Becoming a Licensed Practical Nurse in South Carolina
If you are considering becoming an LPN in South Carolina, there are a few essential things for you to know. Schools in this state are known for the rigorous coursework that Practical Nursing students have to master. Students are expected to do well in Physiology, Psychology, Algebra and Pharmacology to name a few. All of this hard work is worth it in the end, because South Carolina is one of the highest paying states for people who have a Practical Nursing license.
Obtaining Your Practical Nursing License
PN programs in South Carolina take one year to complete. Once a program has been completed, you will have to take the NCLEX-PN exam. Because the exam is so difficult to pass you are allowed to retake the test as many times as you want in the first year, as long as there is a gap of 45 days between each try. If you don’t pass the exam within the first year, you will have to send a written explanation to the Board of Nursing to explain why you are having a hard time passing the test. Not passing the exam within three years will cause your PN degree to become void, and you will have to re-enroll in a new PN program.
Once you do pass the NCLEX-PN exam and receive your license, you will be allowed to practice in 34 different states. This is because South Carolina is part of the Nursing Licensure Compact (NLC). Licenses are valid for two years. If an LPN license expires, a reactivation application form must be submitted, and you will have to explain why you allowed your license to lapse.
Colleges Offering LPN Programs
The majority of schools offering LPN programs in South Carolina are technical colleges. Some of the programs available in South Carolina are:
- York Technical College. The PN program at York accepts 20 students every year at each of their three campuses. If you are placed on a waiting list for the program, the typical waiting period is one to two years. The program takes one year to complete and consists of consecutive fall, spring and summer semesters.
- Orangeburg Calhoun Technical College. There are two ways to get a PN degree at Orangeburg. The traditional program consists of in-person classes and clinical experiences that take three semesters to complete. The second program, which is called PN Flex, offers a combination of in-person and online courses for students who have experience as an MOA or CNA.
- Midlands Technical College. To be accepted into the Practical Nursing program at MTC, students have to get specific minimum scores on either the SAT or ACT, or complete a pre-nursing certificate with a GPA of 2.75 or higher. A negative drug test and a clear background check will also need to be submitted to the department. The program takes on year to complete.
Career and Salary Statistics
LPNs in South Carolina make an average of $43,250 a year. The highest paid LPN positions belong to nurses who work in psychiatric hospitals and earn an average of $56,000 a year. Nurses who work in more traditional roles such as primary care and nursing homes make slightly less than the state’s total average. This amount can vary depending on what part of the state they are employed.
Going to school to earn a Practical Nursing degree in South Carolina costs anywhere from $4,000 to $10,000 per year. But the state’s comparatively low cost of schooling as well as having one of the highest salary averages in the country makes a PN education well worth the investment. The need for LPNs continues to grow in this state as well. According to data collected by the Projections Managing Partnership, 9,580 LPNs were working in South Carolina in 2016. PMP predicts that by 2026 that number will rise to 10,720.
Although the number of LPNs is expected to exceed 10,000 in the next few years, that increase will still not meet the demand for LPNs that are needed in hospitals and nursing homes. In order to attract more people to this field, many employers are offering incentives such as student loan reimbursement, paid time off and new hire bonuses.
The highest paying cities in South Carolina for LPNs are Rock Hill, Greenville and Charleston, while the lower end of the scale includes Myrtle Beach, Hilton Head Island and Florence.