Licensed practical nurses (LPNs) provide basic medical care for patients. Online LPN programs train students to monitor patients' health, conduct physical assessments, and administer basic care. Many prospective nurses complete LPN training in only one year.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), licensed practical nurses earn a median pay of $47,480 per year. The BLS projects employment for LPNs to increase 9% from 2019 to 2029, much faster than the average for all occupations. LPNs can work in a variety of settings, including residential care facilities, hospitals, doctors' offices, and home healthcare settings.
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Licensed vocational nurses (LVNs) perform the same tasks as LPNs. Three states -- California, Texas, and Vermont -- use the title LVN, while every other state uses LPN. This article introduces online LPN programs and ranks the best programs for 2021. The following sections provide information to help aspiring nurses reach their academic and career goals.
Top Online LPN Programs
|#1||Lake Area Technical Institute Watertown, SD|
|#2||Northland Community and Technical College Thief River Falls, MN|
|#3||Holmes Community College Goodman, MS|
LPNs typically hold a one-year diploma or certificate in practical nursing. They can also earn an associate degree for LPNs or LVNs.
Nursing students complete classes and hands-on training to develop professional skills. Most programs require a minimum number of clinical hours.
Becoming an LPN generally takes at least one year. LPNs can enter the field with a one-year diploma or certificate. Some schools also offer a two-year associate degree for LPNs.
LPN and LVN programs train students for nursing careers. While most states use the term LPN, three states identify these professionals as LVNs.
Best Online LPN Programs 2021
The following list ranks the top online LPN programs for 2021. Aspiring nurses looking for the most affordable LPN online programs can use this list to narrow their search. Choosing one of the best LPN online programs can help LPNs increase their competitiveness in the job market.
Located in Watertown, South Dakota, LATI offers an online licensed practical nursing (LPN) program for state residents as well as applicants living in North Dakota, Minnesota, Iowa, and Nebraska.
Applicants must complete all prerequisite coursework prior to enrolling in LPN classes. Prerequisites include anatomy, college algebra, and general psychology. Full-time students can complete the 34-credit program in 11 months, while part-time enrollees usually take up to 23 months.
The curriculum includes classes in nutrition, fundamentals of nursing practice, and pharmacology. Many of the courses require enrollees to complete clinical hours along with classroom instruction. Students work with program coordinators and faculty to schedule clinical hours in Watertown and in their home region. The online LPN degree prepares graduates to take the NCLEX-PN.
Applicants must take the Test of Essential Academic Skills and possess a 2.5 GPA or higher. LATI's online LPN program is accredited by the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing.
NCTC's online licensed practical nursing (LPN) program comprises 44 credits and prepares graduates to sit for the NCLEX-PN. Students participate in off-campus classes as well as onsite clinical experiences. The online LPN program allows enrollees to engage in supervised direct patient care in various healthcare environments, including hospitals, outpatient clinics, and hospices
The curriculum includes courses in nursing foundations, caring for mothers and newborns, invasive nursing therapies, and clinical care. The online LPN degree follows a cohort model of education.
Applicants need a minimum 2.5 GPA and a grade of "C" or higher in prerequisite coursework. Prerequisites include math applications for nurses, anatomy and physiology, medical terminology, and composition. Applicants need a cumulative score of at least 50 on the Test of Essential Academic Skills.
NCTC's online LPN program is accredited by the National League for Nursing Commission for Nursing Education Accreditation.
The 45-credit licensed practical nursing (LPN) program at Holmes Community College follows a hybrid delivery method. Most students complete the LPN after five semesters of continuous enrollment. The program fulfills NCLEX-PN educational requirements, which students can take after graduation.
The curriculum includes classes in nursing fundamentals, IV therapy and pharmacology, and adult health nursing concepts. Students must complete classroom instruction before proceeding to the clinical experience. The program meets the prescribed clinical hours required by the Mississippi Board of Nursing.
Applicants need a high school or GED diploma and must submit their ACT scores. Although college credits are not required to apply, applicants with a college background must show a 2.0 GPA or higher for admission consideration. Applicants must show completion of prerequisite coursework prior to enrolling in LPN classes.
The LPN program at Holmes Community College is accredited by the Mississippi Community College Board.
Career and Salary Outlook for Nursing
LPNs benefit from a strong career and salary outlook. The BLS projects healthcare occupations to grow 15% between 2019 and 2029. During that time frame, the BLS projects more new jobs in the healthcare field than in any other industry.
