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Planning Your Career in Nursing: LVN/LPN, RN, and Everything In Between

Are you interested in helping people? What about moving at a fast pace in a health care setting? This is a career that you can start with as much or as little education as you want. Learn more about different levels of nursing, nursing school and how to become a nurse.

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Different Nursing Career Paths

Unlike many careers where there is one set path to success, nursing is a career where you can become successful at many different levels. Lower levels of nursing require only a year of training. Some people stay as these lower level nurses forever, or you may pursue a higher degree and certification later in your career. Here are different levels of entry-level nursing.


Licensed vocational nurses or licensed practical nurses provide basic medical care under the direction of a registered nurse. The major difference between LVNs and LPNs is where they practice. California and Texas use the title “licensed vocational nurse” while other states use “licensed practical nurse.”

One benefit of a practical or vocational nursing position is that it is a quick way to enter the healthcare field. LPN and LVN are entry-level nursing designations. One can typically become an LPN or LVN through a vocational school or an associate degree program. For example, at Carrington College, students can earn a certificate in practical or vocational nursing in as little as 12 months and an associate degree in as few as 17 months.

Registered Nursing

注册护理是美国最普遍的护理水平。根据美国劳工统计局(BLS)的数据,2020年美国有308.01万名护士在工作。1RNs can have an associate degree in nursing or even a diploma from a hospital program.17

Registered nurses typically provide patient care and help coordinate medical needs with other experts like doctors and surgeons. Registered nurses oversee practical and vocational nurses.

The benefit of pursuing an RN degree instead of an LPN or LVN is that you have less supervision and may be able to earn more than the lower counterparts.

Transitioning from LVN to RN



Why Become a Nurse?

Nursing is a rewarding profession that allows you to help others and work in a fast-paced and high-impact environment. It is also a fairly secure profession. In 2018, there were more than 4 million jobs in 5 nurse occupations, according to the BLS.3This includes LPNs and RNs as well as nurse midwives, nurse anesthetists and nurse practitioners. For lower level nursing, there were751,900 LPNs and LVNs in 2020.4

Similarly, registered nursing is also an in-demand profession.5

One reason nurses may be in such high demand is the nursing shortage the United States is facing. According to the American Association of Colleges of Nursing, researchers project that one million RNs will retire by 2030.6再加上婴儿潮一代人口的老龄化,随着年龄的增长,他们需要更多的医疗护理,这意味着该领域对新护士的需求很大。

Beyond being a stable career, nursing can provide practical benefits such as flexible schedules due to the need for 24-hour healthcare. Shift work, which is common for nurses,7means it can be easier to arrange childcare or split childcare duties with a partner.

According to O*NET online, which is a website managed by the U.S. Department of Labor, registered nursing is a good fit for those who possess:8

  • Service Orientation, or a desire to help others
  • Judgement and decision making skills
  • Complex problem solving skills
  • Critical thinking abilities
  • Persuasion skills to influence others’ decisions
  • Time management skills

Best States to Work as a Nurse

Different states around the country have different requirements for nurses at all levels. As mentioned above, in some states like California and Texas, lower level nurses are called licensed vocational nurses, while in other areas they are licensed practical nurses. Beyond such semantics, there are also differences in the number of jobs available and the wages that are paid in different states. Below are the best states to work as a nurse.

Best States to Work as an LPN/LVN11

States with the highest employment level of licensed practical and licensed vocational nurses in May 2020:

State Employment Employment per thousand jobs
Texas 69,650 5.76
California 71,320 4.34
New York 44,440 5.11
Florida 41,560 4.92
Ohio 40,850 7.95

Best States to Work as an RN12

States with the highest employment level of registered nurses in May 2020:

State Employment Employment per thousand jobs
California 307,060 18.69
Texas 219,330 18.12
Florida 183,130 21.69
New York 178,550 20.54
Pennsylvania 146,640 26.60

Start Your Career in Nursing

Carrington College focuses on small class sizes and hands-on training. Here you’re more than a face in a room. Take the first step on your way to a new career in nursing.

What Do Nurses Do?


Typical job duties of an LPN or LVN include:13

  • Monitor patients’ health—for example, by checking their blood pressure
  • Administer basic patient care, including changing bandages and inserting catheters
  • Provide for the basic comfort of patients, such as helping them bathe or dress
  • Discuss the care they are providing with patients and listen to their concerns
  • Report patients’ status and concerns to registered nurses and doctors
  • Keep records on patients’ health

另一方面,注册护士在工作时有更大的权力,需要更少的监督。根据美国劳工统计局的说法,大多数注册护士都是医生和其他医疗专家团队的一部分。一些注册护士负责监督执业护士、护理助理和家庭健康助理。14Specific job duties will vary by employer and employment setting, for example an RN working in a residential care facility would have different duties than a nurse working in an emergency department.

