At the moment, there’s a huge surge in demand for nurses all over the U.S.
In North Carolina, in particular, hospitals and medical facilities need nurses of all kinds – Certified Nursing Aids (CNAs), Licensed Practical Nurses (LPNs), and Registered Nurses (RNs).
To add to that, LPN positions alone are set to increase by 9% by 2029 according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).
So, if you’ve ever dreamed of going into this medical field, now is a great time to start!
But the question is… how do I become one?
It’s great that LPNs are in demand, but is the process complicated? How long will it take? What documents do I need to submit?
In this article, we’ll share 5 steps on how to become an LPN in North Carolina.
We’re also going to answer some frequently asked questions, such as:
- How do CNAs, LPNs, and RNs’ roles differ from each other?
- What is the average salary of an LPN in North Carolina?
- Where do most LPNs in North Carolina work?
- How much does it cost to become an LPN?
We have a lot to discuss, so let’s dive right in!
Become an LPN in North Carolina with these 5 steps
All it takes to become an LPN and stay active as a licensed practical nurse are these five steps:
- Complete a state-approved LPN program
- Register for an LPN license in North Carolina
- Pass the NCLEX
- Land your first job as an LPN in North Carolina
- Continue education and renew your LPN license
Step #1: Enroll in a State-Approved LPN Program
Want to get started on your journey to getting that LPN license? Well, it starts with the right training.
North Carolina LPN Program Span and Scope
In North Carolina, LPN courses take 1-2 years, depending on the type of program you’re taking. A practical nursing diploma course takes 12 to 18 months, while an Associate degree takes two years.
LPN Programs combine both theory and practice. Under these programs, students learn nursing concepts and gain clinical experience too.
Below are some of the courses offered under the program:
- Intro to Health Concepts
- Anatomy & Physiology
- Developmental Psychology
- Family Health Concepts
- Holistic Health Concepts
LPN State-Approval in North Carolina
One crucial factor to consider when choosing a school is its state approval.
An LPN program that is not state-approved will NOT qualify you to become an LPN, so this is vital.
Check out the full list of LPN programs approved by the North Carolina Board of Nursing here.
You can also check further accreditations from the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN) and the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE).
They review schools to ensure that programs are on par with professional standards.
LPN Program Costs in North Carolina
Many factors affect the tuition fee prices for LPN courses. Firstly, it will depend on which type of program you’ll be studying.
Certificate programs cost less than associate degrees. At a minimum, a certificate program can cost $2,240, while an associate degree can cost $6,850.
Secondly, it will depend on the type of school. LPN programs are often found in community colleges, so tuition fees are often reasonably-priced.
However, some schools may be pricier than others. For example, some diploma programs can reach up to $35,000 while associate programs can reach up to $50,000.
Some schools have financial assistance programs, however, for worthy students. You can try to look into those as well.
LPN Program Admission Requirements
So, you’ve chosen an approved school. What comes next?
It’s time to submit the following requirements.
Admission requirements vary per school but in general, here are some of the things that you’ll need to submit:
- ATI TEAS Exam Results
- Transcripts from high school, college, or GED results
- Accomplished application forms for your selected school
- Background checks
Step #2: Prepare for the NCLEX-PN
After years of studying, it’s finally time to put that knowledge to the test and get closer to your goal of being an LPN!
Passing the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX) will take you to the next step of your journey. So, here are a couple of extra details regarding the test.
What is NCLEX-PN?
It stands for National Council Licensure Examination for Practical Nurses.
The NCLEX is prepared by the National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN). The test is designed for Computerized Adaptive Testing. This means that each test is unique to each candidate.
There are two types of NCLEX: The NCLEX – PN for practical nurses and the NCLEX – RN for registered nurses.
What topics are covered in the NCLEX-PN?
For the NCLEX-PN, candidates can expect questions on the following topic categories:
- Safe Effective Care Environment
- Health Promotion and Maintenance
- Psychosocial Integrity
- Physiological Integrity
How is the test administered?
Because the NCLEX is an adaptive test, it also has a unique way of determining whether a candidate passes or fails. The test follows the 95% Confidence Interval Rule, Maximum-Length Exam Rule, and Run-out-of-time Rule.
For a better understanding of these rules, you check out the in-depth descriptions here.
One strict rule is that candidates must answer at least 85 questions from the 150-item exam.
How do I prepare for the NCLEX?
Preparing for this exam can seem overwhelming, we know.
Your preparations should start even when you are enrolled in your LPN program because that is where you will be learning a lot of the topics and skills necessary.
Your preparations after graduation can consist of self-reviews, group reviews, and online practice exams.
There are a lot of resources to help you succeed!
Step #3: Register for Your North Carolina LPN License
There are two main ways to get your license in North Carolina – by examination or endorsement.
This depends on whether you are applying for the first time or if you are already an active LPN in another state.
If you are applying for the first time and have never been an LPN before, you need to apply by examination.
If you are already an LPN in another state, then you can apply by endorsement or avail of the NLC privileges.
LPN by Examination
Before you can take the NCLEX, you must apply to take the exam from the North Carolina Board of Nursing.
They evaluate your credentials and approve your application.
The process for the LPN license registration is as follows:
- Apply with the North Carolina Board of Nursing for your licensure exam and pay the application fee of $75
- Have your school submit your LPN program verification or transcript of records to the BON
- Undergo a criminal background check
- Register with Pearson Vue and pay the $200 exam fee
- Wait to receive your Authorization to Test (ATT) form from Pearson Vue
- Schedule your exam once you receive your ATT
- Take and pass the NCLEX
- Wait for the official results
If you pass the exam… CONGRATULATIONS! You will receive your LPN license.
