How to Become an LPN in Virginia – A Simple Guide

How to Become an LPN in Virginia - A Simple Guide

Working as an LPN is a great idea!

It pays well and is exciting, meaningful, and enriching.

And even better… LPNs are in demand! 

As the elderly population and those with chronic diseases grow in number, LPNs are more and more sought after. 

However, figuring out how to become an LPN and where to start is the tricky part.

But do not fret!

In this article, we’ve gone in-depth, providing you with everything you need to know about how to become an LPN in Virginia. 

We’ll do this in 4 simple, easy-to-understand steps. 

We’ll also cover FAQs, such as:

  • How much does an LPN in Virginia make?
  • Are LPN jobs still in demand?
  • Is Virginia an NLC state? 

Let’s get right into it.

How to Become an LPN in Virginia – 4 Simple Steps

Below are the 4 simple steps to becoming an LPN in Virginia:

Step #1: Enroll in a State-Approved LPN Program

Step #2: Get Your LPN License

Step #3: Find Your First Job 

Step #4: Keep Your License Active

Let’s have a look at each one.

Step #1: Enroll in a State-Approved LPN Program

It shouldn’t be a wonder why LPNs need to first go to school before they can be considered for any LPN position. 

LPNs handle patients in various stages of health every day, including some who are in critical, emergency, or end-of-life situations. 

This is a huge responsibility, and therefore, LPNs need to gain the proper knowledge and skills to be equipped for such a task. 

In light of this, you should seek a good school that can ensure you are receiving a quality education. 

How do you know if your school meets the standards?

State-Approval and Accreditation 

The first thing you should look for in a school is state-approval.

The LPN program you are interested in MUST be approved by the Virginia Board of Nursing for your education to count. 

Here is a full list of LPN schools in Virginia with their approval status. 

Another layer to consider if the school gives quality education is accreditation. 

Accreditation means the school has been recognized for exceptional education and quality of studies. 

This is important because employers prefer students from accredited schools over non-accredited ones. 

The Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN) provides a full list of the accredited nursing schools in Virginia. 

Program Length

LPN programs usually range from 12-18 months, depending on whether you pursue education part-time or full-time.

Program Content 

What can you expect from an LPN program? What’s it going to be like?

Well, there are usually two main parts – classroom instruction (which may include laboratory activities) and clinical training. 

You can expect to take subjects on:

  • Nursing Fundamentals
  • Normal Growth and Development
  • Communicable Diseases
  • Pediatric Nursing
  • Maternal Nursing
  • and many more

You will also be allowed to apply what you learned in the classroom to real-life settings through exposure to different healthcare settings. 

Virginia requires that you have a minimum of 400 direct client care hours before you can apply for licensure. 

Admission Requirements

Requirements differ depending on the institution, but here are the common ones that must be satisfied to enroll in an LPN program:

  • A high school diploma or the equivalent, like a General Educational Development (GED)
  • At least 17 years old 
  • CPR certification
  • Official college transcript of records (if applicable)
  • Must be fully immunized and vaccinated
  • Completed prerequisite courses

Contact directly the school you are interested in for a full list of their requirements. 

Step #2: Get Your LPN License

Congratulations! You’ve graduated. 

Graduating from nursing school is no easy feat, but you can’t stop here yet. 

To begin practicing as an LPN, you need to get a license.

There are two ways to get a Virginia LPN license – examination or endorsement.

If you have never been licensed as an LPN before, then you still need to take exams to see if you qualify for a license.

But if you are already licensed as an LPN in another state, then you don’t need to go through the exams anymore. You can apply for a Virginia license by endorsement.

Let’s talk more deeply about both methods.

Licensure by Examination

As mentioned, all aspiring LPNs have to go through exams before they can be licensed. 

And we’re not just talking about any random exam. We’re talking about the National Licensure Examination for Practical Nurses (NCLEX-PN).

This is a national exam comprising about 85-205 questions, mostly in multiple-choice format. You will be given 5 hours to complete this exam. 

The exam covers a wide range of relevant topics because it’s meant to determine if you have the knowledge and skills that every LPN needs. 

Some questions are rather basic, but some also need advanced analytical and decision-making skills. 

The exam is very important, so prepare well. Here is an NCLEX practice test if you wanna get a feel of the exam.  

But, how do you apply for this exam?

First, you need to submit some requirements to the Virginia Board of Nursing. They will evaluate your application and determine if you can proceed to the next step. 

This is a list of what you need to submit to the Virginia BON:

  1. Completed application form and payment of the $170 LPN application fee
  2. Completed fingerprint-based Criminal Background Check
  3. Attestation of Graduation or Official Nursing School Transcripts 
  4. Registration with Pearson Vue and payment of the $200 exam fee

Remember that you must register with Pearson Vue immediately after filing your application with the Virginia Board of Nursing. 

