Last Updated/Verified: October 6, 2021
Montana has multiple opportunities for high-school graduates who want to become nurses.
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Traditionally, graduates studied for a four-year Registered Nurse (RN) degree in the “Treasure State.” Now, Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) programs take as little as nine months to complete, providing a faster route into nursing. Montana practical nursing schools provide students with the skills required for job roles in hospitals, medical centers, nursing homes, and other healthcare facilities in cities like Billings, Helena, and Bozeman.
LPNs in Montana: Quick Facts
- It typically takes Montana students just 9-12 months to become an LPN — a significantly faster timeframe than studying for a four-year RN degree.
- The average base salary for an LPN in Montana is $27.32 per hour or $49,049 a year, according to Indeed.com. The average overtime salary for a Montana LPN is $7,750 a year.
- The most popular benefits for LPNs in Montana are 401(k)s, paid-time-off, license reimbursement, and tuition reimbursement.
- Missoula, MT is the largest Montana metropolitan area with the highest average base salary for LPNs, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Here, LPNs earn, on average, $48,630 per year.
- The job outlook for Montana LPNs is positive, with a predicted 9.2 percent increase in employment opportunities from 2018 to 2028, according to Projections Central.
Overview of LPN Schools in Montana
The Montana Board of Nursing, part of the Montana Department of Labor and Industry, regulates all nursing programs in the state. There are five LPN schools in Montana, and the organization has approved four of them. (Learn more about these schools later in this guide.)
High-school graduates who enroll in one of these five programs will learn skills such as:
- Human growth
- Human health
- Long-term patient care
- Documentation collection
- Home health management
- Record keeping
- Nutrition management
- Wound care
- Vital signs collection
LPN students in Montana typically learn general nursing skills and the foundations of nursing before specializing in more specific disciplines such as mental health, maternity care, and pediatric care.
Besides the Montana Board of Nursing, two organizations recognize LPN programs in the state:
- The Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU) is the educational accreditation agency for all post-secondary learning institutions in the Northwest region of the United States. One of seven regional accreditation agencies in the U.S., NWCCU maintains the educational quality and effectiveness of colleges, communities, and universities in Montana.
- The Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN) maintains the educational quality of all nursing programs across the U.S.
LPN Admissions Requirements
LPN program providers in Montana require applicants to have:
- A GED, high-school diploma, or equivalent, with a GPA of 2.75+.
- The courses required for that LPN program. Applicants typically need an average of C+.
- A good score on the ATI TEAS.
Those applying to an LPN program in Montana also need to complete a drug test and background check. Individual schools have specific admissions requirements.
Tuition & Costs
LPN students in Montana pay for their tuition and program supplies, as well as accommodation and day-to-day expenses when living on campus. Those eligible for grants and financial aid can reduce these costs significantly. Some healthcare providers in Montana reimburse tuition and licensing expenses when a graduate joins their organization.
Tuition fees fluctuate throughout Montana. City College of Montana State University, Billings, charges Montana residents $6,653 in tuition costs. (Fees for the 2021-2022 academic year.) Tuition for residents at Flathead Valley Community College, however, starts from $129.70 for one credit hour. (Fees for the 2020-2021 academic year.)
LPN Licensing Requirements in Montana
Becoming an LPN in Montana is the quickest route to a nursing career in the state. High-school graduates could work in a healthcare role in as little as nine months, with most programs taking around one year to complete. Compare this with the length of the average RN degree — four years — and it’s easy to see why LPN programs have become an attractive option.
High-school students can study for an LPN course on a part-time or full-time basis, receive their certification, and then apply for a job at a local healthcare organization.
Checklist to become a Montana LPN
- Get an LPN certification from a school recognized by NWCCU, ACEN, or the Montana Board of Nursing,
- Pass the NCLEX-PN exam. (See next section.)
- Apply to the Montana Board of Nursing for a nursing license.
- Find a job!
The National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN) manages the National Council Licensure Examination for Practice Nurses, or NCLEX-PN, via the Montana Board of Nursing. This examination ensures LPN students have the required skills to work as a nurse in Montana. Students must pass this exam before applying for jobs with local healthcare providers.
- An LPN from another state can become a nurse in Montana through ‘endorsement.’ The LPN must have a valid nursing license.
- An LPN from another country can become a nurse in Montana after receiving an evaluation from the Commission of Graduates of Foreign Nursing Schools (CGFNS) and passing the NCLEX-PN exam.
LPN Salaries in Montana
LPNs earn, on average, $27.32 per hour, or $49,049 a year, according to Indeed. Entry-level LPNs earn, on average, $46,168, while LPNs with over a decade of experience earn $52,732.
These are the most populous statistical areas in Montana with the highest average salaries for LPNs, according to BLS:
- Missoula, MT ($48,630 per year)
- Great Falls, MT ($46,810)
- East-Central Montana nonmetropolitan area ($46,310)
- Billings, MT ($45,510)
- West Montana nonmetropolitan area ($42,040)
LPNs who work night or weekend shifts typically earn more than the averages above, while those with additional certifications receive higher salaries.
Job Outlook for LPNs in Montana
Many healthcare organizations in Montana struggle with nursing shortages — a problem exacerbated during the COVID-19 pandemic. As a result, some local employers entice graduates from practical nursing schools with bonuses like flexible hours, generous 401(k)s, and student loan reimbursement.
Looking forward, the job outlook for LPNs in Montana is positive, with a predicted 9.2 percent increase in employment opportunities from 2018 to 2028.
Top LPN Schools in Montana
As of 2021, five schools in Montana provide educational opportunities for high-school graduates who want to become LPNs:
Blackfeet Community College
504 SE Boundary St
Browning, MT 59417
The LPN program at Blackfeet Community College in Browning combines classroom-based learning with real-world clinical experiences, preparing nursing students for various roles in healthcare. Students can earn their LPN in as little as a year and develop skills like nutrition management, wound care, and vital signs collection.
City College of Montana State University, Billings
1500 University Dr
Billings, MT 59101
City College of Montana State University, Billings, has the highest success rate for any LPN school in the state, with 100 percent of students passing the NCLEX-PN examination in 2020. This program provides students with the skills required for job roles at local hospitals, retirement homes, and mental health facilities.
Flathead Valley Community College
777 Grandview Dr
Kalispell, MT 59901
Flathead Valley Community College also has an incredibly high pass rate, with 80 percent of students passing the NCLEX-PN in 2020. This program blends clinical experiences with academics, with a focus on community healthcare and general nursing skills.
Great Falls College
2100 16th Ave S
Great Falls, MT 59405
With an NCLEX-PN pass rate of 87.5 percent in 2020, the nursing program at Great Falls College prepares students for careers in healthcare environments across the state. Graduates provide effective nursing care for various local healthcare providers.
1115 N Roberts St
Helena, MT 59601
Students at Helena College learn nursing skills through independent study, lectures, and clinical experience. Those who enroll in this program can earn their LPN certification in just three semesters.
Learn more about becoming an LPN in Montana:
Montana State Board of Nursing: The organization that regulates all nursing programs in Montana and supplies the NCLEX-PN exam for LPNs.
301 South Park, PO Box 200513, Helena, MT
Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU): One of the seven regional accreditation agencies in the U.S.
8060 165th Avenue NE, Suite 200, Redmond, WA 98052
National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN): The organization that administers the NCLEX-PN exam through the Montana Board of Nursing.
111 East Wacker Drive, Suite 2900, Chicago, IL 60601-4277
Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN): The organization that maintains the educational quality and effectiveness of all post-secondary learning institutions in the U.S.
3390 Peachtree Road NE, Suite 1400, Atlanta, GA 30326