Licensed Practical or Licensed Vocational Nurse

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Job Outlook:
Faster than average
Education: Postsecondary nondegree award
Salary
High: $72,650.00
Average: $55,860.00
Hourly
Average: $26.86

What they do:

Care for ill, injured, or convalescing patients or persons with disabilities in hospitals, nursing homes, clinics, private homes, group homes, and similar institutions. May work under the supervision of a registered nurse. Licensing required.

On the job, you would:

  • Observe patients, charting and reporting changes in patients' conditions, such as adverse reactions to medication or treatment, and taking any necessary action.
  • Measure and record patients' vital signs, such as height, weight, temperature, blood pressure, pulse, or respiration.
  • Administer prescribed medications or start intravenous fluids, noting times and amounts on patients' charts.

Important Qualities

Compassion. LPNs and LVNs must be empathetic and caring toward the people they serve.

Communication skills. LPNs and LVNs must be able to convey information effectively. For example, they may need to relay a patient’s test results to a registered nurse.

Detail oriented. LPNs and LVNs need to pay attention to minutiae because they must ensure that patients get the correct care at the right time.

Interpersonal skills. LPNs and LVNs must be able to build a rapport to interact with patients and other healthcare providers.

Multitasking skills. LPNs and LVNs often work with multiple patients who have a variety of health needs. They must ensure that each patient receives appropriate care and attention.

Physical stamina. LPNs and LVNs should be able to perform physical tasks, such as bending over patients for a long time.

Personality

A3 Your Strengths Importance

Characteristics of this Career

90% Cooperation  -  Job requires being pleasant with others on the job and displaying a good-natured, cooperative attitude.
89% Concern for Others  -  Job requires being sensitive to others' needs and feelings and being understanding and helpful on the job.
88% Dependability  -  Job requires being reliable, responsible, and dependable, and fulfilling obligations.
88% Attention to Detail  -  Job requires being careful about detail and thorough in completing work tasks.
87% Self-Control  -  Job requires maintaining composure, keeping emotions in check, controlling anger, and avoiding aggressive behavior, even in very difficult situations.
87% Integrity  -  Job requires being honest and ethical.
87% Stress Tolerance  -  Job requires accepting criticism and dealing calmly and effectively with high-stress situations.
85% Independence  -  Job requires developing one's own ways of doing things, guiding oneself with little or no supervision, and depending on oneself to get things done.
84% Adaptability/Flexibility  -  Job requires being open to change (positive or negative) and to considerable variety in the workplace.
81% Leadership  -  Job requires a willingness to lead, take charge, and offer opinions and direction.
81% Initiative  -  Job requires a willingness to take on responsibilities and challenges.
79% Achievement/Effort  -  Job requires establishing and maintaining personally challenging achievement goals and exerting effort toward mastering tasks.
78% Analytical Thinking  -  Job requires analyzing information and using logic to address work-related issues and problems.
77% Social Orientation  -  Job requires preferring to work with others rather than alone, and being personally connected with others on the job.
77% Persistence  -  Job requires persistence in the face of obstacles.
69% Innovation  -  Job requires creativity and alternative thinking to develop new ideas for and answers to work-related problems.
A3 Your Strengths Importance

Strengths

100% Social  -  Work involves helping, teaching, advising, assisting, or providing service to others. Social occupations are often associated with social, health care, personal service, teaching/education, or religious activities.
67% Realistic  -  Work involves designing, building, or repairing of equipment, materials, or structures, engaging in physical activity, or working outdoors. Realistic occupations are often associated with engineering, mechanics and electronics, construction, woodworking, transportation, machine operation, agriculture, animal services, physical or manual labor, athletics, or protective services.
A3 Your Strengths Importance

Values of the Work Environment

89% Relationships  -  Occupations that satisfy this work value allow employees to provide service to others and work with co-workers in a friendly non-competitive environment. Corresponding needs are Co-workers, Moral Values and Social Service.
78% Support  -  Occupations that satisfy this work value offer supportive management that stands behind employees. Corresponding needs are Company Policies, Supervision: Human Relations and Supervision: Technical.
72% Achievement  -  Occupations that satisfy this work value are results oriented and allow employees to use their strongest abilities, giving them a feeling of accomplishment. Corresponding needs are Ability Utilization and Achievement.
67% Independence  -  Occupations that satisfy this work value allow employees to work on their own and make decisions. Corresponding needs are Creativity, Responsibility and Autonomy.

