It doesn’t take long for licensed practical nurses to realize that the LPN salary doesn't match up with the registered nurse (RN) salary. The LPN or licensed vocational nurse (LVN) salary is sometimes significantly lower than the RN average salary, even in instances where the LPN and RN have the same job responsibilities. The discrepancy is due primarily to a difference in education and training. Although there are many other reasons to pursue certification as an RN, the difference in average LPN salary is often a motivating factor for LPNs who choose to enroll in an LPN to BSN degree program.
Returning to school for a BSN degree definitely requires some investment of money and time, but the monetary payoff of that investment is significant, even within the first year.
Potential Increase of $10,000 over LPN Salary in First Year After Graduation
According to Payscale.com, the LPN salary for someone just entering the field ranges between $27,000 and $39,000 a year. Compare that with the entry-level RN salary of $38,000 to $52,000 and the average entry-level BSN salary of $48,000 year, and it becomes clear why earning a BSN is an attractive option. That is a minimum difference of $11,000 and a maximum difference of $25,000. Although there are some higher paid LPN jobs, most licensed practical nurses or licensed vocational nurses top out at around $50,000 in the United States, even after 20 or more years of experience. BSNs, on the other hand, can earn over $70,000 a year after 20 or more years of experience.
Not only are BSN salaries higher than LPN salaries at each level of experience, but the rate of salary increase is also significantly higher. From entry level to 1-4 years of experience, a BSN can expect a salary increase of about 12%, versus the LPN salary increase of only about 2.5%. From entry level to 10 years of experience, the BSN can expect a salary increase of about 32 %, as compared with the LPN salary increase of only 14%.
Specialize to Increase Salary Potential
Becoming a BSN also opens up more opportunities to specialize, and each specialty has its own salary range. Depending on the specialty, a BSN graduate could increase his or her salary by $10,000 or more. For example, the average Intensive Care Unit nurse makes approximately $68,000, whereas a Psychiatric nurse makes around $57,000. You can expect these salaries to increase by years of experience as well.
Although there are some leadership opportunities available for LPNs, most are reserved for RNs, and more specifically, for RNs with a BSN. In fact, many supervisory and administrative positions require a minimum of a Bachelor’s degree. Charge nurses can expect to make around $66,000, while a Clinical Nurse Manager makes an average of almost $80,000 a year.
BSN Paves the Way for More Advanced Specialties
The salary benefits of becoming a BSN continue for nurses who take advantage of more educational advancement. Obtaining a Masters of Nursing, which is far easier for the student who already has a BSN, makes it possible for nurses to become Certified Nurse Midwives, Nurse Practitioners, and Nurse Anesthetists. Nurses in these more advanced specialties will see a significant increase over the LPN salary. For example, entry level Certified Nurse Midwives earn between $58,000 and $78,000 a year. Certified Nurse Anesthetists can expect to earn anywhere from $97,000 to almost $140,000. A Masters of Nursing also opens up the potential for faculty and administrative positions, and while sometimes less lucrative than the advanced nursing specialties, these positions also carry salary increases.
Additional Resources for LPN Salary