Some typical job duties of an RN are:14

  • Assess patients’ conditions
  • Record patients’ medical histories and symptoms
  • Observe patients and record the observations
  • Administer patients’ medicines and treatments
  • Set up plans for patients’ care or contribute information to existing plans
  • Consult and collaborate with doctors and other healthcare professionals
  • Operate and monitor medical equipment
  • Help perform diagnostic tests and analyze the results
  • Teach patients and their families how to manage illnesses or injuries
  • Explain what to do at home after treatment

Where do Nurses Work?

Obviously, nurses primarily work in healthcare settings, but their main employers are more varied than one might assume. For example, the majority of LPNs and LVNs work in nursing care facilities11,whereas RNs typically work in hospitals.12

According to the BLS Industries with the highest levels11of employment of LVNs and LPNs are:

Industry Employment Percent of industry employment
Nursing Care Facilities (Skilled Nursing Facilities) 199,760 13.02
Offices of Physicians 88,300 3.41
Home Health Care Services 84,460 5.65
General Medical and Surgical Hospitals 80,820 1.44
Continuing Care Retirement Communities and Assisted Living Facilities for the Elderly 53,280 5.66

For registered nurses, common employers look a bit different, with a higher emphasis on working with doctors, but still with plenty of working with those who need skilled nursing care and the elderly.

Industries with the highest levels of employment for RNs are:12

Industry Employment Percent of industry employment
General Medical and Surgical Hospitals 1,729,200 30.90
Offices of Physicians 192,300 7.42
Home Health Care Services 169,630 11.35
Outpatient Care Centers 150,380 15.66
Nursing Care Facilities (Skilled Nursing Facilities) 143,250 9.34

How to Become a Nurse

Becoming a nurse typically takes some education, perhaps a certifying exam, and state licensure. There are different ways to become a nurse depending on which level you would like to become.

How to Become an LPN/LVN

To become an LPN or LVN follow these steps:15

  1. Attend a school approved by your state’s board of nursing.This means it has approval from the licensing board in your state. In order to be licensed, a nurse must complete a program that is board approved.
  2. Take and pass the NCLEX-PN.LVNs or LPNs need to takethe National Council Licensure Examination for Practical Nurses (NCLEX-PN). This is a licensing test for practical nurses.
  3. Apply for licensure with your state.可能会有费用和一些文书工作,但要求因州而异。

How to Become an RN

For those who want to get into the field quickly, you may wonder, how to become an RN fast. RNs can have a wide range of schooling, so there are options when choosing how to become an RN. The following are the steps needed to become an RN, though licensure requirements vary by state.16

  1. Complete an accredited nursing program.和实际护理一样,你的护理教育符合国家要求是很重要的。注册护士可能只有护理学的副学士学位,但许多人也会攻读护理学(BSN)学士学位。There are also RN-to-BSN programs to help you obtain your BSN after you have started working.
  2. Take and pass the NCLEX-RN.Next you will need to take the RN test, similar to the NCLEX-PN. This will test your general nursing knowledge.
  3. 获得国家许可。Similar to LPNs, RNs need to be licensed by the state. Check with your state board of nursing for specific requirements.


While some programs may offer some courses online, ultimately it is not possible to entirely complete nursing school online, at any nursing level. All levels of nursing will require skill labs where you learn hands-on methods of treatment. These labs cannot be recreated in an online school.

What to Look for in a Nursing School

Choosing the right school to study nursing at is a big decision. The right training can open doors for better jobs and possibly salary down the line. While many institutions may offer nursing degrees, it’s important that you look for the one that fits your goals and lifestyle.

A few core things to look for when considering nursing programs include:

  • Small class sizes。当你学习成为一名护士的时候,你希望得到老师的个别关注。
  • Hands-on training.When dealing with tasks like drawing blood and administering care, it’s important that you have time to practice those skills hands-on.
  • Externships or career training。大多数项目包括在你毕业前在现实世界中学习的机会!You’ll earn an impressive experience that looks great on your resume.
  • Cost。教育是一项重大投资,但它是对你未来的投资。在卡灵智力对突尼斯直播比赛顿学院和许多其他机构,我们参与了大多数财政援助项目,包括联邦和州,以及私人融资。符合条件的学生可以获得学生贷款、助学金和奖学金。有关当前学费的完整信息,请参阅学术目录。

Discover Your Career as a Nurse


What Will I Learn in Carrington College Nursing Programs?


