Should you become a licensed practical nurse (LPN) or a registered nurse (RN)? The decision can be difficult. There are differences in education requirements, earnings, chances for advancement, and job security. Before deciding, you should know your options.
The Earning Potential of an RN vs. an LPN
On average, the RN makes $23,000-25,000 more per year than the LPN. A large part of that may be attributed to the level of education involved in becoming an RN vs. an LPN.
Getting Educated: RN vs. LPN
The nursing profession has a vast amount of professional tracks. Each of these tracks require unique educational paths. An RN is required to earn a professional nursing degree. There are many fine schools that focus on the nursing career. Counselors at these schools are very experienced at assisting students in their career decisions. A professional nursing degree requires an investment of 18-36 months of schooling.
A practical nursing degree - required as an LPN – can be earned in as little as 12 months. This may culminate in a certificate, but an LPN may also get an Associates of Applied Science degree. Later in your career, an RN may also choose to further advance their careers by earning a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN).
The Advancing Careers of RNs and LPNs
Unlike LPNs, RNs do not require supervisors to be present.RNs are therefore more employable because they can be scheduled alone. LPNs also have fewer opportunities for advancement and specialization as their careers progress. For example, RNs can specialize in more advanced fields as they become more experienced. These more advanced fields include diabetes management, oncology, pediatrics, etc. If your goals are also leadership-based, team leaders are often RNs.
Job Security: Keeping the Nursing Career Once You Have It
The LPN positions have become scarcer as the requirements for nurses increase to include, in many places, RN licenses and bachelor’s degrees in nursing. Many LPNs are now working as long-term caregivers or rehabilitation assistants. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that only 17 percent of LPNs are working in hospitals. That said, hospitals and the erratic nature of their shifts may not be the schedule you want to endure for years. If you want to work in rehabilitation or long-term care, an LPN position may be perfect.
What’s Your Purpose for Wanting to Go into Nursing?
If you are primarily concerned with caring for people and you see nursing as more of a calling than a career, being an LPN may be the answer. LPNs specialize more in basic nursing care and often are more responsible for an individual patient’s care. RN tasks include medication, treatment, and educational advice.
While the LPN vs. RN decision is certainly not an easy one to make, an inventory of your life may be the best indicator of which path you should choose. Where is your life now? What do you need to earn? How much time do you have for education? Answering these questions may lead you to the career path of your dreams. You now have the opportunity to succeed in a career helping people in the nursing field.