You’ve worked hard to become a licensed practical nurse and now you’re wondering about the payoff – literally.
As an LPN, you provide crucial support for registered nurses and doctors in caring for patients. The good news is LPN salary is on the rise.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median pay for LPNs in the U.S. is around $54,620 per year [$26.26 per hour] .
Actual wages vary significantly based on factors like location, experience, education, and job responsibilities.
How much can you expect to earn as an LPN?
Here’s a look at the latest data on LPN salaries by state so you know where the best opportunities might be.
We’ve also included details on the typical duties of an LPN, the education and licensing requirements, and the job outlook over the next decade.
By the end, you’ll have a clear sense of what it’s really like to work as an LPN and how much you stand to earn.
- What Is an LPN?
- National Average LPN Salary and Hourly Wage
- LPN Salary by State – Highest and Lowest Paying
- LPN Salary in Popular Cities and Metro Areas
- Top Paying Industries and Employers for LPNs
- Factors That Affect LPN Pay
- Job Outlook and Growth for LPNs
- LPN Salary in Canada vs. The US
- Becoming an LPN – Education Requirements
- How to Increase Your LPN Salary
- LPN Salary FAQs
- Final Thoughts on LPN Salary
What Is an LPN?
Definition of LPN
An LPN, or licensed practical nurse, provides basic nursing care under the supervision of registered nurses and doctors. LPNs earn a certificate or associate’s degree in practical nursing and must pass the NCLEX-PN exam to become licensed.
LPNs assist patients with daily activities like bathing, dressing, and eating.
They also monitor patients’ conditions, check vital signs, and report any health issues to doctors or registered nurses.
LPNs typically earn a lower salary than RNs, though the pay can still be quite good, especially with experience.
LPN salaries tend to be higher in states with a high cost of living.
LPNs who advance into supervisory roles like in-charge nurse can earn up to $20,000 more per year.
Some LPNs receive additional pay by working nights, weekends, and holidays.
Overall, LPNs provide an important role in patient care and health services.
With the aging population, the job outlook for LPNs is quite good.
According to the BLS, employment of LPNs and LVNs is projected to grow 12% from 2018 to 2028, much faster than the average for all occupations.
National Average LPN Salary and Hourly Wage
The average pay for an LPN in the U.S. is $48,500 per year, which works out to about $23.33 per hour.
Actual salaries may vary greatly based on location, experience, education, and employer. Some of the top-paying states for LPNs are:
- California: $58,000
- Hawaii: $57,000
- District of Columbia: $56,000
- Massachusetts: $54,000
- Oregon: $53,000
Many LPNs earn additional income through overtime, bonuses, and shift differentials for working nights, weekends, or holidays.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the job outlook for LPNs over the next decade is excellent, with an expected growth of 11% – much faster than average.
To become an LPN, you’ll need to complete an accredited practical nursing program which usually takes about 1-2 years and results in a certificate or diploma.
LPN programs are offered at many community colleges, vocational schools, and private career schools.
You’ll take classes like anatomy, physiology, nursing fundamentals, and pharmacology.
After graduating from an LPN program, you must pass the NCLEX-PN exam to become licensed.
Once licensed, you’ll be ready to land an entry-level job assisting RNs and physicians in providing basic bedside care for patients in a variety of healthcare settings.
The work can be demanding, but for many, the rewards of the profession make it worthwhile.
If you want a stable career helping others, becoming an LPN may be perfect for you.
While the pay may not make you rich, the job security, flexibility, and growth opportunities provide a solid foundation for your future.
With the aging population, the demand for quality healthcare and medical professionals will only continue to increase.
LPN Salary by State – Highest and Lowest Paying
The salary for LPNs can vary quite a bit depending on where in the U.S. you work.
In general, LPN pay tends to be higher in states with a higher cost of living. The top five highest-paying states for LPNs are:
- California – $57,200
- Hawaii – $50,970
- District of Columbia – $50,090
- Massachusetts – $49,950
- Alaska – $49,330
On the lower end of the spectrum, the states with the lowest LPN salaries are:
- Mississippi – $33,680
- Alabama – $34,630
- West Virginia – $35,870
- Arkansas – $36,970
- Louisiana – $37,240
As you can see, there’s a difference of over $20,000 per year between the highest and lowest paying states.
Where you choose to work can have a big impact on your earning potential as an LPN.
In addition to location, several other factors determine your LPN salary:
• Years of experience – The more experience you have, the higher your pay is likely to be. LPNs with over 20 years of experience can earn over $50,000 per year.
LPNs with certification or experience in a particular nursing specialty, e.g. IV therapy or wound care, often earn a higher salary.
