As with any field, one of the biggest questions people have about becoming a licensed practical nurse (LPN) or licensed vocational nurse (LVN) is about the pay. How much does an LPN or LVN make?
The annual salary ranges from $37,790 in West Virginia to $61,680 in Alaska.
Both LPNS and LVNs perform the same role.
The only difference lies in their name. California and Texas use LVN, while the rest of the United States uses LPN.
These healthcare professionals work in hospitals, rehabilitation facilities, nursing homes, and adult daycares and offer home care services to the elderly, disabled, and people on the mend.
Their responsibilities include taking vitals, monitoring symptoms, checking blood sugar levels, distributing oral medications, assisting with daily living tasks, and providing general patient care.
They generally get paid higher than CNAs (certified nursing assistants), but salaries vary throughout the country and by experience level.
A note about our data. We use the median of the data gathered from The BLS at data.bls.gov and other salary data sources such as Salary.com, Indeed.com and Zippia.com. We believe that this is the best average to follow, rather than the mean or mode. The mean will find the average of all salaries in each state; the mode will favor the most frequently reported salaries. However, the median will find the middle. All data in this report will favor the middle salary from all ranges, which means 50% will fall below and 50% will be above the salary data reported below. On another note, we have removed data from Puerto Rico, Guam, and The Virgin Islands from the data we have sourced as we have focused on the 50 US States plus The District Of Colombia.
LPN vs. LVN Salaries in the United States
With 688,100 current LPNs in the U.S. and a job growth rate of 9%, demand is rising across the nation for qualified candidates. Earning your LPN or LVN in 2022 will offer the chance to earn over $45,000 per year in most states.
How Much Does an LPN or LVN Make a Year?
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average LVN (those practicing in California and Texas) earns $55,060 annually. $48,520 in Texas and $61,600 in California.
The average LPN salary is slightly lower across all other states, with an average of $50,936.
LPNs or LVNs who work in hospitals or extended care facilities may earn more than one who offers home care, but the opposite could be valid for a full-time LPN that offers in-home care.
How Much Does an LPN or LVN Make an Hour?
The average LPN/LVN earns $24.57 per hour. The top 10% of LPNs earn $32.71 per hour, and the lowest 10% earn $19.05 per hour.
Is there a difference between LPN and an LVN?
The only difference between an LPN and LVN is their job title. California and Texas use “licensed vocational nurse,” and the rest of the United States uses “licensed practical nurse.” The job role, responsibilities, and certification requirements are the same.
To become an LPN/LVN, you must complete training from an accredited institution. Then, you must pass the NCLEX-PN exam, designed and regulated by the National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN).
Recommended Reading - What is a Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) or an LVN
LPN and LVN Salary by State
Below is a breakdown of the state's average LPN/LVN salary. All data is taken from the most current data by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (May 2021).
Hourly median wage
Annual median wage
Compared To National Average
District of Columbia
Factors That Affect How Much an LPN or LVN Makes
LPNs and LVNs in the United States earn different salaries based on their skill set, specializations, credentials, and experience. Their geographic and work setting location also affects their salary or an hourly wage.
A closer look at some of the factors affecting LPN or LVN pay can help you make the best decision for your future career.
Education can affect salary
All licensed practical nurses and licensed vocational nurses must complete an accredited program before sitting for the National Council Licensure Examination for Practical Nurses (NCLEX-PN).
Completing their education and obtaining their license allows LPNs and LVNs to work in any healthcare facility or offer home care services.
One of the most appealing aspects of this career path is the ability to further their education throughout their career. LPNS or LVNs aren ’t limited to one specific sector of medicine.
An LPN or LVN with specialized certification can earn more. They can also join an LPN to RN program to become a registered nurse, which brings a higher salary and more job opportunities.
According to the BLS, the average registered nurse salary is $77,600 annually or $37.31 per hour.
Location can affect an LPNs or an LVNs Salary
States with a higher demand for LPNs or LVNs will offer higher pay than those with lower demand.
In addition to location, facilities will vary their pay by the hour or year. Most LPNS/LVNs work in general healthcare facilities; nursing homes and home healthcare providers are also major employers in the industry.
Many LPNs who enjoy working with the elderly or disabled will find work in assisted living facilities. They can also work in retirement communities, offering on-demand care and assistance to residents.
Experience Level can affect an LPNs or LVNs Salary
More experienced LPNs can qualify for higher salaries than entry-level candidates. Although the responsibilities will largely remain the same, facilities and caregivers hiring home aides are more likely to pay higher for an experienced LPN/LVN.
