Last Updated on January 26, 2023 by Fola Shade
If you’re already a CNA and considering a career change, a CNA to LPN bridge program online can be your best bet. CNAs already have a great deal of basic nursing and patient-care expertise, and that means they are ready to move into an LPN program that will build on their skills and knowledge. Even better news is that the CNA to LPN programs can be taken as an online/hybrid option, which frees precious time for those who are actively working in the field and have other responsibilities to juggle in addition to their work and education. If you’re ready to advance your career and become a nurse, this guide will help you understand the basics of online nursing programs—specifically CNA to LPN bridge programs online. Let’s take a look at what to expect.
Best Online Nursing Programs to Go from CNA to LPN in 2021
Choosing the best CNA to LPN online nursing program can be tough, especially given the wealth of programs out there. We aim to make that process easier for you by narrowing down the options to a few of the best. To that end, we looked at online CNA to LPN bridge programs for accreditation, flexibility, affordability, and many other factors. We spotlight three of these below to give you an idea of what you should be looking for during your search. Let’s see who stands out in the group of CNA to LPN online nursing programs in 2021.
If you’re ready to make the move to being an LPN in as little as 12 months, the hybrid LPN Program at Herzing University can help. Students can take some general classwork online, while attending other classes and gaining hands-on training at one of six campuses—Akron, Birmingham, Kenosha, Brookfield/Milwaukee, Orlando, and Tampa. Get started by transferring up to 27 credits into the program, and plan on learning the fundamentals of nursing, adult health, psychology, and health and illness throughout the lifespan. Students will take required courses such as Fundamentals of Nursing with Lab and Clinical, LPN Practical Experience, Nursing Specialty, and NCLEX-PN Exam Prep. To be considered for enrollment, students must produce transcripts that reflect a cumulative minimum GPA of 2.0, the minimum composite score on the current Test of Essential Academic Skills, or a minimum score of 19 on the ACT. Anyone with a 2.3 or greater GPA won’t have to take an entrance test. Classes start on a rolling basis, and currently the entrance fees are waived.
The top educator of nursing graduates in Minnesota and Florida, Rasmussen College offers the Practical Nursing Diploma, which can be earned in as little as one year. This hybrid program offers online classes alongside an on-campus nursing simulation laboratory and clinical settings. At the Tampa campus, students can even choose between weekday, evening, or weekend courses. To help students complete the program within the appropriate timeframe, the college offers tutors, academic advisors, expert faculty members, 24/7 tech support, and financial aid options. The program starts four times per year. Most campuses have no wait list so qualified students can start their journey from CNA to LPN soon after their admission is approved. Small class sizes foster a supportive environment. The school is accredited by the Higher Education Commission, while the program is accredited by the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN).
Students in the Practical Nursing Program at Unitek College in California will enjoy completing their first module entirely online and moving into the on-the-ground courses as their studies progress. This in-person work will be at the Reno campus, where students use high-fidelity simulators and sim-view technology to experience an ICU unit and furnished patient rooms.
Students moving from CNA to LPN can expect to learn about nursing fundamentals, pharmacology, medical-surgical (theory and clinical), maternal and newborn, pediatrics, and professional development. All courses are capped at between 30 to 40 students, thus allowing for more one-on-one interaction with peers and professors. Admission begins with an interview, career planning session, proof of high school diploma or GED, entrance examination, application for admission, and signed enrollment agreement.
Salary and Job Benefits of Going from CNA to LPN
CNAs and LPNs are needed in every town across the nation, which means job security is good for both professions. The jump in job demand is just one percent from CNA to LPN, but the increased responsibility reflects an average bump in pay of almost $18,000. Given the higher training of LPNs, more opportunities are open to them, such as jobs in particular hospital areas like the emergency department and even the ability to work as a travel nurse. CNA vs LPN Salary
CNA Median Annual Pay (2019)
LPN Median Annual Pay (2019)
Annual Pay Increase
+$17,840 (37.6%) CNA vs. LPN Job Growth
CNA Job Growth Rate (2019-2029)
LPN Job Growth Rate (2019-2029)
Job Growth Increase
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics
What Is Attending a CNA to LPN Bridge Program Online Like?
