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LPN Educational Degree Programs and Training

Student who want a career in the nursing profession and relatively quick entry into the health care workforce may wish to enroll in Licensed Practical Nursing (LPN) programs at community colleges or vocational schools.

Becoming an LPN typically takes at least one year of full-time study and should culminate in a certificate of achievement or a diploma, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS.gov) reports. Most programs include study in standard nursing methodologies, basic medical terminology, biology and pharmacology with a mix of hands-on clinical experience.

LPN certificate and diploma programs

Practical nursing programs vary in length depending on where you choose to study. Most schools that offer LPN training have one-year programs, while schools that offer associate-level degrees that take two years to complete typically are for students who may eventually seek the RN designation.

There's no difference between programs that culminate in a certificate or a diploma; the key is that the LPN program in which you enroll is approved by your state's board of nursing. Students who complete a state-approved LPN educational program can sit for the National Council Licensure Examination for Practical Nurses. Passing the NCLEX-PN is required by each state to work as a licensed practical nurse.

According to the National Council of State Boards of Nursing, from January through June of 2014, there were 25,286 people who took the NCLEX exam, with an 82 percent pass rate for first-time test takers educated in the United States.

LPN training

Practical nursing programs prepare students to provide care in a variety of settings, including hospitals, nursing homes, clinics and residential-care facilities. LPN educational programs contain a mix of classroom and laboratory courses and clinical field experience -- and admission to clinical side of LPN training programs can be quite competitive since placement opportunities can lag behind the number of applicants. Students who perform well academically can have an increased advantage of landing a clinical placement over students with weaker grades.

LPN training also includes study in core subjects such as biology, psychology, mathematics and English composition since communication with RNs, medical staff and patients plays such a crucial role in success in the field. Some community colleges require students interested in enrolling in their LPN certificate programs to complete two or more semesters of general education studies prior to enrollment. LPN coursework varies between institutions but usually takes a minimum of two semesters of full-time study.

Coursework typically includes study in the following areas:

  • Foundations of practical nursing
  • Nursing care and adult theory
  • Nursing care for infants and women
  • Pharmacology
  • Practical nursing leadership
  • Introductory and advanced clinical lab

LPN career outlook and salary

The primary difference between LPNs and registered nurses (RNs) is scope of duties and education. Licensed practical nurses typically work under the supervision of doctors or registered nurses and provide basic nursing care, such as monitoring patients, changing wound dressings, keeping records or helping patients bathe or dress. LPNs also assist doctors and RNs with disseminating information about care programs to patients and their families.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS.gov), there were 705,200 licensed practical nurses working in the U.S. in May of 2013 at national median annual wages of $41,920, or $20.15 an hour. The top 10 percent of LPNs earned $27.90 an hour while the bottom 10 percent took home $15.05 an hour.

About 13 percent of all licensed practical nurses work in skilled care facilities, the BLS reports. The second-largest group works in hospitals, followed by physician's offices. Job growth in the field is expected to be strong from 2012 through 2022, the BLS notes. More than 182,000 new jobs in the field are expected to be created in that time. Job prospects should be best in rural areas and other medically underserved parts of the country.

States with large populations -- Texas, California, New York and Florida -- are the top employers of LPNs. Mean annual wages are highest in Connecticut ($54,690), Alaska ($54,010), Nevada ($53,490) and Massachusetts ($53,020), the BLS reports. The greater New York City and greater Los Angeles areas are the two largest metropolitan employment regions, and both areas pay nearly $4 an hour higher than the national median salary for the profession.

Sources:

Integrated Bridge to Licensed Practical Nursing Program, LaGuardia Community College, http://www.laguardia.edu/uploadedFiles/T2/pcap/docs/LPN11.3.pdf

Licensed Practical and Licensed Vocational Nurses, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Employment Statistics, May 2013, http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes292061.htm

Licensed Practical and Licensed Vocational Nurses, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Outlook Handbook, www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/licensed-practical-and-licensed-vocational-nurses.htm#tab-1

Number of Candidates Taking NCLEX Examination and Percent Passing, by Type of Candidate, 2014, National Council of State Boards of Nursing, www.ncsbn.org/Table_of_Pass_Rates_2014.pdf

