Licensed Practical Nurse Salary Guide

Not everyone has the time or money to earn a bachelor’s degree, but that doesn’t mean you can’t step into a rewarding healthcare career with above-average wages and plenty of
benefits. If you’re considering becoming a licensed practical nurse (LPN), knowing what to expect regarding LPN salary and credentialing requirements is essential. Learn more about this exciting career opportunity and how you can increase your earnings below.

LPN Education, Certification and Licensing Requirements

To become an LPN, you must complete a diploma program, which costs less and takes much less time than earning an associate or bachelor’s degree. Working as an LPN is extremely rewarding. You can continue doing it until you retire or use your LPN job to gain experience before enrolling in an RN-to-BSN program. These programs cost less and take less time than traditional Bachelor of Science in Nursing programs. Some people even start as LPNs, become RNs and then go on to complete graduate degrees in nursing.

Pass the NCLEX-PN

No matter your chosen career path, you must pass the National Council Licensure Examination for Practical Nurses (NCLEX-PN). This exam demonstrated you have the knowledge and skills needed to practice nursing without putting patients in harm’s way. State Boards of Nursing (BON) also require passing the NCLEX for licensure.

The NCLEX-PN includes questions on psychology, anatomy and physiology. It also covers the following subcategories, which relate to patient care and clinical judgment:

  • Caring

  • Patient Communication

  • Documentation

  • Culture and Spirituality

  • Problem-Solving in a Clinical Setting

  • Teaching and Learning

The Next Generation NCLEX has new question types and scoring model, although some changes only impact RNs, not LPNs. Should you not pass the NCLEX-PN on your first attempt, use your Candidate Performance Report to determine which topics you need to study before your next attempt. 

Don’t worry if you don’t pass the first time you take the NCLEX-PN. Standardized tests are tricky. Even the most competent nursing professionals may have difficulty answering some questions. Just keep studying and try again when you’re ready.

Licensure Requirements

Each State BON issues nursing licenses and establishes professional standards for LPNs and RNs. Licensure requirements vary by state, so check with your BON to determine what you need to do to obtain your LPN license. Generally, you must complete an approved LPN education program, pass the NCLEX-PN and pay a registration fee. You may also have to take classes, give presentations or participate in other activities to earn continuing education credits to keep your license.

Average Licensed Practical Nurse Salary

$29.46/hour

The average salary for a Licensed Practical Nurse is $29.46 per hour.

Last updated on April 18, 2024. Based on active jobs on Vivian.com.

Where do LPN / LVN Nurses get paid the most?
StateAverage Hourly SalaryMax Hourly Salary
Massachusetts$36$45
California$36$40
Virginia$34$39
Texas$33$35
Pennsylvania$31$35
Idaho$30$32
Maryland$30$30
Oklahoma$30$30
Georgia$29$32
New Jersey$28$28
Ohio$28$28
Florida$27$29
Oregon$26$31
Illinois$26$35
New Hampshire$26$31
District of Columbia$26$31
Delaware$26$31
Colorado$26$31
North Carolina$25$30
Mississippi$24$25
New York$24$24
Minnesota$23$29
Missouri$21$26
Kentucky$21$26
What are the highest paying Employers and Agencies for Licensed Practical Nurse jobs?

Last updated on April 18, 2024. Information based on active jobs on Vivian.com and pay data from BLS and around the web.

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Licensed Practical Nurse Career Guide

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Tips for Increasing Your Pay as an LPN

Each region of the country has different costs of living, which impacts how much of their earnings LPNs keep in permanent and travel roles. For permanent positions, employers in California and Maryland paid the most per Vivian Health’s salary data for the week ending February 25, 2023.

LPNs in California earned an average of $29 per hour, while LPNs in Maryland earned an average of $26 per hour. But some employers pay even more to attract high-quality candidates. For example, the max hourly salary for a staff LPNs was $38 in California and $32 in Maryland.

Another way to increase your LPN salary is to earn a specialty certification, demonstrating your advanced knowledge and skills. Choose one that aligns with your professional interests to benefit you most. Certifications in wound care, urology and nephrology are all appropriate
for nurses wanting to continue using their clinical skills in hospitals, nursing facilities and medical offices. If you primarily work in nursing homes, consider obtaining one of two long-term care certifications that offer LPN-specific long-term care credentials.

Remember to consider the value of each employer’s total compensation package during your research. Salary is certainly an important consideration, but you may end up in a better
position if you accept a job with a slightly lower salary and more comprehensive benefits.

For 2022, a single person’s average health insurance premium was $7,911, per information from the Kaiser Family Foundation. Assume you have to choose between these two offers:

  • Employer A: $24 per hour with 100% of your health premium covered

  • Employer B: $25 per hour with 50% of your health premium covered

At first glance, Employer B seems to be the better option because the hourly wage is higher. But if you do the math, you may end up with more money in your pocket if you accept the offer from Employer A, as you won’t pay a cent toward your health premium.

For example, paying 50% of the average premium is $3,955.50 annually. Divide that by 52 weeks, and you get about $76 weekly. Then divide that by 40 hours, and you’re insurance
costs you about $1.90 an hour.

You actually lose 90 cents an hour taking the higher-paying job. However, this calculation assumes no overtime or bonuses, so you must look at the entire pay package and job description to determine which offer makes the most sense financially. Pay package and job details are among the questions you should ask your recruiter to ensure you understand the job offer precisely.

The cost of living in a city or state isn’t the only factor in determining how much a travel LPN earns. Some areas of the country are considered health professional shortage areas (HPSA), meaning they lack enough healthcare professionals to meet the local demand for medical services. Employers in designated HPSAs may offer higher salaries to attract travel LPNs to fill their contracts.

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