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LPN or MA?

post #1 of 17
Thread Starter 
I am considering going to LPN school or training to be a Medical Assistant, but I have heard that LPN's are less and less relevant in the nursing world. I want to work in a doctor's office, nursing home, or in home health care. I would consider a hospital job only if I was doing postpartum work. I may eventually like to become an IBCLC. I'd like to be an MA, but from what I'm finding, it is a longer program and they make a lot less money than LPN's!

Can anyone in the medical field already tell me what the job outlook is for an LPN? What about MA's? Any advice on either career?
post #2 of 17
I am an RN.
In the state I live in LPN's just do not get utilized to their fullest potential and also do not make a lot of money. Many times they get to do CNA jobs only. But when there was the big nursing shortage recently more nursing homes and even a local hospital started seeking out LPN's more than in the past.
But, I know someone who is an LPN in Texas and she made great money, so I really think that it depends on how it is where you live/will live.
Also, if you get your LPN it is very easy to go back at anytime in the future and get your RN. You may not want that now, or ever but it is more of an option.
MA's where I live do work in Dr.'s offices, but that is all. So it would be very limiting here I think. Plus I am not really sure about licensure of MA's, unlike LPN's where you could always transfer your license to a new state.
post #3 of 17
While LPNs are often not fully utilized, MAs have an even small area of practice: the doctor's office. LPNs are able to work in some hospitals, in physicians offices, nursing homes, home health, etc.

I honestly feel that most MA programs are scams. You pay a lot for a very limited job. Unless the program is actually through a community college or reputable 2-4 year college or university, you education doesn't count for anything. You often don't earn college credits, so nothing transfers if you ever want to advance your education.

If you are an LPN, you can get credit for those hours and advance to your RN without starting over.

I would never in a million years recommend a person get the MA over getting their LPN.
post #4 of 17
what about OTA (occupational therapist assistant)? they make pretty good money, from what i understand the coursework is easier than LPN school-wise and takes the same amount of time. if you're interested in nursing homes and home health, OTA is a great way to go, there are lots of jobs in those settings. some universities also offer bridge programs for OTA's to become OT's (a master's degree), they are designed for people who are still working and gives you credit for your work experience and previous education. and OT's make great money.

i'm in school to become a PTA (physical therapist assistant). they make better money than OTA's for the same amount of schooling, though the programs are usually harder to get into and the coursework is harder from what i hear. also lots of jobs available in nursing homes. i'm sure salaries vary depending on where you live but the range here is about $18-$28 per hour depending on the setting you're working in and your years of experience. i'm hoping to work in an out-patient clinic but the more abundant jobs are in nursing homes and home health, and those do pay a little better generally.

both are associates degrees, 2-year programs generally. my PTA program is a 1+1, meaning you do a year of general education, then apply to the program and if you're accepted you do 12 months of clinical education.

anyway, just throwing those out there in case either of those interest you.
post #5 of 17
I would choose LPN without a doubt. If you want to advance and go on to work in post partum, or work towards an IBCLC, you can use your LPN credits and transfer into an RN program and in a year more, you'll be an RN.
post #6 of 17
I am an RN. Here in Mass, the nursing homes are almost entirely staffed by LPN's and they make SIGNIFICANTLY more money than MA's. I always thought that LPN's made great money considering the amount of education. I wish I did it so I could have had a decent paying job while I was in school.

MA's hardly make enough to live on, especially considering that they often need loans for school. Those certificate programs can be expensive! Community Colleges here have affordable LPN programs.

Also, the RN programs around here admit LPN's as second year students every year. They often do very well because they have real-world clinical experience.
post #7 of 17
Around here (Midwest), there are fewer openings for LPN's. The hospitals aren't hiring them at all. Clinics are preferring MA's.

I would maybe check the want ads or call the local schools and ask about job placement rates.
post #8 of 17

Hey there, I am new here but just wanted to chime in on the nursing route.  I am a family nurse practitioner and there is just so much more opportunity in the nursing field if you want to go on from the LPN. you can get an RN and then go into any of the many different aspects of nursing, from floor nursing to community health nursing or on to a nurse practitioner where you could basically have the role of primary medical provider (like a doctor) and prescribe medication, diagnose and treat, or be a CNM and "catch babies".  Nursing is a unique field in that way allowing for alot of upward mobility with different areas and levels of entry.  Hope that makes sense...

post #9 of 17

I am in school for nurse anesthesia and love the field of nursing... MA is a dead end job. Its not well paying or frequently utilized by ANY services outside a Drs office.  Although an LPN has limited options, you would be able to grow you career if you chose, or work in ltacs or home health.  Most of the MA type rolls here are filled by people without any sort of official training. 

post #10 of 17

I am a LPN and a IBCLC.. I think this depends hugely on where you live but.. I make really good money, have excellent benefits and love my job. I am continuing on to get my RN.

I work in a Peds Clinic at this time, I work with MA's and they are fabulous, do about the same thing I do in our clinic setting (there are some injections that we give that require a license, and a handful of other tasks that I do which they don't) and they make $11/hr less than I do..   I couldn't get through a day without them but I am very thankful for my license,

If you have any other questions feel free to PM me :)

post #11 of 17
Originally Posted by lactivistmama View Post

I am a LPN and a IBCLC.. I think this depends hugely on where you live but.. I make really good money, have excellent benefits and love my job. I am continuing on to get my RN.

