We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.
Advertiser Disclosure
Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.
How We Make Money
We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently of our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

What is an LVN?

Tricia Christensen
Updated Mar 02, 2024
Our promise to you
Practical Adult Insights is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At Practical Adult Insights, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject-matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

A licensed vocational nurse, commonly abbreviated “LVN,” is a medical professional who provides basic patient care in settings like hospitals, doctor’s offices, and long-term care facilities. In some places, the term “licensed practical nurse” is more commonly used; “state enrolled nurse” is also a synonym, particularly in the United Kingdom. No matter what he or she is called, this person has an important role in the medical community and is a valued part of many healthcare teams. The specifics of these nurses' jobs are usually limited by local law in terms of how extensively they can be involved in direct services, but the work they do is often essential to making sure that each patient gets prompt and efficient care.

Basic Job Description and Jurisdictional Limitations

It can be difficult to pin down what exactly an LVN does because different places have different rules about what the job can include. Laws tend to vary between countries, states, and provinces about what responsibilities can fall to this medical professional.

Greeting patients, getting basic blood pressure and pulse readings, and taking patient temperatures are almost always within the realm of a licensed vocational nurse’s responsibility. In hospitals and large care facilities, these nurses will often be charged with bathing patients and doing hygiene-related tasks, like emptying bedpans and cleaning up vomit and blood spills.

Collecting urine and blood samples may also be part of the job, along with giving injections — but much of this depends on local rules. Even though these professionals are licensed, they cannot always do things that involve direct patient care or that cross the line into “medical analysis,” like making assessments about fluid readings or drawing conclusions from medical charts.

Importance of Supervision

One of the things that sets LVNs apart from other nursing professionals is that they almost always have to be supervised. In most cases, a doctor or registered nurse (RN) — that is, a nurse who has more advanced training and has passed more strenuous exams — must be in charge of overseeing and guiding each LVN’s work. Supervision is not always direct, which is to say that there is not always someone looking over the nurse’s shoulder, but there is almost always a defined hierarchy, with the vocational nurses always coming in near the bottom of the list.

The supervision relationship usually goes both ways. While vocational nurses are closely monitored in terms of what they do, they can also use their overseers as references and sources of greater learning. LVNs who have questions about why things are done or how more advanced processes work can often learn a lot either by watching or asking their supervisors. The two often lean on each other to get through busy days, each depending on the others’ expertise and skills.

In very busy hospitals or care centers, LVNs may be given supervisory capabilities in their own right, too, usually with respect to certified nursing assistants and certified medical assistants. These sorts of medical workers are usually very low-ranking staff whose main job is to pick up slack and help out with basic, routine care when needed. An LVN may be able to direct this sort of person’s work when it comes to making things run more efficiently.

Training Requirements

Most LVNs complete one-year training programs that include education in anatomy, physiology, and patient care. Community colleges and trade or vocational schools are usually the best places to find these programs, and some schools even offer programs over the Internet. Classes vary in price depending on prestige and location, and not all provide the same degree of training. It is usually a good idea for prospective nurses to do at least a bit of research into training possibilities before enrolling. Looking at things like graduation rate, licensure passage history, and overall job placement are good ways of getting a feel for whether a particular course will be a good fit.

Formal training is usually only part of the process for entering the working world. In most places, LVNs must also have some work experience prior to applying for a license. This work often happens in clinics or hospitals. Most of the places that hire vocational nurses after they have earned their licenses will also offer training through internships or shadow programs, though a lot depends on individual facility needs and staff support.

Licensing varies by jurisdiction, but usually consists of a written exam covering both substantive and procedural questions. Candidates usually have to prove that they have completed an "approved" training course as well as completing any hands-on requirements before being allowed to sit for the test. Professionals often have to recertify every few years to prove that they are still up-to-date with the most recent trends and practices.

Advancement Potential

Though many LVNs work extremely hard, they typically make about half the salary of a registered nurse, plus they are not able to do as many things, including working independently. Given the structure of training and licensing in most places, though, it is often very hard for LVNs to advance based on time and knowledge alone. Gaining more responsibilities usually requires going back to school for more training.

Many people who think they want a career in nursing but are not sure if they want to put the time into a full-fledged RN training program start out as LVNs. Nursing schools often see this as an asset, as it proves that applicants are passionate about the field and their future in it. Starting out as a vocational nurse in no way guarantees acceptance into more advanced programs, of course, but it is often quite helpful.

Attractiveness to Employers

The legal limitations on what LVNs can do mean that hospitals sometimes prefer to hire RNs, since they can perform more duties and don't require the same supervision. Also, an RN can only supervise a specific number of LVNs, which is not always cost-effective. Some people predict that vocational nurses may gradually be phased out in most hospitals as a result.

