Aspiring to become a nurse in South Carolina?
Well, a Licensed Practical Nurse is one of the best options if you want a faster and more affordable way to get into the healthcare industry!
Requiring a year’s worth of education and a few examinations, becoming an LPN is a great way to start your career.
That being said, there is a lot of confusion when it comes to the process of becoming an LPN.
Different states have different requirements, so you can get confused about which ones apply to South Carolina specifically.
But don’t worry, we are here to clear all that up!
We’ve created an easy step-by-step guide on how to become an LPN in South Carolina.
We’ll also answer some FAQs, such as:
- How much does an LPN make in South Carolina?
- How difficult is the NCLEX-PN Exam?
- What is the difference between an LPN, CNA, and RN?
We have a lot to cover! So, let’s dive right in!
How to Become an LPN in South Carolina – 4 Simple Steps
Here are the 4 simple steps to becoming an LPN in South Carolina:
Step #1: Enroll in an LPN School
Step #2: Get Your LPN License!
Step #3: Secure Your First Job
Step #4: Keep Your License Active
Let’s have a look at each one.
Step #1: Enroll in an LPN School
LPNs handle patients with various health conditions daily. They also need to know how to deal with critical cases or emergencies.
It’s not an easy job and requires specialized knowledge and skills. Therefore, LPNs need to be trained first.
This is why enrolling in a state-approved LPN school is non-negotiable.
Take note that not just any LPN program will do. It must be state-approved!
This is to ensure that you are getting quality education according to the standards set forth by the South Carolina Board of Nursing.
You can find a list of state-approved LPN programs here.
The length of an LPN program is significantly shorter than most other medical courses.
- Full-time LPN program: 12 months
- Part-time LPN program: 18 months
Whether you study full-time or part-time, you can get LPN studies done in less than 2 years!
LPN programs usually have two main parts – classroom instruction and clinical training.
Both are very crucial because not only should you know certain facts, but you should also know how to apply them in real-life situations.
Classroom instruction will cover topics such as Nursing Fundamentals, Normal Growth and Development, Communicable Diseases, Pediatric and Maternal Nursing, etc.
Your clinical training will mean that you will be assigned to different healthcare institutions to apply the theories you learned.
Prerequisites to Enrolling
To enroll in an LPN program, you’ll need to meet some prerequisites.
These may vary by institution, but we listed some of the common ones:
- Cumulative GPA of 2.5
- SAT/ACT scores
- At least 17 years old.
- CPR certification
- Passing the TEAS exam
Again, your school may have more (or fewer) requirements, but at least you have some idea of what to prepare.
Step #2: Get Your LPN License
There are two main ways to get an LPN license in South Carolina – through examination and endorsement.
All fresh LPN graduates who have never been licensed need to undergo the examination route.
The endorsement route is reserved for those who are already LPNs in other states.
Let’s talk about both.
License by Examination – the NCLEX-PN
To become a recognized, practicing nurse with a valid license, all prospective nurses must take and pass the NCLEX-PN examination.
The NCLEX-PN is an exam designed to test your knowledge of fundamental nursing and medical concepts. You are given a maximum of 5 hours to cover an exam with 85-205 questions. These questions are mostly in Multiple-Choice Format.
The test must be taken within a year of your graduation from nursing school, so you can take some time to prepare yourself and review.
However, it’s best not to wait too long so that the things you learned in your LPN program will still be fresh in your memory.
But before you can take the exam, you need to apply for it through the South Carolina Board of Nursing.
They are the ones who determine if you qualify for the exam by checking your school transcripts, criminal background, etc.
To apply, you should:
- Complete the LPN Registration Form for South Carolina online. This includes:
- Copy of any document proving identity
- Notarized Signature Affidavit with 2″ x 2″ Color Passport type photo Form
- Proof of legal name: (vital statistics birth certificate (not hospital birth certificate)
- Notarized Verification of Lawful Presence Form
- Proof of LPN education sent directly to the Board
- Official Transcripts (Graduate of out-of-state school)
- Certificate of Endorsement Form (Graduate of in-state school)
- Credential Evaluation Service Professional Report (Foreign Educated Applicants)
- Payment of $70 for the application fee
- Criminal Background check AFTER submission of application
- Register with Pearson Vue for the NCLEX and pay the examination fee of $200.
You will get an Authorization to Test (ATT) email after the South Carolina BON has determined your eligibility for the exam.
The ATT email will be sent to the email address you provided at registration.
You can then schedule your exam date and testing center using details from the ATT.
If you pass the exam, you will receive your license! What a big achievement!
If not, you can retake the exam once every 45 days for up to a year. You will need to pay the exam fees every attempt, though.
Licensure by Endorsement
Endorsement is a very specific form of licensure acquisition.
