Worried that being a nurse is out of reach because of the expensive costs?
Thankfully, there’s a faster and cheaper route to becoming one!
You can become an LPN or Licensed Practical Nurse in Pennsylvania without going through 4 years of college and spending tens of thousands.
In this article, we’ll detail how you can enter the nursing industry by becoming an LPN.
Our guide on how to become an LPN in Pennsylvania is straightforward – we’ll cover it in just four steps!
We’ll include the fees you have to save up for, the paperwork you need ready, and other important information.
We’ll also answer relevant questions, such as:
- How much do LPNs earn in Pennsylvania?
- When should I renew my LPN license in PA?
- What is the status of Pennsylvania’s NLC implementation?
Ready to get started?
Let’s dive in!
How to Become an LPN in Pennsylvania in 4 Easy Steps
Here are the 4 steps to becoming an LPN in Pennsylvania:
- Step #1: Complete admission requirements
- Step #2: Enroll in a Pennsylvania-approved LPN training program
- Step #3: Apply to Pennsylvania’s Board of Nursing for licensure
- Step #4: Get your license and practice as an LPN
Step #1: Complete Admission Requirements
Before you enroll in your desired school and program, you need to tick off all the items required by most of Pennsylvania’s LPN programs.
Here’s the checklist:
- High school diploma or GED-equivalent document
- A minimum GPA of 2.5
- A satisfactory score in your TEAS
- Personal interview with the faculty or staff
You may also be asked to pass a criminal background test and undergo some medical exams.
This depends on the school you are going to, but it’s good to know the basic requirements beforehand.
Step #2: Enroll in a Pennsylvania-Approved LPN Program
Since you will be joining the medical and healthcare industry, certain standards need to be met.
The state tries to ensure this by requiring all future applicants to enroll in state-approved programs.
There are a total of 55 available programs in Pennsylvania. That’s a lot of choices!
To give you an idea of where to start, here’s a list of the Top 20 programs ranked by a website.
How much are the tuition fees?
LPN programs can cost as low as $2,300 and can skyrocket up to $37,000.
Before you disregard the higher-priced programs, take note the rates vary based on different factors – the school or the provider, the duration of the program, and the program inclusions.
Sometimes, the programs that cost tens of thousands already include the miscellaneous fees and the textbooks required.
There are also schools that offer financial assistance or grants to deserving applicants. So you can always reach out and ask them about these offers.
How many years are you required to study?
Most LPN programs are 1 to 1 ½ years. Some programs can also run for up to 2 years.
This also depends on whether you are studying part-time or full-time.
What are the courses included in LPN training programs?
LPNs do more than just assist patients with their daily living.
They are given more responsibilities and are now able to take vital signs, record medical histories, and administer medications. They also communicate frequently with the patients and their families, as well as with the medical staff.
To prepare you for these roles, here are the common courses in LPN training programs:
- Nursing Fundamentals
- Anatomy and Physiology
- Assessment of Health History and Physical Examination
- Growth and Development
- Patient Safety
- Infection Control and Prevention
- Medication Administration
- Basic Patient Needs
- Adult Medical Nursing
- Emergency Nursing Care
- Psychiatric and Mental Health Nursing
- Grief and Loss
- Rehabilitation and Restorative Care
- Maternal and Natal Nursing
- Pediatric Nursing
- Geriatric Nursing
- Intravenous Medications
You will also be placed in different healthcare settings where you get to experience the real-life work of an LPN.
You will be trained in the skills necessary for LPNs and will work under the supervision of RNs.
Step #3: Apply to Pennsylvania’s Board of Nursing for Licensure
There are 2 routes on how you can get a license from Pennsylvania’s Board of Nursing.
The first is via examination, and the second is via endorsement.
If you are a first-time nurse applicant without any current license, then you need to take the NCLEX-PN.
However, if you are already a practicing LPN in a different state and want to get a license in Pennsylvania, then you can obtain one via endorsement.
Licensure by Examination
All aspiring LPNs nationwide need to pass the NCLEX-PN to become an LPN.
But for you to be able to take the NCLEX, you need to apply for it through your state’s BON. They screen all the applicants to see who qualifies for the exam.
Here’s how to apply for the examination:
- Prepare the necessary paperwork, such as your high school diploma or the equivalent GED document and the official transcript of your board-approved LPN training program.
