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Licensed practical nurses (LPN), or licensed vocational nurses (LVN), are entry-level nurses who provide basic nursing care in nursing homes, outpatient settings, and patients' homes. Their education provides them with a quick pathway into nursing, and enough autonomy to earn certifications, specialize, and make a decent living.
Find out how much LPNs make and how factors, such as experience, location, and specialty, influence their pay.
Average Salary for Licensed Practical Nurses (LPN)
Licensed practical nurses (LPN) make an average of $51,850 per year, or #24.93 an hour, according to data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).
Salaries for LPNs vary based on their experience, skills, certifications, location, and specialty. The lowest-paid LPNs earn less than $37,150, according to BLS data from March 2022. The highest-paid LPNs earn more than $63,790.
Average Annual Salary
Source: BLS, March 2022
Average Hourly Wage
Source: BLS, March 2023
Licensed Practical Nurse Salaries by Specialization
Salaries for LPNs vary by specialty. These are some of the most common specialties for LPNs and the median salaries attached to these careers, according to the 2020 Nursing Workforce Survey.
|LPN Specialization||Median Salary|
Source: 2020 Nursing Workforce Survey
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The Highest-Paying States for Licensed Practical Nurses
LPNs can earn more in these high-paying states because of the increased cost of living and quality work settings. The four top-paying states for LPNs have the highest cost-of-living index as of 2022. California and Massachusetts also offer three of the fifteen best hospitals for nurses.
The states with the highest annual pay for LPNs are:
The Highest-Paying Cities for Licensed Practical Nurses
The highest-paying cities for LPNs are all in California, which has the fourth highest cost of living in the U.S., according to the 2022 cost-of-living index. Depending on where you live in California, you can earn $5,000-$10,000 more annually than LPNs living in other parts of the state.
The cities with the highest annual pay for LPNs are:
|San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, CA||$75,880|
|San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, CA||$75,410|
|Santa Rosa, CA||$71,180|
How Do Licensed Practical Nurse Salaries Compare to Other Nurses
When comparing LPN salaries to other nursing salaries, LPNs earn less than most other nurses. This is because certified registered nurse anesthetists, nurse practitioners, and registered nurses have more education and a larger scope of practice.
What Kind of Salary Growth Can Licensed Practical Nurses Expect?
LPNs can earn more by gaining additional experience. According to Payscale data from February 2023, LPNs can earn higher salaries than average after they have more than 10-20 years of experience. Their pay may also vary based on their certifications, education level, specialty, and work setting.
4 Ways to Increase Pay as a Licensed Practical Nurse
You can earn higher pay as an LPN if you gain experience, earn certifications, get your associate degree or bachelor's degree, or change your work setting.
Consider pursuing certifications
Certification programs offer specialized training in gerontology, hospice, or intravenous therapy, depending on the state. LPNs certified in a specialization hold advanced knowledge and skills that allow them to work in more lucrative settings.
Increase education level
LPNs can also increase their salary by earning an associate degree or a bachelor's degree in nursing. While it takes less time to earn a practical certificate or a nursing diploma, degree-holders enjoy higher salaries and more professional opportunities.
According to the 2020 Nursing Workforce Survey, LPNs with more than five years of experience can earn more pay. LPNs may also earn more than average if they have over 10 years of experience, according to Payscale data from February 2023.
Switch practice settings
LPNs can earn more if they change work settings. Skilled nursing facilities, outpatient care centers, and home health services pay LPNs the highest average salaries, according to BLS data from March 2022.
Frequently Asked Questions About Licensed Practical Nurse Salaries
Who makes more: LPNs or RNs?
On average, RNs earn higher annual salaries than LPNs. RNs receive more education and training than LPNs, and they are qualified to perform tasks that LPNs cannot. According to BLS data from February 2023, RNs enjoy an average annual salary of around $82,750, while LPNs make about $51,850 yearly.
Does an LPN hold a degree or a certificate?
Prospective LPNs can hold either a vocational/practical certification, or an associate or bachelor's degree. According to the 2020 Nursing Workforce Survey, a growing number of LPNs hold an undergraduate degree, while fewer individuals hold only a vocational/practical certificate.
Can LPNs make good money?
LPNs can earn a decent living, especially those willing to pursue higher education and become certified in a specialization. Many top earners also prioritize finding jobs in certain work settings, specialties, states, or regions that offer higher salaries.
Is it worth it to become an LPN?
LPN salary figures have consistently risen in recent years, increasing from $38,000 in 2015 to $51,850 in 202, slightly lower than the RN salary growth in the same five years, according to the 2020 Nursing Workforce Survey. This data suggests a continuing need for LPNs. The entry-level LPN role also allows nurses to pursue additional certifications or education, providing many opportunities for continued professional growth. Both aspects demonstrate that it is financially and professionally advantageous to become an LPN.
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