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LPN vs. RN


So, you’ve made the decision to go back to school in the healthcare field, but you need to figure out if you’re going to go back as a licensed practical nurse (LPN) or a registered nurse (RN).

  • Education is the largest difference between becoming an RN versus an LPN.  As an RN, there are several education options: getting your bachelors of science in nursing, associates degree in nursing, or a diploma from an accredited nursing program. Education for an LPN is a little different in that a prospective LPN must complete an accredited practical nursing program which takes about one year.
  • After completing either an RN or LPN program, you still have to take the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-PN or NCLEX-RN) in order to get your license.
  • Salary will also differ depending if you’re an LPN or an RN.  The average salary for an RN is about $65,000 annually, while an LPN’s average salary is about $41,000.  Although it takes longer to become an RN, the pay off in the end is greater responsibility, more opportunities, and a higher salary.
  • There is a high demand for both registered nurses and licensed practical nurses.  According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, LPNs are expected to grow 22% from 2010 to 2020 and RNs are projected at 26% growth rate.
  • Work settings are also different between licensed practical nurses and registered nurses. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that, “29% of LPNs work in nursing care facilities, 15% in hospitals, 12% in doctor’s offices, and 9% in home health. For RNs, hospitals are the most common setting, with 48% in private general hospitals and 6% in local hospitals. Only 5% work in long term care.”

If you think you may be interested in becoming a RN or LPN, you’ll want to do your research, weigh out the pros and cons, and make a decision on which would best fit your needs.

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