nurse, you would earn the highest wages an LPN in the US can earn in Alaska, where LPNs take home around $67,620 yearly. California is second, with an annual salary of $64,090, and Massachusetts is a close third, with a yearly wage of $60,400. But at the same time, it’s worth mentioning that the level of employment in these top-paying states also differs significantly. In Alaska, only 330 LPNs are employed; in Massachusetts, that number surpasses 14,700, while in the Sunshine State, over 71,320 LPNs were employed as of May 2020.
In contrast, among the states where LPNs earn the least amount of money are West Virginia, where LPNs earn $38,940 yearly; South Dakota, with an annual wage of $39,420, and Mississippi, with its $40,340 yearly salary for Licensed Practical Nurses.
So, either you’re considering this as a first step towards a nursing career or are already working as an LPN and want to compare your earning potential in different parts of the US, if you are curious about how much LPNs make in every state, we have the answers. Below, you will find a list of all the 50 states and how much do Licensed Practical Nurses make in each of them.
Licensed Practical Nurse average salaries in every state*
|Annual mean wage|
Hourly mean wage
*Data gathered from the Bureau of Labour Statistics.
Where Do LPNs Find Employment?
Licensed Practical Nurses can find employment in a variety of settings; however, the most popular place where LPNs can find jobs is nursing care facilities. Currently, over 199,760 LPNs work in skilled nursing facilities, where they earn, on average, $51,200 yearly.
Physicians’ offices employ over 98,300 LPNs and pay them a median annual salary of $45,550. Around 84,460 Licensed Practical Nurses work in home health care services, where they earn slightly higher wages, rounding up to $51,600.
Other places where LPNs can be employed are general medical and surgical hospitals and Continuing Care Retirement Communities and Assisted Living Facilities.
Job Outlook for Licensed Practical Nurses
Projections from the Bureau of Labor Statistics see a rise in employment in all healthcare-related occupations, particularly when it comes to the field of nursing.
Licensed Practical Nurses are no exception. Employment of LPNs is expected to grow by 9% by 2029. That translates roughly to over 60,700 more LPNs being needed by the end of the decade. Licensed Practical Nurses who have additional certifications in specific areas of expertise, such as gerontology or intravenous therapy, will enjoy even higher job prospects.
One reason why LPNs can expect such a rise in employment is because of the aging population. As baby boomers age, the need for healthcare services is becoming more pressing and the healthcare industry is not saturated with enough professionals to handle it. Hence, growing numbers of LPNs will be needed, especially in residential care facilities, as well as home environments, to care for older patients.
LPNs vs. Other Nursing Specialities: Salary Comparison
There is no doubt that the nursing field is very diverse and that there is a myriad of career opportunities available to aspiring nurses just as diverse are the compensation and benefits for each job. If you are at the beginning of your nursing career, it might prove useful to see a comparison among different nursing specialties and how much each of them pays.
According to the BLS, Certified Nursing Assistants earn around $15.41 per hour or $32,050 per year. Salary-wise, LPNs earn significantly higher than CNAs; however, they are still some of the lowest earners in the nursing field due to the fairly short time they spend studying and training.
For instance, LPNs earn less than RNs by almost $30,000. As of 2020, The US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that between May 2019 and May 2020, RNs brought in a mean salary of $80,010 per year, a significant increase compared to the LPN mean salary of $47,480.
Find out how much Registered Nurses earn in every state.
As RNs advance their education even further, their earning potential also increases significantly. For instance, Nurse Educators earn around $84,060 per year; Nurse Midwives bring home about $115,540 per year, Nurse Practitioners have a mean wage of $114,510, while Nurse Anesthetists can earn as much as $189,190 per year. Of course, all these specialties require an advanced level of education, a Master’s or above. The promise of salaries that can be doubled, tripled, or even quadrupled is a good reason (albeit not the only one) for LPNs to pursue more advanced education.
Moving Forward: Why Should You Consider Getting a BSN Degree?
For many aspiring nurses, working as an LPN is a stepping stone towards a more advanced nursing career, and getting their Bachelor’s in Nursing is the next step in their nursing education.
The good news is that your LPN experience can be advantageous on your path to a more advanced nursing role. At Nightingale College, if you are interested in pursuing a BSN degree and you already are an LPN, you can enjoy advanced placement, which will shorten your study time.
What Are the Benefits of Pursuing a BSN Degree?
While getting certified as a Licensed Practical Nurse is a good way to get started with your nursing career and get a feel for the field, pursuing a Bachelor’s Degree in Nursing is the way to go if you are interested in a career in nursing.
There are several reasons why pursuing a Bachelor’s degree is a good call. A decade ago, the Institute of Medicine called for 80% of the nursing workforce to hold at least a Bachelor’s degree by 2020. While this has not yet been achieved, there are clear steps taken in that direction. An annual survey conducted by the AACN found that in 2019 over 43% of hospitals and other healthcare settings required that all their new hires have a BSN. The same survey showed that over 82% of employers said they have a strong preference for BSN nurses. So, employers’ preference for nurses who hold a Bachelor’s degree is merely one of many reasons why it’s worth pursuing a BSN.
As mentioned earlier, the significant bump in salary could serve as another incentive to pursue a BSN. In addition to that, with a more advanced degree come other perks. You will have a much wider range of career options. For example, you can opt for leadership, administrative jobs, or positions in the educational field; you’ll have more control over your schedule and you can even choose alternative nursing specialties that allow you to find something meaningful and fulfilling away from the bedside.
Find out exactly how getting your Bachelor’s Degree in Nursing can improve your earning potential and which BSN Jobs are linked to the highest salaries.
All in all, LPNs have extremely favorable job prospects, tremendous opportunities for advancement, and initial salaries that translate well in terms of the invested time and energy.
Are you currently working as an LPN? Do you feel like it’s time for a new professional challenge that will benefit you (and the entire healthcare industry) in the long run? Take your nursing career one step further by pursuing a BSN Degree.
With advanced placement for LPNs, your dream of becoming a Registered Nurse is that much closer. Seize the chance!