The health care field is one of the fastest growing in the world, and it's not hard to see why. Most Western countries, particularly the U.S., have an aging population. This trend will continue for at least the next three or four decades. With so many jobs in the health care field, the biggest question is what is the best way to enter it? For many people, the answer is a nursing education.
There are several ways to go about obtaining a nursing education. The three most common are to become either a CNA (certified nursing assistant), LPN (licensed practical nurse), or RN (registered nurse). All three have their advantages and disadvantages, so let's take a closer look at each.
The CNA position is by far the easiest one in the nursing field to obtain. In fact, in most cases you are not even required to attend a nursing school. All that is usually required is about 3 weeks of training and a certification. Once training is complete and you are certified, you begin with a starting pay of about $10 to $15 an hour.
For many people, the CNA position is a stepping stone to becoming an actual nurse. This can be accomplished in one of two ways; you can either go straight to LPN school right after becoming a CNA, or you can work as a CNA for a while (around a year or so) and apply that experience toward a 'fast track' LPN program.
The LPN position is a very stable and well-paying position that requires only about two years of nursing education after completion of high school. For a lot of people, the LPN career is very appealing because it strikes a good balance between an important and lucrative career with only a couple years at a nursing school. Those completing an LPN program can expect to start out earning somewhere in the low to mid five figures plus benefits. And, if you're ambitious and want to continue on toward becoming an RN, you can do so by going to school part-time while earning a nice living working as an LPN.
The RN is the pinnacle of the nursing world. The next step up from here would be medical school. The RN is the supervisor over the LPNs and CNAs, so this is a position with greater responsibility and can sometimes become more stressful. But with that added responsibility is a nice pay increase over an LPN. There are a couple ways to become an RN; obtain a two year associate degree from a nursing school, or a four year bachelor's degree in nursing. As mentioned above, many who are already LPNs choose to further their nursing education by going on to become RNs. The advantage to having LPN experience is it allows you to more easily supervise the LPNs that will work under you, because you will have a better idea of what should be expected of them.