LPNs are in high demand. BLS projects the creation of more than 65,000 new LPN jobs from 2019 to 2029. According to BLS data, LPNs earn a median pay of $47,480 per year, with those who work in nursing and residential care facilities earning the highest median salaries.
Demand and individual salaries for LPNs depend on factors including location, experience, work setting, and specialty.
|Career||Bottom 10%||Median Annual Salary||Top 10%|
|Licensed Practical and Licensed Vocational Nurses||$34,560||$47,480||$63,360|
Prospective LPNs should research each prospective school's accreditation status before applying. Choosing an accredited online LPN program ensures graduates can qualify for licensure and positions in the field. Many state nursing boards only grant licensure to graduates of accredited programs, and employers prefer to hire LPNs who attended an accredited program. Additionally, applicants to BSN programs may need a degree from an accredited program, and only students at accredited schools can qualify for federal financial aid.
Accredited schools and programs meet high standards for academic quality. Programmatic accreditation in the field demonstrates that the program follows the best practices for training future LPNs. The Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN) grants accreditation to LPN programs.
Nursing students can verify the accreditation status of any school or program using the U.S. Department of Education's online database. Learners can also search the ACEN database of accredited programs.
Nursing Licensing for LPNs
Licensed practical nurses need a state license to practice. Licensure requirements vary by state, but LPNs must typically complete an approved nursing program and pass an examination.
For example, LPN candidates in New York need a degree from a state-approved nursing education program. Approved programs include out-of-state programs and online licensed practical nursing programs. Candidates must have completed coursework in infection control.
Candidates must also pass an examination. Most states require LPN licensure candidates to take the National Council Licensure Examination-Practical Nurse (NCLEX-PN). The National Council of State Boards of Nursing delivers the NCLEX-PN exam, which tests candidates' nursing skills and knowledge.
In New York, the licensure and registration fee for an LPN license costs $143. Many states offer reciprocity for LPNs who hold a license from another state. Each state's board of nurses sets the requirements for LPN licensure. Prospective LPNs should research their state's requirements and licensing process.
Courses in a Nursing Program
Nursing programs prepare learners to care for patients, conduct health assessments, and follow ethical nursing practices. Students in online LPN programs receive classroom training and complete experiential components, including simulations and a practicum in a healthcare setting. Distance learners typically fulfill practicum requirements in a local facility.
The courses below are common to many online LPN degree and certificate programs. Exact curricula vary by program, so learners should contact their prospective school to verify course availability.
Many online LPN programs begin with an introductory course on the nursing field. Students learn about the role of LPNs in the healthcare system and the relationship between nurses and patients. The course provides foundational training for advanced coursework and careers as LPNs.
This class prepares future LPNs to deliver quality nursing care. Students explore medical terminology, physiological terms, and the normal functions of various bodily systems. Learners also study the structure and functions of organs, tissues, and cells.
Nurses must follow ethical principles when caring for patients. This course examines ethical practices in nursing care, standards of care, and the role of state nursing boards in enforcing laws and ethical standards. Learners also study patient confidentiality rules, ethical dilemmas, and the American Nurses Association's code of ethics.
LPNs must assess patients to determine their healthcare needs. Students in this class learn how to take patients' histories, conduct physical examinations, and record health data. Learners train to identify risk factors, use different physical assessment techniques, and take vital signs.
Nursing students learn about patient-related risk factors, environmental hazards in healthcare settings, and provider errors. Coursework prepares learners to identify risks and maintain safe environments for patients. Topics may include safe patient transfers, nursing ergonomics, and common accidents.
LPN students can qualify for a variety of scholarship opportunities, which can help minimize student debt. Many professional organizations, private companies, and government agencies support nursing students with funding opportunities. In addition to the following scholarships, LPNs can look for institutional and state-funded financial aid.
Who Can Apply: Nursing students at any level can apply, including learners pursuing an online LPN degree. The award supports students who belong to underrepresented populations and nurses pursuing specialized training.
Amount: Up to $7,500
Who Can Apply: Cherokee Uniforms administers this scholarship, which supports learners in accredited LPN or LVN programs. Recipients can attend school part time or full time.
Who Can Apply: NAHN awards scholarships to current members pursuing a nursing degree from an accredited program. The scholarship committee selects recipients based on need, academic standing, and supporting documentation.
Who Can Apply: U.S. citizens enrolled in an LPN program can qualify for the scholarship, which Coursey Enterprises awards twice a year. Applicants submit an essay about their reasons for pursuing a nursing career.
Who Can Apply: NBNA awards multiple scholarships each year to members. Applicants must be currently enrolled in an accredited LPN program and must submit two written essays, two recommendation letters, and an official transcript.