How to Become a Licensed Practical Nurse?

Are you thinking of becoming a Licensed Practical Nurse or already started your career and planning the next step? Learn how to become a Licensed Practical Nurse, what skills you need to succeed, how to advance your career and get promoted, and what levels of pay to expect at each step on your career path. Explore new Licensed Practical Nurse job openings and options for career transitions into related roles.

Steps to Become a Licensed Practical Nurse

A successful licensed practical nurse (LPN) excels at observation, decision-making, and communication. Compassion and empathy are necessary. Remember that in any profession where you're providing patient care, emergencies can arise, so an LPN needs to adapt to any situation and work under pressure. Follow the steps below to become an LPN.
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1

Commit to becoming an excellent licensed practical nurse.

The first step to becoming an LPN is understanding what the role entails and committing fully to the position. While formal training is an absolute must, an LPN must possess skills that can't be taught in a classroom. Finding a mentor in the field can give you insight into dealing with stressful situations.

What type of degree should you pursue to become a Licensed Practical Nurse?

64% of people working as a Licensed Practical Nurse earned a Graduate Degree

What skills do you need to be a Licensed Practical Nurse?

  • CPR First Aid
  • English Language
  • Excellent Communication
  • Critical Thinking
  • BLS Certification
  • CPR Certified
  • CPT Coding
  • Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation
Based on resume data from Glassdoor users who reported working as a Licensed Practical Nurse in the United States.
2

Choose an LPN certification program.

Each state sets its own educational requirements for LPNs. When you choose a certification program, make sure that it is accredited by the state where you plan to work. It typically takes 9 to 18 months to complete an LPN program. Coursework includes entry-level nursing skills, mathematics, and natural sciences.

3

Pass the TEAS.

Once you've chosen an LPN certification program to apply to, you'll need to pass the Test of Essential Academic Skills (TEAS). It's a pre-admission exam that tests you on your fundamental scientific knowledge to ensure that you're ready to take on the rigors of a nursing program. Study materials and practice tests are available from ATI Testing, the developers of the exam. To pass the test, you must score a 67% or higher.

4

Complete your certification program and pass the NCLEX-PN.

After you pass the TEAS and gain admission into an LPN program, you'll complete your coursework and study for the National Council Licensure Exam for Practical Nurses (NCLEX-PN). No matter what state you live in, you must pass the NCLEX-PN to work as a licensed practical nurse. The test format is question variable, which means the testing computer adapts questions based on each test taker's performance. Test takers must answer between 85 and 205 questions, with 5 hours to complete the exam. The National Council of State Boards of Nursing provides study guides.

5

Apply for LPN jobs.

Once you've completed your certification program, passed the NCLEX-PN, and received licensure from the state you want to work in, it's time to start applying for licensed practical nurse positions. Common places of employment for LPNs include nursing homes, hospitals, and physicians' offices. You might also find a job at a medical call center or an insurance company. Many insurance companies hire LPNs to ensure the accurate processing of claims. Working at a call center or insurance company can be a nice change of pace when you need a break from direct patient care.

6

Continue to develop your career skills.

Healthcare is an ever-evolving field, so it's essential for LPNs to continually develop their career skills. Consider joining a chapter of the National Association of Licensed Practical Nurses for access to educational resources and to expand your professional network.

Licensed Practical Nurse Career Path

Licensed Practical Nurse

8+Years of Experience
$20K - $20K /yrAvg. Annual Salary
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Senior Licensed Practical Nurse

2 - 4Years of Experience
Not Enough Salary Reports
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Licensed Practical Nurse IV

5 - 7Years of Experience
Not Enough Salary Reports
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Salary Trajectory

Licensed Practical Nurse Career Path

New Grad Licensed Practical Nurse
Licensed Practical Nurse
Nursing Assistant Manager
Senior Licensed Practical Nurse
Licensed Practical Nurse Manager
Licensed Practical Nurse IV
Licensed Practical Nurse V
Assistant Director of Nursing
Director of Nursing
$0
$6K
$12K
$18K
$30K

Related careers in the Healthcare Industry

Interested in other Healthcare careers? Below are occupations that have high affinity with Licensed Practical Nurse skills. Discover some of the most common Licensed Practical Nurse career transitions, along with skills overlap.

Clinical Instructor
13% skills overlap
9% transitioned to Clinical Instructor