Licensed practical and licensed vocational nurses (LPNs and LVNs) held about 738,400 jobs in 2012. The industries that employed the most licensed practical and licensed vocational nurses in 2012 were as follows:
|Nursing care facilities (skilled nursing facilities)||29%|
|Hospitals; state, local, and private||20|
|Offices of physicians||12|
|Home health care services||11|
|Residential care facilities||8|
Licensed practical and licensed vocational nurses work in nursing homes and extended care facilities, hospitals, physicians' offices, and private homes. LPNs and LVNs often wear scrubs, a type of medical clothing that usually consists of a shirt and drawstring pants.
Nurses must often be on their feet for much of the day and may have to lift patients who have trouble moving in bed, standing, or walking. These duties can be stressful, as can dealing with ill and injured people.
Most licensed practical and licensed vocational nurses work full time, although about 1 in 5 worked part time in 2012. Many LPNs and LVNs work nights, weekends, and holidays, because medical care takes place at all hours. They may be required to work shifts of longer than 8 hours.
Becoming a licensed practical or licensed vocational nurse (LPN or LVN) requires completing an approved educational program. LPNs and LVNs must also have a license.
LPNs and LVNs must complete an approved educational program. These programs award a certificate or diploma and typically take about 1 year to complete, but may take longer. They are commonly found in technical schools and community colleges, though some programs may be available in high schools and hospitals.
Practical nursing programs combine classroom learning in subjects, such as nursing, biology, and pharmacology. All programs also include supervised clinical experience.
Contact state boards of nursing for lists of approved programs.
Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations
After completing a state-approved educational program, prospective LPNs and LVNs can take the National Council Licensure Examination, or NCLEX-PN. In all states, they must pass the exam to get a license and work as an LPN or LVN.
LPNs and LVNs may choose to become certified through professional associations in areas such as gerontology and IV therapy, among others. Certifications show that an LPN or LVN has an advanced level of knowledge about a specific subject.
With experience, licensed practical and licensed vocational nurses may advance to supervisory positions. Some LPNs and LVNs advance to other healthcare occupations. For example, an LPN may complete an LPN to RN education program to become a registered nurse.
Licensed practical and licensed vocational nurses (LPNs and LVNs) typically have an interest in the Building and Helping interest areas, according to the Holland Code framework. The Building interest area indicates a focus on working with tools and machines, and making or fixing practical things. The Helping interest area indicates a focus on assisting, serving, counseling, or teaching other people.
If you are not sure whether you have a Building or Helping interest which might fit with a career as a licensed practical and licensed vocational nurse (LPN and LVN), you can take a career test to measure your interests.
Licensed practical and licensed vocational nurses (LPNs and LVNs) should also possess the following specific qualities:
Compassion. Licensed practical and licensed vocational nurses must be empathetic and caring toward the people they serve.
Detail oriented. LPNs and LVNs need to be responsible and detail-oriented, because they must make sure that patients get the correct care at the right time.
Interpersonal skills. Interacting with patients and other healthcare providers is a big part of their jobs, so LPNs and LVNs need good interpersonal skills.
Patience. Dealing with sick and injured people may be stressful. LPNs and LVNs should be patient, so they can cope with any stress that stems from providing healthcare to these patients.
Physical stamina. LPNs and LVNs should be comfortable performing physical tasks, such as bending over patients for a long time.
Speaking skills. It is important that LPNs and LVNs be able to communicate effectively. For example, they may need to relay information about a patient’s current condition to a registered nurse.
The median annual wage for licensed practical and licensed vocational nurses was $41,540 in May 2012. The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $30,970, and the top 10 percent earned more than $57,360.
Most licensed practical and licensed vocational nurses work full time, although about 1 in 5 worked part time in 2012. Many work nights, weekends, and holidays, because medical care takes place at all hours. They may be required to work shifts of longer than 8 hours.
Employment of licensed practical and licensed vocational nurses is projected to grow 25 percent from 2012 to 2022, much faster than the average for all occupations.
As the baby-boom population ages, the overall need for healthcare services is expected to increase. LPNs and LVNs will be needed in residential care facilities and in home health environments to care for geriatric patients.
Growing rates of chronic conditions, such as diabetes and obesity will lead to increased demand for LPNs and LVNs in skilled nursing and other extended care facilities. In addition, many procedures that once could be done only in hospitals are now being done outside of hospitals, creating demand in other settings, such as outpatient care centers.
A large number of licensed practical and licensed vocational nurses are expected to retire over the coming decade, creating potential job openings. Job prospects should also be favorable for LPNs and LVNs, who are willing to work in rural and medically underserved areas.
For more information about licensed practical or licensed vocational nurses, visit