The same is not always true in doctor’s offices or other private practice settings. LVNs can undertake almost all of the basic tasks performed by more advanced nurses in these situations, including taking temperatures, measuring blood pressure, and recording medical history. Supervision in a doctor's office is usually under the practicing doctors and does not always involve the same liability issues as supervision required in a hospital setting. Doctors are often very interested in vocational nurses as a way of saving money, too, since lesser training usually means a smaller paycheck.

Practical Adult Insights is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Tricia Christensen
By Tricia Christensen
With a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and years of experience as a Practical Adult Insights contributor, Tricia Christensen is based in Northern California and brings a wealth of knowledge and passion to her writing. Her wide-ranging interests include reading, writing, medicine, art, film, history, politics, ethics, and religion, all of which she incorporates into her informative articles. Tricia is currently working on her first novel.
Discussion Comments
By anon993444 — On Nov 16, 2015

As an LVN with more than 25 years experience, and four years as a Navy hospital corpsman, I can tell you that the difference between an RN and LVN depends largely on the state and facility where you work. I worked ICU/RCU, ER, urgent care, pediatrics, IM, FP and a few others. I took the place of an RN to be a wound care nurse on RCU and was assigned to be “charge” nurse for more than a month when an RN went on extended leave. I took doctors' orders, transcribed them to charts, med cards. made assignments to NAs and other LVNs. Handed out meds, started IVs, suctioned and cared for ventilator patients, as well as duties usually assigned to NAs such as bathing, I and O, taking patients to therapy, and ADLs. In other jobs, I was routinely put on schedule with new RNs and other RNs (from nursing homes and med surg wards) because of my experience and their lack of experience. By far, the best nurses I ever met or worked with got their start in the military medical fields. They were invaluable.

Once RNs start getting seniority, many go into admin roles and do little patient care, unless they have special skills in trauma, or another critical specialty and choose to stay in patient care. They are adrenaline rush nurses! My mother-in-law was a certified nurses aide in Maryland, and took courses to be able to pass meds at the nursing home where she worked – no IV meds though. Do your research on the title you want. Most jobs offer classes to employees that are job related (at no cost to you) that will benefit you at work. Keep track of those. One day, they may get you credit for college course, or more pay in your next evaluation.

In conclusion, what I have observed is that your work experience, ability and work ethic mean more to patients, doctors, coworkers and employers. These are more important than being called a Registered Nurse or a Licensed Vocational Nurse, except for the pay and advancement to supervisor, in most cases. Then it matters if you are a two-year or four-year RN.

Check local ads for nurses. Some places specifically mention a B.S degree is required.

Look at places where you want to work, then see what you need to do to work there. Keep in mind the hours and shifts vary greatly depending on the type of nursing you choose. Clinics are usually Monday through Friday, with holidays off. Hospital work is typically rotating shifts (or late shifts) until you get a little seniority. Best of luck with whatever you choose. Don't forget auxiliary jobs either. Ultrasound, cardio, cath lab and surgical techs can make good money. God bless.

By anon336175 — On May 26, 2013

I have a degree in agriculture, and would like to pursue a degree to become an RN. What are the basic requirements that I need in order to enroll in a good University? What site can I use to access grants or scholarships?

By anon269912 — On May 20, 2012

I'm going to college in Texas to become an LVN. After I graduated and worked for a bit, I wanted to move to California. Would I need to re-take any type of test before I could start work there? I'm OK with re-taking tests. I'd just like to know beforehand.

By anon236832 — On Dec 26, 2011

I am going to school to become a CST. Does anyone here think I would benefit by becoming a LPN as well? I am an older student and I do not really want to be an RN. I just wanted something to give me more opportunities in the OR.

By anon221638 — On Oct 12, 2011

The best R.N.s were first L.V.N.s This is a fact!

By anon220753 — On Oct 09, 2011

@post 57: "You do not go to college the four years to be an RN." This statement is totally untrue. Sure, you may do LVN for the duration of two years, then do two more years after to be a nurse, but take into consideration that I said "nurse" and not registered nurse.

But if your goal is to be an RN, going to college for four years is more realistic. Two years of GE's and two years of the actual nursing courses. After four years, you graduate as a nurse, then review, take the NCLEX, pass it and finally get the title RN. I am a fourth year nursing student.

By anon219869 — On Oct 04, 2011

I'm new in this and I would like to acquire some more information about LVN/XT/RT/Pxtech I would like to choose the right way. Please, I need advice! What should I do first or which is the best way to go?

By anon179303 — On May 23, 2011

I completed LVN in school in the state of texas in 2007. I started off making $19.50 and hour. After being on the job for 1 1/2 year I got promoted to a unit manager where I made $25.00. After 1 1/2 doing that my job paid for me to become certified in MDS 3.0 which a system at assess patients conditions and needs so that the facility can bill Medicare and Medicaid. In nursing homes they call these nurses either Case Managers or Reimbursement Nurse. Now I'm make $30.00. So to all who are nervous about becoming an LVN please let my story encourage you.

By Mayra Rios — On Jan 23, 2011

Interested in the medical field but not sure which area. I was thinking LVN or medical assistant and later get my RN. But I hear scary stories about being an LVN. Also, can somebody give me info about a school or recommend a school.

