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LPN/LVN Guide at WGU

Are You Looking for Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) or Licensed Vocational Nurse (LVN) Program?

Licensed practical nurses (LPNs) and licensed vocational nurses (LVNs) work under the direction of doctors and registered nurses to provide patients with basic nursing care. Although WGU does not offer an LPN/LVN degree, there are plenty of other professions with overlapping skills and responsibilities that we do offer academic programs for. If you’re passionate about the type of work that LPNs and LVNs do, it’s possible that there are career options that fit your interests even better. Keep reading to learn more about the job skills of LPNs and LVNs and similar fulfilling, well-paying career options.

LPN/LVN Skills and Similar Professions

LPNs/LVNs are required to perform basic medical procedures in care facilities and other healthcare settings. These are a few standard skills that may be required:

  • bed making
  • bed baths (bathing method for patients who are physically unable to get out of bed)
  • vital signs
  • bodily assessment
  • catheters
  • wound care
  • administering medication/dosage
  • injections
  • glucose tests
  • removal of sutures

LPNs/LVNs work can work almost anywhere that a registered nurse does. This includes clinics, nursing homes, physician’s offices, and hospitals. 

The skills of LPNs/LVNs also apply to other careers, some of which are more lucrative and could be a better fit for you. As an aspiring healthcare professional looking for an academic program, you should consider routes such as Bachelor of Science in Nursing (Prelicensure), RN to BSN, or Bachelor of Science in Health Services Coordination. In this article, we will explore these similar alternatives to the LPN/LVN track.

Pathways Similar to LPN/LVN

There are many career paths similar to those of an LPN or LVN. Due to the variety of job skills and the high demand for healthcare workers, those considering a career as an LPN/LVN can also consider a number of other pathways WGU offers degree or certification programs for the following professional tracks.

Bachelor of Science in Nursing (Prelicensure)

WGU’s prelicensure nursing program provides opportunities for aspiring nurses to acquire both their registered nurse (RN) license and a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree. You can pursue your path toward becoming a nurse with courses online, as well as clinical opportunities, at WGU. This program is only available in select states due to the need for clinical partnerships. 

Why might this be an even better career path than that of an LPN/LVN? Becoming a registered nurse allows you to develop more advanced skills, which means you can provide more comprehensive care to patients. You’ll also earn significantly higher salaries, be able to seek advanced career options, and have the freedom to choose from more job types and settings. 

Bachelor of Science in Nursing (RN to BSN) 

The healthcare industry continues to grow, and nurses are at the center of it. If you have a passion for serving patients and offering meaningful care to those in need, you may want to consider advancing your career with a BSN program.

WGU’s accredited program is designed to sharpen your analytical and clinical reasoning skills and the curriculum seeks to explore more complex topics while building on your previous education.

In the program, you’ll develop a deeper understanding of direct patient care and the ability to work in a wide range of specialties that are highly useful in care facilities.

Nurses with a BSN degree are attractive to  employers due to their advanced educational background.

Keep in mind that WGU’s RN to BSN program is designed for students who already have their RN license and want to advance their nursing career.

Bachelor of Science in Health and Human Services

A Bachelor of Science in Health and Human Services focuses on patient advocacy and education.

The daily responsibilities of a health services coordinator are quite different from that of an LPN/LVN or RN. These professionals assist patients not through direct care but through providing assistance in navigating the healthcare system, from insurance to finding providers to explaining bills.

They have knowledge of medicine to an extent, but their focus is on helping coordinate the many health services a patient may experience.

Graduates of WGU’s health and human services program will be skilled in coordinating with healthcare providers, patients, caregivers, and medical services to improve the effectiveness, safety, and efficiency of an increasingly complex healthcare system.

Average Salaries of LPN/LVS vs. Similar Careers

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average annual wage for LPNs/LVNs in 2020 was $48,820. However, LPN/LVNs can make anywhere from $35K to $62K, depending on previous experience.

Average pay of similar professions:

  • Registered Nurses: $29.62 per hour
  • RN with BSN:  $32.20 per hour
  • Healthcare Services Coordinator: $57,824 per year

While hourly wages for RNs and BSNs are similar, BSNs are generally in higher demand for their advanced education and might experience better vertical mobility in their career.

How do I become an LPN/LVN?

While WGU doesn’t offer an LPN/LVN academic program, the steps to becoming one are simple:

  • Apply to LPN/LVN Programs. In order to apply to an LPN/LVN program, you’ll need to have a high school diploma or GED. 
  • Attend LPN/LVN Classes. LPN/LVN classes and training consist of introduction to nursing and ethics, science, nursing skills, patient care, population, and other specialties, and can take anywhere from seven months to a year to complete.
  • Graduate from an LPN/LVN Program. After successfully completing the necessary accredited degree program, you’ll earn your diploma.  Your final step before working in the field is to pass the NCLEX-PN exam.
  • Register for NCLEX-PN Exam. First, you’ll submit an application for registration to a nursing regulatory body, which ensures that you’re eligible to take the NCLEX. Next, you’ll register with Pearson VUE to pay the exam fee and schedule a date for the test. Then you’ll receive an Authorization to Test (ATT) via email.
  • Pass NCLEX-PN Exam. Passing the NCLEX-PN exams signifies the beginning of a career in nursing and you can now begin your hunt for a job.

What's the Difference Between an LPN and an LVN?

LPNs and LVNs are nearly identical in that they are both entry-level licensed nursing careers. The main difference between LPNs and LVNs is which specific state each nurse is allowed to practice in. California and Texas employ LVNs, while the rest of the country employs LPNs. The differences in responsibilities given to LPNs or LVNs vary from state to state. For instance, some states allow LPNs/LVNs to administer medication to patients while others do not.

