How to Become a Licensed Practical Nurse

How to Become a Licensed Practical Nurse

1. Community College, Technical, or Vocational School

After graduating from high school you have to either go to vocational or tech school, or community college to receive a degree, diploma or certificate. With some of the certificate programs, you can complete them in as little as a year.

Tech or Vocational School

If you decide to go to vocational or technical school you will receive a diploma or certificate and receive hands on training that can land you into the job field immediately upon completion.

A good thing about these schools is that they take 9-18 months to complete and give you flexible classes geared towards working students.

One draw back to tech or vocational school, is that it hinders your opportunity to move on to higher education as the credits don't transfer and you just receive a diploma or certificate.

Community College

Receiving your Associates Degree is a good option if you want to further your education and become a RN or Nurse Practitioner.

Community college programs will have you complete general education courses which will give you a fuller education and opportunity to transfer credits for higher education.

Associate degrees usually take 18-24 months to complete and is more of a time commitment to students who also work full time. It is definitely the way to go if you want to develop your career and receive higher education.

Most of the coursework for these paths covers the essentials of practical nursing. These include anatomy and physiology, developmental psychology, biology, and chemistry.

Of course, if getting your Associate's Degree you will be required to take general education classes like english and other basics.

2. Take the NCLEX-PN to Earn the Required License

After graduating, you have to take the NCLEX-PN exam for full licensure. The NCLEX is comprised of multiple choice and short answer questions and has a minimum of 85 questions and maximum of 205 questions.

The test is taken on a computer and is given in CAT format, meaning the difficulty of questions varies. If you miss an question it will give you an easier question; if you get it right it will give you a harder one.

This exam is to see if it is safe for you to practice as an entry-level practical or vocational nurse. It's important to take the test soon after graduation so that all the information is still fresh. Make sure you study for the test and go in prepared.

The test is compiled of the following:

Client Needs % of Items from Each Category
Safe & Effective Care Environment  
Management of Care 17-23%
Safety & Infection Control 9-15%
Health Promotion & Maintenance 6-12%
Psychosocial Integrity 6-12%
Physiological Integrity  
Basic Care & Comfort 6-12%
Pharmacological & Parenteral Therapies 12-18%
Reduction of Risk Potential 9-15%