Licensed Practical Nursing Jobs: 14 Specialties to Consider

Licensed practical nurses work throughout the healthcare industry. Learn more about these specializations, and find the right one for you.

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by Mackenzie Maxwell

Published August 31, 2022

Reviewed by Brandy Gleason, MSN, MHA, BC-NC

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Licensed Practical Nursing Jobs: 14 Specialties to Consider
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Licensed practical nursing is a level of the nursing profession that is also sometimes called licensed vocational nursing. Licensed practical nurse jobs are excellent for someone who wants to work with patients directly. Their responsibilities often include monitoring vitals, teaching patients about their health, and providing essential patient care.

Licensed practical nurse jobs are often considered entry-level positions in healthcare. These nurses typically spend about one year in specialized programs after high school. Some people gain experience as licensed practical nurses while they complete nursing school and earn registered nursing licenses.

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How to Become a Licensed Practical Nurse

First, aspiring licensed practical nurses should earn a high school diploma, GED certificate, or the equivalent. Then, they must find a licensed practical nursing diploma program that fits their needs. Many community colleges and vocational schools have these programs.

While some programs offer online coursework, all licensed practical nursing programs have in-person requirements as well. Students gain hands-on experience with some of the tasks they will have to do as licensed practical nurses, including administering medications, taking vital signs, and giving injections. It usually takes about one year for learners to graduate from these programs, but timelines may vary between schools.

Once aspiring nurses earn their diplomas, they must take and pass the National Council Licensure Examination for Practical Nursing (NCLEX-PN). This is a computer adaptive test that candidates take in proctored sessions. Upon passing the NCLEX-PN, graduates are officially licensed practical nurses, which some states call licensed vocational nurses.

14 Types of Licensed Practical Nursing Specialities

Wound Care LPN

  • Average Salary (July 2022): $48,770
  • Job Outlook: 9%
  • Licenses/Certifications: LPN or LVN license, wound care certifications are optional

People with burns, diabetes, bruising, and traumatic injuries all require specialized care for their unique wounds. Licensed practical nurses who specialize in wound care change wound dressings, help patients move safely, and apply medications as prescribed. As such, hospitals often need licensed practical nurses with wound care knowledge. While special certifications are not always required, they can set job candidates apart as specialists. Several private organizations offer continuing education courses, exams, and certifications in wound care for licensed practical nurses.


Geriatric LPN

  • Average Salary (July 2022): $50,190
  • Job Outlook: 9%
  • Licenses/Certifications: LPN or LVN license, gerontology certifications are optional

Geriatrics is the practice of medicine for elderly patients who have unique physical and psychological needs. Licensed practical nurses in the geriatric specialty can work in hospitals, skilled nursing facilities, or at-home care organizations. These nurses administer medications, care for wounds, and check vital signs on a regular basis. They may also develop care plans and help patients complete essential care tasks, such as bathing. While not required, some licensed practical nurses earn geriatric care certifications as part of their continuing education. These credentials can set them apart in their job searches.


Home Care LPN

  • Average Salary (July 2022): $49,250
  • Job Outlook: 9%
  • Licenses/Certifications: LPN or LVN license

Home care nursing is a vital service for many types of patients, including elderly people, those who were recently discharged from a hospital setting, and people who live with certain disabilities. Home care nurses travel between their patients' homes to provide care. In each patient's home, the nurse may:

  • Administer prescribed medicine.
  • Change wound dressings.
  • Take notes on the patient's condition.
  • Help the care team develop an ongoing care plan.

Excellent bedside manners can help nurses succeed in these roles.


Hospice LPN

  • Average Salary (August 2022): $45,000
  • Job Outlook: 9%
  • Licenses/Certifications: LPN or LVN license

Hospice care is a specialty that focuses on a patient's quality of life in their final days. Hospice care licensed practical nurses are with their patients in the most advanced stages of disease and as they pass away. These nurses must have a soothing bedside presence and be excellent with patients' families to succeed. Daily tasks involve administering medications and educating patients and their loved ones on what to expect. It can be difficult for some people to be so close to death and grief. It's important for these nurses to have healthy coping skills.


Dialysis LPN

  • Average Salary (August 2022): $47,900
  • Job Outlook: 9%
  • Licenses/Certifications: LPN or LVN license, nephrology certifications are optional

Dialysis is a procedure that people with certain kidney disorders and diseases need on a regular basis. Dialysis nurses, also known as nephrology nurses, help with this outpatient procedure and other kidney care tasks. In addition to in-depth knowledge of the kidneys, these licensed practical nurses should also understand geriatric and wound care. Legally, dialysis nurses do not need further education. However, organizations such as the American Nephrology Nurses Association and the Nephrology Nursing Certification Commission offer certifications that set nurses apart as experts in this specialization.


