LVN Vs RN: Differences In Educational Level, Duties, And Salaries


In its broadest scope, nursing is a healthcare profession concerned with providing care for individuals, families and communities as a whole. Nurses assist other medical professionals so that patients may attain and maintain optimal health or recover from illness.

Through this form of assistance, nurses are able to contribute to the promotion of the quality of life of every individual. Just like other medical professions, nursing is licensed in a number of ways in which two of these are most prominent, the Licensed vocational Nurse (LVN) and the Registered Nurse (RN). Although there are many different types of nurses, licensed vocational nurses and registered nurses are the two most common.

Although RNs are more common anywhere around the world, a demand for LVNs has recently been growing. Becoming an LVN typically takes between 12 and 16 months. Hence, a LVN vs RN comparison shall help healthcare prospects decide between the two licensing categories.

LVN vs RN: Educational level difference between LVN and RN

The level of education required presents a major difference between the two very similar nursing professions. RN programs generally require a traditional four-year degree course taken in a college or university. On the other hand, LVN programs can be accomplished after about a year of study. Due to the nature of the duties of an LVN, on-the-job training is more extensive in its program. Many vocational nurses decide to advance their careers by taking one of the accredited LVN to RN programs.

LVN vs RN: Difference between LVN and RN duties

In terms of duties, a LVN vs RN comparison suggests that registered nurses have more medical responsibilities than licensed vocational nurses because of the differences in their theoretical educational backgrounds.

With more formal years of training, a registered nurse supervises the licensed vocational nurse in various nursing functions such as vital signs recording, wound dressing, and patient condition reporting. Thus, a LVN vs RN comparison would further suggest the more independent role of registered nurses in providing healthcare services.

LVN vs RN: Difference between LVN and RN salaries

Starting salaries pose another major difference between LVN and RN professions. The average LVN salary starts at around $47,500, while those of RN start at around $72,300. In terms of higher earning potential, a registered nurse could earn as much as $93,000 while a licensed vocational nurse typically would reach about $58,000 of annual salary.


What does an LVN do in general?

Licensed vocational nurses perform similar healthcare duties, however, with more restrictions compared to those of registered nurses. The most common duty in general is to provide basic care on the bedside of patients. Recording of vital signs of patients such as weight, height, blood pressure, and temperature is performed by an LVN.

What does an LVN do to keep patients comfortable?

Part of the LVN job description is assisting the patient in bathing, dressing, and maintaining personal hygiene. When patients are unable to move in bed, the LVN provides assistance as well as in standing and walking. Patients who need help in eating are also fed by an LVN.

What does an LVN do to assist laboratory testing?

An LVN is responsible for collecting samples to be used for routine laboratory tests. Prompt recording of food and fluid intake is also performed by the LVN. To maintain sanitation in the laboratory, the LVN may also be tasked to perform light cleaning and maintenance on the medical equipment.

What does an LVN do to assist medical doctors?

To assist doctors in routing background check of patients, an LVN gathers health information of the patients such as health history and current health status. These bits of information are used in filling up insurance forms and other referrals.


The LVN also contributes to the overall welfare of the patient by demonstrating to family members the proper way of caring for their outpatients. While patients are still under the care of the hospital, the LVN monitors the possible adverse reactions of patients to the administered medication.

How to become a RN?

To attain the status of a registered nurse, the first stage on how to become a RN is for a student to graduate from a nursing program that typically lasts for four years in a formal education institution. After having finished the curricular program, the nursing graduate must then take the national licensing exam before being allowed for legal practice which is the second state on how to become a RN.

Accelerated RN programs

The increasing demand for a licensed vocational nurse that undergoes a shorter training period resulted to institutions offering accelerated RN programs that require intensive time commitment than a regular nursing program.

For instance, the clinical component of accelerated RN programs typically last for 13 months. This program is ideal for career changers who have gained enough maturity in the working arena but wanted to enter the nursing profession.


The LVN vs RN comparison provides individuals wanting to join the healthcare industry with more options depending on the type of workload they are willing to render on their jobs. For those wanting to perform a more independent yet more demanding duties, a registered nursing program is recommended.

For lighter duties that require lesser periods of training, one may choose to become a licensed vocational nurse. Of course, the RN has better earning potential than the LVN.