LPN is the professional occupational title used in the majority of states in the U.S., which is the abbreviation for licensed practical nurse. Texas and California refer to this occupation as licensed vocational nurse, but the general requirements and duties are similar to an LPN. These professionals work with registered nurses, physicians and other health care professionals to provide basic care to all types of patients.
All states require LPNs to obtain accredited training and to pass an exam and background check to obtain a license to practice professionally. Most training programs last about one year and can be done in high school vocational programs, postsecondary vocational programs or at community colleges. After obtaining accredited training, LPNs apply to take the National Council Licensure Examination through their state Board of Nursing. Each state’s Board of Nursing verifies training, exam scores and personal and criminal history before licensing practical nurses to practice professionally.
The average hourly wage for LPNs was $20.21 per hour, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics in 2011. Wages ranged between $14.74 to $27.44 per hour in the Bureau’s 10th through 90th percentiles. More than 729,000 licensed practical and vocational nurses were employed in the United States in 2011.
Wage percentiles are generally based on factors such as employer type, location of the job and professional experience. The highest levels of employment of LPNs were with nursing care facilities, where they earned an average hourly wage of $20.72 per hour. The highest wages were paid in the San Fransisco, California, area, where LVNs earned an average salary of $29.44 per hour. States including Nevada, Rhode Island and New Jersey also paid the highest wages in the country for LPNs. In Nevada, the average hourly wage was $25.13 per hour. LPNs in Rhode Island earned an average salary of $24.95 per hour and in New Jersey, the average hourly wage was $24.65 per hour.
A growing elderly population and overall need for health care professionals will increase the need for many professinals in the health care industry, including LPNs. The statistics bureau expects 22 percent growth for LPNs and LVNs between 2010 and 2020. Along with a growing need for health care professionals, many LPNs are expected to retire during this timeframe, opening more job opportunities.
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