What is the difference between a CNA, RN, and LPN?

There is a difference between a CNA, RN, and LPN. A certified nursing assistant (CNA) assists patients under the supervision of a registered (RN) or a licensed practical nurse (LPN) (LPN).

Sidra Masood
6 min readMar 28, 2022


Nurses come in a wide range of specializations. To begin, you may divide nurses into groups based on their specializations, scope of practice, education, licensing, and salary.

Photo by Patty Brito on Unsplash

A licensed practical nurse (commonly known as an LPN or LVN), a registered nurse (RN), and a certified nursing assistant (CNA) are three types of nurses (CNA)

Acronyms abound in the healthcare industry. CNA, RN, and LPN While these abbreviations are designed to represent various degrees of care, interpreting them can be difficult.

These three are required reading for anybody interested in ageing and associated issues. So, here’s all you need to know about the distinctions between a CNA, LPN, and RN.

Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA), Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN), and Registered nurse (RN)

In order to make an informed decision about a nursing career, individuals must understand the distinctions between a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA), Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN), and Registered nurse (RN)

Both licensed practical nurses (LPNs) and certified nursing assistants (CNAs) are health providers in the registered nurse. While there are several variations between the two positions, the major distinctions between an LPN and a CNA are the required level of schooling, the responsibilities, and the compensation offered.

1. Certified nursing assistant (CNA)

Certified nursing assistants (CNAs) are individuals who have completed specialized training in nursing (CNA). A Certified Nursing Assistant will often have less schooling than an RN or LPN. Regardless, they are an important element of the healthcare system, with many focusing on more senior schooling requirements than LPNs or RNs.

Job Duties of Certified nursing assistant (CNA)

Nursing assistants work closely with registered nurses (RN) and licensed practical nurses (LPN) to provide direct patient care. Certified nursing assistants are often in charge of the following duties:

• Patient assistance with daily living activities such as cleaning, bathing, eating and getting dressed is provided.

• Paying attention to the health problems of patients.

• Vital indicators, such as fever and blood pressure, are being measured.

• Duties related to housekeeping

• Attending to the needs and difficulties of patients.

Licensing & Certification for a Certified nursing assistant (CNA)

While state criteria vary, prospective CNAs should plan to enrol in a state-approved CNA program at a recognized institution before beginning the certification process. Approved programs satisfy state and other school governing standards, ensuring that students have the necessary information and abilities to become certified as well as provide patient care. After completing the program, students should check their state’s certification requirements, which may include a minimum number of CNA learning hours. They must also complete fingerprinting and background checks, as well as submit a CNA certification application and pay any required costs. It’s vital to remember that graduates must normally complete their accreditation application within a certain deadline once a CNA program is done.

Education of CNA

Most states require in-person hands-on training before a CNA may be licensed; however, some programs incorporate an online classroom component. The standards for CNA training programs differ from state to state; thus, it is advisable to check your state’s requirements before choosing a training school. The training program concludes with students being prepared to take their state’s nursing assistant competency exam, following which they are prepared to begin working as certified nursing assistants.

Salary of CNA

As of February 25, 2022, the typical Certified Nursing Assistant pay in the United States is $33,621; however, the range frequently ranges between $30,639 and $37,122. Salary ranges rely on various things, including schooling, certifications, supplementary talents, and the length of time you’ve worked in your field. Without a doubt, Salary.com has the most up-to-date online compensation statistics.

2. Licenses Practical Nurse (LPN)

A licensed practical nurse (LPN) is a healthcare professional who is qualified to give basic nursing care to patients. A Licenses nursing assistant works under the direction of a healthcare professional and is responsible for assisting patients and nurses with their daily routines at the hospital.

Job Duties of Licenses Practical Nurse (LPN)

According to Practical Nursing, a licensed practical nurse (LPN) is responsible for more basic nursing care and normally works under the direct supervision of a registered nurse (RN). LPNs are frequently in charge of the following tasks:

• Medications are administered, and dressings are changed.

