Licensed practical nurses (LPNs) and licensed vocational nurses (LVNs) provide basic medical care to the sick, injured, and disabled under the supervision of doctors and/or registered nurses (RNs). The LPN/LVN profession only requires you to obtain a diploma, certificate, or associate degree from an accredited nursing program; these typically take one or two years. The term ‘LPN’ is most frequently used to describe these professionals, though some states prefer to call them LVNs.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Does LPN Stand For?

An LPN is a Licensed Practical Nurse.

What Does LVN Stand For?

An LVN is a Licensed Vocational Nurse.

What’s the Difference Between an LPN and LVN?

‘LPN’ and ‘LVN’ can be used interchangeably to describe the same position. Both have the same educational and licensing requirements, and they generally perform the same tasks. The difference between the two terms acronyms lies in which state the nurse practices: nurses in California, Texas, and Vermont are called LVNs, while all other states in the U.S. call them LPNs.

What Does an LPN Do?

An LPN is a healthcare professional trained in practical nursing. LPNs work under the supervision of their doctors and sometimes other nurses to accomplish a variety of tasks important for ordinary patient care. These tasks include monitoring a patient’s health, measuring vital signs, tracking medical history, administer medications, perform treatments, changing bandages, helping patients bathe and dress, discussing medical care and concerns with patients, and in some cases assume leadership roles.

The roles of an LPN and RN in healthcare settings are rather different due to the limitations imposed by their respective licensure boards. LPNs work under their own license and within their own scope of practice.

The LPN is responsible for more basic patient care and comfort, and they generally report to doctors and RNs; the RN guides treatment plans for patients based on the data and observations gathered by the LPN.

In accordance with their increased responsibility, RNs also have more education and training than LPNs. They also usually earn a higher salary.

LPNS are found working in many different settings, including:

  • Hospitals (private and public)
  • Physicians’ offices
  • Nursing homes
  • In-home healthcare
  • Schools
  • Military organizations
  • Residential care facilities
  • Correctional facilities

What Does It Take to Become an LPN?



LPNs spend most of their time in direct contact with patients and must notice even small changes in their health. Understanding these changes and quickly noticing them can prevent further damage to their health and direct future treatment plans.

Organized and Detail-Oriented

Nurses need strong organizational skills to keep track of all patient records and to provide patients with pertinent information at a moment’s notice. There are often a shortage of nurses in many patient care facilities, and LPNs must be organized to accommodate several patients at once and ensure that each receives adequate and effective care in a timely manner. Attention to detail is key for ensuring a patient’s vitals and medicines are correctly recorded at each check-in.

Compassionate and Patient

Being compassionate helps patients and their loved ones feel comfortable putting their care in the hands of LPNs. Some patients have some degree of physical or mental disability and may need extra help with basic tasks, which also requires patience and empathy. Your compassion can also reduce the stress your patients feel.

Physical Strength and Stamina

Caring for patients of all shapes and sizes in long (8-12 hour) shifts can be strenuous and requires a great deal of physical strength and stamina. LPNs are also frequently on their feet all day, running between patients and supervisors; great shoes and good endurance are important.

Critical Thinking

LPNs must be able to comprehend both old and new patient data and integrate it with the patient’s current medical status to provide an accurate assessment for further care. This skill is particularly important in cases of emergency, where examinations and decisions must be made quickly.


LPNs interact with patients, nurses, family members, and many other people throughout the course of their day. They must effectively communicate medical care and prescription information to patients at all levels of competency, and also be comfortable working in teams with doctors and nurses to efficiently coordinate each patient’s care.

Emotional Stability

Caring for others, especially those in critical condition, requires significant mental strength. Additionally, medical emergencies and other environmental stressors (noisy offices, potent chemicals, varying schedules, etc.) challenge LPNs to maintain composure under difficult circumstances.

LPN/LVN Salary Information and Job Outlook

How much do LPN/LVN nurses make?

