Hello! Welcome to today’s session on the difference between CNAs and LPNs.

In this article, we want to cover the different factors that set CNAs and LPNs apart.

In the end, we guarantee you’ll become an expert in differentiating between both professionals and also be able to determine which one is best for you.

Here is what we shall look at:

  • CNA vs LPN education and training
  • CPN vs LPN licensing and examination
  • CNA vs LPN job duties and responsibilities
  • CNA vs LPN skillset
  • CNA vs LPN work environment

Let’s get started right away!

CNA vs LPN Education and Training

 CNA vs LPN Education and Training

Certified nursing assistants and licensed practical nurses provide direct patient care in almost the same settings.

Despite that, these two healthcare professionals have different education requirements.

Getting started as a CNA or an LPN varies by state, but general requirements remain almost the same.

To become a CNA, one must have a high school diploma or a GED certificate.

The next step is to enroll in a state-approved CNA program with this qualification.

One must settle for training programs approved by the state board and accredited by the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN) or Commission of Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE).

Why is this crucial?

Suppose one wants to pursue higher education, a bachelor’s of science in nursing, or an associate degree in nursing.

It’s mandatory to have a certificate from an approved school.

The CNA training takes between 4-and 12 weeks to complete.

The course work involves clinical practicals and classroom lessons.

Majorly, CNAs cover basic patient care, anatomy basics, patient rights, physiology, and basic first aid.

In contrast, to become a licensed vocational nurse, one must have a diploma or certificate from an approved nursing program.

Technical schools and community colleges offer LPN programs.

The licensed practical nurse coursework is more in-depth compared to certified nursing assistants.

They go into detail, studying pharmacology, pathophysiology, medical dosage and administration, and specialized care.

Because of its depth, LPNs take between one year and 1.5 years to complete their program, depending on the state requirement.

CNA vs LPN Licensing and Examination

 CNA vs LPN Licensing and Examination

Once a CNA has completed the training program, they take a nursing assistant competency exam.

Some states require CNA candidates to meet specific training hours.

Others require a background check.

The exam includes both written and clinical demonstrations.

A candidate can apply for the CNA licensure after passing the competency exam.

With a license, CNAs can join the job market.

CNAs are required to maintain their certification by completing 48 hours of continuing education every two years.

On the other hand, licensed practical nurses sit for the National Council Licensure Examination for Practical Nurse (NCLEX-PN) after completing their practical nursing program.

Passing the NCLEX-PN exam is the key to getting LPN licensure.

LPNs are required to maintain their certification every two years by completing 30 hours of continuing education.

Important to note is that the continuing education hours vary by state.

CNA vs LPN Job Duties and Responsibilities

 CNA vs LPN Job Duties and Responsibilities

While some duties and responsibilities of CNA and LPN overlap, there are distinct differences in some of their responsibilities.

CNAs’ main job is to assist patients with activities of daily living.

Nurse aides help patients perform basic tasks like feeding, bathing, and dressing.

They reposition, lift, and transport patients to the wheelchair or bed.

They also take and monitor patients’ vital signs.

Additionally, CNAs provide emotional support to patients.

More than maintaining patients’ health and safety, these caregivers provide comfort and maintain patients’ dignity.

CNAs’ scope of work is small compared to LPNs’.

LPNs provide all the services that CNAs provide and more advanced nursing duties.

Licensed practical nurses help physicians and registered nurses during medical procedures.

They insert catheters, start IV drops, collect specimens for testing, and perform laboratory tests.

These health care professionals also maintain patients’ wounds and perform emergency CPR.

In addition, licensed vocational nurses maintain patients’ records and report the patients’ medical information to doctors and registered nurses.

From the preceding discussion, it’s clear that LPN duties incline more towards medical duties and procedures, while CNAs promote patients’ wellbeing.

CNA vs LPN Skill Set

 CNA vs LPN Skill Set

Given that the duties and responsibilities of a certified nursing assistant and licensed practical nurse differ, it follows that the skill set required to perform these duties also differs.

Since CNAs focus on establishing a positive relationship, their skills are centered around nurturing patients’ relationships and providing basic care.

Nursing aides should be skilled in providing activities of daily living.

They must also be good at cleaning and cooking.

Furthermore, these caregivers should be proficient in treatment planning and scheduling.

More importantly, CNAs must be friendly with the ability to connect and establish relationships with others.

