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Fast Track Your Nursing Career by Becoming a CNA or LPN

  • Article by:Health Career Center
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Lots of people dream of working in nursing, where job prospects and attractive salaries seem to grow on trees. But many are scared off by what they assume will be expensive, drawn-out education and certification processes.

We’re happy to report that’s simply not the case. Breaking into nursing doesn’t require spending the better part of a decade in college while racking up a small fortune in student loan debt. Instead, you can become a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) or Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) and kick off your career as quickly (and with as little cost to you) as possible.

How do you know if either career path is right for you? Here’s a quick primer to help you decide, courtesy of HealthCareerCenter.com. When you’re finished reading, be sure to visit us so you can see all of the newest CNA and LPN job openings in your area.

Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA): The fast, affordable route
One of the fastest ways to get your foot in the nursing door is by becoming a CNA. With only a high school diploma or GED, you can qualify to take training courses and earn your certification in as little as four to six weeks. Classes are relatively inexpensive, and what’s more, you can reduce those costs even further by applying for a wide variety of available scholarships.

You probably won’t have to wait long to find a job once you’re certified: There is already a shortage of qualified CNAs available in the labor market, and the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics expects a 20 percent growth in the field by 2020.

The work of a CNA is ever-changing. Your main role is to help patients with basic care (bathing, serving meals, dressing, etc.), which requires compassion, patience, and understanding. But you’ll also work with technology, including medical record software. Above all, your work will require excellent communication skills, given that you’ll be a vital link between nurse, patient, and other care team members.

Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN): Become a nurse in just one year
Becoming an LPN (also known as a Licensed Vocational Nurse or Practical Nurse) is another fast way to enter the nursing field. LPN certification takes a slightly longer time to earn, usually over the course of one or two years. But on the upside, certification is all you need — you don’t have to earn your Bachelor’s degree until you want to become a Registered Nurse.

In the meantime, you’ll take home a median salary of $41,000 per year. That number is sure to rise as more LPNs retire and the general U.S. population grows older, requiring more care. And like CNAs, you’ll also enjoy good job prospects, assuming economists are right about their prediction that the field will continue growing faster than the national average.

Most LPN’s work in healthcare facilities, where duties include assisting doctors and registered nurses, providing basic care, such as taking vital signs, changing dressings, observing patients, and communicating with families. LPNs also can find work outside of traditional healthcare settings, such as in home and business settings where they can be hired to provide basic care and health consultations.

Of course, whether you decide to be an LPN or CNA, you’ll get to enjoy the one job perk that all nurses cherish: The ability to help people in need. If you have a natural gift for caring and are willing to work hard, you’re sure to have a long and happy nursing career — probably much sooner than you think.

The information in this article originally appeared on NurseJournal.org. To read the original article, click here.