A career pathway is a plan that helps job seekers gain skills and move up within their field. Pathways help employees grow, take on new responsibilities, be more fulfilled and increase their earning potential.

A common pathway for job seekers interested in a career in health care is to move from patient care assistant (also known as nurse technician or certified nursing assistant) to registered nurse (RN).

Step 1: Patient Care Assistant/Nurse Technician/Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA)

Get started by finding a direct care position such as a home health aide, CNA, nurse technician or patient care assistant. You can earn a certification for these positions in under six months. These jobs are expected to grow by 16% through 2024 and offer a median income of $28,000 per year.

Step 2: Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN)

The next step on this pathway is becoming a licensed practical nurse (LPN). You’ll need an additional year of training, but the certificate and license comes with a substantial increase in earning potential. The median income is $43,000 per year, and the number of openings for LPNs is expected to increase by nearly 10% through 2024.

Step 3: Registered Nurse (RN)

The third step is to become a registered nurse. You’ll need an Associate Degree and license, which can take an additional two years. Most employers require RNs to complete a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) within a certain time frame of being hired. This occupation has the highest expected growth of the three on this path, almost 24% through 2024. RNs earn a median income of $60,000 per year.

If you’re interested in getting started on a career in health care, consider reaching out to local community colleges to learn more about their programs and whether or not they have a waiting list. You can also visit a service center to explore career pathway opportunities and find out if you qualify for training scholarships.