Inside Look at CNA to LPN Online Nursing Programs

Learn about convenient online and hybrid bridge programs that can help you take the next step in your nursing career.

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Written By
Edumed Staff

last updated

Last Updated: 02/18/2021
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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.

Herzing University

Herzing University

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.

Rasmussen College

rasmussen-college-logos

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).

Unitek College

Unitek College

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)

$29,640

LPN Median Annual Pay (2019)

$47,480

Annual Pay Increase

+$17,840 (37.6%)

CNA vs. LPN Job Growth

CNA Job Growth Rate (2019-2029)

8%

LPN Job Growth Rate (2019-2029)

9%

Job Growth Increase

+1%

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

Montgomery Community College

Practical Nursing Diploma

Total Credits: 34

$76/credit

Rasmussen College

Rasmussen College

Practical Nursing Diploma

Total Credits: 56

$325/credit

Midlands Technical College

Midlands Technical College

Practical Nursing (LPN) Diploma

Total Credits: 44

$178/credit

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:

1

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.

2

Student Loans

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.

3

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.

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 Programs
    Once 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 Programs
    LPNs 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 Programs
    Registered 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.