By anon145306 — On Jan 23, 2011

Help, anybody! I am 31 years old. I have a BA in Liberal arts and my teaching credentials. For the past four years I've been working in an after school program. I don't have a contract and haven't cleared my credentials. It's difficult to get a job. I am starting to have doubts about teaching.

So, I started looking and now I want to go into the medical field. However, I am not sure in what area to start with and what school. (i am married and have two kids. So do need to work as I am going to school). Please help!

By anon132740 — On Dec 08, 2010

for everyone out there confused, just do lvn as a plan b, then go for your rn.

By anon124369 — On Nov 05, 2010

Now I am even more confused than I was when I started researching. I don't know what to do. I am new to Texas and am ready to make a life change for myself and my family. I know I want to do something in the medical field, just not sure what exactly.

Was thinking occupational therapist, but to get my LPN to start or Medication aide? Clearly, as many others, unfortunately, I have to work while going to school, I have bills to pay and a kiddo to feed. Any one in Texas have any light they can shine on me?

By anon119537 — On Oct 18, 2010

In response to #60. I'm so glad your wrote what you did because it validated my feelings and concerns. All I'm hearing is how RN's push the LVN's around and blah blah! If you are doing this for the right reasons and you have a plan in mind then who cares?

I do not have the time or money to go right into an RN program. I can, however, afford my LVN cert while I work full time. I'm 27 now and would like to have this finished and work for a year before I enroll in the RN program. This will save me money and I'll get a feel for working in the field.

I'm certified in Holistic medicine, but I'm not a chiropractor. One title looks better then the other and obviously one takes much longer to achieve but in most cases, I can do just as much good for someone who is in pain.

We need to really listen to ourselves and do what works best for us. Best of luck to everyone out there. I'm sticking with my initial plan to be a Vocational Nurse.

By anon119194 — On Oct 16, 2010

Hey I just want to say to all of you that want to go on about how much better RN's are then LPNs and not to waste your time being an LVN, well I have worked with both RN's and LPNs and there are very smart, wonderful people with both titles who are great caregivers.

The difference, remember your basic patient care. I was taking care of a woman, and her daughter who was an RN came to me and asked me to show her how to put her mom on a bedpan! So please to all you RN's stop being so rude and thinking you're above everyone else. You're not. Yes, you have more schooling and you get paid more but you are in a field that requires you to be kind and compassionate, so please stop eating your young, being an LVN first is something some people prefer.

No education is a waste of time! If you think becoming an LVN first is right for you then do it. And also be a nurse's aide first!

By anon117417 — On Oct 10, 2010

I am already a Licensed Vocational Nurse and looking for a job. Do i need to take the IV therapy and Blood withdrawal to make myself more marketable?

By josejaime — On Oct 08, 2010

I'm a hemodialysis technician and would like to become an rn in the same field. What steps should i take.

By anon115696 — On Oct 04, 2010

There is a two year ADN, RN in every state, so to say that you must attend college for four years to become an RN is a flat out lie. The four year track is of course for a BSN, Bachelor's of Science.

The license (RN) is identical to these two, however with the advanced degree you are more qualified for management positions. In addition, most LVN programs are 12 months, in which case you can transition for three semesters or an additional year and take the RN exam. Please educate yourself before you make assumptions and post them for people who may actually be considering our field.

We need more nurses, LVN's and RN's.

By anon105229 — On Aug 19, 2010

Well I just graduated this year and I'm wondering what path i should choose! Right now, I'm currently signing up for classes to become a medical assistant (I found this program that is basically free). Because then I would have more points to enter the LVN program I wanted to go into in January with ROP.

Then I wan to go back and get my GEDS, then apply for the RN program. However, now I'm wondering if I should just get my med assistant and work as a med assistant part time while getting GEDS for RN and just apply for RN.

While I wait I can work as a med assistant. I have no idea what would be the best decision.

By anon104933 — On Aug 18, 2010

I would definitely recommend obtaining an RN first instead of climbing the ladder. An LVN salary is not competitive in today’s society and promotes discrimination in the work place.

My starting hourly wage was significantly higher than LVN’s who have been practicing for more than 10 years. Also, colleagues tend to look down on individuals that merely have LVN certification. Overall, obtaining your ADN or BSN will save time and money and permit advancement in your facility of practice.

By anon104278 — On Aug 16, 2010

I just graduated a week ago from the LVN program and I've already re-enrolled back into school to finish my prerequisites so I can bridge.

I thought about working for a year and then going back to school, but I figured I'd get lazy and comfortable with being an LVN, and a year would turn into years or I may never go back.

I believe if nursing is your dream then go for your RN even if it means LVN first. Just don't stop there and don't put it off or you may never go back.

By anon92569 — On Jun 29, 2010

For all the "traditional" RNs: Let me update you to 2010. In CA, the only difference now between RNs and LVNs in an ER setting is push IV meds. Sure LVNs can't triage, but hospitals are finding loopholes where they can collect data.

