The CNA work and salary review


Looking for an entry-level job in the healthcare field? Consider becoming a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA). The U.S. Department of Labor estimate that demand for CNAs will grow by 21 – 35 % in the next decade, as the population ages and life expectancy increases. And the pay’s not so bad either!

CNAs provide basic care to elderly, hospitalized or other incapacitated patients. They assist patients with the activities of daily living (dressing, eating, bathing, toileting) and monitor vital signs, measure input and output and assist nurses with cares and procedures, such as dressing changes. The work is often physically and emotionally demanding. Repositioning heavy patients and dealing with confused or demented patients is often part of the job.

Salary varies by employer, location and years of experience. Most CNAs make between $18,000 and $30,000 per year. CNAs employed by the state, local or federal government tend to earn more than CNAs who work for school districts or in private practice. A CNA with less than a year of experience can expect to earn up to $30,000 in her first year — depending on where she lives and works. Salaries are highest in Alaska, California, Connecticut, Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts, Nevada, New York, North Dakota and Washington. CNAs can also expect to earn more as they gain experience. Some CNAs with 20 years or more of experience report earning up to $35,000 per year.

While many CNAs continue to work as nursing assistants throughout their careers, some decide to pursue additional education. Experience as a CNA looks wonderful on nursing school applications, and it’s not uncommon for a CNA to pursue a degree as an LPN or RN. Many “work their way up,” with some CNAs eventually serving at Directors of Nursing where they first began their careers.

See an infographic of CNA salaries by state and employer.


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Jennifer Fink, RN, BSN

Jennifer is a professional freelance writer with over eight years experience as a hospital nurse. She has clinical experience in adult health, including med-surg, geriatrics and transplant; she also has a particular interest in women’s health and cancer care. Jennifer has written a variety of health and parenting articles for national publications.

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4 Responses to The CNA work and salary review

  1. Victor

    I heard of a director that volunteered during high school, went through a CNA program and worked as one during college, worked as an LVN then went back for her BSN, then went back for her MSN, and now she’s a director.

    That’s way too much work.

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