Skip to main content
Carrington College Blog

Meet The Different Types of Nurses

May 3, 2016

If you are interested in learning about nursing careers, there are some important things to know about different types of nurses. If you want to know how to become a nurse, the course will vary depending on which nursing career path you want to take. Three common nursing career options are: certified nursing assistant, licensed practical nurse, or registered nurse. If you’ve been asking yourself, “what type of nurse should I be?” take a look at the following infographic for some key facts about these careers!

types of nurses


Licensed Practical Nurse/Licensed Vocational Nurse (LPN/LVN)

A Licensed Practical Nurse/Licensed Vocational Nurse (LPN/LVN) works under the guidance of a registered nurse or a licensed physician or dentist in a variety of health care settings.

LPN/LVN Job Duties

  • Take vital signs
  • Prepare and gives injections
  • Collect samples for laboratory testing
  • Change bandages, and more

Typically, LPNs/LVNs take shifts throughout the day in order to make sure that a patient is being cared for 24/7.

How to Become an LPN/LVN1

To become an LPN/LVN, you can earn a Certificate of Achievement in Practical or Vocational Nursing. Once you complete your Practical Nursing or Vocational Nursing program, you would then take the National Council Licensure Examination for Practical Nurses (NCLEX-PN)2. Then, when you obtain your LPN/LVN license, you can begin working in the nursing field.


If you are working as an LPN and you want to further your career opportunities, you can join a Nursing Bridge program for LPNs/LVNs. A Nursing Bridge program offers LPNs/LVNs the chance to become registered nurses (RN) while already working as an LPN/LVN. As a person who has already attained licensure as an LPN/LVN, you have more experience than a traditional student in an RN program. A bridge program will help you go from being a working LPN/LVN to teaching you the skills and education you need in order to become an RN. Read more about the difference between an LPN/LVN and RN.

Registered Nurse (RN)

RN Job Duties

Registered nurse job duties are generally more involved than nursing assistants or LPNs. A registered nurse is often a supervisor of LPNs and nursing assistants in hospitals or other medical care setting, making sure that patients are receiving the care they need. Registered nurse duties can include:

  • Giving medication to patients
  • Checking vital signs such as temperature and blood pressure
  • Changing dressings or bandages
  • Talking with family members to update on their loved one’s condition
  • Monitoring the condition of the patients they are treating

Registered nurses are responsible for charting the care that they provide, and for indicating how the patient is doing over time.

How to Become a Registered Nurse3

The registered nurse degree generally required is an Associate of Science degree in Registered Nursing. This is a nursing degree that is earned in approximately two years of full-time study. To become a registered nurse, you must pass the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses4. While it is possible to further your education and obtain a Bachelor of Science in Nursing, many people stop their education at the RN level and begin working in the field.

What Type of Nurse Should You Be?

Whichever nursing specialties you’re interested in, there are concrete ways to achieve your goals and begin working in the medical field. Generally, the career trajectory requires completing vocational training, passing a state licensure exam, and then applying for nursing jobs. If you’re not sure which path may be right for you, you may wish to consider the trade-offs to each career, weighing the levels of stress, the different working environments, the level of education needed, and average salary:

  • RNs typically need a longer education, have more responsibility, and can expect higher levels of stress in more fast-paced environments, but they are compensated particularly well for their time.
  • An LPN/LVN may be a great choice for someone who isn’t ready to spend two full years in training, but wants to keep the option of pursing an RN degree open while working.

Whichever nursing career seems right to you, you most likely share one tremendous quality that all nurses possess: a sincere desire to help people who are sick and in need of care. With this ambition in mind, any path you choose will likely lead to a sense of fulfillment. Narrowing down your interest can require some time and effort, especially considering all the different types of nursing specialties, but the time invested can be well worth the effort once you determine the best trajectory for yourself and are working in a rewarding nursing career.
Additional Sources:

1 & 3 – Individuals seeking to enter this career field may be subject to screenings such as, but not limited to, criminal background checks and drug/alcohol testing prior to externship, to attain occupational licensure/certification or employment, and throughout their careers.

2 & 4 – Carrington College prepares students to take appropriate certification and licensure exams related to their individual majors. The College does not guarantee students will successfully pass these exams or be certified or licensed as a result of completing the program. Credential preparation varies by location.

Request Information

Step 1 of 2

* Required Field