The differences between being a CMA and LPN are like night and day.
I currently hold a certificate in medical assisting (CMA) and am attending school full-time to become a LPN ; I couldn't be happier with my choice.
CMAs are pretty much limited to working in clinics, phlebotomy labs, ect. The work-load was split evenly (at least, for me) between front office (clerical) and back office (clinical.) At times this was frustrating because it felt as though I was being pulled in two completely different directions; everyone basically wanted me to pick up their slack.
A person can become a CMA in a matter of just several months, and take a number of courses including medical terminology, front-office procedures, medical law & ethics, and a very basic anatomy (i'm talking a month or so--not enough time on the human body let me tell you!) Although becoming a LPN doesn't take much longer, a year full-time in length, we have spent a huge chunk of time on human anatomy & physiology (study of body structure and function) as well as nutrition, pharmacology, and nursing practicum, to name a few.
Not to mention that as a CMA, (at least in the state of PA) I was only making like $19,000 (after taxes) a year. That stinks!! Too much aggravation and you're treated like garbage.
I've done alot of market research and by obtaining my LPN, the average starting yearly salary is around $37,00 (after taxes) which is a HUGE difference! I was a CMA for 3 years and couldn't even crack over 20,000.
Don't get me wrong, I think CMAs are important in the function of clinical life, but obtaining your licensure as a practical nurse really opens up your oportunities. You can work in LTC, Home Health, Hospital, School, or Clinic to name a few. Why limit yourself to just one area of medicine?
I wish I would have saved my money spent as a CMA and just got my LPN; I listened to the recruiters for the technical school I went to with promises of a stable income--boy was a I fooled! I guess I was just young and stupid then :/
Take it from someone that knows, alot of times Certified Nurses Aides (after only taking a few classes and passing a test) make more than CMAs!