There is also a difference in salary range. An LVN tends to make a higher salary than an LPN on average, due to being in regions that have higher costs of living.

What Does an LPN Do?

An LPN provides basic nursing care under the direction of a medical professional with a higher title. LPNs are recognized across the country, with the exception of California and Texas.

What Does an LVN Do?

An LVN provides basic nursing care under the direction of a medical professional with a higher title. Only California and Texas recognize the title of LVN.

LPN or LVN Degree or Certificate Program?

It is not necessary to hold a degree to practice as an LPN or LVN. However, you do need to become certified. In order to do that, you must fulfill the necessary prerequisite courses and pass the NCLEX-PN..

Online Nursing Degree or Certificate Program?

Earning a Bachelor of Science in Nursing from WGU gives you the opportunity for high salaries, the ability to grow in your career, a positive job outlook, and a lot of variety in your daily work. The best part? Most students complete this program in just 18 months. To secure a position as an LPN/LVN, instead of a degree, you’ll need to complete a certification program. While this is a quicker journey than earning a degree, it does not provide students with the same caliber of job opportunities and salaries as a BSN.

Projected Growth of Healthcare Careers:

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the employment of healthcare workers is expected to grow tremendously through 2030.  This is one of the fastest growing industries, so gaining healthcare skills opens the door to many career options. Whether you choose to pursue a career as an LPN/LVN or a similar role, you can expect a positive job outlook.


Projected career growth for an LPN/LVN


Projected career growth for a Registered Nurse


Projected career growth for a Health Service Coordinator

Why Choose WGU?

There are many reasons why WGU is a great option for students pursuing a career in nursing.  Here are some of the reasons WGU would make a great option for you:

  • Low, flat-rate tuition. Students are charged the same amount each term, regardless of how many courses they are taking.
  • Competency-based education. Because WGU allows students to move to their next course once they’ve proven mastery, students have the opportunity to use their knowledge to their advantage in order to graduate faster. Graduating faster also means saving money long-term.
  • Scholarships and financial aid. Students can apply for scholarships and financial aid to assist with tuition. 
  • Career-focused coursework. WGU’s programs offer the opportunity to learn meaningful, career-focused skills. This opportunity will allow students to apply their education to their post-graduation work directly.

Prepared for Success on the Job

*From a 2023 Harris Poll of 300 employers of WGU graduates.

100% of employers said that WGU graduates were prepared for their jobs.*

97% of employers said that they would hire another WGU grad.*

98% of employers said WGU graduates met or exceeded expectations.*

Which Degree Should You Choose?

Any of these degrees at WGU can prepare you for a future career making a difference in the lives of others. These degrees can make sure you have the training and credentials that will help you succeed in your career.

Health & Nursing

Nursing (Prelicensure) – B.S.

A one-of-a-kind nursing program that prepares you to be an RN and a...

A one-of-a-kind nursing program that prepares you to be an RN and a baccalaureate-prepared nurse:

  • Locations: Due to in-person clinical requirements, students must be full time residents of FL, ID, IN, IA, KS, KY, MI, MO, NV, NM, NC, OH, OK, SC, TN, TX, UT to enroll in this program. The coursework in this program is offered online, but there are in-person requirements.
  • Tuition: $6,430 per 6-month term for the first 4 terms of pre-nursing coursework and $8,755 per 6-month term for the remaining 4 terms of clinical nursing coursework.
  • Time: This program has a set pace and an expected completion time of 4 years. Certain coursework may be accelerated to finish faster.
  • WGU offers the prelicensure program in areas where we have partnerships with healthcare employers to provide practice sites and clinical coaches to help teach you and inspire you on your path to becoming a nurse.
  • If you don't live in one of our prelicensure states or don't qualify to apply, consider getting our Bachelor's in Health and Human Services instead. This degree allows you to work inside the healthcare industry, while also working directly with patients who need help.

Skills for your résumé that you will learn in this program:

  • Community Health
  • Women's and Children's Nursing
  • Pathology
  • Physiology
  • Research
Health & Nursing

Nursing (RN-to-BSN Online) – B.S.

An online BSN degree program for registered nurses (RNs) seeking the added...

An online BSN degree program for registered nurses (RNs) seeking the added theoretical depth, employability, and respect that a bachelor's degree brings:

  • Time: 61% of graduates finish within 20 months.
  • Tuition: $4,685 per 6-month term.
  • Courses: 23 total courses in this program.
  • Transfers: Students can transfer up to 90 credits.

Skills for your résumé that you will learn in this program:

  • Healthcare Policy and Economics
  • Information Technology in Nursing Practice
  • Anatomy and Physiology
  • Applied Healthcare Statistics

If you don't currently have an RN and don't qualify for your nursing prelicensure program, consider getting our Bachelor's in Health and Human Services instead. This degree allows you to work inside the healthcare industry in a unique way.

Health & Nursing

Health and Human Services – B.S.

An online health degree program for students who are committed to making a...

An online health degree program for students who are committed to making a difference for patients in a variety of ways.

  • Time: 63% of students finish this program in 24 months
  • Tuition: $4,085 per 6-month term
  • Courses: 35 total courses in this program

Skills for your résumé that you will learn in this program:

  • Epidemiology
  • Community and Public Health
  • Cultural Awareness
  • Pathophysiology
  • Healthcare Values and Ethics
  • Substance Abuse Support

This degree allows you to work inside the healthcare industry, while also directly working with patients who need help.