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LPN/LVN Guide at WGU

Are You Looking for a 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

female nurse charting notes for a male patient

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. There are admission requirements before getting started, including a high school degree or GED and completing a total of 10 prerequisite classes in order to be awarded the proper credit. Once these are completed, you’ll qualify for consideration. A viable path for some may be to enroll in the prerequisite classes at a nearby community college to begin the necessary education requirements for earning a license/degree.

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. 

View Prelicensure Degree

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.

View RN to BSN Degree

Bachelor of Science in Health Services Coordination

A Bachelor of Science in Health Services Coordination 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 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.

View Health Services Coordination Degree

Average Salaries of LPN/LVS vs. Similar Careers

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.

LPN/LVN Frequently Asked Questions

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

9%

LPN/LVN

16%

Registered Nurse

32%

Health Services 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.

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Which Degree Should You Choose?

Nursing (Prelicensure) – B.S.

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

A one-of-a-kind nursing program that prepares you...

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

  • Locations: offered in FL, IN, TX, MO, and UT only.
  • Tuition and fees: $6,575 per 6-month term.

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 Degree in Health Services Coordination instead. This degree allows you to work inside the healthcare industry, while also working directly with patients who need help.

Nursing (RN-to-BSN Online) – B.S.

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

An online BSN degree program for registered...

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

  • Time: 66% of graduates finish within 18 months.
  • Tuition and Fees: $3,795 per 6-month term, plus a Health Professions Student Fee of $350.
  • Transfers: On average, students transfer 81 credits.

With over 35,000 BSN alumni, this is one of WGU's most popular online degree programs. View our RN to BSN degree guide.

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

Health Services Coordination – B.S.

An online health degree program for students passionate about...

An online health degree program for students...

An online health degree program for students passionate about value-based care and dedicated to helping others.

  • Time: 60% of graduates of similar programs finish within 3 years.
  • Tuition and fees: $3,795 per 6-month term, plus a Health Professions Student Fee of $350.

Sample careers and jobs this degree will prepare you for:

  • Care coordinator
  • Patient advocate
  • Health services coordinator
  • Patient educator
  • Community health educator

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