A Quick Guide to Practical Nursing in DC

Licensed Practical Nurses (LPNs) differ from their Registered Nurse (RN) counterparts in that they require less education for licensure and make fewer decisions on their own. The key defining feature of being an LPN is that they take orders from RNs or doctors and provide patient care as directed.

LPNs work mainly in nursing homes,but also in hospitals, doctors’ offices and public clinics. On a typical day of work, they may perform such functions as:

  • Checking patients’ blood pressure and other vitals
  • Keeping patient records
  • Communicating with patients about care
  • Feeding patients who need help with eating
  • Bathing patients who need assistance

Washington, DC Resident Requirements for LPN Licensure

To become a Practical Nurse in Washington, D.C., you need to first graduate from high school or earn your GED equivalent. The next step is to enroll in a training program approved by the District of Columbia Board of Nursing. Once you’ve completed an accredited training program, you can take the NCLEX-PN national Practical Nursing exam and then, apply for D.C. LPN Licensure.

Practical Nursing Educational Programs

As of 2017, there was only one school approvedby the District of Columbia Board of Nursing:

  • St.Michael School of Allied Health. The Practical Nursing Program at this school emphasizes the effects of poverty on health and healthcare in urban settings. The program consists of Practical Nursing introduction courses, Nursing Fundamentals, Pharmacology, Medical-Surgical Nursing and more.

The D.C. Board of Nursing has approved other schools in the District, but they only offer RN degrees and LPN-to-RN bridge degrees.

Tell us about yourself so we can find programs near you.

How to Apply for Your Practical Nursing License

District of Columbia LPN applicants may gain licensure through exam or endorsement. The traditional route for those who go to school and live in Washington, D.C. is to go to school, take the NCLEX-PN exam and apply using the exam or re-exam method. Endorsement is for those who hold LPN licensure from another state but would like to practice in D.C.

Since the District of Columbia is not part of the Nurse Licensure Compact (NLC) program, which is run by the National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN), D.C. Practical Nurses are not able to practice in other states using their D.C. licenses. Instead, those who wish to work outside the District of Columbia will need to apply for licensure through endorsement in the state where they want to practice.

Practical Nurse Pay and Future Employment

In 2016, 1,820 LPNs were employed in the District of Columbia, and that number is projected to increase 14.8 percent by the year 2026. This means that job growth for LPNs in Washington, D.C., is positivein the future. There is also an average of 160 Practical Nurse job openings per year in Washington, D.C., as reported by the Projections Managing Partnership(PMP).

D.C. LPNs are paid very well according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, with a mean income of $25.50 per hour reported in 2017. That income is about four dollars higher than the national income of $21.65 per hour.

Where Do DC Practical Nurses Work?

With just 160 job openings per year estimated by the PMP, District of Columbia LPNs may choose togain Maryland or Virginia licensing through endorsement in order to find more job opportunities. Maryland pays similarly to D.C., at a mean income rate of $25.62 per hour, while LPNs in Virginia made an average of $20.46 per hour in 2017.

With a positive growth rate predicted for the future and high LPN wages, the District of Columbia is a perfect place to begin your career in Practical Nursing. There are many high-paying areas for employment in the area if you look for work outside the capital city. Begin your LPN career today by enrolling in a Practical Nursing training program.

Popular Colleges



How much do licensed practical and licensed vocational nurses earn in the state of D.C.?

According to the U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics, licensed practical and licensed vocational nurses in the state of D.C. made an average of $54,220 per year in 2019. Entry-level licensed practical and licensed vocational nurses earned around $43,170 and some experienced professionals earned salaries as high as $64,610.