Aptitude

A3 Your Strengths Importance

Abilities | Cognitive, Physical, Personality

75% Oral Comprehension  -  The ability to listen to and understand information and ideas presented through spoken words and sentences.
75% Written Comprehension  -  The ability to read and understand information and ideas presented in writing.
75% Oral Expression  -  The ability to communicate information and ideas in speaking so others will understand.
75% Problem Sensitivity  -  The ability to tell when something is wrong or is likely to go wrong. It does not involve solving the problem, only recognizing that there is a problem.
72% Speech Clarity  -  The ability to speak clearly so others can understand you.
69% Inductive Reasoning  -  The ability to combine pieces of information to form general rules or conclusions (includes finding a relationship among seemingly unrelated events).
69% Near Vision  -  The ability to see details at close range (within a few feet of the observer).
69% Speech Recognition  -  The ability to identify and understand the speech of another person.
69% Deductive Reasoning  -  The ability to apply general rules to specific problems to produce answers that make sense.

Job Details

Responsibilities
Monitor patient conditions during treatments, procedures, or activities.
Record patient medical histories.
Record patient medical histories.
Administer intravenous medications.
Measure the physical or physiological attributes of patients.
Record patient medical histories.
Administer basic health care or medical treatments.
Apply bandages, dressings, or splints.
Assist patients with hygiene or daily living activities.
Supervise patient care personnel.
Collaborate with healthcare professionals to plan or provide treatment.
Record patient medical histories.
Analyze quantitative data to determine effectiveness of treatments or therapies.
Collaborate with healthcare professionals to plan or provide treatment.
Prepare medical supplies or equipment for use.
Operate diagnostic or therapeutic medical instruments or equipment.
Test biological specimens to gather information about patient conditions.
Collect biological specimens from patients.
Explain medical procedures or test results to patients or family members.
Prepare patients physically for medical procedures.
Manage preparation of special meals or diets.
Treat patients using physical therapy techniques.
Clean medical equipment or facilities.
Maintain inventory of medical supplies or equipment.
Order medical supplies or equipment.
Assist patients with hygiene or daily living activities.
Train patients, family members, or caregivers in techniques for managing disabilities or illnesses.
Sterilize medical equipment or instruments.
Assist healthcare practitioners during examinations or treatments.
Schedule patient procedures or appointments.
Maintain medical facility records.
Perform clerical work in medical settings.
Prepare medical supplies or equipment for use.
A3 Your Strengths Importance

Attributes & Percentage of Time Spent

96% Contact With Others  -  How much does this job require the worker to be in contact with others (face-to-face, by telephone, or otherwise) in order to perform it?
93% Telephone  -  How often do you have telephone conversations in this job?
93% Importance of Being Exact or Accurate  -  How important is being very exact or highly accurate in performing this job?
92% Work With Work Group or Team  -  How important is it to work with others in a group or team in this job?
92% Physical Proximity  -  To what extent does this job require the worker to perform job tasks in close physical proximity to other people?
92% Exposed to Disease or Infections  -  How often does this job require exposure to disease/infections?
91% Face-to-Face Discussions  -  How often do you have to have face-to-face discussions with individuals or teams in this job?
85% Time Pressure  -  How often does this job require the worker to meet strict deadlines?
83% Frequency of Decision Making  -  How frequently is the worker required to make decisions that affect other people, the financial resources, and/or the image and reputation of the organization?
81% Responsible for Others' Health and Safety  -  How much responsibility is there for the health and safety of others in this job?
80% Impact of Decisions on Co-workers or Company Results  -  What results do your decisions usually have on other people or the image or reputation or financial resources of your employer?
78% Indoors, Environmentally Controlled  -  How often does this job require working indoors in environmentally controlled conditions?
76% Coordinate or Lead Others  -  How important is it to coordinate or lead others in accomplishing work activities in this job?
75% Deal With Unpleasant or Angry People  -  How frequently does the worker have to deal with unpleasant, angry, or discourteous individuals as part of the job requirements?
75% Wear Common Protective or Safety Equipment such as Safety Shoes, Glasses, Gloves, Hearing Protection, Hard Hats, or Life Jackets  -  How much does this job require wearing common protective or safety equipment such as safety shoes, glasses, gloves, hard hats or life jackets?
74% Structured versus Unstructured Work  -  To what extent is this job structured for the worker, rather than allowing the worker to determine tasks, priorities, and goals?
73% Importance of Repeating Same Tasks  -  How important is repeating the same physical activities (e.g., key entry) or mental activities (e.g., checking entries in a ledger) over and over, without stopping, to performing this job?
71% Responsibility for Outcomes and Results  -  How responsible is the worker for work outcomes and results of other workers?
70% Electronic Mail  -  How often do you use electronic mail in this job?
69% Freedom to Make Decisions  -  How much decision making freedom, without supervision, does the job offer?
69% Spend Time Standing  -  How much does this job require standing?
66% Deal With External Customers  -  How important is it to work with external customers or the public in this job?
A3 Your Strengths Importance

