Licensed practical and licensed vocational nurses
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Overview
Licensed practical nurses (LPNs) and licensed vocational nurses (LVNs) provide basic nursing care. They work under the direction of registered nurses and doctors.
Predicted employment growth
Over the next decade, jobs for licensed practical and licensed vocational nurses are expected to grow by 12%, and should have about 62,800 job openings a year.
Safety from automation
Licensed practical and licensed vocational nurses are less likely to be automated than 79% of other careers.
Workforce size
Licensed practical and licensed vocational nurses, with 724,500 workers, form a larger workforce than 94% of careers.
Education
Only 5% of licensed practical and licensed vocational nurses have a bachelor's degree or higher.
Education attained by licensed practical and licensed vocational nurses
High School
Some College
Bachelor's Degree
Master's Degree
Doctorate
Context: workers with bachelor's degrees
Fewer licensed practical and licensed vocational nurses have bachelor's degrees than 83% of other careeers.
Salaries
The median (middle) salary for 54% of all other jobs is higher than the middle salary for licensed practical and licensed vocational nurses. The graph shows inflation-adjusted salaries for most licensed practical and licensed vocational nurses.
This job's median $46KAll jobs' median $39K$45K$38K20142015201620172018$0$20K$40K$60K$80K
Context: Median Salary
Gender
Women account for 87% of licensed practical and licensed vocational nurses -- that's a larger percentage than 96% of other jobs.
Gender of licensed practical and licensed vocational nurses
Men
Women
Context: Salary inequity
For each career, we compared the median (middle) men's salary to the median women's salary. For licensed practical and licensed vocational nurses, the median men's salary was 9% more the median woman's salary.
Race/Origin
About 35% of licensed practical and licensed vocational nurses are minority, and 15% are foreign-born.
Race/origin of licensed practical and licensed vocational nurses
White
Black
Pacific Islander
Hispanic
Asian
American Indian
Multiracial
Other
Context: Foreign-born workers (15%)
Where are the most jobs?
We ranked the number of jobs in Licensed Practical and Licensed Vocational Nurses per thousand workers in each state, DC, and Puerto Rico. The darker the blue, the higher the job density.
AKMEVTNHWAIDMTNDMNMINYMARIORUTWYSDIAWIINOHPANJCTCANVCONEMOILKYWVVAMDDEAZNMKSARTNNCSCDCOKLAMSALGAHITXFLPR
Job benefits
Employer or union-sponsored pension plans are offered to 50% of licensed practical and licensed vocational nurses, and 64% have company-sponsored health insurance (17% have dependents enrolled in their employer's health plan).
Employer-provided health coverage for licensed practical and licensed vocational nurses
100% premiums covered
Partial premiums covered
Plan with no cost sharing
No health insurance
The downside
Some jobs are more stressful than others, and some are just plain dangerous. The following list gives the percentages of licensed practical and licensed vocational nurses who report hazardous or difficult situations typically occurring at least once a week.
  • Exposed to Disease or Infections (94%)
  • Deal With Unpleasant or Angry People (83%)
  • Time Pressure (80%)
  • Responsible for Others' Health and Safety (76%)
  • Consequence of Error (67%)
  • Frequency of Conflict Situations (63%)
  • Deal With Physically Aggressive People (51%)
  • Exposed to Contaminants (37%)
SOURCES:24.0 O*NET
Salary and diversity
Salary overview
What do licensed practical and licensed vocational nurses earn?

In this section, we want to give you a clear idea of what you can expect to earn in this career. We use two sources of data here: the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), which asks employers to classify their workforce and to report salaries using the SOC-specialty level of reporting, and the American Community Survey (ACS), which asks people to classify their jobs using the broad classifications that ididio uses for career profiles, and to self-report their salaries. For some jobs, the differences in survey approaches between BLS and ACS can paint a very different end-picture. Whenever possible, we provide data from both sources.

