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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

The Basics

  • 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
  • Average annual salary: $48,500*

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


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.

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 2019 Occupational Employment Statistics; Licensed Practical and Licensed Vocational Nurses.

*The salary information listed is based on a national average, unless noted. Actual salaries may vary greatly based on specialization within the field, location, years of experience and a variety of other factors. National long-term projections of employment growth may not reflect local and/or short-term economic or job conditions, and do not guarantee actual job growth.