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Licensed Practical and Licensed Vocational Nurses

Summary

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Video transcript available at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yTBPYOnNjVU.
Quick Facts: Licensed Practical and Licensed Vocational Nurses
2022 Median Pay $54,620 per year
$26.26 per hour
Typical Entry-Level Education Postsecondary nondegree award
Work Experience in a Related Occupation None
On-the-job Training None
Number of Jobs, 2022 655,000
Job Outlook, 2022-32 5% (Faster than average)
Employment Change, 2022-32 34,900

What Licensed Practical and Licensed Vocational Nurses Do

Licensed practical nurses (LPNs) and licensed vocational nurses (LVNs) provide basic medical care.

Work Environment

Licensed practical and licensed vocational nurses work in a variety of settings, including nursing and residential care facilities, hospitals, physicians’ offices, and private homes. Most work full time.

How to Become a Licensed Practical or Licensed Vocational Nurse

Licensed practical and licensed vocational nurses must complete a state-approved educational program, which typically takes about 1 year. They must be licensed.

Pay

The median annual wage for licensed practical and licensed vocational nurses was $54,620 in May 2022.

Job Outlook

Employment of licensed practical and licensed vocational nurses is projected to grow 5 percent from 2022 to 2032, faster than the average for all occupations.

About 54,400 openings for licensed practical and licensed vocational nurses are projected each year, on average, over the decade. Many of those openings are expected to result from the need to replace workers who transfer to different occupations or exit the labor force, such as to retire.

State & Area Data

Explore resources for employment and wages by state and area for licensed practical and licensed vocational nurses.

Similar Occupations

Compare the job duties, education, job growth, and pay of licensed practical and licensed vocational nurses with similar occupations.

More Information, Including Links to O*NET

Learn more about licensed practical and licensed vocational nurses by visiting additional resources, including O*NET, a source on key characteristics of workers and occupations.

What Licensed Practical and Licensed Vocational Nurses Do About this section

Licensed practical and licensed vocational nurses
In some states, licensed practical and licensed vocational nurses can give medication or start intravenous (IV) drips.

Licensed practical nurses (LPNs) and licensed vocational nurses (LVNs) provide basic medical care to ill, injured, or convalescing patients or to persons with disabilities. Responsibilities for LPNs and LVNs are nearly identical; their title depends on the state in which they work.

Duties

Licensed practical and licensed vocational nurses typically do the following:

  • Monitor patients’ health by checking their blood pressure, body temperature, and other vital signs
  • Provide basic patient care and comfort, including changing bandages and helping with bathing or dressing
  • Discuss care with patients and listen to their concerns
  • Report patients’ status and concerns to registered nurses, advanced practice nurses, or physicians
  • Document patient care and maintain health records

Responsibilities of LPNs and LVNs vary by work setting. For example, in private homes, they may reinforce registered nurses’ instruction regarding how family members should care for a relative. In hospitals, they might collect samples for testing and do routine laboratory tests. In nursing and residential care facilities, they may feed patients who need help eating.

LPN and LVN duties also may depend on the state in which they work. For example, in some states, LPNs with proper training may give medication or start intravenous (IV) drips.

LPNs and LVNs typically work under the supervision of registered nurses and doctors. States determine the extent to which LPNs and LVNs must be directly supervised. Some states allow experienced LPNs and LVNs to oversee other LPNs and LVNs or unlicensed medical staff.

Work Environment About this section

Licensed practical and licensed vocational nurses
Licensed practical and licensed vocational nurses work in hospitals and other healthcare settings.

Licensed practical and licensed vocational nurses held about 655,000 jobs in 2022. The largest employers of licensed practical and licensed vocational nurses were as follows:

Nursing and residential care facilities 35%
Hospitals; state, local, and private 15
Home healthcare services 13
Offices of physicians 12
Government 6

Licensed practical nurses (LPNs) and licensed vocational nurses (LVNs) may spend a lot of time walking, bending, stretching, and standing. Because they often move or lift patients, LPNs and LVNs must use proper lifting techniques to guard against back injury.

The work of LPNs and LVNs may put them in close contact with people who have infectious diseases, and they frequently come into contact with potentially harmful and hazardous drugs and other substances. Therefore, LPNs and LVNs must follow strict guidelines to guard against diseases and other dangers, such as accidental needle sticks and exposure to radiation or to chemicals used in creating a sterile environment.

Work Schedules

Most licensed practical and licensed vocational nurses (LPNs and LVNs) work full time. Some work nights, weekends, and holidays, because medical care takes place at all hours. They may be required to work shifts of longer than 8 hours.

How to Become a Licensed Practical or Licensed Vocational Nurse About this section

Licensed practical and licensed vocational nurses
Licensed practical and licensed vocational nurses need compassion in caring for patients.

Licensed practical nurses (LPNs) and licensed vocational nurses (LVNs) must complete a state-approved educational program, which typically takes about 1 year. They also must have a license.

Education

LPNs and LVNs must complete an approved educational program. Certificate and diploma programs are commonly found in community colleges and technical schools, including some high schools, and typically take about 1 year to complete.