LPN - Licensed Practical Nurse Schools

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4 Programs in
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  • Provides a 24/7 myCampusLink system that lets students access their records, e-mail, communicate with faculty, and more.
  • Designated a 2014 Military Friendly School by Victory Media.
  • Educates with the mission to serve the needs of the local community and graduates by matching opportunities to skills.
  • Offers career education in nursing, dental, business, information technology, and more. 
  • Has 44 campus locations across 15 states, with online options as well.
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  • Provides a 24/7 myCampusLink system that lets students access their records, e-mail, communicate with faculty, and more.
  • Designated a 2014 Military Friendly School by Victory Media.
  • Educates with the mission to serve the needs of the local community and graduates by matching opportunities to skills.
  • Offers career education in nursing, dental, business, information technology, and more. 
  • Has 44 campus locations across 15 states, with online options as well.
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  • Online Programs
  • Financial Aid
1 Programs in
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Nursing@Simmons, the innovative, online nursing degree program from Simmons School of Nursing and Health Sciences prepares Registered Nurses for the next stage of their careers.

You need to have a Bachelor’s degree and RN license to be qualified for this school.

Nursing@Simmons, the innovative, online nursing degree program from Simmons School of Nursing and Health Sciences prepares Registered Nurses for the next stage of their careers.

You need to have a Bachelor’s degree and RN license to be qualified for this school.

  • Online Programs
2 Programs in
Campus
  • Students who qualify may apply for the Opportunity Scholarship, which can help lower education costs.
  • Offers career-focused, degree programs to over 70,000 students at over 140 ITT Technical Institutes in 35 states.
  • Classes are offered year-round, with day and evening course options.
  • Online courses can be accessed from anywhere, 24 hours a day.
  • Nationally accredited by the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools.
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  • Students who qualify may apply for the Opportunity Scholarship, which can help lower education costs.
  • Offers career-focused, degree programs to over 70,000 students at over 140 ITT Technical Institutes in 35 states.
  • Classes are offered year-round, with day and evening course options.
  • Online courses can be accessed from anywhere, 24 hours a day.
  • Nationally accredited by the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools.
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  • Financial Aid
  • Transferable Credits
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  • Part of the Lincoln Group of Schools.
  • Lincoln Group of Schools made over $12 million available through scholarships to qualified students in 2014.
  • Designated a Military Friendly School for the 6th year in a row by Victory Media.
  • First campus was opened in 1946, now with 22 campuses across the United States.
  • Campuses are accredited by the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools (ACICS), Accrediting Commission of Career Schools (ACCSC), and Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools (ABHES).
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  • Part of the Lincoln Group of Schools.
  • Lincoln Group of Schools made over $12 million available through scholarships to qualified students in 2014.
  • Designated a Military Friendly School for the 6th year in a row by Victory Media.
  • First campus was opened in 1946, now with 22 campuses across the United States.
  • Campuses are accredited by the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools (ACICS), Accrediting Commission of Career Schools (ACCSC), and Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools (ABHES).
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  • Accredited
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  • Its Fast Track program enables qualified students to save up to 30% on tuition and graduate up to 30% faster.
  • Its online MBA program was named by the International Graduate Forum as a top 10 Online MBA Program in 2012.
  • Listed as a military friendly school by G.I. Jobs magazine in 2014.
  • Lets students watch, view, read, or hear content through its program, My Unique Student Experience (M.U.S.E.).
  • Has additional campus locations near military bases in Colorado Springs and Denver.
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  • Its Fast Track program enables qualified students to save up to 30% on tuition and graduate up to 30% faster.
  • Its online MBA program was named by the International Graduate Forum as a top 10 Online MBA Program in 2012.
  • Listed as a military friendly school by G.I. Jobs magazine in 2014.
  • Lets students watch, view, read, or hear content through its program, My Unique Student Experience (M.U.S.E.).
  • Has additional campus locations near military bases in Colorado Springs and Denver.
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  • Good for Working Adults
  • Online Programs
  • Flexible Scheduling
  • Accelerated Programs
  • Financial Aid
  • Transferable Credits