A CNA already has a strong foundation of medical knowledge and skills that will help when they move into the LPN program. Online CNA to LPN bridge programs can be found at community colleges, trade schools, and even hospitals and high schools. Those offered as an online/hybrid option include virtual instruction on topics that don’t need hands-on work, such as ethics or basic anatomy. If students are near a campus, they might be expected to complete in-person simulated courses. Some schools roll those hands-on requirements into their clinical requirements, which can be completed at an approved facility close to the student’s location—in fact, it might be right where they are currently working. Regardless of the online CNA to LPN bridge program they attend, students can expect online courses to have the same rigor and to demand the same commitment as in-person courses. To learn more about going from a CNA to an LPN, check out our LPN page.
What nursing skills and knowledge will I gain in a CNA to LPN online program?
Though each program offers its own structure and will have varying electives, the core courses and topics in CNA to LPN online nursing programs remain the same. Expect to take courses in anatomy and physiology, basic nursing skills, nutrition, emergency care, pharmacology, and more. Key skills and information you will learn during the course of your education include:
- How to apply basic principles of nursing to determine the appropriate care and actions for patients and their families.
- How to fully participate with a nursing team in a variety of tasks, including conducting assessments and planning, implementing, and evaluating nursing care for patients.
- The best ways to safely implement evidence-based practices in the nursing setting and to keep abreast of trends and emerging technology.
- The expectations for displaying responsibility and accountability as a nurse by meeting ethical and legal standards.
- How to use effective communication skills to provide assistance to patients and families within the scope of your LPN practice.
FAQs About Going from CNA to LPN in an Online Program
How long will it take me to go from CNA to LPN online?
That depends upon a number of factors, such as whether you prefer full-time or part-time study or whether you choose an accelerated option. Most CNA to LPN bridge programs take from nine months to a year of full-time study and can take up to two years of part-time study. Keep in mind that this is the program itself; you will need additional time to study and take the NCLEX-PN to become licensed as an LPN.
How much do online CNA to LPN bridge programs cost?
The cost of your LPN program depends greatly on several factors, including how long it takes you to complete it, how much funding you’ve secured to pay tuition, and of course the cost of tuition itself. Some schools have a flat rate for all online learners, while others charge in-state tuition to give online students from within the state a bit of financial incentive to attend that school. Even the type of school matters; a private school tends to be more expensive than a public one. Here are the tuition rates at a few schools to give you a better picture of what to expect as you plan your move from CNA to LPN.
Montgomery Community College
Total Credits: 34
Total Credits: 56
Midlands Technical College
Practical Nursing (LPN) Diploma
Total Credits: 44
Will I get credit for the CNA classes and training I’ve already completed and be able to apply them towards my LPN program?
That depends. If you took full-credit college courses in pursuit of your CNA, those will likely transfer over to your LPN program. However, most CNA programs are very short and result in a certificate of completion, which might not provide any credits to transfer. To be sure, speak with the financial aid officer and academic advisor at the school you’re planning to attend. They can look at your transcripts and help you answer the question about transfer credits before you enroll in a CNA to LPN bridge program.
Will online CNA to LPN programs qualify me to take the NCLEX-PN exam?
Most LPN programs are designed to prepare you for this important exam. Some programs might even include courses that focus on getting ready for the test through a review of skills and knowledge. Always ensure that your school does, in fact, qualify you for the exam. This is a very important point to be certain of before enrollment, as taking the NCLEX-PN is necessary to earn the license that allows you to be employed as a nurse.
