A licensed practical nurse (LPN) cares for patients in various types of health care facilities, including hospitals, long-term care facilities and outpatient clinics. These nurses also work for home health care agencies. Beginning LPN salaries are good for a health care career that requires only two semesters of training beyond high school.
LPNs record vital signs such as blood pressure and respiratory rate, administer injections and oral medication, monitor catheters and observe patients for physical or emotional changes. They help move patients in bed to make them more comfortable and to prevent bedsores. They also help patients move from the bed to a wheelchair or assist them with walking when necessary. LPNs respond to medical emergencies. Depending on their work environment, they may set up and maintain medical supplies and equipment.
Salary by Experience
Most LPN training programs last two semesters or one year. These programs are available at vocational schools, technical colleges and community colleges. After training, the new nurse is eligible to take a national exam to become licensed in her state. Beginner LPNs earn in a median salary range of about $28,000 to $39,300 per year, finds the PayScale salary survey website. Salaries generally do not increase much until the nurse has five to nine years of experience, when they earn in a median range of about $31,000 to $45,000 per year.
The average hourly pay for LPNs as of May 2009 was about $19.70, translating to nearly $41,000 annually, reports the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). LPNs in the middle 50 percent of the earnings scale were making $34,000 to $47,000. Those in the lowest 10 percent had incomes below $28,900, which may indicate beginner salaries.
The LPN field will experience fast job growth through at least 2018, according to the BLS. Because of an increasing elderly population, more opportunities are likely in long-term care facilities and home health care. Additional opportunities are developing because of a general increase in demand for health care services.