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Differences Between a CNA and a LPN

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As you may know, a CNA stands for a certified nursing assistant while LPN is an abbreviation for licensed practical nurse. And while both of these roles fall under the category of nursing and each profession’s functions are similar, there are also a few differences between a CNA and a LPN that should be pointed out. After all, LPNs must go through more training than CNAs, which means they have more responsibilities in the workplace and as a result earn more. So which career might you be interested in?

And don’t worry if you can’t decide whether nursing is for you just yet, there is always the opportunity to become a CNA first with its minimal training, gain first hand experience in the field, and if you wish to continue you can enroll in a CNA to LPN bridge program (which takes your prior credits earned and applies them to your continuing education) to advance in the nursing field. So let’s continue with the differences between a CNA and a LPN.

Differences Between a CNA and a LPN

Job Description

Differences Between a CNA and a LPN

In general, LPNs are granted more functions and responsibilities than CNAs. CNAs are in charge of assisting patients with their daily needs while LPNs focus more on assessing health, although they can do any task or function that a CNA can do. LPNs are also in charge of supervising CNAs but work under the supervision of a RN (registered nurse) themselves, and it’s RNs who decides what the plan is and evaluates health reports.

CNALPN
  • Move and reposition patients
  • Change bed pans, and clean rooms
  • Measure/record patients’ vital signs
  • Maintain health reports for nurses
  • Inform patients and family about medical instructions
  • Providing emotional support
  • Prevent cross-contamination
  • Collect samples for laboratory tests
  • Help patients who have trouble eating
  • Prepare and give medications
  • Prepare, serve, and collect food trays
  • Toiletry
  • Bathing
  • Dressing
  • Oral care
  • Collect patient medical history
  • Input information into computers
  • Clean and prepare medical equipment
  • Prepare/give injections or medication
  • Collect samples for laboratory tests
  • Measure/record patients’ vital signs
  • Providing emotional support
  • Inform patients and family about medical instructions
  • Monitor food and fluid intake
  • Assisting with daily needs
  • Schedule appointments and billing
  • Supervising CNAs
  • Moving patients
  • Managing IVs
  • Immunizations

Salary

The salary differences between a CNA and a LPN are also quite noticeable. With the added functions and responsibilities that LPNs have, they are able to earn more than their CNA counterparts. The median salary of a CNA is $25,100 while the median salary of a LPN is $42,490.

CNALPN
Percentile:Annual salary (2014):
10%$18,790
25%$21,340
50% (median)$25,100
75%$30,020
90%$36,170
Percentile:Annual salary (2014):
10%$31,640
25%$35,780
50% (median)$42,490
75%$49,450
90%$58,710

Training / Exam Requirements

Although CNAs don’t need any formal education for an entry level position as a nursing assistant, completion of a state approved CNA training program is required if you would like to take the state exam for official certification, and most programs last a short amount of time. LPNs, on the other hand, are required to complete an accredited or state approved LPN training program.

CNALPN
  • No formal education required (HS diploma or equivalent) for entry level position (requires on-the-job training)
  • Completion of a state approved CNA training program to qualify for the state exam (for official certification)
  • Most CNA training programs last under 6 months
  • Programs offered at community colleges, trade/vocational schools, nursing home, or hospitals
  • Passing the state comprehensive exam grants certification for CNAs
  • Completion of an accredited or state approved LPN training program
  • LPN training programs last at least 1 year, while many are two-year associates degree programs
  • Programs offered at community colleges, trade/vocational schools, or hospitals
  • Passing the NCLEX-PN exam grants licensure for LPNs

Job Outlook

Differences Between a CNA and a LPN - Job OutlookRecently, healthcare jobs in America are growing at an astounding rate, and the jobs of CNAs and LPNs are no different. In fact, the career of a certified nursing assistant is the second most in-demand job in the healthcare field, trumped only by the need for registered nurses. In the 2012-2013 year, there were approximately¬† 25,403 job openings for CNAs and a staggering 109,201 job openings for RNs! And good news is, if you’re interested in becoming a RN but would like to earn money while you go to school as well as get a first hand experience in the nursing field, there are CNA to RN bridge programs and LPN to RN bridge programs available that takes your prior credits earned as a CNA or L:PN and applies them to your continuing education.

CNALPN
Number of Jobs (2012):1,534,400
Job Growth (2012-2022):21% (Faster than avg.)
Employment Change (2012-2022):321,200
Number of Jobs (2012):738,400
Job Growth (2012-2022):25% (Much faster than avg.)
Employment Change (2012-2022):182,900

* Statistics provided by the Bureau of Labor Statistics