The BLS-compiled salary data is reported by companies for their employees. This data excludes self-employed workers. We first show the distribution of salaries for licensed practical and licensed vocational nurses, and then we show how the middle (median) salary for licensed practical and licensed vocational nurses compares to the BLS-computed median salaries of other careers.
Distribution: Salaries for licensed practical and licensed vocational nurses (BLS Salary Data)
$46K$0$20K$40K$60K$80K$100K$120K
Context: Median salaries across careers (BLS Salary Data)
$46K$0$20K$40K$60K$80K$100K$120K
We compiled household data from the ACS to determine the salaries that people working at least 35 hours a week report themselves to earn. Unlike the BLS estimates, this data includes self-employed wages. We first show the full salary distribution for all licensed practical and licensed vocational nurses, and then we show how the median (middle) salary for licensed practical and licensed vocational nurses compares to the median ACS-reported salary of other careers.
Distribution: Salaries for licensed practical and licensed vocational nurses (ACS Salary Data)
$38K$0$20K$40K$60K$80K$100K$120K
Context: Median salaries across careers (ACS Salary Data)
$38K$0$20K$40K$60K$80K$100K$120K
Employers and salary
A look at employers and corresponding salaries
The donut shares the break-down of workers by employer type, and following we show the salary distributions for these workers based on those employer types. For some careers, the salaries can be vastly different between private, government, and self-employment. As with our salary overview, we view the both the BLS economists' salary profiles and the household-reported salaries from ACS to get a thorough understanding of where licensed practical and licensed vocational nurses work and for what salary. We have the great faith in the accuracy of economist-vetted BLS data; however, the BLS restrictions on which employers are surveyed skews the data a bit (read more in the sources), and the ACS responses provide different and useful categorizations of employers and salaries.
Employers of Licensed practical and licensed vocational nurses (ACS)
Private for-profit (71.9%)
Private not-for-profit (14.4%)
Local government (4.1%)
State government (5.0%)
Federal government (3.6%)
Self-employed incorporated (0.2%)
Self-employed not incorporated (0.7%)
Working without pay (0.0%)
Distribution: Salaries of licensed practical and licensed vocational nurses by type of employer (ACS data)
Following are the salary distributions by employer type calculated by aggregating individual household survey responses.
$38K$39K$31K$38K$43K$39K$38K$36K$0$20,000$40,000$60,000$80,000$100,000Self-employed not incorporatedSelf-employed incorporatedFederal governmentState governmentLocal governmentPrivate not-for-profitPrivate for-profitAll
Distribution: Salaries of licensed practical and licensed vocational nurses by type of employer (BLS data)
Following are the salary distributions by employer type as reported by BLS based on large employer-focused surveys. We note that smaller employer categories are not included by BLS.
$46K$49K$43K$46K$47K$0$20,000$40,000$60,000$80,000Federal governmentState governmentLocal governmentPrivateAll
Age and career advancement
Salary growth for licensed practical and licensed vocational nurses

The biggest take-away from the following two charts is the relationship between salary and experience that we can infer from age. Does this job seem to attract especially younger or older workers? Does it reward experience?

Take a minute a look at how much you might expect your salary to increase with each five years' experience, as well as how the numbers working in this career changes. We only provide this data when there are enough consistent ACS survey responses to allow a reasonable margin of error, so for some careers you will see gaps in our reporting of salary by age.

$42K$41K$39K$41K$36K$40K$42K$33K$24K$0$20K$40K$60K$80KSalary distribution20-2425-2930-3435-3940-4445-4950-5455-5960-64
020K40K60K80KNumber employed20-2425-2930-3435-3940-4445-4950-5455-5960-64

Our only sources for career data containing age, gender, or origin/race come from the Census Bureau. To provide these breakdowns, we have aggregated ACS person-level career survey responses by career, gender, race, and age. These graphics reflect the results of our aggregations, and are useful for identifying trends. A careful statistical study of the impact of age, gender, and race on salaries would correct for other factors that could be contributing to salary differences.

Gender and Equity
Licensed practical and licensed vocational nurses and gender

With 87% women, this occupation has a higher percentage of women than 96% of careers.