On the other hand, LVNs should be skilled in medical procedures, planning skills, and teaching skills.

Licensed vocational nurses must be proficient in basic medical care.

They should also have excellent communication skills, as they are often expected to educate patients and their families about their health conditions.

Furthermore, LPNs should be detail-oriented.

They should be able to notice the slightest changes in patients.

Lastly, LVNs should have administrative skills, as they are sometimes required to manage nursing assistants and LPNs getting started in the field.

CNA vs LPN Salary and Job Outlook

CNA vs LPN Salary and Job Outlook

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, nursing assistants earn an average annual salary of $30,830.

These professionals make an average of $14.82 per hour.

On the contrary, LPNs earn an annual salary of $48,820.

Their hourly rate is around $23.47.

Other factors also determine the actual salary of both CNAs and LPNs.

Factors like geographical location, years of experience, employer, industry, additional certification and skills, and bonuses determine the amount one takes home.

Despite these factors, it’s clear that LPNs earn significantly higher than CNAs since nursing aide is an entry-level position.

Nonetheless, certified nursing assistant certification is a stepping stone in healthcare.

One can then take an associate degree or a degree program and advance their career.

BLS further reveals that the job outlook for the two professions is promising.

The employment opportunities for LPNs are expected to grow by 9% from 2020 to 2030.

The bureau reports that over this decade, there will be 63,800 job openings every year for LVNs.

In contrast, the employment opportunity for CNAs is projected to increase by 8% during the same period.

There will be 118,500 job openings for nursing assistants every year for the next ten years.

CNA vs LPN Work Environment

Regarding the work environment, CNAs and LPNs share some work environments

Regarding the work environment, CNAs and LPNs share some work environments, although the scope of work in these settings differs.

CNAs work in nursing homes and assisted living facilities where they provide long-term care to patients.

They also work in hospitals, monitoring patients and reporting their reactions to treatment and recovery to nurses and physicians.

In addition, CNAs work in-home health care.

They visit patients in their homes and provide care.

CNAs also offer their services in schools, correctional facilities, physician offices, and outpatient centers.

CNAs work closely with other healthcare providers to promote patients’ health and recovery in all these set-ups.

LPNs work in healthcare facilities, including nursing homes, home healthcare facilities, hospitals, government facilities, physician offices, and assisted living facilities.


Conclusions on CNA vs LPN

Both LPN and CNA are noble career paths in the healthcare profession.

Although the scope of practice, education requirements, salary, and skillsets differ, these professionals play a critical role in nursing.

And so, the path one chooses solely depends on their passion.

Moreover, since the time it takes to earn CNA certification is considerably shorter than LPN, many individuals start their career with CNA so that they can work as they pursue further education as LPNs or RNs.

Whatever the career path you choose between the two, there are many routes you can take to advance in the nursing career or even other professions.


FAQs about CNA vs LPN

Is a CNA and an LPN the same?

No. LPN and CNA are both in the nursing profession, but they differ in terms of the level of education, the scope of responsibilities, duties, and salary. A CNA job is an entry-level position that focuses on helping patients with daily activities, while LPN provides basic nursing care.

Are CNAs considered nurses?

No. CNAs are nurses’ assistants. They are not nurses. To be a nurse, one must complete an accredited registered nursing program, pass the NCLEX-PN exam, and obtain a state license. Claiming to be a nurse when one has not met the state requirements is illegal.

Can an LPN work as a CNA legally?

Yes. Many states allow LPNs to work as CNAs. In such instances, an LPN practice under the scope of work of a CNA but is held to the standards of an LPN license. By the same token, an RN can work as an LPN.

Which is better: a CNA or LPN?

It all depends on how you look at the two. A CNA license takes a shorter period to earn. You can quickly determine if working in a health care setting works for you. LPNs provide a higher level of care to patients and earn more than CNAs. 

How much do you make as CNA or LPN?

According to BLS, LPNs make $48,820, while CNAs earn $30,830 annually. The hourly rate also differs, with LPNs making $23.47 and CNAs earning $14.82. Several factors influence the actual amount that CNAs and LPNs make, including education level, years of experience, additional certification, and location.

Which is higher, a CNA or an LPN?

LPN is higher, given the extensive level of their education. LPNs take 1-1.5 years to earn a license. Additionally, their scope of work is broader than CNAs. They do the roles of CNA and also basic nursing duties. More than that, LPNs earn more compared to CNAs.


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