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Career Q&A: Licensed Practical Nurse

In Demand: Careers in Health Care, Career Voyages, U.S. Dept. of Labor

What will I do?

Licensed practical nurses (LPNs) care for persons who are recovering from sickness, are disabled or injured or live in a care facility such as a hospital or nursing home. LPNs need to be caring people who are able to make decisions and to observe for, and recognize, signs of health troubles.

Wherever they work, LPNs give important basic care. For example, an LPN checks the person’s temperature and pulse, draws blood samples and tests them, and helps the person move from a wheelchair to the bed. Also the LPN adds information to a medical chart and pays attention to written instructions. Also, the LPN adds information to a medical chart and pays attention to written instructions. Usually, LPNs put in 40 hours a week and shifts may include evenings and weekends.

What training do I need?

An LPN needs a license in nursing. To get this license means finishing an officially approved program that trains LPNs, whch generally takes a year or so, and passing a test on PPN job skills. Classes in chemistry, biology and psychology are usually necessary. Mainly, the focus is on learning basic skills in nursing and knowing how the body works.

How will I get the training?

More on Nursing


Salary: $32,710 - $42,110
Min. Education: 1-Year Program, Associate's
Related Careers: Registered Nurse, Medical Assistant

About 1,100 centers offer LPN programs. These include technical and vocational schools, community colleges and “junior” colleges that offer degrees for schooling of about two years. Some high schools and hospitals train students to become LPNs. The schooling involves both class work and clinical training, usually in a hospital.

What will I get paid?

This area of medicine is expected to grow rapidly as more people become elderly or too ill to live on their own. In 2002, annual salaries for LPNs paid in the middle of the pay scale ranged from $26,430 to $37,050. A low salary was $22,860; a high salary was about $44,000.


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