Career as a CNA
By Diane Turner
Nursing aids are responsible for providing basic medical care and assisting those in long-term health care facilities with their daily activities. This might include helping patients bathe or use the bathroom, turn or reposition patients that are bedridden. They may also help transfer those that are in wheelchairs. They may also be called upon to help serve meals or assist patients with eating. On occasion they may also be asked to record patient’s health concerns or report medical information to nurses.
In nursing homes, nursing aids are often the primary caregivers because they will have the most contact with patients throughout the day. The salary of a CNAwill reflect the type of responsibility that they are expected to take on and the type of facility where they work. Most nursing aids work in nursing homes or similar facilities, though many also work in state, local or private hospitals. These positions require the aid to spend many long hours on their feet or take on jobs such as emptying bedpans that may be unpleasant. Those that are planning on moving into this field are encouraged to understand the responsibilities before starting their training to ensure that they are right for the job.
Theaverage salary for a CNAis typically lower than other nursing careers because they do not require a great deal of training to enter into the field. Those that wish to work in this field are encouraged to finish a high school diploma, but a secondary degree is not necessarily required to enter into the field. Unlike an orderly, nursing aids will need to pass a state-certified competency exam in order to being their work as an aid. These exams will vary by location, but they will typically include a practical exam as well as a written exam. Training programs to help you prepare for your Certified Nursing Assistant Exam are available, typically through community colleges or vocational schools.
CNA Average Salary
The CNA average salary is $25,420 but a variety of factors can impact what an individual will make on the job. Theaverage CNA salary will vary in different locations as well as the industry where the CNA is employed.
CNA Salary Factors and Influences
You can expect to earn a variety of salaries as a certified nurse depending on how you wind up structuring your career. The highest paying fields offer a salary for a CNAthat is notably higher than the nationwide average, as noted below.
Scientific Research and Development Average Salary: $36,910
Federal Executive Branch Average Salary: $35,850
Colleges, Universities and Professional Schools Average Salary: $32,200
Grant-making and Giving Services Average Salary: $29,500
State Government Average Salary: $29,130
Much of this difference is associated with the level of responsibility that nursing aids will be expected to take on in these facilities. Nursing aids are not allowed to administer health care on their own, but larger facilities will require these individuals to take on more responsibilities throughout the day to keep the facility running the way they should. Those working in a scientific research facility will also be required to take notes at more advanced level to help ensure that the research team has all of the information they need to properly formulate their reports.
There are a number of facilities that have a high demand for nursing aids compared to those paying a higher salary. To compare, look at the average salary of a CNAin facilities that boast the highest employment levels in the industry.
Nursing Care Facilities Average Salary: $24,460
General Medical and Surgical Hospitals Average Salary: $27,290
Community Care Facilities for the Elderly Average Salary: $23,530
Home Health Care Services Average Salary: $23,710
Employment Services Average Salary: $25,960
These statistics are largely what you would expect. Nursing facilities and hospitals are at the top of the list for hiring nursing aids given the large amount of care people in these facilities will require throughout the day. These individuals are also asked to provide home care for those recovering from an illness or those that are too elderly to maintain their homes on their own. Unfortunately, these facilities are often working on a limited budget, so they are not able to offer more competitive salaries.
The location where an employee works can also have a significant impact on how much they can expect to make. Nonmetropolitan areas are still having difficulties gaining access to adequate health care, increasing the demand for high quality nursing care. The top paying nonmetropolitan areas offer a CNA average salarythat tends to be higher than the national average.
Southeast Alaska Average Salary: $36,390
Railbelt/Southwest Alaska Average Salary: $34,090
Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard Average Salary: $33,330
Hawaii/Mau/Kauai Average Salary: $33,180
Northern Mountains Region of California Average Salary: $31,030
Because these areas do not have a great deal of established medical care, it can be difficult for them to offer salaries that are as competitive as those offered in metropolitan areas. To compare, note the top paying metropolitan areas and the CNA average salary in these areas.
San Francisco/San Mateo/ Redwood City, CA Average Salary: $37,440
Oakland/Fremont/Haward, CA Average Salary: $36,320
San Jose/Sunnyvale/Santa Clara, CA Average Salary: $35,300
Nassau/Suffolk, NY Average Salary: $35,160
Fairbanks, AK Average Salary: $34,560
Las Vegas/Paradise, LV Average Salary: $33,740
New York/White Plains/Wayne, NY/NJ Average Salary: $33,460
Salinas, CA Average Salary: $32,990
Vallejo/Fairfield, CA Average Salary: $32,600
As you can see, these are all significantly higher than the national average. It is easy for these facilities to get higher funding to help increase their nursing and aid staff, making it easier for people in these facilities to earn a competitive wage.
CNA Salary Compared To Related Fields
A CNA can expect to make a comparable salary to others in the field, particularly those at a similar training level.
