How to Become a Licensed Practical Nurse in Missouri
Most careers in healthcare are currently growing. As the population ages and modern medicine evolves, more skilled workers are needed to assist in patient care. Unlike a Registered Nurse, a Licensed Practical Nurse, or LPN, does not need to go to school for several years or even earn a degree. With a shorter post-secondary program and a passing score on an exam, you can start working as an LPN in Missouri, directly caring for patients in hospitals, nursing homes and in private residences.
Licensed Practical Nursing in Missouri
The Missouri Board of Nursing is responsible for licensing nurses as LPNs. In order to get licensed, you will need to complete a Board-approved LPN program and pass the NCLEX-PN exam. As graduation from your program approaches, you will apply to the Board and register for the exam. Missouri allows graduate nurses to work until passing the exam or up to 90 days after graduating.
Missouri is also a contract state, which means it recognizes licenses for LPNs from other contract states. If you already hold a license from one of these states, you can work right away while you file for a Missouri license through the Board. You will not have to complete another educational program or pass the exam again.
Approved LPN Programs
Once you have completed high school, your next step in becoming a nurse is to complete a post-secondary program. Missouri has several schools with Board-approved LPN programs, including:
- Franklin Technology Center, Joplin. Franklin’s certificate program in Practical Nursing takes just 10 months to complete. Students take courses in a range of nursing subjects and also spend more than 250 hours in clinical settings, getting hands-practice and training. The total cost of the program, including tuition and supplies, is $14,854.
- Ozarks Technical Community College, Springfield. The Ozarks Practical Nursing program can boast that its 2018 class had a 100 percent success rate in passing the NCLEX exam for licensing. The program takes less than a year to complete. Total cost for in-district students is just over $10,000, although there may be additional fees.
- Moberly Area Community College, Moberly, Mexico, and Columbia. With three campuses, students can choose where to earn the Practical Nursing certificate from Moberly. Courses can be completed in about 10 months to one year.
Missouri Licensing for LPNs
Once you have enrolled in an LPN program, you will be on the way to being licensed in the state. Begin the application process with the Board before graduation, which should include registering for the NCLEX-PN exam. With your application you will include a $41 fee, evidence of legal residency in the U.S., your school transcripts, a criminal background check and proof of registration for the exam.
Career Outlook and What to Expect in Salaries
Almost all healthcare jobs are currently in demand across all states. This includes Licensed Practical Nursing positions, which are seeing faster than average growth in the U.S. In Missouri in 2016, there were over 16,000 employed LPNs. That number is expected to rise to nearly 18,000 by 2026, a growth rate of almost eight percent.
For salaries, LPNs can expect an average hourly rate of $19.80 in Missouri and an average annual income of $41,180. This is a little lower than the national average salary for Licensed Practical Nurses, but there are many chances to earn more. The top 10 percent of LPNs in Missouri make more than $51,000 per year.
Finding an LPN Position in Missouri
Missouri is home to several large cities and suburbs with plenty of opportunities for new LPNs. While most jobs will be available in and around Kansas City, St. Louis, Springfield and Columbia, you can also find work in smaller towns and rural areas. Most Licensed Practical Nurses work in residential facilities, like nursing homes, or hospitals.
You can also look for positions in some alternative locations. Physicians may hire LPNs to supplement nursing staff in private practice offices. Home healthcare companies also look for licensed nurses to work directly in patients’ homes. Wherever you work as an LPN, expect to have a career that is both rewarding and demanding.