Licensed Practical Nurse vs. Registered Nurse are two seemingly similar professions in medicine, but there are some very prominent differences. In short, LPNs have fewer responsibilities and tasks on an everyday basis. Still, the salary difference is so huge that there is no point in working as LPN. Work on yourself, take needed courses for RN and become one as soon as possible. You will earn, on average, $20,000 – $30,000 more every year!


Primarily, Registered Nurse must have a degree (two years) or diploma (3 years). Also, they have an extended set of responsibilities and work in hospital environments more often. The precise length of the school schedule depends on the type of RN degree you want.

They can opt for:

  • Diploma from an accredited nursing program
  • Bachelor of Science in Nursing (preferred program)
  • ADN (Associate Degree in Nursing)

RN curriculums incorporate studies on organization management, legal and ethical concerns, examination, and pharmacology. This is the most significant difference between the two occupations.

When it comes to LPNs, they do not need to have a two or three-year degree or diploma. Instead, they could work after just one year of proper education and after obtaining a certificate. Their role is practical, and they perform some minor tasks (that are equally important, of course).

Have in mind that many programs allow LPN to RN, called “bridge” programs.

Work Environments

Licensed Practical Nurse:

  • able to work in long-term care, where they can prosper in their careers; for example, becoming supervising nursing assistants who deliver the essential services
  • If they work in hospitals, LPNs have different responsibilities, as well as promotion occasions. Here they are giving medicine to patients and are taking vitals. There are not so many options for advancement.
  • 29% work in nursing care facilities, 15% in hospitals, 12% in doctor’s offices, 9% in home health

Registered Nurse:

  • hospitals are the most common environment where RNs can work and where they can advance in careers
  • 48% work in private general hospitals, 6% in local hospitals, and about 5% of RNs work in long-term care

LPN vs RN Duties

LPN –¬†give medicines, watch over medical charts, monitor vital signs. LPNs take care of injuries, collect blood and urine samples, feed and help patients, emergency CPR, etc.

RN –¬†Controlling and giving patient medicines (unlike LPNs, this includes IV). RNs give basic life, cardiac and pediatric support, takes care of injuries, administers care program for patients, taking vital signs, deals with documentation, and above all is in a supervision position on licensed practical nurses

The Route to a Nursing License for LPNs and RNs

Many would agree that it is much easier to become a licensed practical nurse because their schooling lasts shorter, about just one year. LPNs subjects that they learn are simpler. It is also cheaper to become one.

But, when it comes to the licensing process itself, it is very similar in both cases. Both LPNs and RNs implies the screening method and frequently a finger-print based history investigation. Both of them must go tough and pass the national test – the NCLEX (the name of the test) is administered for LPNs and RNs.

In both cases, this test examines knowledge and decision-making ability. Maybe in the case of the test for the registered nurse, it tests critical thinking. They are required to bring out more evaluations and make more judgments by themselves before asking for a supervised person’s assistance.

Salary difference

Because of the complexity of work they do, obligations, experience, and education, it is expected that RNs have a higher salary than LPNs. Practicalnursing.org brings this comparative list (have in mind that this list was made a few years back, but the interest is in a difference between the salaries):

1. Alabama $35,570 (LPN)- $56,470 (RN)
2. Alaska $54,380 (LPN) – $85,740 (RN)
3. Arizona $50,760 (LPN) – $71,300 (RN)
4. Arkansas $36,040 (LPN)- $56,480 (RN)
5. California $51,700 (LPN)- $98,400(RN)
6. Colorado $46,780(LPN)- $69,600 (RN)
7. Connecticut $55,170 (LPN)- $76,370(RN)
8. Delaware $47,700(LPN)- $70,160(RN)
9. District of Columbia $52,680(LPN)- $80,040(RN)
10. Florida $41,540(LPN)- $62,720(RN)
11. Georgia $38,010(LPN)- $62,350 (RN)
12. Hawaii $46,520(LPN)- $88,230(RN)
13. Idaho $39,430(LPN)- $60,320 (RN)
14. Illinois $44,870(LPN)- $68,030 (RN)
15. Indiana $40,580(LPN)- $58,900 (RN)
16. Iowa $38,750(LPN)- $54,020 (RN)
17. Kansas $39,460(LPN)- $56,800(RN)
18. Kentucky $38,090 (LPN)- $57,980(RN)
19. Louisiana $37,810(LPN)- $60,230 (RN)
20. Maine $41,750(LPN)- $63,320 (RN)
21. Maryland $50,440 (LPN)- $72,221(RN)
22. Massachusetts $53,820(LPN)- $85,770(RN)
23. Michigan $44,310 (LPN)- $67,180 (RN)
24. Minnesota $42,000(LPN)- $71,450 (RN)
25. Mississippi $36,400(LPN)- $56,560 (RN)
26. Missouri $37,660 (LPN)- $58,040(RN)
27. Montana $38,760 (LPN)- $61,810 (RN)
28. Nebraska $38,760 (LPN)- $57,550(RN)
29. Nevada $52,760(LPN)- $80,240 (RN)
30. New Hampshire $47,590(LPN)- $65,790 (RN)
31. New Jersey $52,950(LPN)- $78,330 (RN)
32. New Mexico $46,360 (LPN)-$65,790(RN)
33. New York $45,660(LPN)- $77,110 (RN)
34. North Carolina $41,730(LPN)- $60,030(RN)
35. North Dakota $39,790(LPN)- $58,120 (RN)
36. Ohio $40,790(LPN)- $62,490 (RN)
37. Oklahoma $38,320 (LPN)- $57,830 (RN)
38. Oregon $48,550 (LPN)- $82,940 (RN)
39. Pennsylvania $43,550(LPN)- $66,570(RN)
40. Rhode Island $52,110 (LPN)- $75,510 (RN)
41. South Carolina $39,070(LPN)- $59,670 (RN)
42. South Dakota $35,210(LPN)- $53,970(RN)
43. Tennessee $36,420 (LPN)- $57,030(RN)
44. Texas $44,880 (LPN)- $68,590 (RN)
45. Utah $43,080 (LPN)- $61,100 (RN)
46. Vermont $44,420(LPN)- $64,320(RN)
47. Virginia $40,500(LPN)- $63,880 (RN)
48. Washington $49,220(LPN)- $78,540(RN)
49. West Virginia $35,020(LPN)- $56,390(RN)
50. Wisconsin $42,820(LPN)- $65,590(RN)
51. Wyoming $43,300 (LPN)- $60,790(RN)

Geographic Diversity

Different states in the USA have additional rules, expectations, salaries, etc. for both occupations. For example, in some states, licensed practical nurses can give IV therapy, while others cannot. Many US states hold workforce stations, and in some of them, the board publishes accurate information about licensees.

Request for LPNs and RNs

There is no doubt that both of these areas of medicine is progressing. There is a high demand for both of them. Still, one statistic comes from BLS that states how on the market there is a more significant demand for Registered Nurses than for LPNs.

Statistic shows:

  • 22% job growth for LPNs in the next few years
  • 26% projection for RNs in the next few years


In nursing and healthcare, both nurses are useful occupations to choose from. They can provide great careers, but it is also apparent that they are very different when it comes to job obligations, educational levels, and salary.

To conclude, Licensed Practical Nurses are accountable for implementing more fundamental nursing care and customarily operate under the supervision of Registered Nurse.

RNs are generally responsible for managing medication to subjects. They are obligated to create a therapy program to improve and repair a patient’s well-being. If you are LPN already, we would advise you to take the courses needed and become an RN. Salary difference is enormous, so make sure to do everything to become one.