One of the quickest ways to enter the nursing field is as a licensed practical nurse, and most LPN programs in North Carolina can be completed in about a year. To make things as convenient as possible, some programs offer evening and online classes to give you the flexibility to learn at a time and place that’s most convenient for you.
With so many North Carolina licensed practical nursing programs to choose from, figuring out which school to attend can be difficult. This guide can help you on your search for a quality, affordable program. You’ll find a list of top-rated accredited schools along with other helpful information about becoming an LPN in North Carolina and the job market for LPNs in the state. Continue reading to get started on your LPN education and career journey.
College Spotlights: Best LPN Programs in NC
With a wide array of LPN programs in North Carolina, you’re certain to find one that is able to well prepare you to pass the NCLEX-PN exam and begin your career as a practical nurse. Below are three schools that stand out in terms of affordability, learning flexibility, NCLEX-PN passage rates, and student support. They’re also all fully-approved by the NC Board of Nursing and accredited, so you can feel confident you’re getting a quality education. See if one meets your needs or use them as a quality benchmark when looking at other programs.
Durham Technical Community College’s Practical Nursing Diploma Program is accredited by the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN), and classes are available at the college’s main campus, its Orange County campus, or online. Coursework includes the theory-based instruction necessary to practice as an LPN and builds upon the areas of healthcare, nursing practice, and the holistic individual. Practical skills and hands-on learning requirements are completed at a variety of healthcare facilities in the Durham area.
Clinical learning experiences begin during the first semester, and the curriculum takes about one year to complete, consists of 44 credits, and ensures students are well-prepared to pass the NCLEX-PN. In fact, Durham Technical Community College’s NCLEX-PN pass rate is well above the national and North Carolina averages.
At Forsyth Technical Community College, students enrolled in the Practical Nursing diploma program receive their instruction in three primary formats. Classroom lectures focus on basic scientific and medical theories and principles, and labs provide hands-on instruction for the skills needed as practicing LPNs. Lastly, clinicals allow students to apply what they’ve learned in class and labs with real patients while under the supervision of medical professionals. The entire program consists of 41 credit hours and is accredited by the National League for Nursing Commission for Nursing Education Accreditation (NLN CNEA).
To accommodate students who have other professional or personal responsibilities, Forsyth Technical Community College has day and night/weekend academic tracks. A strong basic math and algebra background along with computer literacy and proficient communication skills are important for success in this program.
Wayne Community College’s ACEN-accredited Practical Nursing program prepares students to not only pass the NCLEX-PN but also to effectively deliver healthcare services to patients. Students receive tailored instruction with most classes consisting of less than 20 students and teaching essential skills in areas like critical thinking, communication, and mental alertness. The curriculum includes three semesters and 42 credit hours, and students take two to three classes per semester for a course load of 12 to 17 credits.
For those wishing to take the next step in their nursing careers, Wayne Community College also offers an Advanced Standing program for current LPNs who already have a Practical Nursing Diploma. This program results in an associate degree in nursing and qualifies them to take on advanced clinical responsibilities by becoming registered nurses.
FAQs About LPN Programs in North Carolina
What skills do you learn in LPN programs in NC?
The bulk of what an LPN student learns in an accredited LPN program in NC involves nursing medical theory and nursing practice. Theoretical topics cover scientific concepts relating to processes of the human body, including what happens to the body when under a stress like illness or injury. Wake Tech’s LPN program, for example, includes a Health-Illness Concepts class that teaches topics like oxygenation, infection, cellular regulation, and metabolism. Students also learn hands-on skills like taking vital signs and assessing patients. Finally, nursing practice also has policy and rules-driven topics, such as ethics, professional behaviors, and healthcare delivery systems, that students must master.
How much do LPN programs cost in North Carolina?
One of the biggest benefits of attending an LPN program in NC is the low cost because of the base tuition rates set by the state legislature. North Carolina residents attending one of the many community colleges, like Guilford Technical Community College, can expect to earn their practical nursing diplomas for about $5,000. Students attending community colleges in North Carolina also pay their tuition by the semester and not with a one-time payment for the entire program.
