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How Much Money Does a Practical Nurse Make Per Year?

by Beth Greenwood

Nursing encompasses a number of different types of careers, from the advanced practice registered nurse to the nursing assistant. In the middle of the group are licensed practical and licensed vocational nurses. LPNs and LVNs are the same in terms of training, licensure, practice and pay, but California and Texas use “vocational nurse” while other states use “practical nurse.”

Education and Licensing

LPNs are educated in vocational programs, typically offered by technical-vocational schools or community colleges. Training lasts about one year. LPNs must be licensed in all states, although scope of practice may vary from one state to another. LPNs provide basic nursing care and work in acute care or convalescent hospitals, nursing homes, home health services and doctors’ offices. The average annual salary for LPNs was $42,400 in 2012, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

Health Care Settings

Skilled nursing facilities provided employment for the majority of LPNs in 2012, according to the BLS. The next largest group worked in general medical and surgical hospitals. Salaries in these two areas were $43,570 and $41,330 per year, respectively. Approximately 90,000 LPNs worked in physicians’ offices, where they earned an average annual salary of $38,980. Almost 80,000 worked in home health care, where the average annual salary was $43,920, and approximately 44,500 worked in community care or assisted living facilities for the elderly, where they earned $43,540.

High-Paying Sectors

Although they employed few LPNs, the highest-paying industries and work settings for this occupation were not in health care in 2012, according to the BLS. LPNs whose primary job was leasing real estate earned $45,620, and those in scientific research and development services earned $45,950. LPNs in the field of grant making and giving services earned $47,490. Insurance carriers employed just over 1,000 LPNs in 2012, where the average annual salary was $48,450. LPNs in junior colleges earned $49,320.

Location Matters

LPN salaries varied by as much as $20,000 per year depending on geographic location, according to the BLS. West Virginia was the lowest-paying state in 2012 at $33,660. Some states paid considerably more -- LPNS in Alaska earned $52,480, and those in Nevada earned $52,850. Connecticut was the highest-paying state, with an average annual salary of $53,560. Salaries also varied by location within a state. Southeast Alaska was the highest-paying nonmetropolitan area, with an average annual salary of $55,260. Among metropolitan areas, the San Francisco-San Mateo-Redwood City area of California topped the list, with an average annual salary of $60,550.

About the Author

Beth Greenwood is an RN and has been a writer since 2010. She specializes in medical and health topics, as well as career articles about health care professions. Greenwood holds an Associate of Science in nursing from Shasta College.

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