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.
Published August 31, 2022
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- Licensed practical nurse certification takes about one year to earn.
- Licensed practical nurse jobs are great entry points into the growing healthcare field.
- The responsibilities of licensed practical nurses and registered nurses are different.
- There are licensed practical nurse specialties in almost every area of medicine.
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
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:
- Resume reviews
- Networking events
- Job boards
- Career fairs
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.
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