Salaries of Certified Nursing Assistants (CNAs)
What does a CNA do?
CNAs are paraprofessionals who provide assistance with patients’ basic health care needs under the direction of a registered nurse (RN), licensed practical nurse (LPN) or other healthcare professionals. CNAs are also known as nursing aides, nursing assistants, nurse techs, patient care assistants, patient care technicians, and home health aides/assistants.
Extensive healthcare training is not required to become a CNA, however, CNAs often have a high level of training and experience. It’s important for CNAs to have strong interpersonal skills as well as manual dexterity to assist in patients’ needs.
More than half of nursing assistants are employed by nursing and residential care facilities. However, opportunities for CNAs are also available at hospitals, colleges, universities, home health care facilities, state government agencies and research and development services.
Work schedule of a CNA
Generally, most CNAs work in nursing and residential care facilities, with about 30 percent employed by hospitals. Due to the around-the-clock care patients need, CNAs may work a variety of shifts. Many work full-time hours with the possibility of overtime. With health care facilities open all day, CNAs may have to work evenings, weekends and sometimes holidays too.
What does a CNA earn?
An average salary for a CNA is about $25,620. However, most start out making somewhat lower, with the lowest 10 percent earning about $18,300. Similar to most professions, CNAs can earn more through training and experience. The top 10 percent earn $35,000 or more, annually.
In 2012, the average per hour salary for a CNA was $12.32 an hour. The top 10 percent earn about $17 per hour, while the bottom 10 percent make approximately $9 an hour.
In 2012, almost 1.5 million people were employed as CNAs.
What is the job outlook for a CNA?
With many seniors living longer and needing extended care, the demand for nursing assistants is high. And the prospect for job growth looks healthy as well. From 2010 to 2020, certified nursing assistants will fill about 302,000 new jobs. Similar to other health care professions, the CNA field is growing rapidly, even higher than several other jobs in the health care field.
However, the average salary trend for a CNA has slightly declined since 2011.
Working as a nursing assistant can also be a stepping-stone to a higher-paying job in the medical field. For instance, a student pursing a degree as a registered nurse can gain valuable experience as a CNA while still working toward their degree.
How can nursing assistants earn more?
While CNAs serve an essential role in caring for patients, several key factors can influence salary. The field is growing, but those who’ve served as a nursing assistant for a while for a large health care facility in a major city tend to earn more based on location and experience.
Experience is probably the most important factor in reaching a higher salary as a CNA or working toward another degree in nursing. Performing basic duties as a CNA is a good way for nursing students to get the experience they need to develop a successful career as an LPN or RN.
Certified nursing assistants with several years of experience can earn well about $34,000 per year.
While some states don’t require nursing assistants to be certified, certification and training usually leads to a higher-paying position. Certification is also important for those who wish to relocate to another state or advance their careers. Being certified could be the first step toward a more lucrative career as an LPN or RN.
Where can a CNA go to get a higher-paying job?
Heavily populated areas tend to pay more, but this isn’t always the case. Alaska, Connecticut and New York are three of the top paying states for nursing assistants. Also, states with a high population of aging adults are also looking for more CNAs.
In Alaska, Connecticut and New York, CNAs who work in metro areas in these states earn between $34,000 and $39,000. Also, there are many areas, usually with a high concentration of aging adults, that are not highly populated but do employ a select few of well-paid CNAs.