Everything You Should Know About LPN Vs CNA


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Are you stepping into the medical field? Are you passionationate in becoming a healthcare professional? Confused about LPN vs CNA and their jon responsibilities?

The medical field can be a whirlpool of emotions for new joiners. It can be fascinating, confusing, and overwhelming all at the same time. If you are planning to get into the nursing arena, you might be confused as to the difference between LPN and CNA. This article will clear all your doubts about LPN vs CNA.

For many people, the roles and responsibilities of LPNs and CNAs might look the same. Both options I start their career working under registered nurses (RNs). But if we dive a bit deeper, we will find there are differences between the roles and responsibilities of the two. The main difference between the two nursing designations is the educational requirements and career growth.

Continue reading to know more about LPN vs CNA and the difference in the roles and responsibilities.

To learn more about LPN vs CNA, let us first learn step-by-step how LPNs differ from CNAs.

What Is an LPN

LPN stands for Licensed Practical Nurse. An LPN position is an entry-level job. You will work mainly in hospitals, clinics, nursing homes, and long-term care facilities. Note that you might get confused between LPN and LVN. LVN is a licensed vocational nurse. LVNs and LPNs have, more or less, the same job description. The main difference is that LVNs are used in California and Texas, while the LPN position is widely popular across other US states.

LPN vs CNA- Who is a LPN?
LPN vs CNA- Who is a LPN?

LPNs’ main job responsibilities are to take care of patients on a daily basis. LPNs work under the supervision of RNs and doctors. The job responsibilities of LPN and CNA are similar in nature, but LPNs provide more extensive care when compared to CNAs. As LPNs are licensed nurses they are in more direct contact with patients.

As an LPN is an entry-level job, most students pursue further bachelor’s degrees to get a specialization degree. The most commonly taken path after LPN is to take the NCLEX-RX exam to become a registered nurse.

Job Responsibilities for LPN

If you are trying to find a lot of differences between LPN and CNA job responsibilities you might not find much. LPNs are more inclusively involved with patients and more experienced in clinical training. Their job responsibilities involve:

  • Regular checking of patients’ vitals.
  • Helping patients with basic medical care, including changing bandages and plasters.
  • Taking care of patients’ daily activities.
  • Helping RNs with biological sample collections for tests.
  • Communicating with patients’ families and comforting them.
  • Preparing for clinical surgeries.
  • Helping with medical set-up
  • Assisting RNs and doctors during regular checkups.

Now that you know who a LPN is, lets now discuss who is a CNA and what are their job responsibilities.

What Is CNA

Certified Nursing Assistants, or CNAs, are similar entry-level nursing assistants who start in entry-level positions in the medical field. CNAs do not have to be licensed nurses. Rather, they receive their full training in state-registered training centers to receive their nursing assistant certificates. The number of training hours required to complete CNA training varies across different US states.

LPN vs CNA- Who is a CNA?
LPN vs CNA- Who is a CNA?

Job Responsibilities for CNA

CNAs are majorly responsible for taking care of patients. They work under RNs and take their daily responsibilities based on their daily requirements. Among all CNA responsibilities, the most common are the following:

  • Helping patients with daily activities.
  • Helping patients with their movements.
  • Ensuring patients’ comfort and safety.
  • Lifting patients for examination or surgical tables.

The job responsibilities of CNAs might increase based on their work experience. Some of the more advanced level responsibilities are:

  • Measuring vitals includes blood pressure, temperature, and oxygen levels.
  • Helping to stock medical supplies and clinical apparatus.
  • Setting up clinical equipment, like x-ray tables and IVs.
  • Helping patients with medical prescription descriptions.

To learn more about the various responsibilities read our CNA job responsibilities blog.

Educational Requirements LPN Vs CNA

To become a healthcare professional, educational qualifications are very much required to land a good job in the medical industry. Let us now discuss about the educational requirements for LPN vs CNA.

The educational requirements for both LPNs and CNAs are not very extensive. LPNs and CNAs are both entry-level jobs that require your to complete the required number of training hours.

The CNA and LPN educational requirements both vary from state to state across the US. For CNA you must have:

  • High school diploma degree or GED certificate.
  • You must complete the CNA training from a state-approved training center.

Once you complete the CNA training program, you will be eligible to appear for the CNA certification exam. The typical duration of a CNA training program is between 4-8 weeks. You will receive your CNA certificate after passing the certification exam. And henceforth, you will be eligible to perform and apply for CNA positions. You can check out this blog about how long it takes to become a CNA to learn more.

For becoming an LPN, the educational requirements are the same as CNA. You must:

  • High school diploma degree or GED certificate.
  • Complete a program in practical nursing from a state-approved educational organization.

Once your required training hours are completed, you have to appear for the practical nursing licensure exam. The typical training duration of LPN training is 1 to 2 years including coursework and clinical training.

The licensure exam is known as NCLEX-PN (National Council Licensure Examination – Practical Nurse). After successfully qualifying for the exam, you will be given your PN license. Henceforth you can apply for LPN jobs and roles.

Job Opportunities LPNs Vs CNAs

The job opportunities for both LPNs and CNAs are high. The reason is, after gaining experience as an LPN or a CNA you can continue your higher education. You can complete your bachelor’s or associate’s courses to specialize in the defined nursing field.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) 2021, the annual salaries for LPNs are $51,850. There has been 9.3% job growth throughout the year. The growth rate will increase even more by 2030 depending on the location and responsibility of the LPNs.

For CNA the median annual wage according to the BLS 2021 report is $30,850. The highest salary for CNAs is in Government healthcare organizations. This is followed by hospitals, nursing homes, and elderly living care facilities.

Wrapping up

If you are focusing on entering the medical field and nursing is your choice of career, being an LPN or a CNA may be a good fit for you. LPN vs CNA difference lies in minor responsibilities distributed across different job locations.

Both have their own advantages over the other. To be a part of any one of the careers, you will have to put in a lot of effort and attention. To ace, your certification exam, practice with our free CNA practice test papers.

Ace your exams!


Do LPNs work in hospitals?

Yes, LPNs work in a variety of organizations. This includes private and government hospitals, clinical facilities, psychiatric wards, and many other places. They normally work under the supervision of an RN.

What is the highest paying state for LPNs in the US?

According to the U.S. News, the top 5 best cities for LPNs in the US are:

  1. Alaska
  2. California
  3. Massachusetts
  4. Washington
  5. Nevada

What are the disadvantages of being a CNA?

Every job has its own advantages and disadvantages. A career as CNA is a demanding and emotionally rewarding career, but there are a few disadvantages:

  • Long shifts in hospitals and nursing homes can bring ill effects to your health.
  • It is a physically and mentally demanding job.
  • There will be no set holiday list or weekends. 

Related Reads:

States that Provide Free Reciprocity for CNA License: A Comprehensive Guide

All You Should Know About a Day in the Life of a CNA

How to Become a Pediatric CNA: A Comprehensive Guide