Registered Nursing

  • BIO 121 Human Anatomy and Physiology I with LabStudents in this course study structure and function of the human body. Topics include cells, tissues and integumentary, skeletal, muscular and nervous systems. Lectures are supported by required lab exercises.

Practical Nursing

  • MATH 104 Math for Dosage CalculationsThis course focuses on development of the math skills necessary to accurately calculate dosages for medication administration
  • NUR 122 Medication AdministrationThe course focuses on development of the knowledge, skills and attitudes to safely administer medications. Key concepts include therapeutic communication, health teaching, preparation and administration of medication by the topical, oral, nasogastric, intradermal, subcutaneous and intramuscular routes. Students are introduced to the administration of intravenous fluids and medications within the scope of the Nurse Practice Act. Client monitoring and the legal implication of documenting medication administration are incorporated. Focus is placed on meeting the holistic needs of clients throughout the lifespan.
  • NUR 158.1 Community and Mental Health Nursing本课程包括理论和临床部分,在护理经历精神、心理和精神障碍的患者时,结合治疗沟通、文化方面、社会经济问题和批判性思维的使用。重点是利用护理过程来确定和优先考虑病人的卫生保健需求,预防和工作作为一个跨学科的卫生保健团队的成员。

Vocational Nursing

  • VN 103 Foundations of Nursing 2This course introduces skills related to surgical asepsis, wound care and intervention techniques for assisting clients in meeting basic nutrition, elimination and oxygenation needs. Awareness of personal dignity, cultural and spiritual aspects, ethical or legal significance and required communication are integrated with each skill. Interpretation of drug labels, common medical abbreviations used in dosage calculations and general medication administration principles prepare students to administer medications safely. Guided laboratory experience complements theory.
  • VN 301 Introduction to Maternity and Pediatric NursingThis course addresses nursing care of pregnant women, women in labor and during birth and newborn care. Application of the nursing process and principles of growth and development of children is also covered. Applicable skills and theoretical concepts are applied in clinical and laboratory settings.

Nursing Bridge

  • NUR 222 Transition LPN/RN– Professional Nursing Health Assessment In this course, licensed practical nurses (LPNs) acquire knowledge, skills and attitudes to begin the transition to the role of registered nurse (RN). Key concepts include Gordon’s Functional Health Patterns to organize health assessment skills, therapeutic communication, values clarification, principles of adult learning, the nursing process, nursing theory, informatics and trends, evidence-based practice and legal/ethical issues. This course provides further development of the student nurse as a professional provider of care, professional member within the discipline and professional manager of care within the scope of the nursing practice. In the lab, students develop advanced bedside assessment skills and devise nursing care plans for clients with predictable and unpredictable health care needs. Prerequisites: Current Practical Nursing License.


  • RN 150 LVN to RN Transition – Theory本课程介绍并使学生熟悉注册护士专业的理念和概念框架。讨论了注册护士作为照顾者、教师和保健团队成员的角色期望。正确使用护理程序,批判性思维和技术技能是在照顾不同文化的客户的整个生命周期强调。
  • RN 225 Advanced Medical/Surgical Nursing 1 – ClinicalThis course provides clinical experience in acute care hospitals and agencies and facilitates the application of advanced knowledge to include comprehensive scientific principles and integration of the nursing process. Students utilize the nursing process to provide nursing care, teaching, support and rehabilitation to clients across the lifespan experiencing high risk/unstable conditions. Simulation labs foster the development of critical thinking skills.
  • RN 250 Leadership Management 2本课程是为学生承担注册护士领导/管理角色的进一步准备,重点关注在临床实践中影响护理管理/领导、跨学科功能、法律/伦理困境和委托功能的专业问题。理论概念的应用,批判性思维和解决问题的强调,是提供称职的护理照顾的客户群体在各种各样的卫生保健设置。

Find Carrington Nursing Programs Near Me

If you are ready to start your education as a nurse, or to advance your career as a nurse by advancing to an RN, learn more about the different programs Carrington College has to offer or request more information.

Associate Degree in Nursing


Nursing Bridge(LPN to RN)

Practical Nursing/Vocational Nursing

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