A licensed practical nurse (LPN) handles a large spectrum of direct patient care that includes the planning, implementation and assessment of nursing care. LPNs often work in hospitals and doctors' offices as part of a team of health care providers, but there are many other health care settings that need LPNs to deliver patient care as well. A few states use the term "licensed vocational nurse (LVN)," but LPN is more commonly used.

The duties a licensed practical nurse or LVN may perform are just as varied. They may be asked to measure and record vital signs or be involved in teaching healthy habits to a group of patients. Read on to discover more about the various duties and work environments available to LPNs.

Day in the Life of a Licensed Practical Nurse

On a typical day, a licensed practical nurse may perform duties such as:

  • Monitoring changes in symptoms and conditions
  • Administering medications and therapeutic treatments
  • Reporting adverse reactions to medications or treatments
  • Supporting patient rehabilitation
  • Coordinating patient care and documentation with physicians and other nurses

Many LPNs work in hospitals and clinics but are also necessary in health care settings with different sets of patients, requiring varying kinds of nursing care. LPNs can be found working in:

  • Public schools
  • Rehabilitation facilities
  • Extended care facilities
  • Industrial/occupational health centers
  • Employment services
  • Community care facilities
  • Outpatient care centers
  • Home health care services
  • Federal, state and local government agencies

Here are some examples of LPN work environments other than in a hospital or clinic:

An LPN in a long-term care facility provides care to elderly patients, many of whom are fragile and prone to falling, suffer from chronic medical issues and take many medications. These health care professionals tend to know their patients well. Some tasks are routine (e.g., dispensing medication, monitoring feeding tubes) but emergencies arise quickly and often.

At a rehabilitation hospital specializing in brain injury and orthopedics, an LPN does similar tasks for injured patients of various ages who move on once their rehab is complete.

Still another LPN is the director of a nurse training program at a company that trains people to become home health aides, homemakers, and certified nursing assistants and provides them with certification. This professional may also be pursuing the next level in a nursing degree. While there may no longer be direct contact with patients, this person finds working with nursing students to be rewarding.

Important Characteristics for Licensed Practical Nurses

Successful LPNs share some common characteristics. They feel natural compassion toward patients' pain and suffering. They must communicate clearly and listen carefully as they work with patients, families, doctors, and other nurses. Excellent decision-making skills and problem-solving skills are key to this job; this includes the ability to think on one's feet as a patient's medical status changes. LPNs need to take care of themselves, both physically and mentally, so they can meet the demands of their job without burning out.

Typical Steps for Becoming a Licensed Practical Nurse

It is important to understand the LPN or LVN education requirements from the start. Here is how to become an LPN, step by step:

  1. Earn a high school diploma. Most LPN schools and training programs require a high school diploma or equivalent, although some may accept students without a diploma. Some programs are also offered as part of a high school curriculum for students who want to get a head start on their nursing careers.
  2. Find the right LPN school for you. Licensed practical nurses must complete a state-approved training program in practical nursing, with programs ranging from 7 to 24 months in length, and the average lasting about one year. Your state's board of nursing can provide a list of approved LPN programs. Career education is available in technical, vocational and community colleges as well as in some universities.
  3. Study and work hard. Nursing programs combine classroom study (to teach basic nursing concepts and patient care) with clinical practice, which is supervised patient care, usually taught in a hospital.
  4. Pass the NCLEX-PN exam. After graduation, LPN candidates must pass the NCLEX-PN, a computer-based exam. Testing and licensure requirements can vary by state; so before you apply to take the NCLEX-PN, be sure you have completed the appropriate LPN education requirements where you plan to practice.
  5. Seek advancement opportunities. Once you're a certified LPN, you can take steps to advance your career. Some hospitals offer LPNs the opportunity to work on IV teams, as treatment or special procedure nurses, and in critical care settings. Continuing education is a requirement in some states and for some employers; it will also help you stay abreast of new developments in nursing and health care.


  • Licensed Practical and Licensed Vocational Nurses, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2016-17 Edition, Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, https://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/licensed-practical-and-licensed-vocational-nurses.htm
  • Summary Report - Licensed Practical and Licensed Vocational Nurses, O*NET OnLine, https://www.onetonline.org/link/summary/29-2061.00

Metro Areas Sorted by Total Employment for
Licensed Practical Nurse

Listed below are the 10 largest metro areas based on the total number of people employed in Licensed Practical Nurse jobs , as of 2016

Metro Area Total Employment Annual Mean Salary
Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim 28,340 $50,940
Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington 15,740 $47,920
Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land 12,820 $51,490
Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Roswell 11,940 $43,140
Miami-Fort Lauderdale-West Palm Beach 10,600 $45,030
Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario 7,680 $48,900
San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward 7,380 $59,510
Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater 7,240 $43,680
Cleveland-Elyria 6,900 $44,470
San Antonio-New Braunfels 6,560 $44,970

Compare Total Employment & Salaries for Lpns

Use our handy tool to see what employment and salary numbers look like for two different metro areas

Select State
Select Metro Area 1
Select Metro Area 2

Total employment and salary for professions similar to lpns

Source : 2016 Occupational Employment Statistics, Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, BLS.gov

Most Popular Industries for
Licensed Practical Nurse

These industries represent at least 1% of the total number of people employed in this occupation.