I work in a Peds Clinic at this time, I work with MA's and they are fabulous, do about the same thing I do in our clinic setting (there are some injections that we give that require a license, and a handful of other tasks that I do which they don't) and they make $11/hr less than I do..   I couldn't get through a day without them but I am very thankful for my license,

If you have any other questions feel free to PM me :)


I'm not a nurse, but my mother is. She's in administration now, but this was her experience on the floor as well. She made good money as an LPN, though much, much better as an RN. She hates when people are pushed to do CNA or CMA programs because of the reasons listed here.


post #12 of 17

I would pursue the LPN route over the MA route purely because of the mobility if offers.  You might want to work in a clinic/facility/HHC right now that simply requires MA certification, but if you obtain your LPN license, you can work in any of the above locations, generally for more money than an MA, as well as in a hospital/surgical center, etc.  Also, if your life changes and you decide you want to later become an RN, there are numerous transition courses ("LPN to RN" programs) available.  I don't think it takes that much more time and money to obtain the LPN license versus the MA certificate.


FWIW, I'm an RN.  I've worked all around the country (travel nurse, etc.), and LPN utilization varies widely.  The one constant thing that I have seen - others' MMV - is that (1)  LPNs aren't going away or being phased out  (2)  LPNs have, if anything, greater autonomy and placement that I saw 15 years ago when I started, and (3)  We could talk for hours about the nursing shortage, etc., and yes, I know hospitals aren't hiring right now, etc., etc., since the economy has failed us all over the past few years:  nurses who were supposed to retire, didn't, and hospitals are using less staff to do the same work and so aren't hiring any new staff.....however, eventually, someday:  people are going to retire and there will be a true shortage of nurses.  Ask any nurse who's been in the game more than 10 years:  the "shortages" are cyclical.  I remember the days of negotiating moving expenses and sign-on bonuses, retention bonuses....you name it.  :)  Now, I can't _get_ my local hospital to hire me.  ;)  I'm currently working in an allied health position on weekends...not as an RN, shall we say.  ((shrug))  It's cyclical.  I know that when my kids are bigger and I can work more than I can right now, I'm going to be more "employable".


Just my .02.  :)  Good luck with whatever you decide!!

post #13 of 17

Where I live MAs work pretty much exclusively in doctor's offices and LVNs generally work in either nursing homes or doing limited home health. They also sometimes have lower level positions at the health department. I'd just go for an associate's degree RN program instead. It's not that much more of an investment & it allows you so much more marketability. I think it's a better return on your investment of time & $$.

post #14 of 17



                    I have been reading posts on here.  I think the posts that are not in favor of MA's Or CMA's are bias for one reason or another. To be brutally honest.. not everyone wants to work in hospitals, nursing homes or home care. I am one of those people.  I have two friends who are RN's both love their patients but hate the grueling job working in the hospital's. The work load of patients and lack of help is horrible!. There is favortism..etc

The hospitals are always.. always short staffed.  Also.. two nurses died of staff. Were fine that day at work prior. I worked twice in a nursing home/long term facility and hated the environment. I did not know.. until I was in it .. that there are a few fatal air born diseases you can catch as well. Then.. one day there was a flue epidemic. Well.. that was my last day there!   "Its not for everyone".  There are people like me.. who have gone to the doctor's office and spoke to the nurses who loved working in that environment. Most offices rather have RN's and MA's Or CMA's on staff. The nurses have easier days which to me is worth the cut in pay due to stress causes a numerous amount of diseases including cancer.   Also.. that MA/CMA.. will be home by 5 PM. That is also a perk to working at a doctors office. LPN and MA/ CMA.. basically in a doctors office do the same job.  I know CMA's who have given injections .. both take blood. As a MA/CMA.. you also will do some administrative work.. which is a nice break/ breather.


                       However... if you plan to go back to College.. for something.. Even Law if you wanted to do that.. LPN offers more flexibility then MA's do then MA/CMA does.. in hours around school. I spoke to a woman who decided to go for LPN .. just to pay the rent and her expenses while she went back to College for a Marketing Degree that would take her 4 years. She was self supporting and did what she had to do.  She didn't mind.



                         I am not sure about every state .. but some hospitals have PCT's.. Patient Care Technicians.  They are the MA's/ Cma's of hospitals.. and a MA/CMA training program.. would be a step in the hospital hiring you for this type of job that pays higher then MA/CMA. Also.. once you get that C in front of the MA.. you make more an hour.  So.. its an individual and very .. very personal decision.. depending on where you want or don't want to go with this all.  Or.. if nursing is something you even want to do long term or forever.. for some its not.



post #15 of 17


I saw what you wrote about the Lpn and the Ma's and I was wondering if you could help me out. I've been looking into both careers and I am basically stuck to what I want to do. Any input?




post #16 of 17

In 2020 there will be no RNs only BSNs and LPNs will be phased out. http://www.emergingrnleader.com/80bsnworkforce2020/

post #17 of 17

Hi, I am not a nurse yet but I am a CNA. I think becoming a CNA while you do the prereqs for the LPN program would be a good way to work and get in the caring mindset. I have completed my prereqs for BSN programs and am on the waitlist for a ADN program. There have been many MA's in various classes of mine who have decided to go into nursing after being MAs for a couple of years. However I have never met a LPN that later decided to become a MA. Also almost all the nurses at the long term care and skilled nursing facilities I have been to are LPNs with a RN as a charge nurse; so even though LPNs may be being 'phased' out of hospitals there are still jobs.

Also there is a website called allnurses that is to nursing students as mothering is to  moms.

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