Some employers may pay a higher wage to LPNs with an associate’s degree in nursing (ADN) versus a certificate or diploma.
• Work environment
LPNs employed in hospitals, nursing care facilities, and home health care services typically earn more than those working in physicians’ offices.
• Shift differentials – LPNs who work evening, night, weekend, or holiday shifts are usually paid a shift differential, which is extra pay on top of their base salary.
So while location is a major factor in determining your LPN pay, there are still many opportunities to increase your earning potential in this rewarding career.
With the right experience, education, work environment, and willingness to take on more responsibility, you can achieve a very comfortable LPN salary.
LPN Salary in Popular Cities and Metro Areas
As an LPN, your salary can vary quite a bit depending on where you live and work. Some of the highest paying cities and metro areas for LPNs in the U.S. are:
San Francisco, CA
- According to the BLS, the median pay for LPNs in the San Francisco metro area is over $61,000 per year.
- The cost of living in San Francisco is very high, but the strong job market and demand for LPNs helps offset this.
- Major employers of LPNs in San Francisco include UC San Francisco Medical Center, Kaiser Permanente, and San Francisco VA Medical Center.
- LPNs in Anchorage earn a median salary of $59,000 annually.
- There is a shortage of healthcare workers in Alaska, especially in rural and remote areas. This has led to higher pay for LPNs and other nursing professionals.
- Providence Health & Services is the largest employer of LPNs in Anchorage. The University of Alaska Anchorage and Alaska Native Medical Center also employ many LPNs.
- In Honolulu, the median pay for an LPN is over $51,000 per year.
- The job market for LPNs in Honolulu is growing due to the large population of elderly residents and increase in demand for healthcare.
- Major employers in Honolulu include The Queen’s Medical Center, Hawaii Pacific Health, and Kaiser Permanente.
Other cities where LPNs are paid higher than average include:
Seattle, WA: $54,000
Portland, OR: $51,000
Boston, MA: $56,000
New York, NY: $51,000
As you can see, pay rates for LPNs vary significantly based on location and job market conditions.
In some areas, the demand for LPNs is so high that salaries have increased substantially.
Do some research on cities and facilities you may want to work to determine the earning potential. The salary figures can help in your decision making process.
Top Paying Industries and Employers for LPNs
As an LPN, you have many options for high-paying jobs. Some of the top industries and employers for LPNs include:
Hospitals employ the largest number of LPNs.
Working in a hospital, especially a large teaching hospital, typically provides higher pay and good benefits.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median pay for LPNs in hospitals is over $20 per hour.
Nursing Homes and Long-Term Care Facilities
Nursing homes and long-term care facilities are also major employers of LPNs, with many positions available across the country.
The median pay for LPNs in nursing care facilities is over $22 per hour.
These facilities provide essential medical care and assistance to patients over longer periods of time.
Home Health Care Services
Home health care services dispatch LPNs to provide in-home care for patients.
Working for a home health care agency often offers flexible scheduling and competitive pay.
The median wage for LPNs in home health care services is over $23 per hour.
Physicians’ offices hire LPNs to assist doctors and nurses in providing care to patients.
LPNs in physicians’ offices earn a median pay of around $19 per hour.
While the pay may be slightly lower, working in a physician’s office typically offers stable hours and job security.
•Private companies (ex. DaVita, Fresenius Medical Care, Kindred Healthcare)
•Temporary staffing agencies (ex. Maxim Healthcare, Supplemental Health Care)
•Outpatient care centers
In summary, LPNs have many promising job opportunities with excellent earning potential.
By gaining experience in high-demand specialties and top paying industries, you can significantly increase your salary over time.
The key is to explore all of your options and find the right fit based on your own priorities and needs.
Factors That Affect LPN Pay
As an LPN, your salary can vary quite a bit depending on several factors. Location and work environment tend to have the biggest impact on how much you earn.
Where you live and work has a significant influence on your pay as an LPN. Salaries tend to be higher in areas with a higher cost of living.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the top paying states for LPNs are:
- California – $58,200
- Hawaii – $57,000
- District of Columbia – $56,500
- Massachusetts – $56,140
- Alaska – $55,220
Rural and suburban areas typically pay less than major cities. You’ll also find higher wages working for larger healthcare employers in metropolitan locations.
The setting where you work also affects your earning potential as an LPN. In general, you can make the most money working in:
- Hospitals, especially specialty hospitals. LPNs earn a median pay of $46,010 in general medical and surgical hospitals.
- Nursing care facilities. The median pay for LPNs in nursing care facilities (skilled nursing facilities) is $44,840.
