How Much Does a Licensed Vocational Nurse Make?


Getting paid to help others can be a rewarding way to spend your days. The career field of licensed vocational nurses (LVN) is in demand and offers job candidates a good way to make a nice living while making a real difference in the lives of others. In about a year, you can become a professional LVN, and enjoy the benefits and respect of a professional medical career.

Licensed Vocational Nurse Defined

  • A licensed vocational nurse, often referred to as a licensed practical nurse or LPN, is a professionally trained member of the medical nursing team. Licensed vocational nurses provide direct care to patients in a variety of medical settings and perform both clinical and non-clinical duties. Working under the direction of a registered nurse or physician, you will record vital signs, help with bathing and feeding and change dressings. Some licensed vocational nurses are also allowed to perform routine tests.

Licensed Vocational Nursing Incomes

  • According to an August 2009 survey conducted by, the median starting salary for a licensed vocational nurse graduate is between $13.95 and $19.49 an hour, depending on geographic location. After a year of experience, licensed vocational nurses are reporting a median income of between $15.40 and $20.60 an hour or up to $42,800 per year. Those LVNs with at least five years of job experience can earn a median of between $16.84 and $22.24 an hour. After 10 years of job experience, licensed vocational nurses working in the United States are reporting an average earning $17.49 to $22.54 an hour or up to $46,883 annually.

Type of Employer and Pay

  • The type of employer can have some effect on your income as a licensed vocational nurse. Those professionals working in private practices report earning the least, ranging from $15.30 to $20.63 an hour. Hospitals pay slightly more for licensed vocational nursing services at an average of between $15.41 and $21.24 an hour or up to $44,000 annually. Jobs for licensed vocational nurses in state and local government can earn more at a median hourly rate of between $16.16 and $21.77 or up to $45,281 a year.

Higher Paying Positions

  • Home health care agencies employ a number of licensed vocational nurses that travel to patient's homes. Those LVNs report earning a median hourly rate of between $17.78 an hour and $23 an hour. Nursing homes are another large employer of licensed vocational nurses and generally pay a median of between $18.26 and $23.63 an hour or up to $49,000 a year. The hourly pay rate for school nurses differs only about 13 cents per hour. Contract licensed vocational nurses that are basically self employed report earning the highest incomes, averaging between $19.95 and $25.28 an hour or up to $52,582 a year.

Education Requirements

  • Although a few programs may be available in some community colleges, the majority of training programs for licensed vocational nurses are found in technical and vocational schools. The programs are generally about 12 to 14 months and prospective students must pass an entrance exam before being considered. Candidates must have at least a high school diploma or an acceptable GED score. Once you have successfully passed all classroom studies and a clinical internship, you must then pass an exam with the National Council of State Boards of Nursing to obtain a license to work.

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