LPN/LVN: Average Salary by State This map presents average annual salary for the occupation LPN/LVN in each state in the U.S. Average Annual Salary in HI: $46,520 HI Average Annual Salary in AK: $54,380 AK Average Annual Salary in FL: $41,540 FL Average Annual Salary in NH: $47,590 NH Average Annual Salary in MI: $44,310 MI Average Annual Salary in VT: $44,420 VT Average Annual Salary in ME: $41,750 ME Average Annual Salary in RI: $52,110 RI Average Annual Salary in NY: $45,660 NY Average Annual Salary in PA: $43,550 PA Average Annual Salary in NJ: $52,950 NJ Average Annual Salary in DE: $47,700 DE Average Annual Salary in MD: $50,440 MD Average Annual Salary in VA: $40,500 VA Average Annual Salary in WV: $35,020 WV Average Annual Salary in OH: $40,790 OH Average Annual Salary in IN: $40,580 IN Average Annual Salary in IL: $44,870 IL Average Annual Salary in CT: $55,170 CT Average Annual Salary in WI: $42,820 WI Average Annual Salary in NC: $41,730 NC Average Annual Salary in MA: $53,820 MA Average Annual Salary in TN: $36,420 TN Average Annual Salary in AR: $36,040 AR Average Annual Salary in MO: $37,660 MO Average Annual Salary in GA: $38,010 GA Average Annual Salary in SC: $39,070 SC Average Annual Salary in KY: $38,090 KY Average Annual Salary in AL: $35,570 AL Average Annual Salary in LA: $37,810 LA Average Annual Salary in MS: $36,400 MS Average Annual Salary in IA: $38,750 IA Average Annual Salary in MN: $42,000 MN Average Annual Salary in OK: $38,320 OK Average Annual Salary in TX: $44,880 TX Average Annual Salary in NM: $46,360 NM Average Annual Salary in KS: $39,460 KS Average Annual Salary in NE: $38,760 NE Average Annual Salary in SD: $35,210 SD Average Annual Salary in ND: $39,790 ND Average Annual Salary in WY: $43,300 WY Average Annual Salary in MT: $38,760 MT Average Annual Salary in CO: $46,780 CO Average Annual Salary in ID: $39,430 ID Average Annual Salary in UT: $43,080 UT Average Annual Salary in AZ: $50,760 AZ Average Annual Salary in NV: $52,760 NV Average Annual Salary in OR: $48,550 OR Average Annual Salary in WA: $49,220 WA Average Annual Salary in CA: $51,700 CA

  • Median Hourly Wage (2015): $21.17
  • Mean Salary (2015): $44,030

Source: Data taken from Payscale (1 and 2) and The Bureau of Labor Statistics. Accessed: September 2016.

Nurses are in Demand

2M 3M 4M 2010 2015 2020 2.74 Million Jobs 3.45 Million Jobs
  • 712,000 New Jobs
  • 495,500 Replacement Jobs
  • 10.2 Million by 2020
  • 26% More Nursing Jobs Expected to Be Created between 2010 and 2020

Source: Data taken from The Bureau of Labor Statistics. Accessed: December 2015.

Meet an LPN Nurse

LPN/LVN Nurse Resources

Online LPN Programs

There are no fully online programs that offer LPN certificates. The skills that LPNs need can only be learned in an in-person program: most of your tasks are practice-based, and must be learned in person. Some programs, however, offer a few classes online in addition to the in-person requirements. In class, you’ll learn how to obtain a patient’s vital signs and laboratory specimens, change bandages and dressings, and work within a medical team.

If you are an accredited, not-for-profit institution that offers an online LPN or LVN program and that isn’t listed, please contact us with details about your program, a link to your program page and proof of accreditation.

LVN Programs & LPN Programs

If you notice any errors in the database below or are a college or university that is not represented here, please contact us. We will get on it immediately!

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