Context: Women in the workforce
87%0%20%40%60%80%100%
Gender of Licensed practical and licensed vocational nurses
Men (13%)
Women (87%)
Distribution: Salaries by gender

As we'll illustrate at the bottom of this section, the median salary for all full-time male workers in the US exceeds the full-time median salary for women by 20%. The situation is a little better for licensed practical and licensed vocational nurses, with the median salary for men 9% higher than the median salary for women. This chart shows you the salary range for most workers by gender.

$38K$41K$0$20K$40K$60K$80KWomenMen
Context: Salary Inequity

Nationwide there are twenty careers for which men do not have a higher median (middle) salary than women. The chart below shows the salary inequity, the percentage by which the median men's salary is higher than the median women's salary, for most jobs. Licensed practical and licensed vocational nurses have one of the smaller percentage increases for men's salary, with the increase the men's median salary over the women's median salary in this job lower than that for 75% of other jobs.

9%0%20%40%60%80%100%

Our only sources for career data containing age, gender, or origin/race come from the Census Bureau. To provide these breakdowns, we have aggregated ACS person-level career survey responses by career, gender, race, and age. These graphics reflect the results of our aggregations, and are useful for identifying trends. A careful statistical study of the impact of age, gender, and race on salaries would correct for other factors that could be contributing to salary differences.

Race/Origin
Race and origin of licensed practical and licensed vocational nurses

The representation of minority and foreign-born workers is quite different between careers, and the relative pay of those workers also varies significantly between careers. There is a higher percentage of minority licensed practical and licensed vocational nurses than for 94% of other careers. The percentage of foreign-born workers in this career is near the middle of all careers.

Race/origin of licensed practical and licensed vocational nurses
White (63% )
Black (26% )
Asian (4% )
Other (3% )
Multiracial (2% )
Hispanic (1% )
American Indian (1% )
Pacific Islander (0% )
Context: Representation of minorities in the workforce
35%0%20%40%60%80%100%
Context: Representation of foreign-born workers
15%0%20%40%60%80%100%
Distribution: Salaries for licensed practical and licensed vocational nurses by race/origin

For some careers, there is a pay disparity depending on race or origin, though this is not prevalent. We calculate standard errors for all of our calculations, and when the error is high we do not show results. Therefore, for some jobs will have omitted race/origin categories.

$34K$35K$37K$38K$38K$39K$45K$0$20K$40K$60K$80KAmerican IndianOtherHispanicWhiteMultiracialBlackAsian
Distribution: Salaries for licensed practical and licensed vocational nurses by nativity
$38K$42K$0$20K$40K$60K$80KAll native citizensAll foreign-born

Our only sources for career data containing age, gender, or origin/race come from the Census Bureau. To provide these breakdowns, we have aggregated ACS person-level career survey responses by career, gender, race, and age. These graphics reflect the results of our aggregations, and are useful for identifying trends. A careful statistical study of the impact of age, gender, and race on salaries would correct for other factors that could be contributing to salary differences.

Pathways to this career
Education requirements and salary
Education attained by licensed practical and licensed vocational nurses

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), licensed practical and licensed vocational nurses typically hold a postsecondary nondegree award.

Sometimes the typical education identified by the BLS differs a bit from the reality of the how much education current workers actually have. The donut shows the education level held by people currently working as licensed practical and licensed vocational nurses as reported in responses to the American Community Survey. Following, we investigate whether education level influences salary for licensed practical and licensed vocational nurses.

Education attained by licensed practical and licensed vocational nurses
None
High School
Some College
Associate's Degree
Bachelor's Degree
Master's Degree
Professional Deg/Doct
Doctorate
Details: Education and training recommended for licensed practical and licensed vocational nurses

LPNs and LVNs must complete an approved educational program. These programs award a certificate or diploma and typically take about 1 year to complete, but may take longer. They are commonly found in technical schools and community colleges, although some programs may be available in high schools or hospitals.

Practical nursing programs combine classroom learning in subjects such as nursing, biology, and pharmacology. All programs also include supervised clinical experience.