As far as pay, I know some LVNs take home $400 a shift doing registry and that's not a holiday pay. I guess Ca. is the place to be in the medical field, where all nurses are secure about themselves.

By anon89570 — On Jun 10, 2010

I live in Texas, and my family is in California. The ADN programs here are highly competitive, but the community colleges are not jammed up as they are in California (according to my sister, who has been taking classes at her local community college.) So, why don't all you aspiring RN students move on out here to Texas? We're also the medical center capital of the US, as far as I can tell. The weather might be better in Ca., but the jobs are here in Tx.

By anon89294 — On Jun 09, 2010

To Number 48, you're absolutely right. Nor does an LVN (at least in CA), need to do supervised work prior to licensure. Unless they mean in that article Clinical Training.

You're under the direction of an R.N., yes, according to the Scope and Practice, but LPNs frequently work independent of an RN out in the field. And not all LPNs only work in long term care. Again out here in CA? They're heavily used in psych facilities, fast track ER units, clinics, home health, hospice, and I even have one LVN student/grad of mine who works in an OR in Sutter Health doing some technical duties.

I also have 10 of my grads working telemetry units. It's all regional, sure, but out here? LPNs have such a diverse job field and competitive wage.

With the way health care reform is taking shape, and with cost efficiency a main issue, we're already seeing a trend in hiring more LPNs and fewer RN's in this area. Most staff ratio requirements do not distinguish RN or LVN, simply Licensed Nurse Professionals FTE hours to accomplish this.

The trend out here is the private school route since the public community college systems are massively cutting funding to all their programs including nursing. The problem is, most accredited private schools in the Board of Vocational Nursing/Psychiatric Technicians, are money making schemes with very poor NCLEX pass rates and most private schools don't get clinical contract privileges in many hospitals. You really have to do your homework before choosing the right private school. Pass rates are also manipulated by some of the accredited schools.

Some schools will say they have a 100 percent pass rate but only have had five out of five of their students be at 100 percent, but fail to report say the other 25 of their students in that same class, thus giving an untrue picture of their actual rate of passing.

When asking a potential school about their rate,ask them exactly how many took and how many passed, not their annual reported pass rate.

Good luck to all trying to enter the field. New report out today that nursing will see a 22 percent job growth over the next 20 years, so it's the right route either way you cut it.

By anon88186 — On Jun 03, 2010

I'm in Los Angeles and I know since the budget cuts at community colleges, I tried very hard for three consecutive semesters to be the first in line at different schools to get priority registration, which I succeeded in doing, but I was still behind continuing students, so all the classes I needed for prerequisites into the RN program at all schools filled up before I could even register for the classes.

I finally realized that I'd have to take the private vocational school route, take some student loans out, and get my LVN certification in 14 months (at a California accredited school - so important!). Get some work experience for six months to a year, then start the LVN to RN route.

Unless you can afford to go to a private four-year university to do your RN, getting into an RN program could generally take about three years just to get in since just getting the prerequisites done (which have to be done before you can even apply for the program) is so difficult now with class shortages.

At least in California, I think the LVN, then LVN to RN routes are the most practical way to go. I hope this helps someone.

By anon86123 — On May 24, 2010

I'm 30 years old and want to change my career. I'm now really confused with the steps of becoming a RN Where do I start first if I want to become an RN? Is there another way around besides doing four years in college for becoming a RN?

By anon85772 — On May 21, 2010

To number 21. Sometimes in certain cases, it's better if the person stays an LVN. If you feel like you're treated like a nuisance, you obviously don't have the maturity to be an RN and have that responsibility.

By anon82777 — On May 07, 2010

It's true by entering as an LVN you go to college two years then you go to an RN which would take you one more year to be an RN. You do not go to college the four years to be an RN.

By anon82152 — On May 04, 2010

To number 41: Now you have to have six months experience to become an RN. You can just go through school but you have to have experience to get hired. So it is better to do LVN or another nursing program first.

By anon80882 — On Apr 29, 2010

To the recent widow, who is 50 years old. If you want to be an RN, go for it! Please don't let age be a factor. You are only as old as you feel and if you are passionate about being an RN then set out and accomplish your goal. Try to live your life without regrets.

When in college, I remember 90 year olds being in my classes, and there are 50 and 60 year olds easily applying to medical school.

So, you may not know me, but I say pursue what makes you happy no matter your age or circumstances. Only you create the brick walls which you cannot knock down.

Follow the Nike slogan, "Just do it!"

By anon77818 — On Apr 15, 2010

You don't need any GE to get your LVN. To get into nursing school you need to take all your GE which will take two years at the minimum. Why is it not a good idea to get your LVN, work in the field then continue your education to RN! You will be more likely to get into a nursing program!

By anon76465 — On Apr 10, 2010

I'm in charlotte,nc and cannot find a cna job anywhere. I suspect its my age (58).Discrimination is alive and well.Would I be better off going for LPN/LVN training?