Psychiatric LPN

  • Average Salary (July 2022): $45,340
  • Job Outlook: 9%
  • Licenses/Certifications: LPN or LVN license

These specialized licensed practical nurses often work in inpatient psychiatric centers. There, they help patients through psychological crises. They work closely with the team of psychologists, therapists, psychiatrists, and other nurses to create and implement patient care plans. People who have natural empathy for others and firm boundaries can thrive in these licensed practical nurse jobs. They administer medicine, sometimes to patients who are not compliant. They also take patients to their various appointments, make sure patients follow guidelines, and teach loved ones about psychiatric care.


Acute Care LPN

  • Average Salary (August 2022): $46,940
  • Job Outlook: 9%
  • Licenses/Certifications: LPN or LVN license

Licensed practical nurses can find acute care jobs in many healthcare settings, including:

  • Intensive care units
  • Operating rooms
  • Medical/surgical floors
  • Trauma units
  • Emergency departments

These nurses care for patients who are critically ill and need immediate or continuous medical intervention. Most hospital units are acute care settings. Nurses hone their skills based on what type of acute care they work in. For example, acute care LPNs in trauma units may develop excellent wound care skills. Nurses who thrive in fast-paced environments may enjoy acute care settings.


Emergency Room LPN

  • Average Salary (July 2022): $48,610
  • Job Outlook: 9%
  • Licenses/Certifications: LPN or LVN license

A nurse in an emergency department is often a patient's first point of contact with the healthcare system when they are in immediate need of medical attention. These licensed practical nurses must excel in triage, which is deciding which patients receive care first. They also work with a variety of patients who present with diverse conditions. These nurses should have excellent organization and communication skills, as well as the ability to remain calm under pressure. This can be an excellent environment for someone who enjoys thinking on their feet.


Pediatric LPN

  • Average Salary (July 2022): $46,790
  • Job Outlook: 9%
  • Licenses/Certifications: LPN or LVN license

Pediatric licensed practical nurses treat:

  • Newborns
  • Infants
  • Toddlers
  • Children
  • Adolescents

Each of these stages of life have different medical and emotional needs. These nurses can work in any pediatric healthcare setting, including hospitals, outpatient clinics, and psychiatric clinics. Pediatric licensed practical nurse jobs require nurses to communicate well. Their patients' parents may be distraught, scared, or angry. Nurses must break through these tensions to get consent, information, and understanding from the family. They often spend time teaching parents about a child's condition and answering questions.


Dermatology LPN

  • Average Salary (July 2022): $48,420
  • Job Outlook: 9%
  • Licenses/Certifications: LPN or LVN license

The skin is the largest organ in the human body, so it's vital to each patient's health. Dermatology licensed practical nurses help patients manage various skin conditions, including acne, burns, and cancer. They can find work in plastic surgery offices, private dermatology practices, and hospitals. Their work setting will often determine their day-to-day responsibilities. Nurses in dermatology may:

  • Educate patients and their families.
  • Administer medications.
  • Change wound dressings.
  • Apply creams and other topical substances.

Some dermatology nurses work in aesthetic care, including at day spas. They may assist in tattoo removal, chemical peels, and laser skin treatments.


Cardiology LPN

  • Average Salary (July 2022): $46,000
  • Job Outlook: 9%
  • Licenses/Certifications: LPN or LVN license, advanced cardiac life support (ACLS)

Cardiology licensed practical nurses most often work in hospitals and cardiologist offices. They help patients with various conditions that affect the heart. Depending on the work setting, cardiology nurses may:

  • Use defibrillators.
  • Closely monitor patient vitals.
  • Assist in performing stress tests.
  • Assist in heart surgery.
  • Educate patients and families on heart health.
  • Administer medications.
  • Assist in heart catheterization laboratories.

One of the most important skills that a cardiology nurse can obtain is advanced cardiac life support (ACLS). Organizations like the American Heart Association provide ACLS courses and certifications for healthcare professionals.


Family Practice LPN

  • Average Salary (July 2022): $44,980
  • Job Outlook: 9%
  • Licenses/Certifications: LPN or LVN license

Healthcare workers in family practice medicine focus on the full health of a family unit, including adults and children. Licensed practical nurses in this field work closely with registered nurses and primary care providers to care for families and their health. They may work in private practice or community health settings. These licensed practical nurse jobs often include a lot of patient education, so they are well-suited for nurses with excellent communication skills. They should also feel comfortable taking vital signs on patients of all ages.