Industry Total Employment Percent Annual Median Salary
Nursing And Residential Care 256,050 35% $40,440
Hospital 180,930 24% $38,210
Medical Office 175,030 23% $37,080
Government 46,950 6% $39,440
Office Services And Staffing 45,970 6% $44,390
Education 13,020 1% $32,820
Click the Visit School Site buttons to go directly to a school's website and learn more about the school and programs it has to offer. School website will open in a new tab.
Click the Request Info buttons to request more information from a representative at the school.
Results:  10
Matching School Ads
  • Do you aspire to fulfill an evolving healthcare role as a highly-qualified nursing professional? GCU is the place for you.
  • RNs, pursue your BSN or MSN conveniently online, backed by the legacy of GCU's traditional campus.
  • GCU's bachelor's and master's programs prepare students to fill roles in direct care, management, health education and administrative disciplines.
  • The baccalaureate degree in nursing and master's degree in nursing at GCU are accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education
  • Develop with hands-on practice, online and lab simulations and in depth peer discussions exploring best practices.
  • Offers medical and cosmetic programs, including dental assisting, massage therapy, cosmetology, esthetics, and more.
  • Features a public salon and spa where students may get real-world experience.
  • Offers scholarship opportunities for students wo qualify.
  • Accredited by the Council on Occupational Education (COE).
  • 2 separate Vacaville campuses, one is for medical careers and the other is the beauty academy.
camnpus icon
Request Info
  • Online Bachelor's programs include BBA, Criminal Justice, Psychology, IT, Healthcare Management & Public Health
  • Over 115 years of delivering quality education and personalized attention to students
  • Provide a range of campus experiences and services online including advising, tutoring, student community, and career services
  • Give students and alumni access to career assistants who help with resumes, cover letters, job hunting, and more.
  • Offers career placement assistance services to recent graduates.
  • Our short-term allied health programs will give you the skills and knowledge to become a part of the exciting health care field.
  • Programs include Medical Office Specialist, Medical Assistant, Dental Assistant and Healthcare Administration.
  • Accredited by the Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools (ABHES).
  • Main campus is located in Van Nuys, California, north of Los Angeles.
camnpus icon
Panorama City
Request Info
  • Offers accelerated programs w/ flexible schedules & professional instruction
  • Multiple accredited campuses across 9 states including CA, TX, NV, & PA
  • 10 + programs including Practical Nursing, Dental and Medical Assisting
  • Provides professional development training & career planning resources
  • Military Student Center (MSC) is committed to the success of military students
camnpus icon
Request Info
  • Presents stimulating, thoughtful programs for students in every academic field
  • SACS accredited w/many accreditations per program & 14:1 teacher-student ratio
  • 7 colleges with dozens of majors & programs to choose from for undergrads & grads
  • Beautiful 248 acre campus with ¾ mile waterfront located in Jacksonville, FL
  • Named an “America’s Best College” in the south for 10+ years, US News & World Report
  • Ranked among the Best Online Bachelor's Programs in 2014 by U.S. News & World Report.
  • Implements a one-to-one teaching model, partnering one student with one faculty member in each course.
  • 100% of faculty members hold doctoral degrees.
  • No physical residency requirements, allowing students to pursue their degree online.
  • Committed to innovation, diversity, excellence, and accountability since its founding in 1996.
  • Offers several programs in business, education, psychology, and more.
  • Ranked among the 2015 Best National Universities by U.S. News & World Report.
  • Designated as a Military Friendly School every year since 2012 by Victory Media.
  • Offers credit for prior learning and experience through assessment tests.
  • Provides a short term Leadership Certification program in partnership with EQUIP®.
  • Accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) of the North Central Association (NCA).
  • SJU provides a rigorous, student-centered education rooted in the liberal arts
  • A Jesuit school with 8,415 students in all programs for 2016 grads &undergrads
  • Institutionally Accredited by the MSCHE and the AACSB (Haub School of Business)
  • 96% of 2016 graduates employed, pursuing graduate study or volunteering full time
  • Qualifying students can receive financial assistance with tuition costs

Founded in 1887, Benedictine University is dedicated to the education of undergraduate and graduate students. Benedictine is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools (NCA).

Benedictine University provides a values-centered Liberal Arts education. Today, Benedictine enrolls nearly 10,000 students from all 50 states in the US and over 17 countries.

Why Benedictine University Online?

  • Over 130 year legacy of academic excellence
  • Ranked among America's Top Colleges by "Forbes" Magazine
  • 91% of current students report they are satisfied or very satisfied with their learning experience

We have some additional detailed pages at the state level for Licensed Practical Nurse.

Numbers in parentheses are counts of relevant campus-based schools in the state; online schools may also be available.

Back to Top