By anon74396 — On Apr 01, 2010

I am 50 years old, and an LVN for 18 years and recently widowed. I'm playing around with the idea of studying for RN. My field has been Geriatrics for majority of my years. I don't have too much confidence since my "better half" is no longer around for advice. Any suggestions?

By anon74139 — On Mar 31, 2010

Listen I've read all these comments about lvns. Lpn? I'm in ohio! Read up on lvn and lpn OK? They are soon to be phased out! They want rn's and lvs will not be hired at hospitals -- only in nursing homes. It is hard work in a nursing home as i am a stna. Or cna.

Stnas are in high demand. We are paid up to 15.00 an hour. But the work is hard as heck! Or you can be hired in a hospital as a pca? Why waste your money on lv? They are begging for stna's and some places even refund your tuition money.

Do the nurse assistant and medication aide. You will like it and make as much as an lv!

By anon72524 — On Mar 23, 2010

a LVN does not clean up vomit. my mother happens to be an LVN and at her school she wasn't allowed to clean up after the patients -- an assistant nurse was. she went to Galan!

By anon70227 — On Mar 12, 2010

sorry to say this web site is incorrect, fact is the LVN and RN work side by side. please all who are reading check your facts in the state you live in.

By anon69356 — On Mar 08, 2010

If you have a former charge with drugs can you still become an L.V.N ?

By anon68026 — On Feb 28, 2010

#41 gave the best and most appropriate response.

By anon63629 — On Feb 02, 2010

dear finance blonde, i was told that rop offers certificates. does an lpn certificate qualify you to become apart of the lvn to rn programs? or do i need a degree in lpn before i can transfer over? thank you for your time

By anon62291 — On Jan 25, 2010

Just be sure that the technical school you go to transfers over to the college RN program. I went to LVN school in Kansas 15 years ago. The program was rated one of the top ones at the time so I went. It was very hard but I made it. Now I decided that I wanted to go on to get my RN, however, none of my classes cross over for credit so I have to start all over. What really bites is that two years after I graduated the local community college took over the school that I went to, so every LPN that went to the same school two years later that I went to have the college credits and I don't.

By anon61306 — On Jan 19, 2010

This forum is amazing, answering questions we all have to usually get answers to the hard way. After finishing pre-reqs for a community college RN program, applying to their lottery and waiting. I got my CNA, HHA, and then enrolled in LVN at another community college.

After completing two out of three semesters, my number came up and I can start the RN program in spring. This has been a very very difficult decision to discontinue the LVN one semester short of finishing. To finish it and apply to the LVN-RN program? I would be at the end of that waiting list and another waiting period.

I have decided today to go into the RN program and discontinue LVN school. I will have the advantage of all the previous schooling, can work part time as a CNA for hospital experience. I am 56, and time is not exactly on my side, so you younger people, keep at it.

If I can do all this, I know you can, too. As frustrating as this process is, it must surely be our true calling to persevere and work so hard to attain our goal. You friends with children, you are doing it for yourself and for them, better now than later like me.

However you do it, make the pledge to carry on. :-)

By anon53048 — On Nov 18, 2009

I am in a different boat all together and don't know where to start. I have a BA but am looking to change careers to an RN in pediatrics but don't know where to start and if I start at a different level given I have my bachelors, or if it matters, considering it is a a new field. Do I go for my masters in nursing or is there a faster track to start working?

By anon52938 — On Nov 17, 2009

I have been an LVN in California for 30 years. I've worked in research, acute hospitals, doctor's offices and home health as well as intake and coding.

I seriously regret not getting my RN in the first place and I would strongly advise anyone entering the field to get your RN. Don't get your LVN with the intention of going onto the RN program later. Life happens in between and you may never go back to complete your original goal.

In the meantime, you will make between $10 and $30 an hour less than an RN and never garner the respect that you deserve, regardless of your experience. Don't cheat yourself now just to fast-track your career, because in the long run, you will wish that you had invested that extra year in school and had a professional degree to show for it.

Nursing is a highly rewarding career and RNs work just as hard as LVNs, but they have twice the salary and way more opportunities in way more fields.

By anon50391 — On Oct 28, 2009

Anon2615 that is going to depend on the school that you are attending. some small community colleges have high numbers of applicants, so many people that are qualified do not get accepted. In that case take your prereqs and see if you can get accepted. if not go get your LVN. in my state it is called an LPN and I was told by my school it would be easier to get in because some students fail out of the first year of nursing. that creates an open seat that the LVN/LPN going in to the second year will fill.