Practical nursing programs include subjects such as nursing fundamentals, anatomy and physiology, and pharmacology. All programs also include supervised clinical experience.

For a list of approved programs, contact your state board of nursing.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

After completing a state-approved educational program, prospective LPNs and LVNs must pass the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-PN). For more information on the NCLEX-PN, visit the National Council of State Boards of Nursing.

Optional certifications for LPNs and LVNs are available through professional associations in areas such as gerontology, wound care, and intravenous (IV) therapy. Certifications show that an LPN or LVN has an advanced level of knowledge about a specific subject.

Some employers require or prefer that candidates have cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) or basic life support (BLS) certification.

Advancement

With experience, licensed practical and licensed vocational nurses may advance to supervisory positions. Some LPNs and LVNs transfer into other healthcare occupations. For example, an LPN may complete an LPN-to-RN education program to become a registered nurse.

Important Qualities

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

Communication skills. LPNs and LVNs must be able to convey information effectively. For example, they may need to relay a patient’s test results to a registered nurse.

Detail oriented. LPNs and LVNs need to pay attention to minutiae because they must ensure that patients get the correct care at the right time.

Interpersonal skills. LPNs and LVNs must be able to build a rapport to interact with patients and other healthcare providers.

Multitasking skills. LPNs and LVNs often work with multiple patients who have a variety of health needs. They must ensure that each patient receives appropriate care and attention.

Physical stamina. LPNs and LVNs should be able to perform physical tasks, such as bending over patients for a long time.

Pay About this section

Licensed Practical and Licensed Vocational Nurses

Median annual wages, May 2022

Licensed practical and licensed vocational nurses

$54,620

Health technologists and technicians

$48,560

Total, all occupations

$46,310

 

The median annual wage for licensed practical and licensed vocational nurses was $54,620 in May 2022. The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $40,490, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $72,650.

In May 2022, the median annual wages for licensed practical and licensed vocational nurses in the top industries in which they worked were as follows:

Nursing and residential care facilities $58,140
Government 57,200
Home healthcare services 54,080
Hospitals; state, local, and private 49,760
Offices of physicians 48,300

Most licensed practical and licensed vocational nurses (LPNs and LVNs) work full time. Some work nights, weekends, and holidays, because medical care takes place at all hours. They may be required to work shifts of longer than 8 hours.

Job Outlook About this section

Licensed Practical and Licensed Vocational Nurses

Percent change in employment, projected 2022-32

Health technologists and technicians

7%

Licensed practical and licensed vocational nurses

5%

Total, all occupations

3%

 

Employment of licensed practical and licensed vocational nurses is projected to grow 5 percent from 2022 to 2032, faster than the average for all occupations.

About 54,400 openings for licensed practical and licensed vocational nurses are projected each year, on average, over the decade. Many of those openings are expected to result from the need to replace workers who transfer to different occupations or exit the labor force, such as to retire.

Employment

As the baby-boom population ages, the overall need for healthcare services is expected to increase. LPNs and LVNs will be needed in residential care facilities and in home health environments to care for older patients.

A number of chronic conditions, such as diabetes and obesity, have become more prevalent in recent years. LPNs and LVNs will be needed to assist and care for patients with these and other conditions. In addition, many procedures that once could be done only in hospitals are now being done outside of hospitals, creating demand in other settings, such as outpatient care centers.

Employment projections data for licensed practical and licensed vocational nurses, 2022-32
Occupational Title SOC Code Employment, 2022 Projected Employment, 2032 Change, 2022-32 Employment by Industry
Percent Numeric

SOURCE: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Employment Projections program

Licensed practical and licensed vocational nurses

29-2061 655,000 689,900 5 34,900 Get data

State & Area Data About this section

Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics (OEWS)

The Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics (OEWS) program produces employment and wage estimates annually for over 800 occupations. These estimates are available for the nation as a whole, for individual states, and for metropolitan and nonmetropolitan areas. The link(s) below go to OEWS data maps for employment and wages by state and area.

Projections Central

Occupational employment projections are developed for all states by Labor Market Information (LMI) or individual state Employment Projections offices. All state projections data are available at www.projectionscentral.org. Information on this site allows projected employment growth for an occupation to be compared among states or to be compared within one state. In addition, states may produce projections for areas; there are links to each state’s websites where these data may be retrieved.

CareerOneStop

CareerOneStop includes hundreds of occupational profiles with data available by state and metro area. There are links in the left-hand side menu to compare occupational employment by state and occupational wages by local area or metro area. There is also a salary info tool to search for wages by zip code.

Similar Occupations About this section

This table shows a list of occupations with job duties that are similar to those of licensed practical and licensed vocational nurses.

Occupation Job Duties ENTRY-LEVEL EDUCATION Help on Entry-Level Education 2022 MEDIAN PAY Help on Median Pay
Nursing aides, orderlies, and attendants Nursing Assistants and Orderlies

Nursing assistants provide basic care and help patients with activities of daily living. Orderlies transport patients and clean treatment areas.

