Breaking down the numbers: a comprehensive guide to LVN and LPN salary

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As the population ages, chronic illnesses become more common and nursing shortages surge, the demand for licensed practical and licensed vocational nurses (LPNs and LVNs) is growing. LPNs/LVNs meet the basic needs of residents and patients. They also provide clinical support to registered nurses (RNs) and physicians.

Exploring the role of an LPN or LVN

LPN stands for licensed practical nurse and LVN stands for licensed vocational nurse, but they’re two names for the same role. Most of the nation uses LPN, with the exceptions of California and Texas, so for ease, LPN will be used for both going forward.

Defining the LPN profession

LPNs work under RNs and physicians in many different settings, from hospitals to skilled nursing facilities. They have more responsibilities than certified nursing assistants (CNAs), but not as many as RNs.

Since coursework takes only around a year to complete, this role has a lower barrier to entry than other healthcare professions. (It takes two years to earn an associate degree in nursing (ADN) and four to earn a bachelor’s degree in nursing (BSN). One of those is required before becoming an RN.)

An LPN’s workday can include monitoring patient vital signs, managing medications, assisting with medical procedures, keeping medical records and communicating with residents or patients and their families.

Key responsibilities and duties

An LPN's many clinical responsibilities and duties can include:

  • Assisting with the activities of daily living
  • Collecting specimens for diagnostics
  • Monitoring patients and residents for changes
  • Performing physical assessments
  • Measuring vital signs
  • Alerting RNs and physicians of condition changes

LPNs are also responsible for administrative tasks, which can include charting and creating shift change reports. Additionally, they often educate patients about their health conditions and proper medication usage.

LPN job settings and specialties

LPNs find work in various settings: acute care centers, skilled nursing facilities, home healthcare, physicians' offices, clinics and more. LPNs can be generalists, or they can be specialists. Some examples of LPN specialties are pediatrics, geriatrics and psychiatric care.

Factors influencing LPN salary

Education and certification requirements

LPNs need a GED or high school diploma, to have completed an LPN program, to have passed the National Council Licensure Examination for Practical Nurses (NCLEX-PN), and to have met all state-specific requirements. Advanced LPN certifications, like advanced cardiovascular life support (ACLS) and wound care, can increase income potential.

Work experience and expertise

As with most careers, LPNs with more experience can command a higher salary.

Geographic location and cost of living

Facilities in areas with a higher cost of living often pay LPNs more, though the high cost of living may balance that out.

Industry and sector

The top-of-range average LPN salary was in personal care ($90,950), followed by grantmaking and giving industries ($72,670), insurance carriers ($65,170), employment services ($64,660) and junior colleges ($64,260).

LPN salary ranges across the U.S.

The Bureau of Labor and Statistics puts the average LPN salary in the U.S. at $26.86 per hour or $55,860 annually. But wages vary from state to state and facility to facility.

Regional variations in LPN salary

Here’s what the averages look like, broken down by region and state.


  • Washington $71,815
  • Oregon $59,812
  • California $65,939
  • Nevada $60,754
  • Idaho $57,039
  • Montana $54,764
  • Wyoming $57,620
  • Utah $52,588
  • Colorado $52,181
  • Alaska $57,461
  • Hawaii $58,493


  • North Dakota $55,795
  • South Dakota $55,836
  • Nebraska $48,297
  • Kansas $49,652
  • Minnesota $57,777
  • Iowa $55,784
  • Missouri $49,643
  • Wisconsin $59,523
  • Illinois $54,157
  • Indiana $57,101
  • Michigan $49,127
  • Ohio $53,710


  • Arizona $57,082
  • New Mexico $53,892
  • Texas $ 59,045
  • Oklahoma $50,639


  • Arkansas $45,533
  • Louisiana $48,174
  • Mississippi $51,553
  • Alabama $48,239
  • Tennessee $52,571
  • Kentucky $46,269
  • Georgia $56,114
  • Florida $48,188
  • South Carolina $50,380
  • North Carolina $46,000
  • Virginia $53,300
  • West Virginia $48,658


  • Maine $59,960
  • Vermont $60,770
  • New Hampshire $56,460
  • Massachusetts $60,948
  • New York $67,503
  • Rhode Island $55,900
  • Connecticut $55,385
  • New Jersey $59,562
  • Pennsylvania $56,470
  • Delaware $52,435
  • Maryland $53,219

2023 average LPN salary data by Zip Recruiter

Metropolitan vs. rural LPN salaries

In cities, the demand for healthcare services is greater, and the salaries for medical professionals tend to be greater as well.

However, metro areas also require high living wages, and some of those are much higher than others. For example, compare the living wage in the New York metro area ($128,075 for a family of four) against the living wage in El Paso, Texas ($88,853).

While the pay could be lower, the cost of living in rural areas may balance things out. (It’s a common assumption that the cost of living is lower in rural areas, but there’s some conflicting evidence. Inflation is affecting prices in rural areas, too.)

LPN salary by setting

Hospitals: Hospitals serve people with acute issues, which makes it an ever-changing, busy environment. The average LPN hospital salary is $24.69 per hour or $51,360 per year.

Skilled nursing facilities: As the population ages, the need for skilled-nursing LPNs is increasing. The average LPN salary in skilled nursing is $28.10 per hour or $58,440 per year.

Home healthcare: Home healthcare LPNs serve people in their homes. In home healthcare, the average LPN salary is $27.10 per hour or $56,370 per year.

Physicians' offices and clinics: Physicians' offices and clinics usually offer LPNs stable hours and Monday through Friday schedules. In physicians' offices, the average LPN salary is $23.88 per hour or $49,660 per year.

Assisted living facilities: Assisted living facilities serve people who need some assistance with their daily activities. In assisted living centers, the average LPN salary is $27.32 per hour or $56,830 per year.

Psychiatric and substance abuse care: In psychiatric and substance abuse care, the average LPN salary is $26.80 per hour or $55,740 per year.

LPN salary comparison with other nursing roles

LPN vs. registered nurse (RN) salary: Because RNs have advanced responsibilities and education, they are paid higher salaries than LPNs. On average, RNs earn $89,010 per year, or $33,150 more than LPNs.

LPN vs. certified nursing assistant (CNA) salary: LPNs have more extensive training than CNAs, and their salaries tend to reflect that. The average CNA salary of $36,220 per year is $18,400 below that of the average LPN salary, which is $55,860.

Negotiating and maximizing LPN salary

Negotiating and maximizing LPN salary, like negotiating and maximizing any salary, requires knowing your value, advocating for yourself and proving your skills.

Tips for LPN salary negotiation:

  1. Research LPN salaries. Understand the salary norms for LPNs in your city and state. If you’re experienced, understand the value you bring to the table and negotiate accordingly.
  2. Highlight any advanced certifications. If you possess advanced certifications, clearly state them on your resume and any other communications with prospective facilities.
  3. Get recommendations. If you’ve had great experiences at past facilities, reach out for recommendations. If you’ve made connections with patients or residents, tell those stories.

LPN: An important role with competitive compensation

LPNs require more training than CNAs, have more responsibilities, and work closely with patients, residents and the medical teams that support them.

As essential as CNAs in ensuring the well-being of those who need care, LPNs also provide more clinical services and take a more active role in a patient’s or resident’s care plan.

LPNs will continue to be in demand as the aging population grows, especially in the skilled nursing and acute care industries. That could result in greater income potential and more career opportunities for these critical licensed professionals in the years to come.

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