The Importance of Accreditation for CNA to LPN Online Programs
When choosing the best school, either online or on campus, one of the most important points to consider is accreditation. Accreditation means a school or program has gone through a rigorous evaluation by an independent accrediting body and was found to meet certain standards of education. These standards ensure that your degree, diploma, or certificate will be accepted by employers or other institutions of higher learning as a valid credential.
Regional or national accreditation is awarded to the school itself and focuses on the institution as a whole. Programmatic accreditation focuses only on programs in a certain field. LPN programs are accredited by the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN). To determine if a school has regional accreditation, visit the Department of Education’s Database of Accredited Postsecondary Institutions and Programs.
Financial Aid for Your Online CNA to LPN Program
You might want to earn your LPN to garner more responsibility and a higher paycheck, but what will it cost to get there? Financial aid can help cut down on tuition costs to make your CNA to LPN bridge program more affordable. Here are some sources of help:
Scholarships & Grants
These are financial aid awards that don’t have to be paid back; this is as close to “free money” as you can get for your education. Scholarships can be found on a variety of websites or directly from organizations related to nursing. Use our scholarships guide for LPN students to help you find the scholarships and grants best for you, and don’t forget to apply early to improve your chances.
These loans come with low interest rates and often with deferred interest, making it easier to borrow the money you need for costs that other financial aid doesn’t cover. Apply for loans when you get your tuition bill after scholarships and grants are applied. To learn more, check out our student loan guide.
Other Financial Aid Options
There might be other options for financial aid as well, such as work-study or internships. Sometimes employers will help pay for a student’s education; check with your employer to see if this is included in your benefits package. Keep in mind that some options, such as work-study, might not translate to online learning. Check with your school for options that might work for you.Learn more about securing financial aid for your online CNA to LPN program
Looking Ahead: Advanced Nursing Degrees After Going from CNA to LPN
Once you’ve moved from CNA to LPN, that doesn’t have to be a final stop for your robust nursing career. There are more steps you can take to advance your career in the healthcare field. These programs are offered in an online or hybrid format to help you get there.
- Online LPN to BSN ProgramsOnce you have the LPN, you can move forward into a bachelor’s in nursing program. By building on the credits earned during your LPN and the experience you’ve gained as a practicing LPN, this program boosts your options for advancing into positions in the healthcare system with added responsibility. To learn more, visit our online LPN to BSN programs page.
- Online LPN to RN ProgramsLPNs work under the supervision of registered nurses. RNs have more autonomy in handling patients, including the ability to order tests, administer medications, and work closely with physicians to create a treatment plan. Earning a registered nursing degree can open doors to higher pay and challenging positions. Look at our online LPN to RN programs page for more.
- Online RN to MSN ProgramsRegistered nurses who want to move into advanced practice, management, research, or education can earn their master’s degree and make those dreams a reality. The master’s program is often entirely online and is designed for working registered nurses. Visit our online RN to MSN page to learn more.
From CNA to LPN: Taking the Next Step
Current Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) might be able to find new job opportunities and responsibilities by completing a Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) program. In general, the LPN is considered an entry-level nursing job and the first step towards more challenging roles in the nursing. But what’s the best way to take that first step?
Let’s start by looking at some fast facts to illustrate the commonalities and differences between these two positions:
From CNA to LPN: Fast Facts
|Required Education||Completion of CNA program; pass a state competency exam||Completion of LPN program; pass the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-PN)|
|Training Length||Several weeks or longer||One year or longer|
|Median Pay (2018)*||$28,530 ($13.72 an hour)||$46,240 ($22.23 an hour)|
|Job Outlook (2018-2028)*||9% growth||11% growth|
Source: The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
CNAs and LPNs both provide basic medical care to patients and help them with daily activities, like dressing, bathing, and eating. They may both take/report vital signs and discuss care with patients and their families; LPNs may perform more medically focused tasks like assisting with wound care and laboratory specimen collecting, or administering medication/IVs. While there is some crossover between the two jobs, the LPN generally has a higher salary, more autonomy, and increased chances for promotion or supervisory opportunities. LPNs also have the opportunity to apply their skills and experience towards specialized certification (such as in IV therapy).
