Why LPNs Are Still In Demand (And What It Means for You)
The thought of becoming a nurse has always been in the back of your mind. But before you knew it, life became complicated with bills to pay, children to feed or responsibilities you couldn’t put on hold. While you’re not afraid of putting in the work, the thought of committing the amount of time and energy necessary to launch a registered nursing (RN) career seems impossible for you right now.
But there are many different types of nurses. You don’t have to invest the time and energy into earning an associate’s or bachelor’s degree to get started working as a nurse. Becoming a licensed practical nurse (LPN) can be a great career on its own—and if desired, serve as a stepping stone for transitioning into a RN role later on.
Whether or not working as an LPN is your long-term plan, there are plenty of reasons for considering this healthcare career. Read on to see why LPN demand is going strong and why becoming a licensed practical nurse could be an appealing option for you.
6 Reasons why becoming an LPN is still worth it
We gathered government data along with insight from nursing organizations to identify a few factors that suggest there’s no better time to become an LPN. Take a look at our findings:
1. LPNs are needed in many types of facilities
“LPNs have lots of opportunities because an LPN doesn’t just have to work in a hospital,” says Sandy Griffin, nurse and quality assurance coordinator at Hospice of South Louisiana. “They can also work in clinics, physician’s offices, nursing homes, home health, hospice care and even in a patient’s home.” With the entire healthcare industry looking to cut costs and ensure maximum efficiency, many employers seek LPN nurses to bolster their nursing ranks at less cost.
In long-term care and outpatient facilities, this is especially notable. The ageing baby-boomer generation is creating a surge in demand for medical and rehabilitative services, making the role of the LPN more critical than ever.
We analyzed over 180,000 job postings for LPNs in the past year to find out which type of healthcare facilities are hiring the most LPNs. This is what we found:1
- General medical and surgical hospitals
- Home healthcare services
- Nursing care facilities
- Assisted living and continuing care retirement facilities
- Colleges and universities
As you can see, LPNs have opportunities to pursue in many different types of healthcare facilities.
2. The current LPN workforce will likely require a fresh wave of new hires
Members of the current nursing workforce are rapidly approaching retirement. In fact, a 2013 report from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services found that more than half of the current LPN population is over 40 years of age and more than one-third of LPNs are over 50 years of age.2 While there’s no guarantee every LPN will be replaced with another LPN, the conditions for steady demand appear strong.
3. The LPN career outlook is positive through 2026
Employment for LPNs is projected to grow by 12 percent, faster than average occupations through 2026, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).3
Part of the reason for this rising growth is the aging baby-boomer population and certain chronic conditions that have become more prevalent. Patients with diabetes and obesity in skilled nursing facilities need the kind of care LPNs can provide. The BLS also notes that procedures that used to happen in hospitals are now also performed in outpatient care centers, creating demand in those facilities.
If you want even better job prospects, the conditions should be particularly favorable for LPNs willing to work in rural areas or for those who gain certification in specialty subjects like gerontology or IV therapy. “LPNs do a lot of work, so it’s hard to list everything on your resume,” Griffin says. “But try and be specific when including job duties you performed. Being multi-skilled looks great on a resume! “
4. An LPN program can be completed quickly
A college education is a big commitment—which is precisely why an LPN program may be an appealing option. The Rasmussen College LPN program can be completed in as few as 12 months.4 That’s a significantly shorter amount of time than you’d need for many healthcare careers.
And if you decide later on to pursue a registered nursing career, you’ll have the ability to pursue a bridge entrance option that helps streamline the process. This is excellent for anyone who’d like to first get established as an LPN before committing to a more extensive RN program.
5. You have the ability to work while completing an LPN program
If you’re concerned about putting your life on hold while completing an LPN program, know that you don’t have to abandon all other commitments to succeed. Many students maintain employment while completing the LPN program, fitting in coursework and clinicals alongside their other commitments. While it won’t always be a walk in the park, you’ll have some flexibility to continue working while on the path to a new career.
That flexibility can be bolstered by online courses that can give you some wiggle room when trying to plan and balance your work and school schedule.
6. LPNs have exciting earning potential
It’s a nurse’s job to take care of others, but at the end of the day, you need to take care of yourself too! Becoming an LPN can help boost your lifetime earning potential. In 2018 the median annual wage for LPNs was $46,240, according to the BLS.3 That salary may come with some potentially appealing scheduling options as well. Unlike most office jobs, LPN schedules can look totally different based on their employer.
If your life demands more schedule variety or flexibility, you might have luck with LPN positions that involve night shifts, weekends, or a few longer shifts a week that leave you with more days off to compensate.
LPN demand on the horizon
You’re now well aware that LPNs are still needed in a variety of healthcare settings. Whether they are assisting patients in long-term care facilities or starting their hospital shifts, LPNs help keep the healthcare system going.
If you’re ready to get started pursuing a career in nursing, visit the Rasmussen College Practical Nursing program page to learn more about your options.
1Burning-Glass.com (Analysis of 183,899 LPN job postings May 01, 2018 and Apr. 30, 2019.)
2Health Resources and Services Administration, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, The U.S. Nursing Workforce: Trends in Supply and Education, [accessed May 2019] https://bhw.hrsa.gov/sites/default/files/bhw/nchwa/projections/nursingworkforcetrendsoct2013.pdf
3Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, [accessed May 2019] www.bls.gov/ooh/. Information represents national, averaged data for the occupations listed and include workers at all levels of education and experience. Employment conditions in your area may vary.
4Completion time is dependent on transfer credits accepted and the number of courses completed each term.
EDITOR’S NOTE: This article was originally published in 2014. It has since been updated to include information relevant to 2019.