It applies only to those who:
- are already LPNs from non-compact states who want to work in South Carolina
- LPNs who want to permanently move to SC and make it their primary state of residency
To apply, you should submit the following documents:
- Verification of your out-of-state license through Nursys or sent directly from your BON
- Criminal Background Check
- Filled-up application form, which includes:
- Copy of your valid driver’s license, State issued ID, Passport, or Military ID
- Copy of Social Security card or Resident Alien Registration
- Social security card
- Notarized Signature Affidavit with Passport Photo Form.
- Proof of your legal name
- Declaration of Primary Residence Form with proof of residence (if available at the time of application.)
- Verification of Lawful Presence
- Proof of Continued Competency
- Copy of active license to practice in another state, jurisdiction, or territory of the United States.
To read more about the endorsement process, you can go here.
South Carolina as an NLC State
It is important to note that South Carolina is part of the Nursing Licensure Compact (NLC).
This means that LPNs from other NLC states can practice in South Carolina without having to apply for a separate license by endorsement.
That makes the process so much smoother for them.
Also, if you are an LPN in South Carolina with a multistate license, you can work in other NLC states without much of a hassle.
Step #3: Find Your First Job!
You may be thinking, “I just passed the exam; what now?”
The next step is finding a job. Though you might worry that landing a job as an LPN would be difficult, we have great news for you!
Finding jobs as an LPN is remarkably easy, and I’m sure you won’t have any trouble finding them!
Here’s why: South Carolina has an aging population and that means most major cities will need more LPNs.
LPNs are commonly found in:
- Nursing care facilities
- Doctors’ offices
- Blood Banks
- Home Care Agencies
- Correctional Facilities
We recommend contacting these institutions personally and applying as an LPN.
Of course, you are not limited to these options.
Healthcare is needed almost anywhere! So you can be innovative in finding a job. Just know how to market your services well.
Step #4: Keep Your License Active
The final step, or something you should always remember, is keeping your license active.
Licenses don’t go on forever. They expire, and in the case of an LPN license, this happens every two years.
To prevent expiry, you must regularly renew your license.
You have four options to choose from to qualify for renewal. You only need to choose ONE of the following:
- 30 hours of continuing education
- Maintain a certification or get re-certified
- Complete an academic program in nursing or a related field
- Verify competency through practice hours (verified by your employer)
FAQs about Becoming an LPN in South Carolina
Know what it takes to become an LPN in South Carolina?
Still have a few questions?
Let’s answer some common ones.
How much does an LPN make in South Carolina?
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, LPNs in South Carolina have a mean annual wage of $46,470.
However, your exact wage will depend on what city you are in, what institution you work for, how many years of experience you have, what your position is, etc.
How difficult is the NCLEX-PN Exam?
Ranging from 85-205 questions (mostly in multiple-choice format) covering all aspects of nursing, ranging from fundamentals to slightly complex topics, the NCLEX is hard but not unpassable.
We’d strongly suggest taking practice tests to get a feel before the exam day.
If you’re getting more than 40-70 MCQs wrong, you’ll need some practice. If not, congratulations, you’re on the right track!
What is the difference between an LPN, CNA, and RN?
Are LPNs and CNAs the same thing?
Do LPNs and RNs have the same roles?
Whenever nursing is discussed, these types of questions are thrown around. Clearly, there is some confusion, but don’t worry; we are here to clear it all up.
Below is a breakdown of the terms:
|Type of Nurse||Meaning||Time to Complete Training Program||ExaminationRequired||Tasks||Job Opportunity|
|CNA||Certified Nursing Assistant/ Certified Nursing Aide||4-12 weeks||State-approved exam (eg CNA Prometric Exam)||Assistant role. Providing essential care services to patients, e.g feeding, cleaning, and bathing.||Commonly found in nursing or residential care homes|
|LPN||Licensed Practical Nurse||12-18 months||Nationwide Exam (NCLEX-LPN)||Assisting RNs. Involved in more complicated tasks such as assisting RNs, administering medicines, and changing bandages.||Senior positions in residential care homes but also found in hospitals, and doctors’ offices as well.|
|RN||Registered Nurse||2 years if you take the Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN)|
and 4 years if you take the Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN)
|Nationwide Exam (NCLEX-RN)||ADN-RNCreate patient care plans, monitor patients, answer questions, assist with procedures, take vital signs, track patient progress, and guide LPNs, as well as CNAs.|
BSN-RNIncludes all the tasks of an ADN but focuses more on specialization in certain areas as well as dealing in more administrative positions
|Plethora of job options, but most commonly found in hospitals|
Success in this journey requires immense dedication, patience, and commitment, and although this may seem difficult, it is worth it.
A career as an LPN offers rewards and opportunities.
An LPN means an exciting and meaningful working life. Each day brings new challenges and opportunities, so don’t worry about getting bored.
But that’s not all! With an exciting workload comes great salaries.
All in all, LPNs in South Carolina enjoy a fantastic career.
So, work hard and dream big.