Tasks & Values

89% Assisting and Caring for Others  -  Providing personal assistance, medical attention, emotional support, or other personal care to others such as coworkers, customers, or patients.
87% Documenting/Recording Information  -  Entering, transcribing, recording, storing, or maintaining information in written or electronic/magnetic form.
86% Getting Information  -  Observing, receiving, and otherwise obtaining information from all relevant sources.
80% Organizing, Planning, and Prioritizing Work  -  Developing specific goals and plans to prioritize, organize, and accomplish your work.
80% Making Decisions and Solving Problems  -  Analyzing information and evaluating results to choose the best solution and solve problems.
79% Updating and Using Relevant Knowledge  -  Keeping up-to-date technically and applying new knowledge to your job.
78% Identifying Objects, Actions, and Events  -  Identifying information by categorizing, estimating, recognizing differences or similarities, and detecting changes in circumstances or events.
78% Communicating with Supervisors, Peers, or Subordinates  -  Providing information to supervisors, co-workers, and subordinates by telephone, in written form, e-mail, or in person.
75% Monitoring Processes, Materials, or Surroundings  -  Monitoring and reviewing information from materials, events, or the environment, to detect or assess problems.
70% Resolving Conflicts and Negotiating with Others  -  Handling complaints, settling disputes, and resolving grievances and conflicts, or otherwise negotiating with others.
69% Working with Computers  -  Using computers and computer systems (including hardware and software) to program, write software, set up functions, enter data, or process information.
69% Processing Information  -  Compiling, coding, categorizing, calculating, tabulating, auditing, or verifying information or data.
67% Inspecting Equipment, Structures, or Materials  -  Inspecting equipment, structures, or materials to identify the cause of errors or other problems or defects.
67% Evaluating Information to Determine Compliance with Standards  -  Using relevant information and individual judgment to determine whether events or processes comply with laws, regulations, or standards.
66% Analyzing Data or Information  -  Identifying the underlying principles, reasons, or facts of information by breaking down information or data into separate parts.
66% Developing and Building Teams  -  Encouraging and building mutual trust, respect, and cooperation among team members.
66% Guiding, Directing, and Motivating Subordinates  -  Providing guidance and direction to subordinates, including setting performance standards and monitoring performance.
65% Training and Teaching Others  -  Identifying the educational needs of others, developing formal educational or training programs or classes, and teaching or instructing others.

What Licensed Practical and Licensed Vocational Nurses Do

Licensed practical and licensed vocational nurses
In some states, licensed practical and licensed vocational nurses can give medication or start intravenous (IV) drips.

Licensed practical nurses (LPNs) and licensed vocational nurses (LVNs) provide basic medical care to ill, injured, or convalescing patients or to persons with disabilities. Responsibilities for LPNs and LVNs are nearly identical; their title depends on the state in which they work.

Duties

Licensed practical and licensed vocational nurses typically do the following:

  • Monitor patients’ health by checking their blood pressure, body temperature, and other vital signs
  • Provide basic patient care and comfort, including changing bandages and helping with bathing or dressing
  • Discuss care with patients and listen to their concerns
  • Report patients’ status and concerns to registered nurses, advanced practice nurses, or physicians
  • Document patient care and maintain health records

Responsibilities of LPNs and LVNs vary by work setting. For example, in private homes, they may reinforce registered nurses’ instruction regarding how family members should care for a relative. In hospitals, they might collect samples for testing and do routine laboratory tests. In nursing and residential care facilities, they may feed patients who need help eating.

LPN and LVN duties also may depend on the state in which they work. For example, in some states, LPNs with proper training may give medication or start intravenous (IV) drips.

LPNs and LVNs typically work under the supervision of registered nurses and doctors. States determine the extent to which LPNs and LVNs must be directly supervised. Some states allow experienced LPNs and LVNs to oversee other LPNs and LVNs or unlicensed medical staff.

Work Environment

Licensed practical and licensed vocational nurses held about 655,000 jobs in 2022. The largest employers of licensed practical and licensed vocational nurses were as follows:

Nursing and residential care facilities 35%
Hospitals; state, local, and private 15
Home healthcare services 13
Offices of physicians 12
Government 6

Licensed practical nurses (LPNs) and licensed vocational nurses (LVNs) may spend a lot of time walking, bending, stretching, and standing. Because they often move or lift patients, LPNs and LVNs must use proper lifting techniques to guard against back injury.

The work of LPNs and LVNs may put them in close contact with people who have infectious diseases, and they frequently come into contact with potentially harmful and hazardous drugs and other substances. Therefore, LPNs and LVNs must follow strict guidelines to guard against diseases and other dangers, such as accidental needle sticks and exposure to radiation or to chemicals used in creating a sterile environment.

