What is the Difference Between an LVN and a CNA?

What is the Difference Between an LVN and a CNA?

Are you interested in a nursing career but would like to learn the difference between a licensed vocational nurse and a certified nursing assistant? While there are several similarities between these two careers, there are also many things that set them apart. Described below, you will find the basic features that separate LVNs from CNAs.

Technical Requirements

Perhaps the biggest difference between an LVN career and a CNA position is the amount of training that the two fields require. Whereas CNA training programs only last about two to six months, an LVN program can take up to a year to complete. Additionally, while some employers allow on-the-job training for CNA applicants, there is no such training available for prospective LVNs.

Upon completion of their training, aspiring certified nursing assistants must take a CNA competency exam before their names will be added to their state's CNA listing. Prospective licensed vocational nurses, on the other hand, must pass a national licensing exam and obtain a license from their state before they can obtain employment in their field.

Work Environments

The places where you can find LVNs and CNAs working often differ as well. CNAs are most commonly found in such facilities as nursing homes, rehabilitation centers and retirement homes whereas LVNs are most commonly employed by hospitals, doctors' offices, medical clinics and public health centers.

Nevertheless, it is essential to note that these are just the most common workplaces for each career. Some hospitals and other medical facilities do employ certified nursing assistants, and many nursing homes and rehabilitation centers hire licensed vocational nurses. Additionally, home health care services often employ both CNAs and LVNs.

Common Job Duties

Another big difference between LVNs and CNAs is what they are held responsible for doing during their work days. Basically, while certified nursing assistants are primarily responsible for cleaning and assistance-type duties, licensed vocational nurses partake in more medical-related and clerical tasks. Some common duties and their respective careers can be found listed below.

  • Making Beds (CNA)
  • Cleaning Rooms (CNA)
  • Taking and Recording Patients' Vital Signs (LVN)
  • Drawing Blood (LVN)
  • Feeding Patients (CNA)
  • Helping Patients Dress (CNA)
  • Administering Vaccinations/Medication (LVN)
  • Transporting Patients (CNA)
  • Answering Phones/Making Appointments (LVN)
  • Assisting Doctors During Examinations (LVN)

Average Salaries

One of the similarities between LVN and CNA careers is that they are both in high demand all across the country. Furthermore, the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics expects both careers to continually grow over the next several years. However, while the average salary for CNAs was $26,020 per year in 2013, the average salary for LVNs during the same year was $42,910.

As you can see, there are several differences between CNAs and LVNs including differences in training requirements, duties, job environments and salaries.