Average Salary for a CNA: $25,420
Average Salary for a Home Health or Personal Care Aid: $20,170
Average Salary for Medical Assistants: $28,860
Average Salary for Licensed Practical or Vocational Nurses: $40,380
Average Salary for Registered Nurses: $64,690
Those that are expected to get a higher level of training or education before they may enter the field are expected to earn a more competitive salary compared to those that can train on the job or only take a few months of education to get into the field. Registered nurses and those working in a full nursing license can be expected to earn more than those that have more basic training.
CNA Salary by State
The CNA salary by statecan vary greatly, making this a serious consideration for those that are hoping to move into the medical field. To start determining the best areas to earn a certification to work as a nursing aid, note the top paying states and their average salaries.
CNA Salary in Alaska: $34,700
CNA Salary in New York: $31,830
CNA Salary in Nevada: $31,610
CNA Salary in Connecticut: $31,010
CNA Salary in Hawaii: $30,090
You will note that many of these states have populations that are concentrated in a few cities. This means that these areas will have higher amounts of nursing care while others may travel in to get the care they need. In order to deal with this flux, hospitals and other facilities will employ a higher staff of highly trained nursing aids to help manage the day to day activity. To compare how this compares with the rest of the nation, note how these salaries compare to those with the highest concentration or certified nursing aids.
Average Salary in Rhode Island: $28,310
Average Salary in North Dakota: $26,160
Average Salary in Arkansas: $20,890
Average Salary in Maine: $24,350
Average Salary in Nebraska: $23,980
As you can see, these states have much lower populations than those that offer more competitive salaries. These areas will likely hire more nursing aids to manage the day to day operations at their facilities as a cost saving measure, cutting down on the salary these individuals can expect to make.
It should also be noted that areas that have a great deal of advanced training for nurses or similar positions will likely have a lower salary for nursing aids. This is because most nursing aids in these areas will simply be working in these positions until they can complete the necessary training to work in a more advanced medical field. These areas also tend to have a high turnover rate for their nursing aids, making it an ideal place for those that are counting on high employment rates to get a job.
CNA Types of Salaries
Certified Nursing Assistant: Average Salary; $29,118
Certified nursing assistants will perform patient care under the direct supervision of a registered nurse. This may include helping the patient undress or dress throughout their treatment, eat, bathe, collect non-invasive bodily specimens for examinations or take vital signs. These individuals are not certified to start intravenous fluids, but will assist nurses or physicians with procedures if needed. Those that would like to work in this field will need to complete a certified nursing aid program from an accredited educational facility.
Certified Nursing Assistant- Long Term Care: Average Salary: $26,628
These certified nursing assistants will work with registered nurses in a long-term care environment. They may direct patient care activities such as dressing, undressing, eating, bathing or collecting specimens. In some cases they may be asked to take vital signs, but they will not be able to administer fluids or medications without the direct supervision of physicians or nurses on staff. They may also be asked to document patient interactions for the nurses or physicians as necessary.
Certified Nursing Assistant- Occupational Health: Average Salary: $28,370
Certified nursing assistants working in an occupational or industrial health setting will provide patient care under the supervision of other medical professionals on staff. This will include collecting non-invasive bodily fluid samples or checking vital signs. They will not be able to begin treatment or start intravenous fluids without supervision. They will document patient interactions for the medical records. Those that wish to work in this field will need to earn a high school diploma as well as completing the certification processes through accredited nursing aid program.
History of CNAs
Certified nursing assistants become popular during World War I when overworked nurses in the Volunteer Nurses’ Aide Service and American Red Cross needed an extra pair of hands to deal with all of the work that needed to be done during the war effort. This in combination with the Omnibus Reconciliation Act or OBRA which required nursing homes to provide highly trained, high-quality care for their patients made room for a certified aide program to train individuals that would take on these responsibilities. State boards were developed to certify these individuals were formed, designating requirements that would allow someone to become a Certified Nursing Assistant. These programs required classroom and clinical instruction, requirements that are still present today.
CNA Salary Outlook – Conclusion
Nursing aids are expected to see a 34 percent increase in employment by 2020, a 14 percent increase over other nursing aids, orderlies and attendants. The employment statistics in the nation as a whole are expected to raise 14 percent overall. Thesalary for a CNAis expected to rise to match this increased demand for employment.
Much of the increase in the demand for nursing aids is expected to be in long-term care facilities. There is a growing elderly population throughout the United States that is regularly requiring more care, including nursing facilities that can help them manage their health more effectively when they are no longer able to live on their own. Given the high demands nursing homes have for daily care they will require a large staff of nursing aids to help manage the day to day operations of these facilities more effectively
With the increasing amount of hospitals and specialized health care facilities throughout the country, nursing industries are expected to see a great deal of growth. The average salary of a CNA is typically lower than other groups in this industry, but those that are willing to take on additional training or stick with the industry longer can expect to see an increase in pay.
There is a high turnover rate for certified nursing aids, making this an ideal field for someone that is hoping to get a job very quickly. This job has a great deal of physical demand that can be difficult for people to take on. Many also choose to work as a nursing aid while they are finishing their education to work in a more advanced medical field.