Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) and Licensed Vocational Nurse (LVN) Career Information

The following information is from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Licensed Practical and Licensed Vocational Nurses. Please visit the website for a more comprehensive breakdown of the data.


Licensed practical nurses (LPNs) and licensed vocational nurses (LVNs) provide basic medical care. They work under the direction of registered nurses and doctors. LVN is the title used in California and Texas while the rest of the United States uses LPN.

Job Duties

  • Monitor patients’ health
  • Administer basic patient care, including changing bandages and inserting catheters
  • Provide for the basic comfort of patients, such as helping them bathe or dress
  • Discuss the care they are providing with patients and listen to their concerns
  • Report patients’ status and concerns to registered nurses and doctors
  • Keep records on patients’ health


National Average Annual Pay (2019): $48,500

Top 5 States

1. Alaska


2. Massachusetts


3. California


4. Rhode Island


5. Nevada


Bottom 5 States

50. West Virginia


49. South Dakota


48. Mississippi


47. Alabama


46. Louisiana



Though the process of becoming an LPN or LVN is rigorous, the actual steps are fairly straightforward.

You first will enroll in an LPV or LVN education program. This will take a year or more and will include supervised clinical experience. Then to obtain licensure, you will take the NCLEX-PN exam.

You can also choose to be certified through professional associations in other areas, such as gerontology and IV therapy. This is to show that you have advanced knowledge about a specific subject. Employers may also prefer to hire LPNs or LVNs who are trained to provide CPR.

  • 1. Enroll in an LPN/LVN Education Program

    Program takes about 1 year or more

  • 2. Take the National Exam

    You must pass the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-PN) to become an LPN or LVN.

  • 3. Find a Job as an LPN or LVN!

  • 4. Advance Career: Study to be an RN

    There are special programs that are specifically for LPNs or LVNs to advance their career to become Registered Nurses (RN).


Interpersonal Skills

LPNs and LVNs need to interact with patients and other healthcare providers as it is a big part of their job.


LPNs and LVNs must be empathetic and caring toward the people they serve.


LPNs and LVNs should be patient so they can cope with any stress that stems from providing care to sick and injured patients.

Physical Stamina

LPNs and LVNs should be comfortable performing physical tasks, such as bending over, as they assist patients for long periods of time.

Speaking Skills

LPNs and LVNs need to communicate effectively as they will need to relay information about a patient’s current condition to another member of the healthcare team.

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.

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