What happens if you fail the exam? Well, candidates are given 45 to 90 days before they can retake the exam. After that time, you just have to follow these steps:
- Contact Nursing Board to provide notice regarding the retake
- Register and pay exam fees to Pearson VUE again
- Await your new ATT
- Schedule your reexamination
LPN Licensing Information and Requirements in North Carolina
Based on the steps we’ve mentioned, here are just some of the basic requirements for your LPN license in North Carolina:
- A degree from a board-approved LPN program
- A passing score from the NCLEX-PN
- A criminal background check clearance
LPN by Endorsement and NLC
Are you an LPN from a different state thinking of practicing in North Carolina?
Well, the good news is that there’s the Nurse Licensure Compact (NLC). States that are part of the NLC allow nurses from other participating states to work without additional licensure.
But if you’re from a state that doesn’t fall under the NLC, you can register for a North Carolina license through endorsement. While waiting for your official state license, you can apply for a temporary license that will be valid for 6 months.
If you’re securing a license via endorsement, you’ll need to:
- Submit a state-approved LPN program degree that is on par with North Carolina’s curriculum
- Submit proof of passing the NCLEX
- Submit previous state licensure
- Undergo a criminal background check
But what happens when you’ve studied nursing outside of the U.S.? There are also several steps to secure a license:
- Submit educational transcripts
- Pass an English proficiency test
- Secure a Social Security Card
- Undergo a criminal background check
Whether you’re from North Carolina, another state, or outside of the country, once you’ve gone through the necessary process, you’ll be able to get that license!
Afterward, it’s all a matter of landing that first job.
Step #4: Find Your First Job as an LPN in North Carolina
While it may take you some extra time and effort to find your first LPN job, in North Carolina, you’ve got a pretty good chance at landing one quickly.
Because of the shortage of practical nurses in the state, especially in metropolitan parts, hospitals, and other medical facilities are offering competitive salaries and schedule flexibility to keep licensed nurses.
Some establishments even offer educational benefits such as shouldering a portion of your student loans.
According to these statistics, practical nurse openings are set to increase by 5.44% by 2028. Other research also backs this up, with some estimating more than 8,000 job openings from 2021 to 2025.
LPN Work Environments
There are several medical facilities where LPNs can work. We’ve enumerated some of the work settings you may choose from when you’re starting your career below:
- Rehabilitation Centers
- Nursing Homes
- Home Care
Best Areas in North Carolina to Apply as an LPN
There are many different cities to choose from in North Carolina, but those with the highest chances of a job offer are the following:
- Greensboro-High Point
- Durham-Chapel Hill
There are plenty of opportunities in Charlotte, based on the 3,000 nurses currently employed in the area. On the other hand, there are an average of 1,000 positions in the rest of the metros on this list.
In terms of salary, Raleigh offers the highest pay for its practical nurses at around $52,000 a year.
For a full breakdown of the employment rate and average salary for these different metropolitan cities, you can check out the table below.
Step #5: Continue Education and Renew Your LPN License
Congratulations! You’ve made it to the last stage and you’re officially a licensed practical nurse!
The work doesn’t stop here, though.
LPN licenses are valid for 2 years and must be renewed on the last day of the license holder’s birth month.
Before you can renew your license, you must submit at least one of the following requirements before the expiration of the license:
- Complete 15 hours of continued education
- Accomplish 640 hours of active practice
- Complete 30 hours of continued education
- Receive re-certification from a board-recognized National Credentialing Body
- Finish a board-approved refresher course
- Accomplish 2 semester hours of post-licensure nursing academics
- Complete 15 hours of continued education AND accomplish a nursing project as the principal or co-investigator
- Complete 15 hours of continuing education AND co-author a nursing-related published paper
- Complete 15 hours of continuing education AND log in 5 hours of developing or teaching a nursing presentation
Application for LPN Renewal
If you’re already eligible for renewal then it’s just a matter of sending your application! Just follow this process:
- Visit the Nurse Gateway to get started on the renewal process
- Choose your license
- Click “Renewal/Reinstatement” under license options
- Pay a $100 renewal fee
- Complete the application
For additional details on license renewal in North Carolina, you can visit the North Carolina Board of Nursing page.
Frequently Asked Questions about Becoming an LPN in California
So, there you have it. We’ve walked you through the process of becoming an LPN in California.
But in case we missed any details, we’re answering some extra questions that you may have.
How do CNAs, LPNs, and RNs’ roles differ from each other?
Feeling a bit confused about these different nursing positions? We can help you out.
Below, we explain each type of nurse and their different roles and requirements.
What is the average salary of an LPN in North Carolina?
In North Carolina, an LPN can earn $23.66 per hour and $49,210 per year, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Where do most LPNs in North Carolina work?
The BLS also shared the industries with the highest employment rates for LPNs in the table below.
Nursing care facilities, home health care services, and physician offices take the top 3 spots.
As for the highest-paying industries for LPNs, personal care services, office administrative services, and insurance carriers offer the best compensation.
How much does it cost to become an LPN?
Beginning your journey may take some investment, but it will pay off.
The first thing you’ll have to consider is the cost of your LPN program. But if you choose the most affordable option, community colleges offer certificate programs at around $2,300.
When you apply for your license, you will also have to pay roughly $300. The license application will cost $75, the criminal background check will cost $38, and the exam fee will cost $200.
Now that you know all the steps you need to take, do you feel one step closer to becoming an LPN in North Carolina?
Don’t forget to review this process and our FAQs if you come across any bumps along the way.
We’ve also cited some additional sources that will help you learn more about the job and the state of the industry in North Carolina.
So, what are you waiting for? It’s time to start your journey!