LVN Certification

Not just anyone can call herself an LVN -- you have to get a certificate and a license.
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Folks in California and Texas call LPNs, or Licensed Practical Nurses, LVNs, which is short for Licensed Vocational Nurses. Don't let the one-letter change throw you off -- it's the same job. As an LVN, you'll find yourself working under a doctor or registered nurse to provide basic patient care. Before you can bandy the official title, you have to meet certain qualifications, including schooling and a major test.

LVN Programs

To become a licensed LVN, you have to pass a test, but to take the test, you have to complete an accredited program. Community and technical colleges across the country offer these certificate programs, as do a select few hospitals and high schools. Alongside studying administration, biology, numerous facets of nursing, nutrition and pharmacology in the classroom, you'll also take part in supervised clinical work. Typical LVN programs take about a year, or just a little over, to complete.


To become an LVN, you must conquer the NCLEX-PN, which, despite how it sounds, is not actually a killer robot from the future. NCLEX-PN is simply the common shorthand for the National Council Licensure Examination -- whether you want to be an LVN in Texas or California or an LPN in any other state, you have to pass the same test. Administered as a computerized multiple choice, fill-in-the-blank and calculation test, the NCLEX-PN gauges your abilities in the areas of clinical problem solving, caring for patients, communication and documentation and teaching and learning new skills.


To register for the NCLEX-PN exam, you'll have to submit an application for licensure to your local board of nursing. Once that's done, you can register for the test via the National Council of State Boards of Nursing's website, by phone or by mail. When you're all registered, you can make an online or by-phone appointment at a Pearson VUE test center to take the exam.

More to Consider

At the time of publication, Pearson VUE offers dozens of testing locations in California and Texas, so “V” nurses have just as many locations to choose from as “P” nurses. Dozens of textbook manufacturers produce NCLEX-PN prep manuals if you want to bone up before the big day. The registration process, test and fees may change over time, so keep an eye on the NCSBN's official website for the latest details.

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