- Home health care services. LPNs working in home health care earn a median salary of $43,170.
- Physician offices. The median pay for LPNs working in physicians’ offices is $42,490.
LPNs generally earn less working in community health clinics, outpatient care centers and schools.
While the work setting impacts pay, LPNs can find personally fulfilling work in any environment that matches their interests and values.
Other factors like years of experience, certifications, responsibilities, and demand in your local job market can also influence how much you earn as an LPN.
With time and opportunities for career growth, you’ll be making a difference and earning a good living in no time!
Job Outlook and Growth for LPNs
The job outlook for LPNs over the next several years looks very positive. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects employment for LPNs to grow 11 percent between 2019 and 2029, much faster than the average for all occupations.
Several factors are driving this growth:
As the baby boomer generation ages, the need for healthcare services is increasing. LPNs will be in high demand to provide basic nursing care for aging patients.
Chronic disease prevalence
The rates of chronic diseases like diabetes and obesity are on the rise. LPNs will be needed to help manage the care of patients with chronic medical conditions.
Healthcare access expansion
With more people gaining access to healthcare through the Affordable Care Act and Medicaid expansion, the demand for LPNs to provide primary and preventive care will increase.
LPNs work in many job settings like:
- Nursing homes: $44,840
- Home health care services: $43,170
- Physician offices: $42,040
- Residential care facilities: $41,540
The job growth and numerous work environments provide many opportunities for LPNs. While the pay is not quite as high as an RN, the salary for an LPN provides a stable career with job security.
By gaining experience over the years, LPNs have the potential to increase their earning potential and advance into supervisory roles.
The future looks bright for anyone pursuing a career as an LPN.
With job stability, career growth potential and a rewarding field of work, becoming an LPN can lead to a long and prosperous career helping people.
LPN Salary in Canada vs. The US
In Canada, the average LPN salary is C$43,000 per year.
Salaries range from C$38,000 to C$50,000 annually. LPN pay is often slightly higher in Canada compared to the US.
Salaries for LPNs in Canada vary significantly by province:
- Alberta: C$51,000
- Ontario: C$44,000
- British Columbia: C$43,000
- Quebec: C$41,000
- Saskatchewan: C$40,000
- Manitoba: C$38,000
LPN salaries are often higher in provinces with stronger economies and higher costs of living. LPNs in remote or rural areas may also earn higher pay due to staffing needs.
Comparing the US and Canada
While LPN salaries are often higher in Canada, the cost of living is also typically higher.
When adjusting for the difference in currency exchange rates and living costs, LPN pay in the US and Canada is quite comparable.
Some other key differences to consider:
•In the US, LPNs are licensed by the state. In Canada, LPNs must register with their provincial regulatory body. Requirements vary slightly by province.
•LPN scope of practice tends to be broader in Canada, allowing for more autonomy. In the US, LPN duties are more restricted and supervised.
•In Canada, the LPN title is Licensed Practical Nurse. In the US, LPNs are also known as Licensed Vocational Nurses (LVNs).
•Healthcare systems differ significantly between the two countries. Canada has universal healthcare, while the US has a mix of private and public insurance options.
Whether you pursue a career as an LPN in Canada or the US, job opportunities and earning potential can be very rewarding.
While salaries and healthcare systems differ, LPNs in both countries provide crucial support to healthcare teams and make a meaningful impact.
Becoming an LPN – Education Requirements
To become an LPN, you’ll need to complete an accredited practical nursing program and pass the NCLEX-PN exam. Let’s break down the key steps:
LPN programs are offered at many community colleges, vocational schools, and private career schools.
Programs usually take about 1 year and lead to a certificate or diploma.
Coursework includes anatomy, physiology, pharmacology, nursing fundamentals, and supervised clinical practice.
Upon graduating from an LPN program, you’ll need to pass the NCLEX-PN exam to become licensed.
This computerized test evaluates your knowledge and skills to work as an entry-level LPN. Studying and preparing for this exam is essential to your success.
- Community colleges: Low-cost programs that can lead to an associate’s degree. May take longer to complete prerequisites.
- Private career schools: Usually more expensive but can complete faster. Be sure the program is accredited.
- Cost: Between $10,000 to $30,000 depending on the school. Financial aid and scholarships may be available.
Once licensed, LPNs earn a median pay of around $21 per hour or $44,090 per year according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
However, actual pay will depend on factors like:
- Location: Salaries are often higher in metropolitan areas and states with a greater cost of living. For example, LPN pay in California and Hawaii tends to be significantly higher than in Kentucky or West Virginia.
