In the medical field, there are several career paths to choose from, and each one has its advantages and disadvantages. These can include time for training, pay, and overall job availability.
Near the bottom of the rung are careers such as CNA which don’t pay much more than $10-$12 per hour, but the positions are always in demand. It usually only takes a few months to get a certificate as well.
For those that want a better paying job, however, exploring a career as either an LPN or an RN is a much better option. So let’s look at the differences between the two.
LPN vs RN Salaries
An LPN or Licensed Practical Nurse typically earns less than a Registered Nurse (RN). On average an RN earns about 30-40% more than an LPN with an average median wage of over $64,000, while an LPN earns around $40,000 according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Therefore, the obvious choice for getting a higher paycheck is to go for a career as an RN.
Of course your pay will ultimately be decided by which health care facility you end up working in, and there are plenty of different options available. They can include hospitals, nursing homes, adult family homes, and more. There are also different options such as hospice care to look at as well. You can learn more about Nurse Salaries here.
The good news is that new RN’s and LPN’s have little to worry about as far as job availability is concerned. There will be no shortage of work for either field in the foreseeable future. In fact, the Bureau of Labor Statistics says that RN jobs are expected to grow by 26% through the year 2020 which will add 711,900 jobs in that time period.
For an LPN the numbers are almost as promising and quite strong as well at a 22% growth estimate for the same time period. So the good news is that either way you go, there is plenty of job availability. Since people inevitably get older and get sick, choosing a career in either field makes a lot of sense since there will never be less demand for nursing care.
When making the decision between becoming an LPN or an RN one of the determining factors should be how much time it takes to earn your certificate and begin working. In short, it takes more time to become an RN than an LPN. However, the pay is much better so it works out better financially in the long run.
If time is against you and you don’t have as much time to devote to schooling than taking the path to becoming an LPN might be the better choice for you. Typically it takes about 1 year to become an LPN while it can take up to 4 years to become an RN. Both designations require candidates to pass their level of the National Council licensure Examination or NCLEX.
The one advantage you get when becoming an LPN is that you can start your career early and then study to become an RN in your spare time and then move up the pay scale later on. Depending on how demanding your first job is as an LPN will determine how much time you can devote to pursuing your RN career.
You also need to factor in family time and things like that as well. So these are some of the things you should think about when pursuing either your practical nursing degree, or your professional nursing degree. Whichever path you choose make sure to do some research on the best schools to pick from because it can make a big difference on your quality of education.
Other Determining Factors
One of the disadvantages of becoming an LPN is the fact that you are under constant supervision of the RN above you. Also, as an RN you have even greater flexibility to pursue other careers with nursing. These can include a Bachelor or Science in Nursing (BSN) which is a 1 year program.
Getting this degree gives you more marketable nursing skills such as quality and safety education for nurses, management of information and communication, evidence-based treatment, and leadership skills. Each of these skills makes you more marketable for top notch employers. Also, the starting salary for a nurse with this degree is over $70,000.
Other options include becoming a nurse educator or nurse practitioner. As a nurse educator you get the privilege of being a role model to other aspiring nurses as well as a trainer, and a teacher. As a nurse practitioner or ARPN (advanced practice registered nurse) you can expand your field to becoming a patient’s primary healthcare provider. In some states you don’t even need the supervision of a physician. According to US News and World Report the average median pay for a nurse practitioner was $89,960 in 2012.
So whatever field you choose you are in a noble profession. The need for nurses has not decreased but instead increased. Many times the work is very demanding, but also rewarding. There are many nurses around the world that help save lives, care for the elderly, and make life more comfortable for those that are ill.
What is the difference between a RN and LPN?
|Forecasted Job Growth by 2020||26%||22%|
|Minimum Education Requirement||4 Years||1 Year|