Contact state boards of nursing for lists of approved programs.

Details: Licensing and certification recommended for licensed practical and licensed vocational nurses

After completing a state-approved educational program, prospective LPNs and LVNs can take the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-PN). In all states, they must pass the exam to get a license and work as an LPN or LVN. For more information on the NCLEX-PN examination and a list of state boards of nursing, visit the National Council of State Boards of Nursing.

LPNs and LVNs may choose to become certified through professional associations in areas such as gerontology and intravenous (IV) therapy. Certifications show that an LPN or LVN has an advanced level of knowledge about a specific subject.

In addition, employers may prefer to hire candidates who are trained to provide cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR).

Distribution: Salary by education level

What level of education is truly needed for licensed practical and licensed vocational nurses? Below we see the distribution of licensed practical and licensed vocational nurses salaries based on the education attained. These comparisons are based on all survey responses by those who identified themselves as licensed practical and licensed vocational nurses, and are not intended as a statistical analysis of salary differences that would correct for non-educational factors that could contribute to high or low earnings.

$30K$33K$39K$40K$44K$48K$0$20K$40K$60K$80K$100K$120KNone (1%)High School (22%)Some College (55%)Associate's Degree (17%)Bachelor's Degree (4%)Master's Degree (1%)
Certificate/degree pathways

The Department of Education recommends the following college degree programs as preparation for this career. You can click a program row to learn more about the program and explore a list of schools that offer the program.

Program
Education
Education level of awarded degrees
Less than bachelor's
bachelor's degree
Higher than bachelor's
Gender
Gender of graduates
Men
Women
Race/Origin
Race/origin of graduates
White
Minority
International
Number of degrees awarded in 2017
Licensed Practical/Vocational Nurse Training
43,952
Specialized Study in Practical Nursing, Vocational Nursing and Nursing Assistants
4,601
Switching Careers
Most common new jobs
The most common next careers for licensed practical and licensed vocational nurses

What jobs will most licensed practical and licensed vocational nurses hold next year?

The data in this chart comes from person interviews for the Census Bureau's Current Population Survey. The survey interviews households eight times over a two-year period, allowing us a glimpse into how people move from job to job. You can see more details from the results of the survey in our last tab in this section, and you can read about our methodology in our source descriptions.

Here we see all of the jobs that at least 1% of licensed practical and licensed vocational nurses reported holding in their second year's survey. Is your future job on this list? For licensed practical and licensed vocational nurses, there isn't a lot of action in this chart! This isn't a career that invites much moving around.

Licensed practical and licensed vocational nursesRegistered nursesNursing, psychiatric, and home health aidesPersonal care aides
Lateral career moves
Lateral job transitions for licensed practical and licensed vocational nurses

A lateral career transition is a move to a job with similar pay and responsibilities. A move to such a job can offer a change of pace without an increase in stress or a decrease in pay. The following table simply identifies all 3 jobs which were held by at least 1% of survey respondents before working as licensed practical and licensed vocational nurses as well as 1% of respondents after working as licensed practical and licensed vocational nurses. Select a row to investigate the job's full description and determine if it truly offers an opportunity for a lateral transition.

Lateral-move careers for licensed practical and licensed vocational nurses
Annual openings
How many openings are expected each year?
Salary
Salary distribution for people in this occupation. Range is 0-$200,000.
Median
Middle 50%
Middle 80%
Education
High School
Some College
Bachelor's Degree
Master's Degree
Doctorate
Gender
Men
Women
Personal care aides
418,400
$0$200K$22K
Nursing, psychiatric, and home health aides
380,800
$0$200K$25K
Registered nurses
203,800
$0$200K$63K
Full prior and next career listings
Prior and next careers for licensed practical and licensed vocational nurses: full listings

What do people typically do before and after they work as licensed practical and licensed vocational nurses? Here are the full lists of all jobs that at least 1% of licensed practical and licensed vocational nurses surveyed reported as holding a year earlier or later.

