Nursing is a great career path, no matter which route you decide to take. For those considering a career in nursing, it’s essential to understand the differences between Licensed Practical Nurses (LPNs) and Registered Nurses (RNs). These two types of nurses require different levels of education and licensure to practice and have different salaries and scope of practice. This guide will help you understand the differences between LPNs and RNs, including salary expectations, so you can make an informed decision when choosing your nursing career path.
Table of Contents
What is a LPN?
A Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) is an entry-level nurse who works closely with physicians to provide patient care. An LPN typically performs basic nursing and medical tasks such as measuring vital signs, administering medications, and providing basic wound care.
What is an RN?
A Registered Nurse (RN) is a more advanced nursing level requiring specialized training and education. RNs typically work in hospitals or other healthcare facilities, providing comprehensive patient care. They assess patient needs, develop and implement individual treatment plans, provide education on health topics, and coordinate patient care with other medical professionals.
What is the Difference between LPN vs RN?
The primary difference between an LPN and an RN is the education and training required. An LPN can typically complete their nursing program in as little as one year, while an RN requires at least two years of study.
Certifications and Licensing:
After completing their education, an LPN and an RN must pass an exam to become licensed and certified. The LPN certification exam is called the NCLEX-PN, while the RN certification exam is called the NCLEX-RN.
While both LPNs and RNs provide critical care to patients, there are distinctions in job responsibilities.
An LPN generally performs more basic nursing duties, such as taking
- vital signs
- providing basic wound care.
- Patient assessments (other than initial nursing assessment)
- Administer medications
- Educate the patient and family
An RN, however, has a much broader range of responsibilities, including:
- assessing patient needs,
- developing and implementing treatment plans,
- providing education to patients on health topics, and
- coordinating patient care with other healthcare professionals.
One of the most noteworthy differences between an LPN vs. RN is their salary potential.
An LPN can expect to earn around $51,850 per year or $24.93 an hour
An RN, on the other hand, can expect to make upwards of $82,750 annually or $39.78 an hour.
An LPN’s career is generally limited to essential nursing duties and may be restricted by a state’s laws and regulations. However, RN’s careers can evolve as they receive additional education and training. With more advanced skills and experience, an RN can advance to nursing manager or clinical nurse specialist positions.
The demand for both LPNs and RNs is expected to increase in the coming years; however, the job outlook for RNs is much better.
- According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of RNs is projected to grow by 6 percent from 2021 to 2031, much faster than average.
- On the other hand, employment of LPNs is also projected to grow by 6 percent from 2021 to 2031.
Can I Become RN after LPN?
Yes, you can become an RN after completing your LPN training. There are many different pathways to obtaining an RN degree; the 2 common options are:
- LPN to ADN
- LPN to BSN
As an LPN, you can get the ADN or BSN degree through regular or distance education. You can get some exemptions based on your experience. Once you get your certificate, you can appear for NCLEX RN. Passing this exam will make you eligible to obtain licensure as RN.
What are the Benefits of Upgrading your degree from LPN to RN?
• Increased Salary: One of the most significant benefits of advancing from an LPN to an RN is increased salary potential. An RN typically earns significantly more than an LPN, making it a great way to increase your income and build financial security.
• Increased Job Opportunities: With the extra training and education that comes with becoming an RN, you can open up more job opportunities in the nursing field.
RNs typically have access to more advanced positions than LPNs and can take on roles such as nurse manager or clinical nurse specialist.
• More Responsibility: Becoming an RN means having increased responsibility for patient care. You can diagnose and monitor illnesses, develop individualized patient care plans, and coordinate with other medical professionals.
• Professional Satisfaction: With increased job opportunities and responsibilities comes greater professional satisfaction. As an RN, you will have the skills to provide comprehensive patient care and make a meaningful contribution to your field.
Overall, upgrading from LPN to RN can benefit career and financial growth. By taking the extra time to pursue higher education, you can open up a world of possibilities in nursing.
Which LPN makes the most money?
The amount of money an LPN makes will vary depending on the state and type of healthcare facility they work in. Generally, the highest-paying states for LPNs are Alaska, California, Hawaii, Massachusetts, and New York. Additionally, hospitals tend to pay higher salaries than nursing homes and other types of facilities.
What is the highest level of a nurse?
The highest level of nursing is a Nurse Practitioner (NP). A NP has advanced education and training, usually at the master’s or doctoral degree level. NPs can diagnose and treat illnesses, prescribe medications, order tests and treatments, counsel patients on preventive care, and more.
Which nursing degree is best?
The best nursing degree depends on your career goals, academic interests, and financial resources. Generally speaking, a BSN (Bachelor of Science in Nursing) is the minimum requirement to work as an RN. If you plan to pursue more advanced roles, such as Nurse Practitioner or Clinical Nurse Specialist, then a master’s degree or doctoral degree is usually required.
What is the lowest rank of nursing?
The lowest rank of nursing is Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA). CNAs are entry-level healthcare workers who provide basic care to patients, such as bathing, grooming, feeding, and monitoring vital signs. They work under the supervision of registered nurses and other medical professionals.
LPN and RN have some differences but belong to the same fraternity and share some common factors too. Both are highly important to the healthcare industry, and their services are irreplaceable. However, RN could be a better option if you are interested in higher earning potential. It can offer more opportunities for career growth with greater autonomy and responsibility.
Mrs. Marie Brown has been a registered nurse for over 25 years. She began her nursing career at a Level I Trauma Center in downtown Chicago, Illinois. There she worked in the Emergency Department and on the Surgical Intensive Care Unit. After several years, she moved to the Midwest and continued her nursing career in a critical care setting. For the last 10 years of her nursing career, Mrs. Brown worked as a flight nurse with an air ambulance service. During this time, she cared for patients throughout the United States.