Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) and Licensed Vocational Nurse (LVN) Program Overview

(LPN) Degree

Find out what licensed practical nurses (LPN) do, where they work, how much they make, how you can become one, and why you’d want to.

Average LPN Program Length

1 years

Average Credits Required For LPN 

45-50 credits

LPN Average Annual Salary


Opportunities With an LPN/LVN

Quicker Entry

The LPN/LVN route can be a quicker and less expensive path to employment in the nursing field.

Path to Advancement

Many LPNs and LVNs work in their field for one or two years, and then eventually return to earn their bachelor’s degree.

Explore the Nursing Field

Becoming an LPN/LVN allows you to get experience and see if nursing is a good fit for you before committing to a longer program.

Skills Learned

Patient care, teamwork, and communication and organizational skills.

Work Settings for LPN/LVN Graduates

An ADN program offers learners one of the fastest paths to becoming an RN. On this page, find admission requirements, earning potential, and much more.

Nursing Care Facilities

LPNs and LVNs work in nursing homes, checking vital signs, inserting and monitoring IVs, giving enemas, applying bandages, and inserting catheters. LPNs/LVNs cannot give IV push medications or start an IV medication.

Mental Health or General Nursing Care Facilities

These LPNs and LVNs plan, implement, and evaluate patient care methods under the supervision of licensed RNs and physicians. Other duties include adhering to the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPPA) and other safety regulations.

Medical and Surgical Hospitals

LPNs/LVNs may find opportunities in medical and surgical hospitals. Responsibilities include conducting general assessments or therapies, managing patient data, and performing treatment approved by physicians.

Home Healthcare Services

In-home healthcare service LPNs and LVNs travel to patients' homes to perform exams and administer medication. Other duties include maintaining patient data and coordinating with RNs or clinical management.

How Much Will I Make With an LPN/LVN Certificate or Diploma?

Annual Salary
$ 0
Monthly Salary
$ 0
Hourly Salary
$ 0

How To Become an LPN/LVN

Admission Requirements
for an LPN/LVN Program

Aspiring LPNs and LVNs can pursue programs in community colleges, technical schools, hospitals, and high schools. Students should note that requirements vary by institution. However, schools typically require each applicant to hold a high school diploma or GED certificate and a minimum 2.5 GPA.

While programs do not require prerequisite coursework beyond standard high school courses, a solid background in math and science helps students excel in these programs. A vocational nursing applicant may also need to provide letters of recommendation and a resume.

Core Concepts in an
LPN/LVN Program

LPN/LVN education prepares graduates to apply nursing processes in healthcare settings to promote healing. Schools also focus on creating ethically driven professionals who work within the legal boundaries of LPN/LVN professional practice. LPN and LVN programs examine nursing competencies and theories, including the following:

  • Medications
  • Fundamentals of nursing
  • Anatomy of the human body
  • Processes of disease
  • Mental health nursing
  • Geriatric nursing
  • Maternal and pediatric nursing

Students also learn to provide high quality care and examine the best strategies for developing care plans for specific populations. The following are typical courses focused on specialized care giving:

LPN/LVN Advantages

LPN/LVN Disadvantages

Questions About LPN and
LVN Programs

Admission requirements for two-year ADN programs vary by school. However, applicants must typically submit:

What To Expect From an Online LPN/LVN Program

Interested students considering careers as LPNs or LVNs can earn their degrees online. Courses may follow an asynchronous format, allowing enrollees to complete coursework at any time to meet their deadline dates. Assignments may include exams, essays, and projects. Students engage with instructors and peers through online discussion boards and email. Other online courses may use a synchronous format, which requires live attendance through students’ webcam. Synchronous learning still requires degree seekers to submit assignments digitally.

While students can complete courses online, programs require in-person attendance for clinicals and other field experiences.

Is an LPN/LVN Program Right for Me?

The nursing field offers professional opportunities at multiple levels, allowing students to begin working without an extensive time commitment to their education. Aspiring professionals who need to begin working quickly often choose to complete LVN or LPN requirements, which comprise a year of education before entering the field. Professionals who earn LPN or LVN credentials before entering RN programs gain more experience, which creates a competitive edge when applying to ADN or bachelor of science in nursing (BSN) programs. However, an LPN certificate comes with limitations in the field. For instance, LPNs do not qualify for leadership opportunities and cannot work in as many settings as RNs.

LPNs must work under licensed professionals at all times and do not earn as much as RNs.

Is an LPN/LVN a promising job?

BLS projections indicate that employment for LPNs/LVNs will grow by 9% from 2019 to 2029, demonstrating ample opportunities in the profession. Demand for nurses, as a whole, continues to increase. The job can be stressful, nurses spend a good part of their workday on their feet, for instance, but it is also highly rewarding.

Should I become an LPN or a certified nursing assistant (CNA)?

Not every MSN program requires test scores, but some request students to submit GRE or MAT scores.

How long does it take to become an LPN/LVN?

An LPN/LVN certificate program usually takes one year to complete, including 500-750 hours of requisite clinical experience depending on state requirements. Factors affecting the timeframe include full-time or part-time enrollment, the number of clinical hours required by the school and state, and whether students need to fulfill any general education requirements.