By anon50218 — On Oct 27, 2009


depending on what state you live in, and the school you're going to it can be faster. it also depends on if you're doing the 30 unit course which gives a certificate, or the longer course which is around 45 units for your ADN. i advise going for ADN because you'll be more competitive when looking for a job. they'll be more likely to hire an RN with a degree rather tan a certificate. i live in CA and i'm now noticing that a lot of community colleges offer a couple options for lvns to become rns. if you do lvn first then rn you will take less pre-reqs, and less nursing classes once in the program. also if you want to get your lvn first, i strongly suggest finding a local ROP/adult school that offer them. they are way cheaper than tech schools, mostly costing around 5k, however some may want all the tuition before class starts. but it's better to be 5k in the hole rather than 13+. some tech schools want you to have your CNA certificate as a pre-requisite. some just want a high school diploma or GED. either way the work is time consuming, long, yet very worth it. money is something that can be increased over time. you're dealing with people's lives. they're not just a paycheck. Therefore, get ADN, not certificate for rn;

try ROP or adult schools for lvn; stay committed, study hard and often so you can pass the NCLEX the first time, like i did. :) Good luck, hope everything works out for you and everyone here. -- TC

By anon49851 — On Oct 23, 2009

First off i want to go into LVN, but most people are telling me it's going to take around four years. is that right? i need some help please.

By anon47786 — On Oct 07, 2009

I'm a Texas LVN. I went to a private vocational program that was only one year, no pre-recs required. Concorde Career Inst. The program included all required courses to satisfy the TXBON. It was not easy and I'm very happy with my career and pay. I've worked long term care as a charge nurse, corrections as a medical site manager, and my current position as medical services director in assisted living. $50k. I have a new house, new car, family, and my wife is a full time student. I'm *finally* happy and in just *two* years of becoming an LVN. One year of education has served me well and in no way do I regret it, *ever*!

By anon47708 — On Oct 06, 2009

I've work in California as a medical assistant for eight years. My salary is only $26,000. I have always wanted to be an RN but feel it will take too long. I'm considering taking the LVN course but worried it won't pay well. What should I do? I have three kids to feed and have no time to waste. Obviously I will need to continue to work so I would have to do part time school and work. Would like everyone's opinion on LVN or RN.

By anon47397 — On Oct 04, 2009

I agree Lvn training can seem like kind of a waste. if you just go to school for one more year you are making twice the income. Plus you have a lot more autonomy and job flexibility.

By anon46828 — On Sep 29, 2009

Having been an LVN in CA for 28 years, I can tell anyone who asks that it is far more beneficial to go for your RN as soon as possible after obtaining your LVN. I was a single mom with six children, and it would have been so much easier to raise my children on twice the income. I have finally decided to return to school, through the Indiana State program. It is done mostly online, and is cost effective. After about 5-10 years, the income stagnates as an LVN. My experience is neither appreciated nor compensated. Fortunately, I work in the Emergency Room, and function in nearly the same capacity of an RN, just cannot push IV meds. But I make half the salary, so go figure. Nursing is a tough but truly rewarding career, if you go into it for the right reasons. Very competitive now, and I am hoping fewer nurses will be imported from Asian countries. My experience is that most imports treat the profession as a money making opportunity, and not a calling, which is a terrible shame.

By anon46038 — On Sep 22, 2009

Can anyone tell me what are the pre-requisites to become an LVN?

By anon41895 — On Aug 18, 2009

It was great hearing all the advice and comments from LVN's and RNs who went down differing school paths.

It's inspired me to go for it. I wanted to add, that although it's expensive going private it is like a 1-2 years sooner you're in the work force and making more money. So it seems to make sense if it costs $50K, but you're out making $65-80K a few years earlier it's worth it.

All depends on if you must work or have money coming in of course.

By anon41432 — On Aug 14, 2009

I am currently thinking of attending an lvn program, and after i graduate i want to work, have experience then go back to an lvn to rn bridge because i have been hearing and seeing on this article that it may be faster, and it's great to have experience first! And i also want to make money while i'm going back to school. I think it sounds great. i used to get discouraged about going straight into the rn program because many of their waiting list are 1-3 years' wait.

By anon41181 — On Aug 13, 2009

I just graduated this year 2009 and i don't know what to do as a career. I wanted to do RN but I don't think I am going to make it. I am scared because what if i don't like it? I don't want to waste time. Should I do the LVN?

By anon39353 — On Aug 01, 2009

Im a medical assistant I just graduated and I am having a really hard time to find a job as a medical assistant. i am tired of hearing that you have to have 1 or 2 years of experience this is ridiculous. how am i supposed to get the experience if i can't get a job in the first place. every job opening i see is mostly for CNAS OR LVNS and i don't know what to do i'm confused?

By anon38209 — On Jul 24, 2009

I am currently in the LVN program. I planned on just doing the RN program, but have a child to feed and work while in school. I am in the one year(august to august) LVN program, and I plan on doing the LVN-ADN program. Its going to only be a 3 year program from freshman to ADN( i have to go fall, spring and summer). I would advise anyone interested in nursing to do this. I intended on going to a major university, but it was going to cost an ungodly amount of money. I'm going to a community college and will be getting the same education at less than half the cost as a university in Texas. I advise anyone interested in the medical field to do it! The need for nurses is rising and you will always have a job!