- Fill up the application form.
- Pay the $95 licensing fee.
- Take a criminal background check and show proof of clearance.
- Complete 3 hours of Board-approved continuing education in child abuse recognition and reporting for initial licensure.
- Register to take your NCLEX-PN on this site and pay the $200 examination fee.
- Wait to receive your Authorization to Test or ATT document. This will provide your registration number, a list of testing centers, and the testing expiration date.
- Take the NCLEX-PN on your desired schedule.
- Wait for your license to be provided if you passed your NCLEX-PN and also received clearance on your license application.
What is NCLEX-PN?
The NCLEX-PN or the National Council Licensure Examination for Practical Nurses is the official exam aspiring LPNs need to take. This is administered by the local State Boards of Nursing, in your case, the Pennsylvania Board of Nursing.
This is used to determine whether or not you’re prepared to practice as an LPN in the state.
To gauge your knowledge, you will need to answer around 85 to 205 questions covering everything you’ve learned in the past 12-18 months. Questions are mostly presented in multiple-choice, but some questions are in identification and drag-and-drop formats.
Licensure by Endorsement
As mentioned above, you are only qualified to take this route if you have an existing LPN license in a different state.
You don’t need to retake an LPN program and the NCLEX-PN, since it is assumed you already went through these processes in your home state.
To be able to practice as an LPN in Pennsylvania, out-of-state LPNs need to prepare the following for their application:
- Proof of licensure from another state
- Proof of completing a state-approved program
- The license must be current, should not be more than 5 years
- Proof of passing the NCLEX-PN
Pennsylvania signed into law the Nursing Licensure Compact (NLC) in 2021, which allows nurses from other NLC states to practice in Pennsylvania without having to apply for licensure by endorsement, and vice versa.
However, currently, the law is not yet fully implemented since they are still making changes to their licensure process and criminal background checks.
In other words, multistate licenses do not yet apply in Pennsylvania, although the implementation date will be posted once everything is set.
It’s best to keep yourself updated.
Step #4: Get Your License and Practice as an LPN
Congratulations! You finally have your license!
Now the question is – where do you go and apply for a job?
There are many places you can try in Pennsylvania.
At the top of the list is nursing homes. That’s right! And just like most states, nursing homes are the biggest employers of LPNs.
You can also try applying in assisted living facilities, hospitals, clinics for ambulatory care and community health, school health services, and correctional facilities.
Remember that your career does not have to stop with becoming an LPN. You can advance your career by gaining specialized training and certifications or even by becoming an RN.
There are LPN to RN bridge programs that allow you to study part-time to become an RN while working as an LPN.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) About Becoming an LPN in Pennsylvania
Now that we’ve covered the steps to becoming an LPN, let’s answer some relevant and frequently asked questions.
How much do LPNs earn here in Pennsylvania?
Pennsylvania is one of the states that are on the higher tier when it comes to the annual salary for LPNs.
The average national salary is around $51,850 while the average annual wage in Pennsylvania is $51,090.
Here’s a table of the areas that pay the highest in the state. You might want to consider jobs in these places!
Source: US Bureau of Labor Statistics
When should I renew my LPN license in PA?
To continue working as an LPN in this state, you would need to renew your license every 2 years, to be exact, on June 30 of every even-numbered year.
To renew your LPN license, you just need to complete 2 hours of continuing education on child abuse recognition and reporting.
What is the status of Pennsylvania’s NLC implementation?
On July 1, 2021, the Act 68 of 2021 bill was signed to include Pennsylvania in the Nurse Licensure Compact (NLC).
As of May 2023, Pennsylvania is still in the process of becoming an NLC state.
Now, they are just waiting for the FBI to confirm the NLC language to provide the proper criminal background check, regulations, and other technological changes.
Once the FBI confirms approval, Pennyslniva will become an NLC state. So expect it very, very soon.
There you have it!
You can see that you can start as an entry-level nurse with an LPN license in Pennsylvania!
Educational requirements aren’t that long and there is a real demand for more like you.
The job of an LPN is both meaningful and rewarding, but you can also advance your career later on by becoming an RN.
Just follow the steps above so you can get your license in no time!
We wish you all the best!