Work Schedules

Most licensed practical and licensed vocational nurses (LPNs and LVNs) work full time. Some work nights, weekends, and holidays, because medical care takes place at all hours. They may be required to work shifts of longer than 8 hours.

Getting Started

Education:
38%
Some College Courses
35%
Post-Secondary Certificate - awarded for training completed after high school (for example, in agriculture or natural resources, computer services, personal or culinary services, engineering technologies, healthcare, construction trades, mechanic and repair technologies, or precision production)

How to Become a Licensed Practical or Licensed Vocational Nurse

Licensed practical and licensed vocational nurses
Licensed practical and licensed vocational nurses need compassion in caring for patients.

Licensed practical nurses (LPNs) and licensed vocational nurses (LVNs) must complete a state-approved educational program, which typically takes about 1 year. They also must have a license.

Education

LPNs and LVNs must complete an approved educational program. Certificate and diploma programs are commonly found in community colleges and technical schools, including some high schools, and typically take about 1 year to complete.

Practical nursing programs include subjects such as nursing fundamentals, anatomy and physiology, and pharmacology. All programs also include supervised clinical experience.

For a list of approved programs, contact your state board of nursing.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

After completing a state-approved educational program, prospective LPNs and LVNs must pass the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-PN). For more information on the NCLEX-PN, visit the National Council of State Boards of Nursing.

Optional certifications for LPNs and LVNs are available through professional associations in areas such as gerontology, wound care, and intravenous (IV) therapy. Certifications show that an LPN or LVN has an advanced level of knowledge about a specific subject.

Some employers require or prefer that candidates have cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) or basic life support (BLS) certification.

Advancement

With experience, licensed practical and licensed vocational nurses may advance to supervisory positions. Some LPNs and LVNs transfer into other healthcare occupations. For example, an LPN may complete an LPN-to-RN education program to become a registered nurse.

Job Outlook

Employment of licensed practical and licensed vocational nurses is projected to grow 5 percent from 2022 to 2032, faster than the average for all occupations.

About 54,400 openings for licensed practical and licensed vocational nurses are projected each year, on average, over the decade. Many of those openings are expected to result from the need to replace workers who transfer to different occupations or exit the labor force, such as to retire.

Employment

As the baby-boom population ages, the overall need for healthcare services is expected to increase. LPNs and LVNs will be needed in residential care facilities and in home health environments to care for older patients.

A number of chronic conditions, such as diabetes and obesity, have become more prevalent in recent years. LPNs and LVNs will be needed to assist and care for patients with these and other conditions. In addition, many procedures that once could be done only in hospitals are now being done outside of hospitals, creating demand in other settings, such as outpatient care centers.

Contacts for More Information

For more information about licensed practical or licensed vocational nurses, visit

National Association of Licensed Practical Nurses

For more information about the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-PN) and a list of individual state boards of nursing, visit

National Council of State Boards of Nursing

Occupational Requirements Survey

For a profile highlighting selected BLS data on occupational requirements, see

Licensed practical and licensed vocational nurses (PDF)

Similar Occupations

This table shows a list of occupations with job duties that are similar to those of licensed practical and licensed vocational nurses.

Occupation Job Duties Entry-Level Education Median Annual Pay, May 2022
Nursing aides, orderlies, and attendants Nursing Assistants and Orderlies

Nursing assistants provide basic care and help patients with activities of daily living. Orderlies transport patients and clean treatment areas.

See How to Become One $35,740
Occupational therapy assistants and aides Occupational Therapy Assistants and Aides

Occupational therapy assistants and aides help patients develop, recover, improve, as well as maintain the skills needed for daily living and working.

See How to Become One $63,450
Physical therapist assistants and aides Physical Therapist Assistants and Aides

Physical therapist assistants and aides are supervised by physical therapists to help patients regain movement and manage pain after injuries and illnesses.

See How to Become One $57,240
Psychiatric technicians and aides Psychiatric Technicians and Aides

Psychiatric technicians and aides care for people who have mental conditions or developmental disabilities.

See How to Become One $37,330
Registered nurses Registered Nurses

Registered nurses (RNs) provide and coordinate patient care and educate patients and the public about various health conditions.

Bachelor's degree $81,220
Surgical technologists Surgical Assistants and Technologists

Surgical assistants and technologists help with surgical operations.

Postsecondary nondegree award $56,350
Medical assistants Medical Assistants

Medical assistants complete administrative and clinical tasks, such as scheduling appointments and taking patients’ vital signs.

Postsecondary nondegree award $38,270

Information provided by CareerFitter, LLC and other sources.

Sections of this page includes information from the O*NET 27.3 Database by the U.S. Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration (USDOL/ETA). Used under the CC BY 4.0 license.

CareerFitter, LLC has modified all or some of this information. USDOL/ETA has not approved, endorsed, or tested these modifications.