Licensed Practical Nurse: Career Information

Job Description - Licensed Practical Nurse:

A licensed practical nurse (LPN), working under the direction of registered nurses and doctors, cares for patients who are sick, injured, convalescing or disabled. A licensed practical nurse is also known as a licensed vocational nurse (LVN).

Employment Facts - Licensed Practical Nurse:

There were 753,600 licensed practical nurses employed in 2008.

Educational Requirements - Licensed Practical Nurse:

The first step toward this career is completion of a state-approved, year-long, training program in nursing. These programs are usually offered by technical and vocational schools or by community and junior colleges. Some high schools, colleges and universities, and hospitals also offer training for aspiring LPNs. Formal training consists of a combination of classroom study and supervised clinical practice.

Other Requirements - Licensed Practical Nurse:

After completion of a formal training program, an aspiring licensed practical nurse must pass the National Council Licensure Examination, or NCLEX-PN. The NCLEX-PN is a computer based exam that is developed and administered by the National Council of State Boards of Nursing.

Advancement Opportunities - Licensed Practical Nurse:

Experienced licensed practical nurses sometimes supervise nursing assistance and aides. Some LPNs become credentialed in specialty areas such as IV therapy, gerontology, long-term care and pharmacology. Licensed practical nurses can also enroll in LPN-to-RN training programs in order to become registered nurses.

Job Outlook - Licensed Practical Nurse:

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts the job growth for licensed practical nurses will be much faster than the average for all occupations through 2018.

Earnings - Licensed Practical Nurse:

Licensed practical nurses earned a median annual salary of $39,820 in 2009.

Use the Salary Wizard at to find out how much a Licensed Practical Nurse currently earns in your city.


A Day in a Licensed Practical Nurse's Life:


On a typical day a licensed practical nurse's tasks might include:

  • providing basic bedside care
  • measuring and recording vital signs such as temperature, blood pressure, pulse and respiration
  • preparing and giving enemas and injections
  • dressing wounds
  • helping patients bathe and dress
  • feeding patients

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2010-11 Edition, Licensed Practical and Licensed Vocational Nurses, on the Internet at (visited January 13, 2010).
Employment and Training Administration, U.S. Department of Labor, O*NET Online, Licensed Practical Nurse, on the Internet at (visited December 2, 2010).