Why do RN nurses make more money than LPN nurses?

The United States is facing a severe shortage of nurses due to a wide range of factors that existed even before the pressure placed on the healthcare system by the pandemic. One of these factors is salary, which varies from state to state and depending on the type of license one has.

Licensed practical nurses earn almost $30,000 less per year on average than registered nurses. It comes down to tthe responsibilities of each profession, scope of practice and to compensate for additional demands to obtain the permit.

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Salaries of Registered Nurses vs. Licensed Practical Nurses

In 2021, the Bureau of Labor Statistics found that the average annual salary for Licensed Vocational Nurses (LVN) and Licensed Practical Nurses (LPN) was $48,070 per year. This equates to $23.11 per hour. At the ends of the pay scales, the top 10% had earnings over $63,790, but the bottom 10% under $37,150 per year.

According to government data, the highest-paying states in 2021 were California, Alaska, Washington, Massachusetts and Nevada. Besides location, the employer the LVN or LPN works for can also make a difference. Government-employed nurses had a median salary of $52,210, compared to those working for doctors’ offices who earned an average of $46,870.

Registered nurses (RNs), on the other hand, had a median salary of $77,600 in 2021, working at $37.31 per hour. The top 10% earn more than $120,250 a year and the bottom 10% earn less than $59,450.

California tops the list of highest-paying states again, followed by Hawaii, Oregon, Washington DC and Alaska. Similarly, those who worked for the government had the highest average salary of $85,970 while the lowest median salary, $61,780 per year, went to nurses working in education services.

Why do RN nurses make more money than LPN nurses?

Although the duties of RN nurses and LPN nurses are similar and may overlap, an RN nurse has a broader scope of practice and more responsibilities. An LPN nurse typically serves as support staff for RN nurses and physicians. Registered nurses can also work in more specialized roles dealing with specific types of patients or areas of medicine.

In addition, becoming an RN nurse requires more training. Those who choose to study for a career in an LPN nurse can typically complete in 12 months. However, becoming an RN nurse, it will take about 4 years to earn a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN), the degree generally preferred by employers.

These factors go into the calculation of RN nurses earning significantly more than LPN nurses on average. By the end of the decade, both professions are expected to grow by about 6%. with approximately 203,200 RN and 58,800 IAA openings each year.

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