By anon35749 — On Jul 07, 2009

Does anyone study or know about LVN program at Stanton University Garden Grove? I wondered why there's no stable teachers here for each subject.


By txnursie — On May 24, 2009

I did my LVN (14 years worth) before doing RN. I'm not sure who but I think someone mentioned it being so much faster and easier to do the LVN than taking much longer for RN. In Texas, at least, the main difference is in the pre-requisites. In the actual nursing program, LVN is 3 semesters and RN is 4.

In the actual workplace, hospital in my case, LVN's and RNs work alongside each other as a team, and there are only a couple of skills I'm aware of that RNs can do that LVNs can't.

By anon28387 — On Mar 15, 2009

These are some very interesting posts. I'm not an RN or an LVN, but I work in the medical field and have been doing so for about 11 years now. There are a lot of questions from young people wanting to know which path to go down; long schooling for RN or fast for LVN. I gotta say I would go for the RN hands down. Being an RN is not a glamorous job by far and I know many RNs that clean crap and do the work this article claims the LVNs do. But at least as an RN, you will make more money and have more respect. That may not be a big deal if you're poor and need a job now and have kids to feed, but in 10 years you will regret not going for the RN. Don't waste your time climbing up the ladder, it could take 10 years to finally make the money. If you're going to make the commitment to be a nurse, go for the gold and do the long RN program. Just my opinion.

By anon28216 — On Mar 12, 2009

I am a medical assistant, I am currently attending a tech lvn class. These schools are accredited that you can go into your 2nd year to the rn program. It is pacific college Fij.

I have a child with one single income. I want to work cause I don't want to rely on the govt for welfare!! So think about it, this is some sort of short cut. curls

By anon23966 — On Jan 05, 2009

I am an LVN. I have been for 5 years now. I didn't think I would still be an LVN by now but that's what happens when you live in California. The schools are full and competitive. If you don't have the right classes, GPA, or timing, it's very hard and frustrating! Trying to make your chances better by applying to other colleges can keep you in school longer too because everyone has different pre reqs needed to get in. I am trying online schooling right now because they don't have as many rules, like the 7 year rule of pre reqs. I hope it works out. I am so ready to be an RN. I am doing the same job at the hospital and being treated like a nuisance because an RN has to cover me with my IV meds.

By anon22746 — On Dec 09, 2008

In response to anon2615, is it better to get the lvn then bridge to rn?

I think it depends on where you live. With all I've read and in talking with the college counselors in my area (tx), I was told that I would have to basically start all over to get my rn which is a four year program at the most. Lvn is about a one year program with the pre reqs. The only advantage would be to have a decent income while you go back to school for your rn (and to make sure that is what you really want to do), if you can work and go to school full time the last two years plus the clinicals that would be in the other two years.

In my case, going through a divorce, I think I'm better off going for the rn because alimony will stop in three years and I don't know if I could afford to put myself through school on my own and be the mother I want to be. One counselor told me that after the first semester of my jr year I could get a job as a nurse tech if I needed to.

Hope this helps. I'm with the other anon writer about not using tech schools to get through fast, I want to be the best nurse I can be and doing it quickly wouldn't be the way for me.

By jessdehoyos — On Jun 06, 2008

Tech schools are very expensive and you will be in debt forever! Community colleges are cheaper and do not always take that long. One of the colleges in my city has an LVN program and no prereqs are needed as long as your test scores are at minimum college level. Best of all the program is only 1 year. Two colleges also have the LVN to RN program which is also 1 year., although, 1 year. of prereqs are needed before you can go into that program. Altogether it would take 3 years. to become an RN, which is the same amount of time it takes to be an RN without being an LVN first because the RN program is 1 year. of prereqs and 2 years. of the nursing program.

I believe becoming an LVN first is better than going straight into the RN because you will get more experience and also do better academically because you already have a background in the field and it will help out a lot. You are also more likely to be accepted before other students since you are already an LVN. This will work to your advantage. You will also be making more money as an LVN than your current job so you may even be able to only work part-time while going back to school to take your prereqs.

By anon11764 — On Apr 22, 2008

will somebody just tell me what to do? i have the same problem as everyone else...what to do?...community college and take forever or those other schools for shorter time....i don't want to be in school forever i need to work...

By anon11201 — On Apr 10, 2008

I am a nursing student now. I am finding that my work as a Certified Nursing Assistant and Certified Medication Assistant is helping me. I already know a lot of the drugs, anatomy, and medical terminology. So I guess it really depends on how quick you learn. Although, I would suggest becoming a CNA just to see if the medical field is really where you want to be. I believe being a CNA at the very bottom of all of it, where you see the good, the bad, and the ugly will either make or break ya.

By anon10301 — On Mar 24, 2008

I have a sister n Law who is going to a community college to become an RN. She has told me that it is better to do it that way rather than going up the ladder such as CNA, LVN,RN. I was wondering what way in fact is better, easier, faster, etc?

