Healthcare systems across Pennsylvania and the country are struggling to keep up with the ripple effect of COVID-related staffing shortages and a generation of nurses heading toward retirement. As a result, hospitals, doctor’s offices, clinics, nursing homes, and other medical facilities are in dire need of new nurses – including licensed practical nurses (LPNs).
If you’re interested in joining the nursing field but aren’t quite ready to earn your associate or bachelor’s degree, enrolling in an LPN program in Pennsylvania offers a quick and affordable way to begin your career. In the following guide, we spotlight some of the best LPN programs in Pennsylvania, what you’ll learn during your studies, and how you can earn your LPN licensure and begin your career. Keep reading to find your LPN program match and learn how you can join the next generation of nurses in Pennsylvania.
Learn More About Pennsylvania LPN Programs in These Cities
College Spotlights: Best LPN Programs in Pennsylvania
There are many quality LPN programs in PA to choose from. But which ones are the very best? Below we’ve highlighted three top options that are approved by the state board of nursing, offer quality curriculums that prepare LPN students for licensure, and have reasonable tuition costs. Review our detailed profiles of each below and see if one of them meets your needs.
Community College of Beaver County
Located northwest of Pittsburgh, Community College of Beaver County (CCBC) offers students a clear path to begin a nursing career through the three-semester LPN program. In addition to preparing students with the theoretical and practical skills they need to provide patient care, CCBC offers clinical experiences in various healthcare settings. Upon graduation, students are prepared to pass the NCLEX-PN exam and begin their careers.
Throughout this 50-credit Pennsylvania LPN program, students encounter various general education, nursing, and clinical courses. Standard classes cover intro to practical nursing, human growth and development, and human anatomy and physiology. Students must satisfactorily complete all core curriculum, nursing classes, and clinical experiences with a grade of C or better.
Prospective LPN students must hold a high school diploma or GED and successfully complete a pre-admission exam for the nursing program.
Northampton Community College
Based in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, Northampton Community College (NCC) is home to an LPN program accredited by the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing. Boasting small class sizes and relationships with various healthcare settings, students gain the practical skills required for entry-level nursing jobs. Students can complete this Pennsylvania LPN certificate program in just three semesters.
Students cover a variety of foundational healthcare, nursing, and general education courses as they complete the program’s 44 credits. Along with standard general education requirements like human biology and sociology, the NCC LPN student covers essential nursing topics, including introduction to nursing, geriatric nursing for the practical nurse, and mental health nursing for the practical nurse.
Students applying to NCC’s LPN program must have a high school diploma or GED and have successfully completed high school coursework in biology and algebra. Prospective students must also submit TEAS scores and have a cumulative GPA of 2.5 or higher.
Reading Area Community College
Reading Area Community College offers a practical nursing program in which students work with seasoned healthcare professionals to gain the theoretical and practical skills they need to start a nursing career. In addition to traditional classroom experiences and simulated clinical practice, LPN students complete clinical rotations at various healthcare providers .
Throughout this 12-month Pennsylvania LPN program, students gain essential skills in pediatric and obstetric care, medical and surgical practical nursing, geriatric nursing, medication, and administrative skills. Standard classes in this 51-credit program include math for allied health, medical terminology for the healthcare professional, and three sections of practical nursing.
Students interested in pursuing an LPN certificate must have a high school diploma or GED and have a minimum 2.5 GPA. Applicants also must submit TEAS scores and complete all prerequisite coursework with a grade of C or better.
FAQs About LPN Programs in Pennsylvania
What skills do you learn in LPN programs in PA?
During an LPN program in Pennsylvania, learners gain critical theoretical and practical knowledge vital to an entry-level nursing career. Alongside classroom-based learning, students at schools like Penn College hone nursing competencies through over 900 hours of hands-on training. Schools like Reading Area Community College offer a holistic approach that prepares students for careers in areas from home health to assisted living facilities.
Stand-out LPN programs make it a priority to prepare students to pass the NCLEX-PN exam. In the process, students also gain skills such as communication, teamwork, attention to detail, and empathy. Once they complete their Pennsylvania LPN program, students have the technical knowledge and soft skills to provide competent, compassionate nursing care.
How much do LPN programs cost in Pennsylvania?
LPN programs in Pennsylvania can vary in cost, but generally community and technical colleges offer tuition rates lower than other post-secondary institutions. Some programs charge per credit, while others reduce the rate slightly for full-time students. Resident students traditionally pay significantly less than nonresidents. Keep reading as we highlight the costs of several stand-out programs.
Reading Area Community College
Total Credits: 51
$2,835/semester for Berks County residents; $4,875/semester for out-of-county residents
Total Credits: 68
$587/credit for in-state residents; $839/credit for out-of-state residents
Pennsylvania Institute of Technology
Allied Health-Practical Nursing
Total Credits: 84
Can I get financial aid to help pay for my LPN program in Pennsylvania?
When you combine tuition, fees, and books, paying for an LPN program gets expensive. Various sources of financial aid can help reduce that expense. And while earning your degree is a worthy investment of time and money, be sure you understand the true cost of college before enrolling.