How Quickly Can You Become an LPN or LVN and Start Earning?
The average accredited LPN program takes 2 years to complete, though some programs are as short as 12 months. After you finish your program, you can register to take the NCLEX-PN exam in your state, then earn your license.
After completing licensure, you are free to apply for jobs. The demand in your area can influence how long it takes to find work, so it’s helpful to apply to several different settings as you look for your first position.
At the most, an LPN can expect to start earning between 13 to 26 months after starting their education.
Recommended Reading - How to Become a Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) or a Licensed Vocational Nurse (LVN)
LPN and LVN Pay vs. Other Nursing Jobs
How much does an LPN make vs. a registered nurse? There are several different types of nursing jobs available, each with varying responsibilities and salaries.
Many students like to use their LPN/LVN as a stepping stone to becoming an RN later, but others work for decades in their field. This list can help you get an idea of what your earnings might look like depending on the career path you choose.
Average LPN/LVN Salary: $51,097.65
Average RN Salary: $76,944.90
Average Travel Nurse Salary: $87,958.51
Average Nurse Practitioner (NP) Salary: $95,140.59
Average Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) Salary: $33,043,33
Average Geriatric Nursing Assistant (GNA) Salary: $32.554.78
Average Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist Salary: $140,357.71
Average Home Health Aide Salary: $27,120
Average ICU Nurse Salary: $84,281.06
Average NICU Nurse Salary: $71,267
Average Neonatal Nurse Salary: $71,267.04
Average Labor and Delivery Nurse Salary: $75,192.16
Average Pediatric Nurse Salary: $69,473.96
Average Scrub Nurse: $73,366.94
Average Flight Nurse Salary: $89,579.22
Average Charge Nurse Salary: $73,298.27
How Much Do LPNs’ Salaries Increase With Each Year of Experience?
The more experience you gain in the field, the higher salary you are likely to receive. In addition to internal promotions, LPNs and LVNs who gain experience can also qualify for higher-paying positions throughout the healthcare industry.
Early in their careers, LPNs typically earn around $50,000 annually. After three to five years, their median pay of $28.74 per hour can increase to $31.56 per hour. Another small raise can occur between 6 to 9 years, while the highest earners have 10 or more years of experience.
LPN vs. LVN Salary FAQs
Am I Being Fairly Paid as an LPN or LVN?
The best way to determine if you’re being paid enough as an LPN or LVN is to look up your state's average salary/hourly wage. Compare this to the national average, and see how your current pay lines up.
If you are being underpaid, you have every right to bring this up with your employer. As a dedicated, hardworking healthcare professional, you deserve to be paid fairly for your time and skills.
Are LPNs or LVNS Mostly Hourly or Annually?
LPNs and LVNs who work in hospitals or healthcare settings, like nursing homes, are generally paid salaries. However, you may receive an hourly wage if you work part-time or provide home care services.
Generally, the type of work you do will affect whether you receive a salary or hourly wage. If your hours are set, e.g. 40-hours a week in a hospital or nursing home, you’re more likely to be offered a salary by your employer.
Do LPNs or LVNs Get Paid Overtime?
LPNs and LVNs do qualify for overtime pay. The average overtime pay for an LPN is $7,775 per year (Indeed).
You may not realize that things such as working through breaks or staying later than your shift to “finish up” count as overtime.
It’s important always to advocate for yourself in healthcare, especially when being told your work time does not deserve to be compensated.
Do LPNs or LVNs Get Paid More Privately or in Hospitals?
Data shows that LPNs and LVNs who work outpatients tend to earn more than those who work in hospitals. However, those working full-time in assisted living facilities or nursing homes earned more than those who worked privately or through a home care provider.
It’s best to compare job listings online to ensure you get the fairest pay in the best work environment for you. LPNs/LVNs have a lot of flexibility in terms of where they work, so consider exploring several different locations before settling on a particular setting.
What State Pays LPNs or LVNs the Most Per Hour?
Alaska currently pays LVNs the most at an average of $29.65 per hour. Followed close behind by California, which pays an average of $29.62 per hour.
Can You Live Off an LPN or LVN Salary in the US?
With the rising cost and concerns of inflation, there is uncertainty over how livable the average LPN’s or LVN’s salary is. Currently, the average LPN/LVN salary falls slightly below the national average for all occupations, $58,260.
You can enroll in an LPN to RN program if you want to earn more after earning your LPN/LVN license. This progression can increase your annual earning potential by an additional $25,000 to $50,000.