A licensed practical and licensed vocational nurse are the same occupation. The title used depends on the preference established by the state in which they received their license. The primary duty of an LPN or LVN is to provide care and comfort to patients. LPNs and LVNs must complete an accredited program that typically lasts less than one year. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of LVNs and LPNs is expected to grow 22 percent from 2010 to 2020, faster than the national average for all occupations. The state in which they work has a significant impact on earnings, and even specific areas within the state can have salaries that are not in step with the rest of the state.
State With Highest Pay
In May 2012, the highest paying state for LPNs and LVNs was Connecticut, where they averaged $53,560 annually, according to the BLS. The second-best state was Nevada, with an annual mean wage of $52,850, followed by Alaska, where LPNs and LVNs earned an annual average salary of $52,480. In Massachusetts, the mean annual wage was $52,060, and rounding out the top five was New Jersey, with an average salary of $51,350 annually.
States With the Lowest Pay
There was a marked difference in the average salaries for LPNs and LVNs in the best-paying states versus the lowest-paying states, according to May 2012 data published by the BLS. The lowest paying state was West Virginia, where LPNs averaged $33,660. The second-lowest state was South Dakota, with an annual mean wage of $34,270. Third was Alabama with an annual average wage of $34,520, followed by Mississippi, at $35,230 and finally Arkansas, which reported average earnings of $35,300 for the occupation.
National Salary Info
Nationally, in May 2012, there were 718,800 licensed practical and licensed vocational nurses employed, with an annual average salary of $42,400, according to the BLS. The top 10 percent had earnings of $57,360 or more, and the bottom 10 percent had an average annual wage of $30,970 or less. The top-paying industries for LVNs and LPNs were junior colleges, with an annual mean wage of $49,320, and insurance carriers, with an average salary of $48,450. The third highest-paying industry was grant-making and giving services, with an annual mean wage of $47,490. However, the three best-paying industries only employed approximately 1,200 LPNs and LVNs.
Metropolitan Areas With Best Salaries
Although California is not among the top five on the list of best-paying states, according to the BLS, as of May 2012, the five cities with the highest average salaries were all in California. The San Francisco area was at the top with an annual mean wage of $60,550. The greater Oakland area was next, with LVNs averaging $59,540. The third-highest annual mean wage was in Salinas, at $58,950, followed by Vallejo at $57,850. Rounding out the top five list was the San Jose metropolitan area, where the average annual salary for the occupation was $57,820.
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Occupational Outlook Handbook: What Licensed Practical and Licensed Vocational Nurses Do
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Occupational Outlook Handbook: How to Become a Licensed Practical or Licensed Vocational Nurse
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Occupational Outlook Handbook: Licensed Practical and Licensed Vocational Nurses -- Job Outlook
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Occupational Employment Statistics: Occupational Employment and Wages, May 2012 -- Licensed Practical and Licensed Vocational Nurses
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