In addition to federal and state loans, LPN students have access to a significant list of scholarships, grants, and other financial aid opportunities. Groups like the Nursing Foundation of Pennsylvania and the Nightingale Awards of Pennsylvania offer various annual scholarships for Pennsylvania nursing students. LPN students can review our financial aid guide for an in-depth look at various resources and tips to help offset the cost of college. Plus, check out our scholarship guide for LPN students to see how you can secure some free funding.
How long do LPN programs in PA take to finish?
The duration of your LPN program will vary. Your status as a full-time or part-time student, as well as personal and professional obligations, impact how long you will take to finish your degree.
Students tackling an LPN program in Pennsylvania at Beaver County Community College can complete the program in just three semesters and graduate in one calendar year. LPN students at Penn College take a slightly longer route, completing a more sizeable curriculum leading to an associate degree. Regardless of the type of degree, students tackle both the coursework and hands-on clinical requirements that prepare them for the NCLEX-PN exam.
Inside Look at Online LPN Programs in Pennsylvania
For LPN students, a solid, hands-on clinical education is essential to learning effective nursing practice. But while LPN students inevitably complete various in-person requirements, some programs are available as hybrid online programs in Pennsylvania. These hybrid LPN programs allow students to complete some courses online while still requiring an in-person element. Some hybrid LPN programs in PA are offered through Pennsylvania Institute of Technology, Harrisburg Area Community College, and Great Lakes Institute of Technology.
Pennsylvania’s hybrid online LPN programs utilize a platform where students complete theory-based coursework at their own pace while putting theory into practice during in-person meetings. And while online coursework requires some serious self-discipline, hybrid options increase accessibility, especially for students who juggle the responsibilities of school, work, and family.
LPN Licensing Information and Requirements in Pennsylvania
Similar to understanding the true cost of college before you enroll, be sure you know Pennsylvania’s specific nurse licensing requirements before you begin your LPN educational journey. Upon graduation you’ll be armed with the skills to provide competent nursing care, but before you head into the workforce you’ll need to secure a Pennsylvania nursing license—a process that the Pennsylvania State Board of Nursing oversees. Learn about some of the essential components of the licensure process below.
Education and Training
Before you begin your nursing career, you’ll need to hone the theoretical knowledge and practical skills required for competent and compassionate nursing practice. This process begins by enrolling at an accredited, state-approved LPN program. Throughout your academic studies, you’ll master the essential skills and professional standards as determined by accrediting bodies and professional organizations. In addition to traditional classroom learning, LPN students also gain hundreds of hours of hands-on clinical experience.
Professional Nursing Examination
As an LPN program comes to a close, students should begin preparing for their certification exam. Before taking their exam, students must receive an Authorization to Test, begin the application process with the state board, and then register for the exam through Pearson Vue. In Pennsylvania, LPN licensure hinges on passing grades on one of two exams: the NCLEX-PN practical nursing exam or the State Board Test Pool Exam. Graduates waiting to take the exam can apply for a temporary permit.
Completed Background Check and Application Materials
Submitting a complete application with all required materials eliminates delays in receiving your LPN license. LPN graduates must provide proof of the completion of their program and pay all applicable fees. Graduates applying from out-of-state must submit official academic transcripts. All LPN applicants must complete a state and federal background check; their criminal history records check should be dated within 90 days of the application’s submission.
Child Abuse Recognition and Reporting
Even before receiving their license, LPN applicants in Pennsylvania are required to complete three hours of continuing education in child abuse recognition and reporting and approved by the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services. Upon completion, applicants should allow 7-10 days for the credits to process.
License Renewal & Continuing Education
LPN licenses in Pennsylvania are valid for two years. Renewing your license is contingent upon completing 30 required contact hours of continuing education. Continuing education hours must be completed within the active lifespan of the license. Of those 30 contact hours, two must be dedicated to the topic of child abuse recognition and reporting.
LPNs receive a renewal notice every two years, prior to their license expiring. That said, even if the LPN doesn’t receive this notice, it’s their responsibility to maintain an active license.
Salary and Job Outlook for LPNs in Pennsylvania
For LPN graduates in Pennsylvania, job growth is slightly faster than national numbers. Official employment numbers reveal that the workforce for LPNs in Pennsylvania are expected to expand by nearly 5,000 jobs between 2018-2028. Plus, LPNs can anticipate over 3,600 job openings per year around the state.
The median annual salary for licensed practical nurses in Pennsylvania is higher than the median earnings nationally. The highest-paid LPNs are in the Philadelphia, Reading, Harrisburg, and Gettysburg metro areas.
Job Outlook for Licensed Practical Nurses in Pennsylvania (2018-2028)
|New Jobs||Job Growth Rate||Avg. Annual Openings|
Source: Projections Central
Annual Earnings for Licensed Practical Nurses in Pennsylvania
|10th Percentile||Median Earnings||90th Percentile|
|East Stroudsburg, PA||$36,950||$46,230||$58,220|
|State College, PA||$34,050||$42,800||$59,640|
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, May 2020
Pennsylvania LPN Student and Professional Resources
Nightingale Awards of Pennsylvania
The Nursing Foundation of Pennsylvania
Pennsylvania State Nurses Association
Pennsylvania Association of Practical Nursing Administrators
Southeastern Pennsylvania Area Black Nurses Association
Pennsylvania Association of Licensed Practical Nurses: Facebook