5 Major Differences Between LPNs and RNs

Posted On February 28,2019

5 Major Differences Between LPNs and RNsLPNs and RNs are both nurses. They both work in medical settings and care for patients, but that is just about where the similarities end. There is much more to the roles of registered nurses and licensed practical nurses that just the initials on their name badges.


There are several differences between these two important nursing roles. If you are considering a career in nursing, it is helpful to know these differences before you even start applying to nursing school.

1. Duties

Perhaps the biggest difference between RNs and LPNs is the duties they perform. They both care for patients, but registered nurses take on more of a managerial role. They oversee LPNs and aids. This is in addition to duties such as performing diagnostic testing and administering treatment to patients. On the other hand, licensed practical nurses have a more limited scope of practice. They provide basic care to patients, including taking blood pressure, helping patients bathe, and inserting catheters. They also report patient conditions to RNs and doctors.

2. Work Setting

The work settings various nursing titles find themselves in vary as well. LPNs tend to work most often in long-term care facilities, such as nursing homes and rehabilitation centers. Some may also find themselves working in a doctor’s office or in home health. RNs tend to overwhelmingly work in hospitals. This is because their advanced training and specializations are needed. Only a slight number of registered nurses find themselves working in long-term care.

3. Pay

Pay is another big factor that separates registered nurses and licensed practical nurses. RNs typically make more than $25,000 more than LPNs. According the to Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual salary for an RN is $70,000. Meanwhile, the BLS reports an average salary of about $45,000 a year for LPNs.

4. Demand

It is no secret that nurses, in general, are in high demand, however, there is more demand for more skilled and higher licensed nurses. This means there is more demand for registered nurses. The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts 26% job growth for RN’s by 2020. Meanwhile, the job growth for LPNs is at about 22%.

Learn More about Athena's Nursing Program

5. Education

A big difference between registered nurses and licensed practical nurses is the amount of education and training they have received. An RN typically has a minimum of a two-year degree. However, most have a bachelor’s degree. LPNs usually have earned a certification only. Schooling for LPNs can usually be completed in about a year.

It is extremely possible for a LPN to continue his/her education and become an RN. The training you receive to become a license practical nurse is usually about the same as the first year of an RN program. Many nursing schools now offer bridge programs so LPNs can continue on to become registered nurses at their own pace while balancing life demands such as working, raising a family, or both.

Athena Career Academy has the right nursing program for you no matter which path you decide to take toward your nursing education. Our practical nursing program can train you for your career in just one year. If you want to continue on, you can complete our LPN to RN program in another 52 weeks. Athena can get you on your way to a great career in nursing in no time. Don’t delay. Contact Athena Career Academy today.

An Exciting new career as a nurse can be yours in one year