CNA to LPN Programs

As previously mentioned, nursing assistants are the entry level position in the field of nursing. However, this does not mean they are any less important or vital than other members of the nursing team. Anyone who has worked as a certified nursing assistant knows the challenges and obstacles which must be dealt with on a daily basis. Many nurses, LPN and RN alike, start their nursing careers as a CNA. Being a nursing assistant provides experience in basic care, patient and family interaction, and collaborating with higher-ups to get the job done. In addition, being a CNA gives future nurses a sense of what nursing assistants do and can help increase empathy.

CNA's usually perform basic care and help clients to be able to do things they are unable to do alone. CNA's also assist nurses as needed. They are supervised by a charge nurse which can be a LPN or RN. By performing basic care, nurse aids free up LPN's and RN's to complete more complex tasks which require further training and licensure.

Learn the difference between an LPN vs CNA.

How Does a CNA Become an LPN?

CNA programs are located nationwide and can vary from state to state. This is because each state has its own board of nursing and its own educational and clinical requirements. CNA programs require a high school diploma. No previous nursing knowledge is required, this is the beginning of the line for nursing education. Program lengths vary from as little as 2 weeks for some full time accelerated programs to as much as 12 weeks for part time programs. This education involves classroom learning with supervised clinical experiences. Upon completion, the student should be prepared to take and pass their states certification test. This usually involves a written portion as well as a hands-on skills test. Chances are if you are reading this guide, you want to further your education and be more than a CNA. The next logical step up is to become an LPN. Unfortunately, almost all CNA programs carry no college weight or credit. This means technically, CNA's are on the same educational starting point as someone with no nursing experience. However, this is not entirely true in reality. Being a CNA does provide valuable experiences and can also give an idea to what nurses do and what to expect once education is furthered. Usually LPN programs do not require experience as a nurse aid but they do consider it valuable and often ask. When making the jump from CNA to LPN there is a lot to learn.

Being a LPN puts you in a position of responsibility and often a position of power. Many subjects and skills must be learned and mastered. Topics such as medication administration, wound care, catheter insertion, and patient assessment must be learned. Instead of being the one taking orders, you are now the one giving them. LPN's must have critical thinking ability and complex problem solving skills which CNAs do not require. Because of this, be sure to choose a school with a good reputation and NCLEX pass rate.  See our lists of all state approved LPN schools; simply choose a state from the drop-down top menu to access objective data and information. Another way to find a good LPN program locally is to ask current nurses about their education and their school. Word of mouth is valuable. When making the switch from CNA to LPN, there is a huge change in scope of practice and expected duties and responsibilities. If possible, it may be a good idea to shadow a current LPN. This can give a first-hand experience of what a LPN really does.

You can find local LPN schools using the below map:

CNA to LPN Salary Comparison

StateCNA Annual SalaryLPN Annual SalaryPercent Increase
District of Columbia33,38055,20065.4%
New Hampshire30,39049,04061.4%
New Jersey28,98053,74085.4%
New Mexico27,28047,77075.1%
New York34,30047,17037.5%
North Carolina23,63042,51079.9%
North Dakota31,60043,20036.7%
Rhode Island29,56055,41087.4%
South Carolina24,59040,09063.0%
South Dakota24,96037,10048.6%
West Virginia25,21036,05043.0%

cna to lpn 2Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, May 2016

Advantages of CNA to LPN Training

There are many advantages in CNA to LPN programs: increased knowledge and responsibility, more job opportunities, an increased sense of job importance (making a difference!), and of course an increase in pay. The United States Bureau of Labor Statistics lists median yearly income for nursing assistants/orderlies as $24,400. In comparison, LPN/LVN median yearly income is $41,540. See LPN salaries.  Of course, these are median incomes and actual figures can vary widely depending on geographic location as well as type of facility for which you are working. If you are interested at all in CNA to LPN bridge programs do some research. Take the initiative to learn about available options in your area. LPN programs can be completed full or part time, enabling continued employment as a CNA until LPN graduation, if desired. Program length and cost varies by school. Many programs offer financial aid. For more information about financial aid for LPN programs, visit our guide. Learn how to become a CNA.

Other LPN bridge program options:

Daniel Bair, LPN

Daniel Bair, LPN is a 2012 graduate of practical nursing school. Being relatively new to nursing he offers a different point of view and a fresh take on nursing and related topics. He likes to spread the word about issues pertinent to nursing. He loves to dispel myths and misinformation about healthcare and nurses through medical writing. Experience caring for geriatric populations in acute and long-term care settings has provided invaluable experiences and has increased his appreciation and fondness for the elderly population. In addition to geriatrics, patient advocacy and holistic nursing care are areas of special interest.