Choose which type of transition to view
Prior jobs
Next jobs
Prior careers for licensed practical and licensed vocational nurses
Annual openings
How many openings are expected each year?
Salary
Salary distribution for people in this occupation. Range is 0-$200,000.
Median
Middle 50%
Middle 80%
Education
High School
Some College
Bachelor's Degree
Master's Degree
Doctorate
Gender
Men
Women
Percentage Transitioning
What percentage worked in this job the previous year?
Cashiers
659,300
$0$200K$20K
1.1%
Personal care aides
418,400
$0$200K$22K
3.7%
Secretaries and administrative assistants
395,200
$0$200K$36K
1.0%
Nursing, psychiatric, and home health aides
380,800
$0$200K$25K
11.3%
Registered nurses
203,800
$0$200K$63K
11.8%
Medical assistants
95,000
$0$200K$30K
1.2%
Licensed practical and licensed vocational nurses
62,800
$0$200K$38K
39.8%
No occupation
10.7%
Read about licensed practical and licensed vocational nurses
Responsibilities and activities
Responsibilities and activities

Licensed practical and licensed vocational nurses typically do the following:

  • Monitor patients’ health—for example, by checking their blood pressure
  • Administer basic patient care, including changing bandages and inserting catheters
  • Provide for the basic comfort of patients, such as helping them bathe or dress
  • Discuss the care they are providing with patients and listen to their concerns
  • Report patients’ status and concerns to registered nurses and doctors
  • Keep records on patients’ health

Duties of LPNs and LVNs vary, depending on their work setting and the state in which they work. For example, they may reinforce teaching done by registered nurses regarding how family members should care for a relative; help to deliver, care for, and feed infants; collect samples for testing and do routine laboratory tests; or feed patients who need help eating.

LPNs and LVNs may be limited to doing certain tasks, depending on the state where they work. For example, in some states, LPNs with proper training can give medication or start intravenous (IV) drips, but in other states LPNs cannot perform these tasks. State regulations also govern the extent to which LPNs and LVNs must be directly supervised. For example, an LPN may provide certain forms of care only with instructions from a registered nurse.

In some states, experienced licensed practical and licensed vocational nurses supervise and direct other LPNs or LVNs and unlicensed medical staff.

Personality and skills
Personality and skills

Can you see yourself in the ranks of licensed practical and licensed vocational nurses? Here are the skills and traits that could lead to success.

Compassion
Licensed practical and licensed vocational nurses must be empathetic and caring toward the people they serve.
Detail oriented
LPNs and LVNs need to be responsible and detail oriented, because they must make sure that patients get the correct care at the right time.
Interpersonal skills
Interacting with patients and other healthcare providers is a big part of their jobs, so LPNs and LVNs need good interpersonal skills.
Patience
Dealing with sick and injured people may be stressful. LPNs and LVNs should be patient, so they can cope with any stress that stems from providing care to these patients.
Physical stamina
LPNs and LVNs should be comfortable performing physical tasks, such as bending over patients for a long time.
Speaking skills
It is important that LPNs and LVNs communicate effectively. For example, they may need to relay information about a patient’s current condition to a registered nurse.
Trends in employment
Salary trends
Distribution and trends: Salaries for licensed practical and licensed vocational nurses
Choose actual dollars or inflation-adjusted dollars to view
Adjusted for inflation
Historic dollars

In 2018, the median (middle) for 54% of all other jobs were higher than the median (middle) salary for licensed practical and licensed vocational nurses. This graphic shows how the salary distribution (adjusted for inflation) has changed for this job over recent years. The gray line, as a comparison, shows the median salary of all US workers.

This job's median $46KAll jobs' median $39K$45K$38K200420052006200720082009201020112012201320142015201620172018$0$20K$40K$60K$80K
Projected versus actual employment
Exploring actual employment trends versus projected trends

Currently, jobs for licensed practical and licensed vocational nurses are anticipated to grow by 12% over the next decade; only 19% of jobs are predicted to grow more.

