What is the Difference Between a CNA and an LPN?

What is the Difference Between a CNA and an LPN?

Are you thinking about beginning a nursing career? Have you been wondering what the difference is between a CNA and an LPN? While both of these occupations are in the field of nursing, they are two totally different careers. Basically, the main differences between CNA and LPN careers are educational requirements, job responsibilities, and wages.

Educational Requirements

The difference between a CNA and an LPN begins with the educational requirements for each of the two careers. While CNA programs typically only last a month or two, to become an LPN, you will need to train for about 12 to 15 months. Both of these programs consist of lecture-based instruction and clinical training.

However, LPN training is much more involved and intense. Upon graduation, CNA graduates earn certificates, while LPN students earn either certificates or diplomas. CNA graduates must pass a certification exam to be eligible for employment, whereas LPN graduates need to pass a national licensing exam to be eligible for licensure.

Job Responsibilities

Another big difference between CNAs and LPNs involves the role that each professional possesses in a long-term care facility. Nurse aides work under the supervision of LPNs and are only allowed to provide basic care to patients. Although the daily tasks of CNAs may vary from one facility to another, some of their most common responsibilities can be found below.

  • Making Beds and Changing Linen
  • Washing Bedding and Patients' Clothing
  • Cleaning Patients' Rooms
  • Moving and Transporting Patients
  • Bathing, Dressing and Feeding Patients
  • Taking and Recording Vital Signs

Licensed practical nurses work under the supervision of registered nurses and are able to perform many more treatment-related tasks than CNAs do. Just as with CNAs, the responsibilities of LPNs may vary depending on their place of employment. However, some of the most common tasks that they are responsible for are as follows:

  • Administering Medication to Patients
  • Drawing Blood for Laboratory Tests
  • Administering Vaccinations
  • Applying First Aid and Bandages
  • Administering IVs
  • Supervising Nurse Aides

Average Salaries

Finally, there is also a difference in the annual salaries of nurse aides and licensed practical nurses. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, the average salary for CNAs in 2019 was around $29,640 per year. However, the average salary for LPNs during the same year was about $46,282 per year.


There are several differences between CNA and LPN careers; however, the main differences involve training, job responsibilities, and annual wages.

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