- Experience: LPNs with more years of experience and additional certifications typically earn a higher salary.
- Employer: LPNs employed in hospitals, physicians’ offices, and nursing care facilities usually earn more than those in home health care services.
- Job responsibilities: LPN charge nurses and those with additional duties may earn a higher wage.
Becoming an LPN can be an excellent way to start a career in nursing.
While the pay may be lower than an RN, the education requirements are less demanding, allowing you to enter the workforce sooner.
Many LPNs also go on to pursue an RN degree through an LPN to RN program.
How to Increase Your LPN Salary
To increase your LPN salary, the good news is there are several options available to you.
As an LPN, your pay will increase over time based on your experience, but there are also certain steps you can take to give it an extra boost.
Gain more experience
One of the biggest factors determining an LPN’s pay is the number of years of experience.
Typically, LPN salaries increase most significantly during the first 5 years on the job.
Staying with the same employer for many years also often results in higher pay due to yearly salary increases.
Pursue additional education
Enrolling in additional nursing education is a great way to increase your LPN salary. Some options include:
- Becoming an IV-certified LPN. This additional certification allows you to start IVs, administer IV medications, and earn a higher pay rate.
- Completing an LPN to RN bridge program. By becoming a registered nurse, you can earn a significantly higher salary. LPN to RN programs take around 1-2 years to complete.
- Earning a bachelor’s of science in nursing (BSN) degree. A BSN will open up more advanced job opportunities as an RN and typically results in a higher salary.
- Becoming certified in a nursing specialty. Specialty certifications like gerontology, oncology, or pediatric nursing demonstrate your expertise and can lead to higher pay.
Look for higher paying positions
As an experienced LPN, you can explore higher paying job opportunities. Some options to consider include:
- Travel nursing. Travel LPNs earn significantly higher pay in exchange for temporary, short-term work assignments around the country.
- Leadership roles. Apply for supervisory positions like charge nurse, lead LPN, or nursing director. These leadership roles typically pay much higher than a standard LPN role.
- Private duty care. Providing one-on-one care to patients in private homes pays considerably more than working in a nursing home or hospital.
With the right experience, education, certifications, and job opportunities, you have the potential to increase your LPN salary by over 50-100% over the course of your career.
Staying dedicated to continuous learning and career advancement is key.
LPN Salary FAQs
As an LPN, your salary can vary quite a bit depending on factors like your location, years of experience, and employer.
Here are some common questions about LPN pay.
What is the average LPN salary in the US?
According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median pay for LPNs in the US is around $48,500 per year.
Actual pay will depend on factors like:
- Location: LPNs in California, Hawaii, and Massachusetts earn the highest pay, around $60,000/year. LPNs in southern and midwestern states earn closer to $40,000.
- Years of experience: Entry-level LPNs earn around $40,000, while those with 20+ years of experience can earn over $60,000.
- Work environment: LPNs employed by the government and hospitals earn more on average than those in nursing care facilities. Home health care LPNs earn around $5,000 less per year.
How much do LPNs earn in each state?
Here are the median LPN salaries for some of the highest- and lowest-paying states:
- California: $59,610
- Hawaii: $59,500
- Massachusetts: $58,040
- Alaska: $57,230
- New Jersey: $55,970
- West Virginia: $37,660
- Alabama: $37,820
- South Dakota: $40,970
- Kentucky: $41,030
- Mississippi: $41,090
Do LPN salaries increase over time?
Yes, LPN pay typically increases with experience. According to PayScale, LPN salaries can increase as follows:
- 1-4 years of experience: $32,000 – $46,000
- 5-9 years of experience: $35,000 – $49,000
- 10-19 years of experience: $37,000 – $52,000
- 20+ years of experience: $39,000 – $56,000
In addition to experience raises, many LPNs receive annual cost of living increases to account for inflation.
Some LPNs may get bonuses or increased pay for specializing in a nursing field like oncology, critical care, or pediatrics.
Final Thoughts on LPN Salary
So there you have it – a comprehensive overview of how much LPNs earn across the US.
As you’ve seen, salaries can vary quite a bit depending on factors like location, experience, education, and employer.
While the pay isn’t always glamorous, LPNs provide a crucial service and the job security and growth potential are hard to beat.
If you’re considering a career as an LPN, keep an open mind about relocating to states where the salaries and demand are highest.
And once you’re on the job, focus on gaining valuable experience, keeping your license up to date, and looking for opportunities to increase your earning potential over time.
The healthcare industry needs good LPNs, and with the right motivation you can build a stable career helping people in a hands-on way.