• Patients are being watched over and evaluated.

• Creating and reviewing patient care plans is a challenging task.

• Assisting patients with their needs and providing them with information

• As needed, supervising and managing nursing assistants and other coworkers.

Licensing & Certification for Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN)

Aspiring nurses should know that CNAs and LPNs have separate license and certification requirements. After completing a state-approved and recognized Practical Nursing program, LPN applicants must pass the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-PN). An applicant who passes this exam are eligible to work as an LPN, but we recommend that they first review the job description for an LPN.

Education of LPNs

Those who want to become LPNs, on the other hand, have to go through a more in-depth given skill that usually takes about a year to finish. Like most CNA programs, LPN programs are available in various higher education and technical schools, and students are required to complete the majority of their training in a classroom setting. The curriculum for an LPN program is typically more in-depth than the curriculum for a CNA program. It will cover topics such as drug administration and dosage, pathophysiology, specialized care, and legal and ethical concerns in nursing.

Licensed Practical Nurse salary

As of February 25, 2022, the average Licensed Practical Nurse income in the United States is $50,038; however, the range frequently ranges between $45,438 and $55,659. Salary ranges rely on various things, including education, certifications, supplementary talents, and the length of time you’ve worked in your field. There’s more online, real-time pay information than any other website on Salary.com, which can help you figure out what you want to make.

3. The registered nurse (RN)

Patients receive more direct care from RNs than from nurses like licensed practical nurses (LPNs), who are more focused on providing assistance to RNs or doctors. RNs are critical in coordinating healthcare and ensuring that everything in the patient’s care functions properly.

Job Duties of a registered nurse (RN)

According to the American Nurses Association, registered nurses work in various healthcare settings, such as hospitals and nursing homes. These nurses are in charge of the following tasks:

• Physical examinations are carried out.

• Medications are administered, wounds are treated, and other tailored interventions are handled.

• Making treatment decisions based on patient information that has been interpreted collaborating with other healthcare experts to coordinate care

• Directing and managing Licensed Practical Nurses and other nursing aides

Education of RNs

RNs graduate from a two-and-a-half to four-year psychiatric nursing school program at a college or university, depending on their experience. The curriculum includes theory and hands-on clinical education in mental and general nursing specializations. It provides in-depth study in the following areas:

• Sciences of behaviour and social interaction.

• The study of living things and physical phenomena

• Profession and ethics; psychiatric nursing theories and interventions

• Hours in both theory and clinical practice

• Relationships that are therapeutic

Licensing & Certification for Registered nurse RNs

Obtaining licensing is the final stage. State boards of nursing license prospective nurses who finish their education, clinical hours and pass the NCLEX-RN. Each state board establishes its own criteria and may require additional training. Unlicensed RNs can practice in some states with a permit. Registered nurses must renew every 1–4 years. Renewal of RN licensure requires training and counting education hours.

Certifications are not required for nursing, but they enhance professional development prospects. The AACN certifies RNs. Qualifying RNs must fulfil clinical hours and pass tests. The accreditation verifies a registered nurse’s particular expertise. The AACN certifies in acute, cardiac, and progressive care.

Salary of Registered nurse (RN)

In the United States, the typical wage for a Registered Nurse (RN) is between $58,390 and $104,720 per year, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Salary ranges for Registered Nurse (RN) positions might vary significantly based on the specific position you are looking for. Salary.com lets you decide your exact pay target with more online, real-time finances than any other website.

Final Thoughts

CNAs, LPNs, and registered nurses (RNs) must have a sympathetic and compassionate attitude toward their patients. They must be flexible with their work hours and be willing to work on weekends and holidays if necessary. A competent nurse at any level has excellent communication abilities and can easily accept commands and directions from superiors.



Sidra Masood

Writing is an art and I can create the magic of words by true and vibrant colours of writing which mesmerizing the reader. Follow for more stories and updates.