The projected employment for licensed practical and licensed vocational nurses is the best guess created by talented economists and statisticians at the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). However, as you look through several careers you'll notice that the projections are heavily influenced by past performance and may miss current trends. No one can tell the future, and as new information and better techniques are developed, actual counts and future projections may change. Here's a glimpse at the actual counts versus the projections over time.

20002010202020300200,000400,000600,000800,0001,000,000
Employment counts
Actual measured employment
BLS 10-year predictions
Variation by state
Employment
State-by-state employment numbers

Some careers tend to be centered in specific parts of the country. For example, most jobs in fashion are in New York or California. Let's see if your dream job is easy to find in your dream location! We have a few choices for viewing the data that can help you get a full employment picture.

Job density versus job count

Which states hire the most licensed practical and licensed vocational nurses? We wonder if that's a fair question since states come in all sizes, so instead let's start with the question of which states have the highest density of people working as licensed practical and licensed vocational nurses. You can choose to view the number of jobs per state if you prefer.

BLS vs ACS data

This map defaults to employment information from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), which provides job totals carefully compiled for accuracy and with a primary focus on how employers describe their workers. The BLS job totals do not count self-employed workers. We've also compiled totals using the Census Bureau's American Community Survey (ACS) which are based on how workers describe themselves. Sometimes ACS results are quite a bit different from the employer-based BLS data.

Choose the metric to review
Jobs per 1000 working
Number of jobs
Use this data source
BLS
Number of Licensed Practical and Licensed Vocational Nurses per 1,000 workers (BLS)
Select a state to see local area details
AKMEVTNHWAIDMTNDMNMINYMARIORUTWYSDIAWIINOHPANJCTCANVCONEMOILKYWVVAMDDEAZNMKSARTNNCSCDCOKLAMSALGAHITXFLPR
0.02.04.06.08.010.012.0
Salary
Salaries by state
Let's get a feel for where licensed practical and licensed vocational nurses earn the highest salaries. There are several choices for which data we consider and how we view that data, and each can lead to different conclusions, so please read on...
Median salary versus state ratio

We use two methods to compare salaries across states:

  • In-state comparisons: the ratio of median (middle) salaries for licensed practical and licensed vocational nurses compared to the median salary for all people working in each state, or
  • Median salary: the unaltered median salaries for licensed practical and licensed vocational nurses.

We hope the ratio allows perspective about how salaries may compare to the regional cost-of-living.

BLS vs ACS data

We have two sources for statewide salary information with important distinctions. The BLS data is created by surveying companies, missing individuals who are self-employed or work for smaller companies. The ACS data is compiled from multi-faceted household surveys and may reflect the inconsistencies that people may have in reporting information.

Choose the metric to review
In-state comparisions
Median salary
Use this data source
BLS
Median salary ratio: Licensed Practical and Licensed Vocational Nurses to all workers (BLS)
The darkest shading corresponds to states in which licensed practical and licensed vocational nurses earn the highest salary when compared to other jobs in the state. We think this ratio might be a better indicator than the actual salary for your buying power as a state resident.
Select a state to see local area details
AKMEVTNHWAIDMTNDMNMINYMARIORUTWYSDIAWIINOHPANJCTCANVCONEMOILKYWVVAMDDEAZNMKSARTNNCSCDCOKLAMSALGAHITXFLPR
0.00.51.01.52.0
Compare to similar jobs

If this job interests you, then use the dots below to find other jobs you might like. The dots closer to the top represent jobs that are like Licensed practical and licensed vocational nurses (shown with a blue star). Look for the dots to the right to find the best salaries! (We pulled salary data from BLS, and they give a top salary value of just over $200K to protect privacy, so our graph would go much higher if the salaries were not top coded.)

How should the career similarity be computed

There are a number of ways to measure the similarity of jobs, here are a few we provide:

  • Interests: Also known as a Holland Code - Are you a thinker? A helper? What fits your personality?
  • Environment: Are there hazards? Will you be comfortable? Will it be stressful?
  • Knowledge: What do you need to know the most about?
  • Physical Abilities: Do you need to especially strong or coordinated?
Choose the similarity measure to compare careers
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Knowledge
Physical Abilities
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