LPN/LVN Salary – What to Expect
When considering the salary for an LPN or LVN, the two main factors that will determine the exact number are location and experience level.
Salary Comparison Tool
This tool will allow you to easily search and compare the average salaries of nurses for many cities and locations across the U.S. You can search by city and state. Salary data is provided through the BLS.
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Differences in the cost of living in cities and states across the country mean that LPNs and LVNs may earn more or less, depending on where they live. For example, an urban or densely populated city/state, such as New York City, will generally offer higher salaries to their LPNs due to increased housing and transportation costs in the region. A rural LPN or LVN will earn less by comparison, but cost of living will also be decreased.
Some highly desirable areas, such as beachside communities in California or Florida, or tropical locales such as Hawaii, may actually pay lower salaries than the national average, even though the cost of living is high, in a phenomenon called the “sunshine tax” or “paradise tax”. While not a literal tax, this salary peculiarity is generally found in areas that have temperate climates.
How Much Do LPNs or LVNs Make?
The average salaries of licensed practical nurses will vary from state to state. States with the highest median salaries for LPNs/LVNs (as of the lastest available BLS data from May 2019) are:
- Alaska: $63,850 per year
- Massachusetts: $60,340 year
- California: $60,240 per year
- Rhode Island: $59,860 per year
- Nevada: $58,470 per year
If you complete your LPN program and licensure in one state but want to move to another state for higher pay or better job opportunities, you’ll have to become licensed in the new state unless each state is part of the Nurse Licensure Compact (NLC).
How Much Does an LPN/LVN Make an Hour?
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, LPN/LVNs made a mean hourly wage of $23.32 in 2019 (latest available data). Alaska practical nurses led the way as the state with the highest overall average hourly wage at $30.70 per hour, while the San Francisco Metro Area came in with the highest metropolitan area hourly wage at $33.41.
Average LPN/LVN Salary Breakdown by State
Pay fluctuations may happen within states based on the type of medical facility an LPN/LVN works in. For example, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports in their May 2019 data that LPN/LVNs who work in junior colleges earn more, on average, than those who work in outpatient care centers.
Many medical facilities also have salary budgets and designated pay raise schedules, meaning that an LPN/LVN may have to work in a particular facility for a set amount of time before they can move up the ranks in salary, and entry-level LPN/LVN positions may have a pre-determined budget for salary.
Practical Nursing Salary Table
|Location||Total Employment||Annual Salary|
|District of Columbia||1,790||$53,020|
Table data taken from 2018 BLS (http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes292061.htm)
LPN/LVN Salary By Experience
As it stands to reason, entry-level LPNs/LVNs will generally earn less than their more experienced counterparts. With time and a strong work ethic comes pay raises, promotions, and before you know it, you are at the top of the LPN/LVN salary range. According to Payscale, LPNs/LVNs can earn anywhere from $16.15 to $26.28 per hour on average, with new grads earning toward the bottom of the range, and experienced LPN/LVNs earning toward the top. Aside from the higher wages, experienced LPN/LVNs may also earn more vacation time and hold seniority amongst the ranks…all important aspects of compensation.