While almost no one becomes a Licensed Practical Nurse for the money alone, it is important to feel like you are being paid what you are worth; understanding the factors that impact your LPN salary can help you make the most of your LPN career. As with any career, there are many variables at play in determining your salary, and it is no different for LPNs or licensed vocational nurses (LVNs). Salary is most impacted by place of work, location within the country, and experience.
Workplace Setting and LPN Salary
According to the Beurau of Labor Statistics, the types of employers that employ the greatest number of LPNs are Nursing Care Facilities, General and Surgical Hospitals, doctor’s offices and clinics, home healthcare services, and retirement homes. While the general duties are similar in each setting, the specific responsibilities and roles can vary, leading to a variance in LPN salary.
Nursing care facilities are the largest employer of LPNs, with nearly 213,000 employed as of May 2009. Of the largest five employers of LPNS, nursing homes have the highest average salary. The average LPN salary at a nursing home is $42,320 annually. Since Nursing homes often only employ a few RNs, LPNs often have more responsibilities than in other settings. In addition to standard care of patients, LPNs typically supervise nurses aids, and can even advance to charge nurses over other LPNs.
While there are only 64,000 LPNs employed by home healthcare services, this industry pays nearly as much as nursing care facilities. LPNs in this setting travel to patient’s homes and help them with everything from medication management, to personal hygiene, mobility, and meals. The average annual salary in the home healthcare industry is $42,300.
LPNs in retirement communities perform similar duties to those in nursing care facilities; however, since patients in retirement homes tend to be more able-bodied, the average LPN salary in this industry is slightly less, at $41,950. This industry employs just over 39,000 LPNs as of May 2009.
Hospitals are the second largest employer of LPNs, and provide the most traditional setting. In hospitals, LPNs provide basic bedside care, and work directly under RNs to monitor patients and assist with personal hygiene and mobility. Hospitals employ about 159,000 LPNs, and the average LPN salary is $39,980.
Finally, doctors’ offices and clinic have the lowest annual LPN salary, at $36,770. LPNs in this setting typically bring patients into exam rooms, take blood pressure and weight, and get a general idea of patient concerns. Their responsibilities are fairly limited, which likely accounts for the lower salary. This industry employs about 89,000 LPNs.
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Where to Live to Earn the Highest LPN Salary
LPN salary varies greatly by geographical location. In general, the Northeast and California have the highest annual salaries. Connecticut comes in first with an annual salary of $52,300. New Jersey and Rhode Island are very close in second and third place with $50,350 and $50,010, respectively. California and Massachusetts have the fourth and fifth highest salaries, at $49,940 and $49,760, respectively.
By contrast, southern states tend to have lower salaries. West Virginia has the lowest annual salary, at $32,250. Oklahoma is not far behind with an annual salary of $32,790. Other states with low annual LPN salaries are South Dakota ($33,390), Alabama ($33,490), and Arkansas ($33,750). With a difference of over $20,000 between the highest paying state and the lowest paying state, it is clear that location plays a big part in LPN salary. This is important data to have, particularly if you are considering where to live; however, keep in mind that states with higher salaries likely also have a higher cost of living.
Experience Makes a Difference
The experience of the LPN plays a significant role in determining LPN salary. LPNs with less than a year of experience can expect to make between $27,000 and $39,000 annually. Compare that with LPNs who have 20 or more years of experience and make between $34,000 and $48,000 a year.
Getting specific certifications can also increase an LPN salary. LPNs can become certified in IV therapy, gerontology (work with the elderly), long-term care, and pharmacology.
As mentioned before, licensed practical nurses in certain settings can become Charge Nurses who supervise other LPNs. The LPN salary of a charge nurse ranges from $29,000 to $58,000 depending on years of experience.
Some of the options available to LPNs pay significantly more than others. While you should never make a career choice based on salary, knowing your potential earnings may help you decided between two similar workplaces, or even between two states. Of course, the more training you get, and the longer you stay in the field, the better chances you have of maximizing your LPN salary.
How to Increase Your LPN Salary
An LPN's salary range is somewhat limit. Educational level is the main determining factor when it comes to a nurse's salary range. State and federal regulations determine the highest level of care that can be offered is solely determined by education level. The more services and responsibilities a nurse can offer a healthcare employer and its patients, the higher the salary you can demand.
The single best cure to the limitations of an LPN's salary is by earning an advanced nursing degree. Earn an RN degree and earn an RN Salary. Today, there are many more educational opportunities available to an LPN or LVN. Healthcare degrees can be earned online and from out-of-state colleges. Clinicals can be completed locally. The variety of online RN programs, LPN to RN, and LPN to BSN degree programs is plentiful today and growing.
Additional LPN Salary Resources
- RN Salary – What LPNs Need to Know - May 23, 2015
- How Can I Increase My LPN Salary In Less Than Two Years - April 14, 2015