By anon10140 — On Mar 20, 2008

To my knowledge, only 2 states use the LVN designation - California and Texas. In Texas, a LVN may not legally sign medical records as a LPN unless she/he received that training in another state which utilizes that title.

By anon9208 — On Mar 02, 2008

I have started the process and I can tell you the RN programs are very competitive. The important thing to note here is that it is not a race. You are going to be dealing with peoples lives. Imagine how you would feel if you were responsible for hurting or possibly killing someone. I recommend a solid education at a slower pace if needed. You will be building a foundation for a very important profession.

I took my Anatomy and Physiology classes first, because they are the hardest. Then I took Micro Biology, These are typically the classes you need to get an "A" in so you have a competitive score when applying to a program. I had an MD for an anatomy teacher and it really paid off. The harder you work at A&P the easier the nursing program will be. Keep in mind in most states your A&P and Micro expire after 5 years. If you don't get into an RN program consider going into an LVN program instead of waiting for a spot in the RN program, and also for your sciences to expire. RN programs generally will take LVN's into the bridge program before they take anyone else. The reason is the almighty NCLEX passing rate for that school. They all want a 100% passing rate and LVN's have field experience and can almost guarantee the school a 100% passing rate. This also breaks up the journey into one year of LVN school a short break (6 months) then you take the second half of the RN program which is usually just one more year. The RN program on the other hand is 2 straight years with no breaks a lot more check off's and a higher washout potential. This has been my experience.

By anon8920 — On Feb 24, 2008

I have decided to do RN, but am not sure what classes i should take in my first year of college. Please help???

By anon7192 — On Jan 20, 2008

I had finally decided to do an rn program so I took anatomy, physiology and microbiology but got less than a 2.5 gpa. I applied to a rn program but was not accepted due to my gpa for those courses. I've taken physiology twice but at different schools. Can I retake it a third time at the same school I took it at the first time for a better grade? I really want to do the nursing program but I'm getting discouraged and worried I will never be able to do it.

By anon6662 — On Jan 05, 2008

I just got my rn, and now that i work in a hospital i see that the lvn's do about everything i do! With less schooling!!! How does that make sense?

By anon6436 — On Dec 28, 2007

i am right there with the one who posted anonymously.. i am in the process of going back to school too, i was wondering the same thing if it was easier just to go straight through to the rn....????

By anon6071 — On Dec 14, 2007

I also don't know what to do. I'm a medical assistant and I'm thinking of going to a school called palladium technical academy which is going to cost a lot of money but it will take 12-15 months. Am I doing the right thing or should I go to a regular college? I just so confused right now.

By anon4713 — On Oct 29, 2007

I want to be an lvn but i'm not sure what classes to take. Right now i'm a freshman in college but i'm thinking of going to everest or itt tech schools. Isn't it easier and faster to go to those schools? Because at community college i have to take courses and pass them in order to graduate. So what should i do?

By lamaestra — On Oct 03, 2007

Congratulations on your plans! wiseGEEK has a lot of different articles with advice for students looking for scholarships, choosing colleges, etc. I would do a search for "scholarships," or "financial aid" and see what comes up; there are a lot!

By beccakay86 — On Oct 03, 2007

I recently decided that i want to be an RN. I am 20 years old, have 2 kids, and haven't even started the college process, but i would like to have it going by next fall. I got set back after high school with being undecided about what to do as a career, and the kids. I need some help on EVERYTHING! Grants, or any help financially, and just how to go about everything. I would love some advice...

By anon3826 — On Sep 18, 2007

I am undergoing the same dilemma.

However, I have a bachelors degree (4 years.) Similarly, I am finding that I may go to CSUF and undergo a 3 year program to attain a/n (RN) license to the price of a university.

A/n (RN) may be an AA/BA/Mrn program.Meaning it should be quick. However the RN programs are so overly sought that most institutions have a (3 years wait) just to enroll or utilize the lottery system.

At private trade/tech schools they also offer the RN program, less time, more money,etc. Normally they require one already has a/n lvn degree.Calling the program lvn to rn program.

The lvn is available through (ROP) a subsidized program (cheap) and through junior college with less wait time and tech schools, aha!

Now, once the individual has the lvn, many coursework are completed and has precedence in applying to the RN program, furthermore after having the RN title one has clout in the medical community; underscore that with one years experience and an RN license an individual can now apply for the CRNA a program allowing one to administer anesthesia thus earning 150k annual salary.



By anon2615 — On Jul 18, 2007

I'm a college freshman and i need advice on LVN to RN im not sure whether i should do it most nurses say that its faster that way...instead of going all the way to RN...is that true? please I need advice!!!... im taking some prerequisites now to go into VN program and get certified as a LVN then go to RN after that...i know its not easy but can someone help me...

Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen
With a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and years of experience as a Practical Adult Insights contributor...
Learn more
Practical Adult Insights, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

Practical Adult Insights, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.