Become A Vocational Nurse / LVN

Nurses are in high demand and jobs are available. Read more information on how to become a vocational nurse (LVN) and start your nursing career fast.

Are you interested in working as a nurse but want to avoid two and four-year college degree programs? You might want to consider studying to become a licensed vocational nurse (LVN). LVNs work in hospital settings under the supervision of registered nurses (RNs), doctors or certain practitioners to help care for patients with medical needs. Education required to become an LVN takes as little as twelve months in some situations. The need for LVNs is increasing steadily and jobs are available now. Read ahead for more information on how to become a vocational nurse (LVN) and start your nursing career fast.


Nurses Are in High Demand

Becoming a licensed vocational nurse (LVN) is an excellent career decision for people who want to enter the medical and nursing field but do not want to spend up to four years in college first. Nurses are in high demand and job openings are available for qualified candidates around the country. The training and education for LVN programs is less intense than the training for registered nurse (RN) and family nurse practitioner (FNP) programs, which means you can enter the job field fast once qualified. The COVID-19 pandemic has a lot to do with the spike in demand for nurses across the U.S., although a nationwide shortage has been in effect since 1998. The bottom line is more than one million new LVNs and other nurses are needed to mitigate the shortages and meet the needs around the country. Becoming an LVN is one of the fastest ways to take advantage of these job opportunities before other candidates complete their longer degree programs.             

What Is a Vocational Nurse?

Some confusion exists about the LVN title and the types of nursing jobs available. An LVN and a licensed practical nurse (LPN) are two different names for the same type of nursing job. The states of Texas and California use the LVN title, while all other U.S. states use the LPN title. Regardless of state, both LVNs and LPNs essentially do the same job. An LVN helps care for sick, injured, disabled and convalescent patients in a hospital or other medical facility setting. LVNs work under the supervision of registered nurses (RNs), doctors, surgeons and other licensed practitioners with more education and experience. The job involves taking vital signs (blood pressure, temperature, heart rate, etc.) and providing fundamental bedside care. Bedside care includes treating minor ailments such as bedsores, giving injections, applying sterilized dressings and administering catheters. LVNs also provide certain medical-based massages, alcohol rubs and treatment with hot and cold packs.

While LVNs monitor patients’ reaction to medications, they do not prescribe them. Some states do allow LVNs to administer medicines and initiate intravenous fluids, however. Patient behavioral and physical patterns and reactions are observed and reported by LVNs. Urine and other samples are collected for laboratory testing purposes. LVNs also feed, bath and dress patients. In certain states LVNs are allows to help deliver infants and provide them limited care.

How to Become an LVN

Becoming an LVN begins by graduating high school. A high school diploma is often the minimum requirement for starting an LVN educational program, although most schools do required prospective students to also pass an entrance examination. Specific entrance examinations vary per school although the Test of Essential Academic Skills (TEAS) examination is commonly administered. The TEAS is designed to assess basic skills in English, science, math and reading. In fact, most LVN programs have general education (Gen Ed) prerequisites. Consult with the admissions department at your school for more details on specific Gen Ed testing requirements applicable to you.

How Long Does It Take? – Finish in as Little as 12 Months!

Many LVN programs require two years to complete, although some programs allow students to finish in as little as twelve months. LVN programs include both classroom-based and supervised clinical skill development courses. Approximately forty total class hours are required to complete these programs. Courses and specializations include patient care, physiology, mental health, physiology and anatomy. Finishing in as little as twelve months is depending on student availability and the availability of accelerated or flexible scheduling. Licensing procedures and continue education are also required. 

Once you complete an accredited LVN educational program you are required to pass a licensing examination. The national NCLEX-PN examination must be passed to obtain your license to practice in a professional setting. The NCLEX-PN examination requires approximately five hours to complete and includes categories such as:

  • Physiological integrity.

  • Psychosocial integrity.

  • Health promotion and maintenance.

  • Effective care environment. 

Once you pass the NCLEX-PN examination you are legally permitted to register in the state where you live and join the LVN workforce. An additional ten to thirty hours of continued education are required to continue practicing as an LVN in most states (but not all). Certificate programs are available for pharmacology, hospice care, long-term care, immunizations and dialysis.

Online and On-Site Courses

Online-only, in-person and hybrid LVN programs are available. Hybrid programs utilize a combination of online and in-person learning formats to help you earn your LVN certificate. Accredited online and hybrid programs offer the same quality education and tuition prices as in-person options.

LVN Certificate Costs

The cost of obtaining an LVN certificate ranges between $10,000 and $15,000 on average. Some programs cost as little as $4,000, while others charge up to $30,000 or more for tuition and total costs. Total costs also include books, equipment and supplies (stethoscope, etc.) uniforms and examination fees ($200). Licensing fees vary per state and additional expenses might apply. 

Financial Aid  - Scholarships, Grants and Student Loans

Financial aid is available to help pay for some or all of your LVN education expenses. Most schools offer scholarship and grant programs for qualified students experiencing extreme financial need. Schools also award limited grant money and scholarships based on academic merit and personal achievements. Additional ways to obtain financial aid for your LVN education expenses include: