Registered nurses (RNs) typically earn higher salaries than licensed practical nurses (LPNs). The salary difference is mainly due to the difference in responsibility between the two jobs. RNs generally have more responsibility than LPNs. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, RNs are often responsible for their own activities as well as those of others, including LPNs. The various certifications given to RNs and LPNs demonstrate a difference in responsibility levels. The higher level of education usually attained by RNs also plays into the equation.
Registered nurses with less than a year of experience report a salary range of $38,100 to $52,600, while LPNs with the same amount of experience have a salary range of $27,200 to $39,600, according to PayScale.com. This difference in wages continues as RNs and LPNs experience increases. As of June 2010, RNs with 20-plus years of experience have a salary range of $50,400 to $72,200, while LPNs have a salary range of $33,900 to $47,300.
Education also plays a large role in determining the salaries of LPNs and RNs. LPNs only need to complete an associate’s degree LPN program to attain their license, while most RNs achieve a nursing baccalaureate. Some RNs complete an associate’s degree like LPNs. As of June 2010, those that do still earn more than LPNs. LPNs with an associate's degree in nursing have a salary range of $26,600 to $45,000, while RNs with the same degree have a salary range of $45,000 to $61,500 according to PayScale.com.
RNs may choose a specialty area in which they may achieve additional certification. Those who earn the Oncology Certified Nurse (OCN) have a salary range of $55,000 to $74,500, according to PayScale.com. As of June 2010, RNs with the Certified Critical Care Registered Nurse (CCRN) credential have slightly higher salaries with a range of $59,600 to $77,200. Certified Hospice and Palliative Nurses (CHPNs) report that their salaries generally fall between $50,000 and $67,900.
LPNs also may choose a specialty area and a certification. According to PayScale.com, LPNs with the certified phlebotomy technician (PBT) credential have a salary range of $25,400 to $39,300, while those with a certified nursing assistant (CNA) license have a salary range of $23,500 to $31,300. Some LPNs also become basic emergency medical technicians (EMTs); those who do have salaries that generally fall between $25,400 and $47,400, as of June 2010.
Both RNs and LPNs typically receive some type of benefit package along with their salary. As of June 2010, the most commonly reported benefits received by both RNs and LPNs are paid holidays and vacation time, a 401k plan and paid sick leave. Some RNs and LPNs also receive life and/or disability insurance or tuition reimbursement, according to PayScale.com. For both RNs and LPNs, a flexible work schedule or 403b plans are the least commonly reported benefits.