Growth Trends for Related Jobs
Step Into Nursing as an LVN
If a career in health care interests you, but you don't have a lot of time or money to spend on training, consider becoming a licensed vocational nurse (LVN). LVNs provide care to patients while working in a variety of settings. Educational programs for vocational nurses can be completed with less than a year of full-time study. In addition, this profession sometimes offers flexible scheduling options, which can help you balance your career with your family's needs.
Licensed vocational nurses, known as licensed practical nurses (LPNs) in some states, provide nursing care to patients and their families. The scope of practice for LVNs varies by state, though typical job responsibilities include:
- Taking vital signs
- Interviewing patients about their health conditions or concerns
- Keeping records on a patient's progress
- Changing dressings and bandages
- Assisting patients with eating, dressing or bathing
- Participating in patient education
As the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics notes, LVNs in some states are allowed to dispense medications and start IVs. Other states do not permit LVNs to perform these duties, instead reserving these functions for licensed registered nurses. If this concerns you, review your state's nursing regulations to determine what is in a vocational nurse's scope of practice in your area.
LVNs must complete an educational program approved in the state in which they plan to receive their license. These educational programs are typically found at vocational schools and community colleges. Once you've earned a diploma or certificate after graduating, you must then pass the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-PN).
After licensure, you'll have the opportunity to earn professional certifications that can help you advance in your career. Some nursing schools and programs offer educational programs for LVNs who wish to become registered nurses.
According to the BLS, the median annual wage for LVNs was $44,090 as of May 2016. This means that 50 percent of LVNs made more than $44,090, and half earned less. The bottom 10 percent of earners earned less than $32,510, and the top 10 percent made more than $60,420.
Licensed vocational nurses work in a variety of health care settings, including nursing homes and rehabilitation facilities; patient's homes, through home health care services; and doctor's offices. In hospitals and nursing homes, LVNs frequently work long shifts, which may include evening or weekend hours. Those working in doctor's offices may enjoy a more regular schedule. Home health care nurses can expect to spend a significant time driving to and from patients' residences.
Years of Experience
As you continue in your vocational nursing career, you can expect to earn more money. A survey by PayScale.com demonstrates a correlation between years on the job and earnings:
- 0‒5 years: $42,000
- 5‒10 years: $46,000
- 10‒20 years: $48,000
- 20+ years: $48,000
Job Growth Trend
The BLS estimates that employment for LVNs will grow by 12 percent between 2016 and 2026. This faster-than-average growth is likely because of an aging population in need of cost-effective medical care. In addition, some chronic diseases, such as diabetes, are on the increase. Nurses, both RNs and LVNs, will be needed to assist patients in managing these conditions.
Lainie Petersen writes about business, real estate and personal finance, drawing on 25 years experience in publishing and education. Petersen's work appears in Money Crashers, Selling to the Masses, and in Walmart News Now, a blog for Walmart suppliers. She holds a master's degree in library science from Dominican University.