See How to Become One $35,740
Occupational therapy assistants and aides Occupational Therapy Assistants and Aides

Occupational therapy assistants and aides help patients develop, recover, improve, as well as maintain the skills needed for daily living and working.

See How to Become One $63,450
Physical therapist assistants and aides Physical Therapist Assistants and Aides

Physical therapist assistants and aides are supervised by physical therapists to help patients regain movement and manage pain after injuries and illnesses.

See How to Become One $57,240
Psychiatric technicians and aides Psychiatric Technicians and Aides

Psychiatric technicians and aides care for people who have mental conditions or developmental disabilities.

See How to Become One $37,330
Registered nurses Registered Nurses

Registered nurses (RNs) provide and coordinate patient care and educate patients and the public about various health conditions.

Bachelor's degree $81,220
Surgical technologists Surgical Assistants and Technologists

Surgical assistants and technologists help with surgical operations.

Postsecondary nondegree award $56,350
Medical assistants Medical Assistants

Medical assistants complete administrative and clinical tasks, such as scheduling appointments and taking patients’ vital signs.

Postsecondary nondegree award $38,270

Contacts for More Information About this section

For more information about licensed practical or licensed vocational nurses, visit

National Association of Licensed Practical Nurses

For more information about the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-PN) and a list of individual state boards of nursing, visit

National Council of State Boards of Nursing

Occupational Requirements Survey

For a profile highlighting selected BLS data on occupational requirements, see

Licensed practical and licensed vocational nurses (PDF)

O*NET

Licensed Practical and Licensed Vocational Nurses

Suggested citation:

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Licensed Practical and Licensed Vocational Nurses,
at https://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/licensed-practical-and-licensed-vocational-nurses.htm (visited January 27, 2024).

Last Modified Date: Wednesday, September 6, 2023

What They Do

The What They Do tab describes the typical duties and responsibilities of workers in the occupation, including what tools and equipment they use and how closely they are supervised. This tab also covers different types of occupational specialties.

Work Environment

The Work Environment tab includes the number of jobs held in the occupation and describes the workplace, the level of physical activity expected, and typical hours worked. It may also discuss the major industries that employed the occupation. This tab may also describe opportunities for part-time work, the amount and type of travel required, any safety equipment that is used, and the risk of injury that workers may face.

How to Become One

The How to Become One tab describes how to prepare for a job in the occupation. This tab can include information on education, training, work experience, licensing and certification, and important qualities that are required or helpful for entering or working in the occupation.

Pay

The Pay tab describes typical earnings and how workers in the occupation are compensated—annual salaries, hourly wages, commissions, tips, or bonuses. Within every occupation, earnings vary by experience, responsibility, performance, tenure, and geographic area. For most profiles, this tab has a table with wages in the major industries employing the occupation. It does not include pay for self-employed workers, agriculture workers, or workers in private households because these data are not collected by the Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics (OEWS) survey, the source of BLS wage data in the OOH.

State & Area Data

The State and Area Data tab provides links to state and area occupational data from the Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics (OEWS) program, state projections data from Projections Central, and occupational information from the Department of Labor's CareerOneStop.

Job Outlook

The Job Outlook tab describes the factors that affect employment growth or decline in the occupation, and in some instances, describes the relationship between the number of job seekers and the number of job openings.

Similar Occupations

The Similar Occupations tab describes occupations that share similar duties, skills, interests, education, or training with the occupation covered in the profile.

Contacts for More Information

The More Information tab provides the Internet addresses of associations, government agencies, unions, and other organizations that can provide additional information on the occupation. This tab also includes links to relevant occupational information from the Occupational Information Network (O*NET).

2022 Median Pay

The wage at which half of the workers in the occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. Median wage data are from the BLS Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics survey. In May 2022, the median annual wage for all workers was $46,310.

On-the-job Training

Additional training needed (postemployment) to attain competency in the skills needed in this occupation.

Entry-level Education

Typical level of education that most workers need to enter this occupation.

Work experience in a related occupation

Work experience that is commonly considered necessary by employers, or is a commonly accepted substitute for more formal types of training or education.

Number of Jobs, 2022

The employment, or size, of this occupation in 2022, which is the base year of the 2022-32 employment projections.

Job Outlook, 2022-32

The projected percent change in employment from 2022 to 2032. The average growth rate for all occupations is 3 percent.

Employment Change, 2022-32

The projected numeric change in employment from 2022 to 2032.

Entry-level Education

Typical level of education that most workers need to enter this occupation.

On-the-job Training

Additional training needed (postemployment) to attain competency in the skills needed in this occupation.

Employment Change, projected 2022-32

The projected numeric change in employment from 2022 to 2032.

Growth Rate (Projected)

The percent change of employment for each occupation from 2022 to 2032.

Projected Number of New Jobs

The projected numeric change in employment from 2022 to 2032.

Projected Growth Rate

The projected percent change in employment from 2022 to 2032.

2022 Median Pay

The wage at which half of the workers in the occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. Median wage data are from the BLS Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics survey. In May 2022, the median annual wage for all workers was $46,310.