Becoming an LPN in Tennessee
Tennessee ensures safe patient care by licensing health professionals, enforcing standards, and educating the public about quality health care. In order to enter this rewarding career area, individuals can complete one of the state’s approved licensed practical nurse (LPN) programs. The state’s nursing jobs are on the rise according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics prediction—LPN jobs are expected to increase by 12% per year by 2026. Read on to find out how to become an LPN in Tennessee in as little as one year.
Tennessee LPNs earn around an hourly wage of $17.92 or annual salary of $37,270, which is roughly $6,760 less per year than national average.
Are you looking to become a licensed practical nurse in Tennessee? The school you choose is important when it comes to getting your license. Approved programs in Tennessee are offered at community colleges, technical centers, and private career schools - we list 19 schools across the state. After careful review of NCLEX-PN exam first-time pass rates over the past several years, we have ranked the top 5 programs. For more information on our LPN program rankings, see our Methodology page.
To see all the top ranked LPN programs in Tennessee click here.
Details on Tennessee LPN Schools & Classes
With over 15 schools in the state offering LPN programs, prospective students can choose one that suits their needs. Part-time or full-time, day or evening schedules – there is something for just about everyone. A traditional full-time program will take students just about a year to complete, while part-time students will finish in closer to two years.
The curriculum of a practical nursing program consists of nursing theory courses, lab skills, and clinical hours. Popular course titles include:
- Fundamentals of Nursing Care
- Drug Calculations
- Psychiatric Mental Health Nursing
- Maternity and Pediatric Nursing
- Understanding Medical/Surgical Nursing
- Nutrition and Diet
Searching for an accredited program is always a smart idea. There are national accrediting agencies such as the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN) that evaluate and endorse practical nursing programs, and smaller regional ones as well. Students are also advised to choose a program that is approved by the Tennessee Board of Nursing.
Students should ensure that they are well-qualified for a practical nursing program before applying, as admission can be competitive. Common requirements include:
- High school graduate or GED completion (transcripts and scores must be submitted)
- Completion of all prerequisite courses
- Attending a mandatory program information session may be required
- Provide immunization records
- Submit a completed application
Tuition and Costs
Program cost is on the minds of most prospective practical nursing students. Generally, expenses are broken into the following categories: tuition, mandatory school fees, and supplies (textbooks, scrubs, etc.). Transportation and room/board expenses are not usually included in a school’s fees, but should be factored in to total cost if applicable. Financial aid is typically available for students who need assistance.
As an example, tuition and fees for the LPN program at Tennessee College of Applied Technology in Nashville cost an estimated $3,738. Textbooks and supplies will run an additional $2,821.
Tennessee LPN Licensing Requirements
Tennessee requires individuals seeking to become an LPN in the state to attend a Board-approved nursing program and pass the NCLEX.
Licensed LPNs in Tennessee are required to submit proof of competence within 30 days of a written request by the board, and each licensee must maintain evidence of compliance for 4 years from when the requirements are completed. Acceptable competencies include:
- Employer evaluation.
- Peer letter providing evaluation of nursing performance.
- Patient letter giving evidence of relationship.
- Nursing Contract renewal.
- Self-evaluation based on competence standards.
- Continuing national certification.
- Documenting 2 nursing goals and how those were met.
- Letter from an agency where volunteer hours were logged.
- Teaching documentation from a nursing school
- Evidence of 5+ hours continued education.
- Published article relevant to nursing
- Completion of a nursing refresher course.
- Completion of comprehensive orientation program.
- Official transcript showing two hours nursing credit.
- Successful retake of NCLEX
NCLEX Exam Information
Upon graduating from an approved LPN program, students must then take and pass the NCLEX-PN examination in order to be eligible for licensure. This exam tests a nurse’s competency and covers many aspects of nursing. For more detailed information on this exam, view our comprehensive guide here. We also recommend taking the NCLEX-PN practice test in order to study for the exam and get a feel of what the questions will be like.
LPN Reciprocity and eNLC
Tennessee is a member of the Enhanced Nurse Licensure Compact (eNLC), which means that nurses in compact states must register a primary state of residence, but can work in multiple compact states without additional licensure.
