Home » Specialties » Licensed Practical Nurse

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

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

nurse taking notes
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: $48,820

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

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.

Salaries by State

The BLS reports median annual salaries for LPNs by state. Take a look at your state’s median annual pay:

Licensed Practical and Licensed Vocational Nurses

National data

Median Salary: $48,820

Bottom 10%: $35,570

Top 10%: $65,520

Projected job growth: 9.3%

State data

State Median Salary Bottom 10% Top 10%
Alabama $40,340 $29,720 $51,580
Alaska $66,720 $51,070 $83,150
Arizona $56,400 $43,020 $67,040
Arkansas $41,460 $32,160 $52,650
California $62,410 $45,130 $85,710
Colorado $53,950 $41,530 $65,980
Connecticut $58,420 $46,510 $69,500
Delaware $54,300 $42,760 $65,290
District of Columbia $58,100 $43,690 $69,860
Florida $46,290 $35,160 $60,250
Georgia $44,760 $33,210 $58,570
Hawaii $52,950 $43,100 $64,600
Idaho $47,960 $35,070 $62,070
Illinois $53,640 $40,070 $67,930
Indiana $47,520 $37,260 $60,930
Iowa $45,840 $35,690 $57,560
Kansas $45,140 $34,650 $57,500
Kentucky $44,430 $33,200 $56,670
Louisiana $41,940 $32,440 $51,900
Maine $48,050 $35,770 $62,430
Maryland $56,830 $44,020 $67,480
Massachusetts $59,910 $47,310 $76,670
Michigan $52,250 $41,160 $63,940
Minnesota $49,330 $40,400 $62,600
Mississippi $40,060 $31,530 $50,590
Missouri $44,670 $33,830 $56,790
Montana $46,210 $34,130 $59,210
Nebraska $45,820 $35,060 $58,060
Nevada $59,710 $47,320 $73,740
New Hampshire $56,460 $43,930 $67,390
New Jersey $58,010 $45,240 $68,620
New Mexico $51,350 $34,060 $65,570
New York $51,110 $37,350 $64,840
North Carolina $47,080 $36,530 $59,750
North Dakota $47,910 $37,900 $60,680
Ohio $46,450 $35,770 $59,520
Oklahoma $43,170 $33,450 $54,080
Oregon $57,860 $45,830 $66,920
Pennsylvania $49,890 $37,170 $63,900
Rhode Island $58,720 $45,290 $76,140
South Carolina $44,130 $31,140 $57,120
South Dakota $38,930 $30,420 $50,090
Tennessee $42,640 $32,540 $52,570
Texas $47,760 $35,670 $63,140
Utah $47,690 $33,930 $62,430
Vermont $50,940 $40,800 $63,720
Virginia $46,130 $34,370 $60,190
Washington $59,720 $44,980 $76,970
West Virginia $37,920 $30,320 $50,050
Wisconsin $47,690 $36,870 $61,530
Wyoming $48,320 $37,470 $62,840

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) 2020 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.

Sources: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics 2020 Occupational Employment Statistics