This is a great question that I feel like does not get the attention it deserves. So I graduated LVN school in 2012. My first job was with a (bs) company that did CC for hospice companies. They paid 20$/hr. I left there because the (bs) company went out of business, I took a job at a nursing home/skilled rehab making 18.25/hr. I did that for a year and transitioned to an MDS position at the same place and got bumped to 22/hr. When I left, I went to a memory care assisted living making the same. When I got my annual review a year later, I got bumped up to 25/hr. I worked there for two years and left in 2017 and went back to skilled. Got hired there making the same thing, although when I got hired, my DON had to get corporate permission to pay me that much. There were nurses who had been there 2-5 years who weren't making as much as I was, and they made it known. I think part of the reason they continued to pay me 25/hr was because I had MDS and managerial experience and was able to fill in for those roles when I was needed, which I did. I worked there for a year and left to go work at Methodist in the ER. They had just established a role for the LVN in the ER, somewhere above paramedics but below RNs. I was very lucky to do so, and actually took a pay cut to go there. I make 22.50/hr now. But, I work for a magnet hospital, gaining emergency room experience, with EXCELLENT benefits and a workplace structure and community that is beyond anything I've ever experienced. So that cut in pay was well worth it.
If you are looking for good pay as an LVN I would recommend getting in at a skilled nursing or a rehab like Kindred or Healthsouth first. Stick it out and transition to management. You are going to work your *** off as an LVN in management, as well as take on a lot of stress, but if you're after good pay, that's what it takes. Also, the work environment and atmosphere of skilled/nursing homes is not great. Very profit oriented, so turnover is high and support is often low. Avoid hospice, CC and home health. It's difficult to make big money there. Get you a full time gig with a PRN job on the side. Good money is doable as an LVN. I cleared 60k in 2015, 2016 and 2017 consecutively because I worked OT and was good at what I did. It's doable, but it will be stressful.
It is very difficult, bordering on impossible to get in at a major hospital as an LVN. With the Magnet accreditation, hospitals want RN, BSNs working there. They must maintain a certain average of nursing staff with BSNs so LVNs are hard to work in. Only my location within the Methodist system hires LVNs. It's tough to get in there. I was very lucky.
Also..it is worth mentioning. As much as I wish it weren't true, and politics aside, I am a guy and being male does affect my pay. I know that I have been offered more money, and have been viewed more positively in my role because I'm a guy. Not my opinion, it is fact. I have been told that by managers. Not saying I agree with it, but I am giving honest input. Do with it what you will.
I hope all the best for you.