CNA VS Other Medical Career – Side by Side Comparison

When first stepping into the nursing field as a Certified Nursing Assistant, you might have really had a genuine commitment to becoming the best CNA the world had ever seen. Still, as time passes in this profession, your once compassionate heart will get hardened with all those stressful and demanding nature of CNA job duties, and you will probably be infuriated by your modest salary earnings, which, admit it, are not ample enough to run your livelihood.

Now, assuming that the profession of a CNA did not live up to your expectation, then, it’s time you give a thought to CNA vs other medical careers; After all, the nursing field is not just about CNA but also about LPNs, RNs, and other such nurse practitioners, who have not only administrative level job responsibilities but also have handsome earning potentialities.


What’s So Appealing About LPN Career? As the name itself tells, the Certified Nursing Assistants are there to “assist” their immediate seniors, which, if we go step by step, would be Licensed Practical Nurses but most of the time, you may also find yourself charged under Registered Nurses.

By the word “assist,” it means that a CNA has to do all the dirty works that an LPN often refrains from doing! Nevertheless, in some nursing homes or long-term care centers, LPNs, being well versed with the job duties of CNAs, would find them in a CNA’s shoe, but well with a better salary and additional LPN-level job duties.

 CNA (Certified Nursing Assistant)LPN (Licensed Practical Nurse)
Educational RequirementsHigh school diploma or GED, Basic background and medical checkupHigh school diploma or GED, Basic background and medical checkup
Educational Cost$300 – $12,500$2,500
Program Length3 to 8 weeks1 year
ExamState CNA Certification ExamNCLEX-PN (i.e. National Council Licensure Examination-Practical Nursing)
License Validity2 years2 years
Job DutiesEntry-level dutiesEntry-level duties and additional responsibilities.
Salary Range$14.82 per hour


$30,830 per year

$23.47 per hour


$48,820 per year

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

1. Length & Cost of Education

Low For CNAs But Higher For LPNs. A majority of people apply for the CNA training after being appealed by its short term schooling period (which is usually about 3 to 8 weeks long) and considerably cheap educational expenses (i.e., around $300 to as much as $1,250).

However, in the case of LPN schooling, it requires 1 complete year (or even more) for you to complete your LPN training and that also with educational expenses of around $2,500 in general. After all, in order to be called a senior, LPNs naturally need to have an academically stronger profile than that of CNAs.

2. Licensure Method

State Certificate for CNAs But State License For LPNs.

Graduating from a nursing school with your CNA certification or LPN diploma does not confer you the official credentials of the respective job profiles, meaning that you won’t have any official permission to practice your trade.

Now, in the case of a CNA, one has to successfully pass the state CNA certification exam to get his/her name listed in the Nurse Aide Registry. On the other hand, the LPNs, after completing their one years’ long diploma program, would then be eligible to challenge the NCLEX-PN (i.e. National Council Licensure Examination-Practical Nursing), passing which would get them licensed.

3. Job Duties

LPNs Can Do All CNA’s Work But Not The Opposite. Heralded as the major labor force of the healthcare industries, the CNAs are burdened with the entry-level job duties associated with providing professional nursing services to disabled patients. To be more specific, the CNAs are responsible for feeding, showering, dressing, and grooming the patients, not to mention changing the bedpans and bedsheets spoiled by vomit or incontinences of the patients.

On the other hand, the LPNs, besides their patient care job duties as that of a CNA, are also charged to undertake additional responsibilities like providing the medication to the patients, changing their wound-dressings, and monitoring their vital status (respiration rate, body temperature, etc.

4. Salary Range

With Greater Academic Achievements Come Greater Salary Payments!.

In comparison to the CNA schooling period, the 1 year long LPN training might not seem appealing for you but, when it comes to salary payments, the LPNs are the one who gets to enjoy a handsome wage i.e., about $40,000 to $50,000 per annum while the CNAs have to cope with a modest salary figure of about $20,000 to around $35,000 yearly. Interested in CNA to LPN program? read our this post.


What’s So Appealing about the RN Career? Just like LPNs are the immediate superior of the CNAs, the RNs, with their associate’s or bachelor’s degrees in nursing, are also academically strong enough to be the senior of the LPNs. The CNAs to some extent, the LPNs too are simply the labor force of the nursing field, whereas the RNs are its managers, and are thus charged with the job responsibility of managing or supervising the CNAs and LPNs.

 CNA (Certified Nursing Assistant)RN (Registered Nurse)
Educational RequirementsHigh school diploma or GED, Basic background and medical checkupADN (Associate’s Degree in Nursing) or BSN (Bachelor’s of Science in Nursing)
Educational Cost$300 – $12,500ADN: $4.500 – $10.000


BSN: $20.000 – $40.000

Program Length3 to 8 weeksADN: 2 years


BSN: 4 years

ExamState CNA Certification ExamNCLEX-RN (National Council Licensure Examination)
License Validity2 years2 years
Job DutiesEntry-level dutiesDepartment Manager, Superior of CNAs and LPNs
Salary Range$14.82 per hour


$30,830 per year

$36.22 per hour


$75,330 per year

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

1. Length & Cost of Education

Short Term Schooling Period of CNA Vs BSN Degree Programs. Being an entry-level job profile, CNAs only have to endure 3 to 8 weeks long nursing training whereas the administrative level job post of the RNs expects them to complete a degree-level nursing education, whether it be an ADN or BSN.

 Note: Tradition shows that the 2 years long ADN (i.e. Associate’s Degree in Nursing) programs, which comes with the price tag of around $4,500 to $10,000, are greatly favoured by the RN wannabes; after all, committing yourself to BSN (i.e. Bachelor’s of Science in Nursing) programs will not only oblige you to spend 4 long years in school but also cost you a lot, about $20,000 to over $40,000 in total.

2. Licensure Method

State Certificate for CNAs But State License For RNs. As mentioned earlier, the CNAs only need to pass the nurse aide competency exam to get the state certification but the RNs, like the LPNs, will have to challenge the National Council Licensure Examination for their respective Registered Nurse evaluation exam.

Only after the successful completion of the NCLEX-RN exam, the RNS would get licensed and thus be wholeheartedly welcomed to work in any healthcare industries.

3. Job Duties

CNAs Act As Labor Force, RNs Act As Managers.

As mentioned earlier, the short-term nursing assistant training prepares the CNAs to uphold the entry-level job positions in hospitals, nursing homes, and other such healthcare industries. So, naturally, as a CNA, you can’t expect to do the administrative level job duties, which the RNs are charged with.

To be more specific, the RNs, being the manager of a particular department, has to design suitable treatment plans for the patients, administer the medication in the right dosages, monitor the vital stats of the patients, perform wound dressings and IV therapies. And, of course, as the senior-level nursing post, the RNs are also liable to supervise the CNAs and LPNs. If you like to read more about CNA to RN programs, we have details post here.

4. Salary Range

In any commercial business organization, managers have the reputation of enjoying a handsome income as compared to other coworkers; the RNs, being the manager of the nursing team, do also get to enjoy a hefty salary figure of around $81,000 per annum, not to mention that this salary figure might even exceed the standard $100,000 figure, provided that you do overtime or be employed in a private nursing home of a metropolitan city.