To become an LPN, you must complete additional education and pass a licensing examination. If you already have CNA certification, you can apply your experience and training in a CNA to LPN bridge program. However, it can be difficult to fit more classes into your schedule, especially if you are working as a nursing assistant. In this case, some CNA to LPN online coursework might be a more convenient option to consider.
CNA to LPN Bridge Programs Online
First, it is important to note that there are no 100% online LPN programs. All nursing programs contain laboratories and clinical components that must be completed in person. However, nowadays students will find that many programs offer courses in a hybrid format. This means that students are given the option to take some coursework remotely, such as lecture courses, seminars, or general education classes (like math or science).
A CNA to LPN bridge program is intended to provide the additional training and education that a CNA would need to pass the NCLEX-PN exam and become a licensed practical nurse. As expected, these programs require prior nursing experience and education before entry, but this is intended to result in a lighter course load and faster completion time. CNA to LPN bridge programs are available at community colleges and technical schools, with daytime and evening hours (in addition to hybrid format classes) to suit a range of schedules; some schools provide the option to earn an associate’s or bachelor’s degree along with career certification. While pursuing higher education, an LPN may also complete additional coursework to become a Registered Nurse (RN).
Online LPN Programs: Requirements
To gain admission into a CNA to LPN program, students will likely need to satisfy criteria like the following, whether they plan on taking online courses or not:
- Active and valid CNA certification (the exact title of this certification may vary from state to state)
- Minimum amount of job experience
- Letter(s) of recommendation
- High school diploma or equivalent
- Passing scores on basic skills assessment tests (e.g., TABE, TEAS)
- Satisfactory GPA / passing grades in chemistry and biology classes
- Immunization documentation
- Criminal background check
- Drug screening
- Basic life support / CPR certification
Specific requirements will vary from college to college.
Online LPN Programs: What Can I Take?
While you will have to complete laboratories and clinical units/simulations in person, you might be able to complete a significant portion of your LPN courses online. Availability will vary by campus, but might include online or hybrid options for subjects like these:
- Nursing fundamentals
- Medical terminology
- Human anatomy and physiology
- Psychological development
- Communication for nursing
- Medication administration
- General education, like English composition, algebra or statistics
In order to become a CNA, students usually need to complete state-specific exams, but the requirements vary between states. In order to become an LPN, students must complete a national exam known as the National Council Licensure Examination for Practical Nurses, or NCLEX-PN. This exam is given nationwide and is standard for all students seeking the LPN designation.
According to the National Council of the State Boards of Nursing, before you can take the NCLEX-PN, you will need an authorization to test. This can be obtained by applying to your board of nursing or regulatory body. Once you have received an authorization to test, you can schedule your exam, which is administered by Pearson VUE in many different locations around the country. On exam day, you will have 5 hours to complete the exam, which contains at minimum eighty five questions.
Once you have completed an LPN training program and passed the NCLEX-PN, you can then apply for licensure in the state in which you will practice as an LPN. Contact your state board of nursing to find out how to apply for licensure.
Working as an LPN
Training to become an LPN is a bit more strenuous than training to become a CNA; however, for the increase in professional responsibility, scope of practice, and pay, it is well worth the effort. Online CNA to LPN programs can make the process a bit simpler by allowing you to complete the classroom portion of your LPN training from the comfort and convenience of your own home. Becoming an LPN through an online program is a wonderful way to advance your nursing career.
Other Transitions to LPN Programs
In addition to the CNA to LPN career path, the Medical Assistant (MA) to LPN transfer is the second most common transition. For those working as MA and wanting to become an LPN you must complete a Medical Assistant program, fulfilling the work requirements. Then you can seek out a certified LPN program in your state. It is often required to have CPR certification, as well as personal medical records indicating all immunizations are up to date.