Gynecology LPN

  • Average Salary (April 2022): $44,860
  • Job Outlook: 9%
  • Licenses/Certifications: LPN or LVN license

Licensed practical nurses who specialize in gynecology assist patients who have reproductive organs such as ovaries and uteruses. Some people refer to this area of medicine as women's health, but practitioners in gynecology also treat transgender men and nonbinary people with the same reproductive systems. Licensed practical nurse jobs in gynecology can be in private practice or hospital settings. These nurses must be comfortable talking about sensitive topics in an empathetic way. Gynecology nurses educate patients on their reproductive health, take vital signs, and record patient history.


Urology LPN

  • Average Salary (July 2022): $49,970
  • Job Outlook: 9%
  • Licenses/Certifications: LPN or LVN license

The urology specialization focuses on the urinary tract, including the kidneys, urethra, and bladder. Licensed practical nurses in this field must have steady hands, as they often assist in catheterization procedures. They also administer medications and educate patients about their conditions. Urology licensed practical nurses work in:

  • Hospital urology departments
  • Private practices
  • Home care settings

They may treat patients with acute urinary problems or long-term disorders. They may also assist other hospital departments that need clean urinary samples from patients.

Licensed Practical Nursing Salary

Payscale data from July 2022 shows that in their first year, licensed practical nurses earn an average annual salary of $40,160. For licensed practical nurses with 1-4 years of experience, that average goes to about $42,680. As per Payscale, licensed practical nurses can earn up to 25% more by demonstrating risk management skills.

How to Find a Licensed Practical Nursing Job

Because licensed practical nursing is often an entry-level position, candidates may not have connections within the healthcare field. Job-seekers can use many different networking opportunities to meet employers in healthcare. First, learners should take advantage of any job placement resources that their school offers. The school may have in-person or virtual career services, including:

Instructors and fellow students in the school may also have connections who can help. People who seek licensed practical nurse jobs can also go directly to the websites of local hospitals and health systems. Their career pages often list every job opening in their system. Job-seekers who want to work in smaller settings can look at large job websites and search "LPN entry-level."

Licensed Practical Nurse Professional Organizations

American Nurses Association: ANA is a professional nursing association with more than 4 million members across every state and territory. Members gain access to continuing education, networking events, discounts for certification courses and exams, and a mentorship program.

National Association of Licensed Practical Nurses: The NALPN is a nursing organization that focuses on helping licensed practical nurses and licensed vocational nurses. Members benefit from NALPN's conference, certifications, scholarships, and networking opportunities.

HOSA: This student organization assists learners who want to work in healthcare. Members connect with local and national members, attend conferences, and enjoy access to an exclusive job board.

Frequently Asked Questions About Licensed Practical Nursing Jobs

What is the highest-paid licensed practical nurse speciality?

Licensed practical nurses who work with geriatric patients earn an average of $50,190 yearly, according to Payscale July 2022 data. Other top contenders include home care licensed practical nurses with an average annual salary of $49,220 and urology licensed practical nurses at $49,970. All licensed practical nurses tend to earn more as they gain experience.

What licensed practical nurse speciality is the most popular?

Licensed practical nurse jobs that appeal to one person may disinterest another. That's why it's important to consider the skills and temperament that each position requires. Acute care covers many subspecialties, making it one of the most broad specialties in nursing. It may also be a great choice for those who want to become registered nurses, as they gain exposure to many subspecialties. Home care has become popular as demand rises due to the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation. An aging population has also increased demand. Family practice and pediatrics are popular licensed practical nursing specialties for people who want to work with kids.

Can I become a licensed practical nurse with an online degree?

Diplomas for licensed practical nursing are only offered entirely in-person or through hybrid learning. This is because gaining the license requires in-person practice for hands-on skills such as drawing blood, giving injections, and completing CPR. Some programs offer online work for more book-oriented learning, such as for biology and anatomy courses. Learners who need the flexibility to work while in school may find schools that offer night and weekend classes that fit their schedules.

How much money can I make as a licensed practical nurse?

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the annual median salary for licensed practical nurses was $48,070 in May 2021 for all specializations. Licensed practical nurses who work for government organizations earned a median of $52,210 annually, while those who work in physician offices earned a median annual salary of $46,870. Data from Payscale shows that gaining risk management skills can increase a licensed practical nurse's salary by as much as 25%. Other lucrative skills in licensed practical nursing include administration, quality assurance, health education, and auditing.

What is the fastest way to become a licensed practical nurse?

Prospective licensed practical nurses who hold high school diplomas or GED certificates can become licensed practical nurses in a little more than one year. They must find a local community college or trade school that offers a licensed practical nursing program. They can then apply and enroll according to the school's guidelines.

Many such schools have open admissions policies and no minimum requirements. Students typically need to pass background checks. Once classes begin, students can graduate in about one year. Then, they must pass the NCLEX-PN exam to earn their licenses.

BestColleges.com is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

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