A licensed practical nurse (LPN) works with registered nurses and nurse aides in hospitals, nursing homes and other medical facilities to care for patients and who are sick or injured. Becoming an LPN is a great way to enter the nursing field since it only requires one year of training. However, before committing to an LPN program, students need to learn about the LPN position and the starting salary for a licensed practical nurse.

Licensed practical nurses are paid an hourly wage rather than an annual salary, since the number of hours worked in a week isn't consistent for all LPNs. The average wage for a licensed practical nurse is $19.20 per hour although this can vary based on a number of different factors according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Those with less experience working in the field often start out in the $13-$14 range while those with many years of experience working as a licensed practical nurse can make more than $25 an hour.

Job Responsibilities
To earn their pay a licensed practical nurse has several job responsibilities they are required to complete each day. Properly monitoring and documenting a patient's care is a major responsibility for an LPN. They take and record vital signs on a schedule as directed including blood pressure, heart rate and temperature. They also determine how much fluid and food a patient consumes each day as well as how much urine they output. The LPN records all of this information in the patient's medical file which allows the personal physician to review it. Other responsibilities for a licensed practical nurse include assisting with personal care tasks, collecting samples of urine, blood and other bodily fluids for lab testing, and assisting the RN with nursing procedures.

A majority of LPNs are employed in a hospital or nursing home. However others are hired to work in a doctor's office, public health center or other medical facility. LPN's that work in a hospital or nursing home may work non-traditional hours. Some work 12 hour shifts while others work eight hour shifts, and these shifts may be scheduled in the evenings or nights as well as on weekends.

Job Requirements
To become a licensed practical nurse a person must complete a training program accredited by the National League for Nursing Accrediting Commission (NLNAC). A list of all practical nursing approved programs are available on the NLNAC website making it easy for students to find the right program for them. These programs take approximately nine months to a year to complete for full-time students and result in a certificate in nursing. After receiving their certificate students can take the national licensing exam, NCLEX-PN, and apply for their nursing license as an LPN with their state nursing board.

Advancement Opportunities
To advance in the nursing field a licensed practical nurse must take additional education to become a registered nurse. There are many different programs that offer one year bridge programs that transition nurses from LPN to RN. Many of these are offered online which makes it convenient for an LPN to work and attend school at the same time.