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How to Become an LPN: Licensed Practical Nurse Education & Licensing

Learn what it takes to prepare for a career as a Licensed Practical Nurse.

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Home » Specialties » Licensed Practical Nurse

Licensed Practical Nurse At a Glance

  • What you’ll do: You’ll provide basic bedside care for the sick, injured, and convalescent, under the direction of physicians and registered nurses. You’ll do such tasks as give injections, take vital signs, perform diagnostic tests, dress wounds, and administer medication.
  • Where you’ll work: Health care facilities such as hospitals, nursing homes, mental health institutions, private homes, community health clinics, and public health departments
  • Degree you’ll need: Graduation from an accredited LPN program and pass the National Council Licensure Exam
  • Median annual salary: $48,070

Education Requirements

In order to become a practicing LPN, you’ll need a high school diploma or GED, and then you’ll need to graduate from an accredited LPN program. LPN programs generally include one year of coursework and practical application at a hospital, vocational technical school or community college.

Standard coursework in an LPN program—in addition to supervised clinical practice in patient care—covers the following studies:

LPN Program Coursework


  • Biology
  • First aid
  • Chemistry
  • Physical education
  • Anatomy
  • Foods and nutrition
  • Psychology
  • Child growth and development
  • Emergency medical technology

LPN to RN

Licensed practical nurses often transition into registered nursing. You can go back to the technical school or community college for an additional year to earn an associate’s degree, which will qualify you to become a Registered Nurse after taking the NCLEX exam in your state. Another way to become an RN is to enter an LPN to Baccalaureate program. Some colleges have special LPN programs which will allow you to get credit for some of your prior courses, and then go on to earn a BSN degree and RN. These are called LPN-to-BSN Programs.

Median Annual Salary

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports median annual salaries for LPNs rest at $48,070. You can find your state’s median annual pay below.

Licensed Practical and Licensed Vocational Nurses

National data

Median Salary: $48,070

Projected job growth: 9.3%

10th Percentile: $37,150

25th Percentile: $46,410

75th Percentile: $59,770

90th Percentile: $63,790

Projected job growth: 9.3%

State data

State Median Salary Bottom 10% Top 10%
Alaska $61,680 $46,520 $77,810
Alabama $40,120 $29,390 $49,540
Arkansas $45,180 $36,300 $56,110
Arizona $59,490 $46,930 $66,890
California $61,600 $47,750 $79,380
Colorado $58,810 $45,820 $63,950
Connecticut $60,120 $47,260 $65,460
District of Columbia $59,810 $38,000 $74,200
Delaware $55,290 $45,360 $61,830
Florida $47,000 $36,930 $59,690
Georgia $46,910 $36,620 $59,470
Hawaii $51,790 $45,930 $61,680
Iowa $47,000 $37,120 $59,550
Idaho $47,450 $37,110 $59,920
Illinois $52,700 $45,200 $61,770
Indiana $48,070 $39,070 $61,250
Kansas $46,660 $36,750 $59,080
Kentucky $46,950 $36,770 $59,040
Louisiana $46,160 $36,130 $50,800
Massachusetts $60,190 $47,940 $76,650
Maryland $58,760 $46,810 $65,220
Maine $47,900 $37,030 $61,480
Michigan $56,310 $46,180 $61,250
Minnesota $47,970 $45,180 $60,780
Missouri $46,520 $36,640 $56,550
Mississippi $38,610 $35,310 $48,260
Montana $47,000 $36,800 $59,850
North Carolina $47,340 $37,450 $60,190
North Dakota $47,320 $37,850 $60,450
Nebraska $47,140 $37,300 $59,850
New Hampshire $59,380 $46,950 $74,250
New Jersey $60,070 $47,270 $70,680
New Mexico $57,490 $37,670 $72,820
Nevada $59,850 $46,640 $76,980
New York $50,410 $38,830 $61,680
Ohio $47,270 $37,090 $59,870
Oklahoma $46,480 $36,620 $55,800
Oregon $60,240 $47,670 $73,680
Pennsylvania $48,220 $38,470 $61,250
Rhode Island $60,240 $47,250 $76,550
South Carolina $46,820 $36,400 $59,350
South Dakota $38,480 $36,310 $47,860
Tennessee $45,970 $36,360 $50,270
Texas $48,520 $37,310 $61,010
Utah $47,940 $37,170 $62,040
Virginia $47,210 $36,930 $60,370
Vermont $58,810 $46,480 $61,160
Washington $61,160 $47,940 $77,290
Wisconsin $47,750 $37,850 $60,170
West Virginia $37,790 $32,880 $48,070
Wyoming $48,030 $37,990 $59,810

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) 2021 median salary; projected job growth through 2030. Actual salaries vary depending on location, level of education, years of experience, work environment, and other factors. Salaries may differ even more for those who are self-employed or work part time.

LPN Licensing

To earn an LPN license, you must pass a state administered nursing examination, called the NCLEX-PN. To qualify to sit for the NCLEX-PN exam, you must first complete a LPN/LVN education program that is approved by your state’s Board of Nursing.