Following your application, if successful, you will receive an email from Pearson VUE with the Authorization to Test (ATT) details. 

Follow the instructions of the ATT to schedule your exam and choose your testing center. 

Licensure by Endorsement

Are you already an LPN from a non-compact state? Do you want to work in Virginia?

Or do you want to permanently move to Virginia and continue being an LPN without going through the exams?

Well, you can benefit from endorsement. 

To apply for a Virginia LPN license by endorsement, you need to submit the following:

  • Completed application form and payment of the application fee.
  • Completed fingerprint-based Criminal Background Check (CBC).
  • Verification of licensure in another state through Nursys or directly from your state’s BON
  • Submit Clinical Hours Form completed by Nursing Employer(s)
    • ONLY if you graduated from a nursing program with less than 400 clinical hours
    • Must include evidence of 960 hours of clinical practice and an active unencumbered license in another US jurisdiction. 

Virginia is currently a Nurse Licensure Compact (NLC) state, which means if you are an LPN from another NLC state, you don’t need to go through the endorsement process to work in Virginia.

Your multi-state license allows you to practice in Virginia already. 

Step #3: Find Your First Job!

Now that you have your license, it’s time to find a job!

Job-finding in the nursing industry starts by identifying where LPNs work. 

Here is a state-provided percentage breakdown of where LPNs work:

  • Residential care facilities: 38%
  • Hospitals: 17%
  • Doctors’ offices: 13%
  • Home health care services: 11%
  • Government – state, local, and federal: 7%

Keeping in mind these stats, we’d suggest you directly approach these institutions and apply for jobs there.

Step #4: Keep Your License Active

Although this is the last step, keeping your license active is very important. 

You must keep it in mind and make it a priority.


Every 2 years, your license needs to be renewed. If you fail to renew it, you cannot work as an LPN until you reactivate your license. 

You may also face fines and eventual suspension if your inactive status prolongs. 

So, how do you renew your license?

Virginia gives you many options to qualify for renewal. 

You can choose one of the following options:

  • 30 contact hours of continuing education
  • 15 hours of continuing education AND 640 hours of active practice
  • A nursing refresher course that is board-approved
  • 3 credit hours of post-licensure academic education related to the nursing practice offered by universities or college
  • Specialty certification by a national certifying organization
  • Complete a nurse-related, evidence-based practice project for a research study
  • Author or co-author a nursing publication during the renewal cycle
  • Teach or develop a nursing course with no less than 3 semester hours of specialty certification
  • Teach or develop nurse-related continuing education courses for up to 30 hours 

Frequently Asked Questions about Becoming an LPN in Virginia

Now that we’ve covered the steps to becoming an LPN in Virginia, let’s answer some common and important questions. 

How much does an LPN in Virginia make?

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, LPNs in Virginia have an average annual salary of $48,430.

However, the exact salary you may receive is affected by your location or city and what institution you work for.   

Also, factors such as years of experience in the field, policies of the individual nursing institutions, and your education determine your overall income.

Are LPN jobs still in demand? 

When it comes to finding a job, graduates and newcomers always find themselves in a hard place, but unlike other careers, a recently graduated LPN nurse can easily find work.

According to the Bureau of Labour and Statistics, LPN jobs will increase by 8% in the next 5-10 years, as will their income and salaries.

So, where can you start?

Most LPNs work at nursing care facilities, home healthcare agencies, local hospitals, doctors’ offices, care homes, etc., so starting there would be a good idea. 

Is Virginia an NLC state?

Yes, it is!

This means that you can apply for a multistate license in Virginia and practice as an LPN in other NLC states. 

That’s good news for you because it means you are not limited to working in Virginia.

Wrapping it up

Becoming an LPN isn’t easy, but it’s not impossible either. 

One of the keys to success in becoming an LPN is to follow a structured plan. Too often, aspiring students get busy doing the wrong things and, as a result, suffer in the long term.

Students must follow the step-by-step plan and focus on completing each step as best as possible. 

By committing to a strong work ethic, remaining dedicated, and always staying consistent, you too, can fulfill your dreams and become the LPN you’ve always wanted to be.

That being said, your dreams don’t need to stop at an LPN. If you want to keep going, there are lots of opportunities waiting for you. 

After an LPN, you can become an RN and take on bigger responsibilities. Better yet, you could pursue a career as an advanced/specialized APRN and earn lots! If that sounds interesting, check out more information here. 

Good luck!

We hope this will help you in your journey to becoming an LPN!

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