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Salary advice for CNAs from CNAs

iStockphoto | ThinkStock

iStockphoto | ThinkStock

While scouting CNA salaries across the country, we found that the highest paid spots tend to be big cities like NYC, Los Angeles and DC, while smaller cities (especially in the South) offer lower hourly rates. Which got us thinking: As a CNA, how do you feel about the pay where you live? Do you think the pay would be better if you moved to a different region? What tips do you have for a CNA looking to make some extra money?

We’re kicking off this discussion with some advice from your fellow CNAs across the country. Here’s what they had to say about living and working in select US cities:

Portland, ME:

“I worked at a nursing home right outside Portland, Maine for a few years while living up there and I made $17.50. That was weekend pay but I also was per diem so that bumped me up a few bucks and I was ALWAYS looking for extra shifts that were posted because they were either double time, +$10 or +$6 an hour. CNAs have to be crafty! Always keep your eyes out for how to make THE MOST money because we work very hard and do hard work! Companies will always try to screw you so you have to be on top it!” – 

Burlington, VT:

“I kept on applying for jobs in hospitals and was offered one six months later in Vermont. I worked as a CNA/PCT for two years in LTC and at a large hospital in Boston. I have a BSN and a BS in biology. The job market in Mass. is horrible, for both new grads and experienced nurses. Vermont, on the other hand, has a great need for nurses. It’s still competitive to get a job as a new grad, but once your foot is in the door you can move about to any specialty you desire.” – 

Boston, MA:

“I made around $14/hr as a tech at Tufts. However, working there (or any hospital) in nursing school is no guarantee of a position there as an RN. I graduated last year, and they were unable to give me (or any other graduating techs) anything. Having a CNA position is a leg up, but is by no means a guaranteed in, so please consider that before signing yourself up for a long commute and expensive parking.” – 

New York City, NY:

“Here in Long Island, NY you can make up to $18.75 an hour. That’s what my friend is making at a nursing home. Definitely don’t rule them out.” – 

Albany, NY:

“In NY, it’s $14-$17 to start. Plus shift differential. Usually 3-11 p.m. is $1.50 extra, and 11-7 a.m. is $2.00 extra. Of course, this is evened out by the cost of living being so high here, but if you have the same benefits in a cheaper living situation, this could make all the difference!” – 

“I’m in NY and started at $15, I’m at almost $16 now. Evenings are 10% diff and overnights are 15% diff. Every little bit!” – 

“I live in upstate NY. I commute 45 minutes away to a large hospital in Sayre, PA. I was offered 3 positions immediately after graduation. I work on a step-down cardiac floor (yes, it is a specialty). I have 2 bachelor’s, one is a BSN another in psychology. We do hire new grads, they hire I’d say at least 20-30 a year, hospital wide. I’ve almost completed my first year. It has been a whirlwind; school does not teach you half of what the “real world” is going to teach you, it is so completely different! I plan on becoming a Nurse Practitioner.” – 

Newark, NJ:

“Mountainside Hospital School of Nursing requires nursing assistant skills before you begin their program. They give the course for the month of July before the program begins in August. You can work across the street at the hospital while you continue on to get your RN. The cost of the nursing assistant course is only $500. It is in Montclair/Glen Ridge. It is not a certification course, but you will still be able to work for the same pay as a CNA. The hospital starts you off with almost $13 for the first 3 months, and then you get your eval.” – 

Philadelphia, PA:

“I live in Southeastern PA. When I first started back in 2004-2005, I was paid $9.72 an hour. The pay was a bit low, but they offered a full benefit package as well as paid vacation/sick time. My last position at an LTC in 2008 I was as a pool/floater and was paid $13 an hour during the week and $14 an hour for weekends. No medical benefits or I would have had to take a $3 pay cut! Pay attention to those sorts of details and decide what’s best for you.” – 

Baltimore, MD:

“I am a tech at GBMC. I’m also a junior year nursing student. When I started working there almost 4 years ago the starting pay for techs/nursing students was $10.50 an hour. Now I believe it’s between $11.50 – $12 an hour. I just want to let you know that without patient care experience you can’t expect to start off making a lot of money. When I finished the CNA/GNA course I was working in a nursing home making $8 an hour.” – 

Wilmington, DE:

“Christiana Care is a great place to work. There are endless options as to what you may want to do there. I worked at Wilmington Hospital for 7 years and left for 3 to work for private practice. I went back to Wilmington because I missed the bedside. I’m now a PCC at Christiana. They do own everything and they are lacking in the HR dept. I’ve seen a few horror stories from people who have gotten injured. However, there is some pride in working for the biggest healthcare organization in Delaware. Even the change from Wilmington to Christiana has been huge. I used to say “Wilmington Hospital” and people would say, “Where, St. Francis?” No one had any clue that Wilmington was part of Christiana. I swore I’d never go to Christiana, but I took the chance and I’m there now and I am pretty happy. Things could always be better. One hospital versus another? They all have their good and bad sides.” – 

Washington, D.C.:

“Children’s in DC, Washing Hospital Center, GW all hire CNAs. At Children’s they are called PCTs, Patient Care Technicians. If you are a nursing student and have already had your first clinical there are other types of opportunities in the role of the CNA, one-on-one with a nurse, but still a CNA.” – 

Providence, RI:

“I JUST got hired at hospital for my first CNA job on a med/surg floor. With no experience, it’s $12.49/hr. It’s 3rd shift though, so I get a $2.50 differential and on weekends I get an extra $1.50. With experience it’s more like $14 and change an hour, plus any differentials. Low, yes, but higher than most nursing homes. I’ve interviewed at places that were barely $10/hr!” – 

“I work at a hospital in RI and with no experience, I make $12.49 an hour, plus differential. 3rd shift(what I was hired for) is an extra $2.50/hour, weekends are $1.75 and I believe evenings are $1.50. If I work my regularly scheduled hours any 3rd shift I pick up is time 1/2 which is very, very nice! Most nursing homes I interviewed at were under $10/hour. I made more working at a coffee shop!” – 

Share with the Scrubs community what you think about being a CNA in your area in the comments below.

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One Response to Salary advice for CNAs from CNAs

  1. evelynsmith55@msn.com

    I live in NC , The pay for a cna where i work is around 9.00 a hour . And thats at the hospital. they need to get realistic here and start paying more. Some work so hard for so little. But i dont think the hospital really notices at all.

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