Total Credits: 36-48
$76.00/credit (in-state); $268.00/credit (out-of-state)
Can I get financial aid to help pay for my LPN program in North Carolina?
There are several types of financial aid available, including grants, scholarships, and student loans. Most grants and scholarships are offered by nonprofits and corporations. However, some schools have special scholarships for their nursing students. Student loans are funded and/or administered by the federal government. To discover what financial aid options are possible as an LPN student, check out our LPN scholarships guide and main financial aid guide.
How long do LPN programs in North Carolina take to finish?
Most traditional and online LPN programs in NC consist of 42-45 credit hours. With full-time study, the typical student can graduate in about one year by taking courses year-round during the fall, spring, and summer semesters. Lenoir Community College provides one example of a typical LPN program in NC. Accelerated and part-time learning options aren’t common, though some schools offer courses during evenings and weekends.
Inside Look at Online LPN Programs in NC
There are no fully-online accredited LPN programs in North Carolina, though some programs, like the practical nursing program at Cape Fear Community College, do offer a hybrid curriculum where students take classes on campus and online. In this type of program, students can take their general education and foundational science courses completely online with other courses and clinical experiences completed in person. Most of the clinical-related classes are held at medical facilities close to the school.
LPN Licensing Information and Requirements in North Carolina
North Carolina is like most other states with regard to LPN licensing. Its general requirements include:
- Graduating from an approved LPN program.
- Passing the NCLEX-PN.
- Passing a criminal background check.
The precise eligibility and licensing requirements are provided by the North Carolina Board of Nursing. Below is a general overview of what it takes to obtain your LPN license in North Carolina.
Education and Training
Before you can earn your license, you must first graduate from an LPN program that’s approved by the NC Board of Nursing. If an LPN program is accredited by the ACEN or NLN CNEA, it’s also likely approved by the North Carolina Board of Nursing. Confirm state approval of an LPN program in NC by visiting the North Carolina Board of Nursing website.
Professional Nursing Examination
The license by examination process involves taking the NCLEX-PN and is how new LPNs become licensed in North Carolina. To take this exam, you’ll first register with Pearson VUE at least two weeks before finishing your LPN program. Registration costs $200.
Application with NC Board of Nursing
The LPN application process starts with providing your background information, signing up on the Nurse Gateway, and paying the $75 application fee. You’ll then verify your completion of an approved LPN program by sending in copies of your official transcript or completing the electronic school verification process.
Passing a Criminal History Check
The last major component of the licensing process is the criminal background check. This consists of passing both the state-based and FBI criminal history checks. If you’re a North Carolina resident, you can usually complete this with electronic fingerprint scans through the Live Scan process at your local sheriff’s office. If you reside outside of North Carolina, you’ll be mailed fingerprint cards and have to make arrangements with your local law enforcement agency or department to complete the fingerprinting process.
License Renewal & Continuing Education
LPNs in North Carolina must apply for a license renewal every two years with a deadline of the last day of an LPN’s birth month. The application process is completed online and includes paying a $100 renewal fee. During the renewal process, LPNs certify they’ve completed North Carolina’s continuing competence requirements over the past two years. These are met in multiple ways, but most LPNs complete 30 contact hours of continued education or 15 contact hours of continued education plus 640 hours of active practice.
Salary and Job Outlook for LPNs in North Carolina
While the projected growth rate for LPNs in North Carolina isn’t as high as the rest of the nation, it’s still solid. Wages are closely in line with the national average. Also, wages for LPNs in NC are higher than LPNs in neighboring states like South Carolina and Tennessee even though the projected long-term need for new LPNs in South Carolina and Tennessee is higher at 10.2% and 14.2%, respectively.
Job Outlook for Licensed Practical Nurses in North Carolina (2018-2028)
Source: Projections Central
Annual Earnings for Licensed Practical Nurses in North Carolina
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, May 2020