As part of the eNLC, nurses working in other eNLC states do not require an additional license to practice in the state of Tennessee. LPNs outside of the eNLC area can apply for a Tennessee license by endorsement if he or she has completed an equivalent state-approved nursing program and passed the NCLEX-PN or State Board Test Pool Examination (SBTPE). To apply for licensure, the applicant must submit the following:
- Application and licensure fee ($115).
- Headshot (passport-style) photo.
- Nursing diploma or official transcript from state-approved nursing program.
- Criminal background check.
Foreign applicants, seeking to work as an LPN in Tennessee, must submit his or her official school transcripts or a Commission on Graduates of Foreign Nursing Schools (CGFNS) evaluation. The applicant must also submit a headshot (passport-style) photo, Declaration of Citizenship, and submit to a criminal background check.
The table below lists career information collected by the BLS for licensed practical nurses in Tennessee. The table is sorted by total employment, with the largest metropolitan areas listed first.
|Area||Total Employment||Average Hourly Wage||Average Annual Salary|
|Nashville, Davidson, Murfreesboro, Franklin||6,150||$19.18||$39,900|
|Kingsport, Bristol, Bristol||860||$16.35||$34,010|
For those interested in advancing their nursing career, see our Tennessee LPN to RN/BSN programs page.
Tennessee College of Applied Technology (TCAT) takes the lead in providing premier workforce development programs throughout the state. . TCAT-Nashville provides competency-based training through traditional and distance learning that is economical and accessible to all residents of the state. The Practical Nursing Program is approved by the Tennessee Board of Nursing.
Tennessee College of Applied Technology (TCAT)-Knoxville is located in Knoxville, Tennessee. TCAT-Knoxville is the premier provider of workforce development programs throughout the state. The practical nursing program prepares graduates with the background and skills to give knowledgeable, basic nursing care to patients with varying degrees of physical needs.
Tennessee College of Applied Technology (TCAT)-Oneida/Huntsville is located in Huntsville, Tennessee. TCAT-Oneida/Huntsville provides competency-based training through both traditional and distance learning, providing high-quality training that is economically accessible to all residents of the state, while also providing premiere workforce development.
Tennessee College of Applied Technology (TCAT)-Dickson is located in Dickson, Tennessee. TCAT-Dickson is committed to education that promotes diversity, that is economical and accessible to all residents of Tennessee, and that provides the highest-quality of student instruction, utilizing both traditional coursework and distance learning, ensuring student success.
The Practical Nursing Program at Tennessee College of Applied Technology - Livingston prepares graduates to confidently conquer the (NCLEX-PN), used to obtain nursing licensure in Tennessee. Practical Nursing is an entry level nursing program and graduates are prepared with the background and skills to give knowledgeable care to patients.
Continued List of All Programs in Tennessee
821 W Louise Ave, Morristown, TN 37813
1635 Vo-Tech Dr, Athens, TN 37303
2468 Technology Center Drive, Jackson, TN 38301
1233 East College Street, Pulaski, TN 38478
813 West Main Street, Hohenwald, TN 38462
426 Tennessee 91, Elizabethton, TN 37643
550 Alabama Ave, Memphis, TN 38105
312 S. Wilson Street, Paris, TN 38242
127 Industrial Drive, Ripley, TN 38063
4501 Amnicola Highway, Chattanooga, TN 37406
716 E McMurry Blvd, Hartsville, TN 37074
Programs Not Included In Rankings
910 Miller Avenue, Crossville, TN 38555
1745 Harriman Highway, Harriman, TN 37748
1303 Old Fort Pkwy, Murfreesboro, TN 37129
Additional TN Nursing Resources
- Tennessee State Board of Nursing
425 Fifth Avenue North
1st Floor - Cordell Hull Building
Nashville, TN 37247
Phone: (615) 532-5166
- Tennessee Nurses Association
545 Mainstream Drive, Suite 405
Nashville, TN 37228-1296
Phone: (615) 254-0350
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