Certified Nursing Assistant CNA

Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) assists in the care for those who are sick, injured, disabled, and convalescent. A Certified Nursing Assistant generally works under the direction of a Registered Nurse, Licensed Practical Nurse, or Licensed Vocational Nurse. The education requirements are the shortest for a nursing assistant, therefore, the CNA is expected to perform routine supporting tasks such as feed, bathe, groom, dress, change linens, and move patients.

  • CNA nursing assistant programs generally last 6 to 12 weeks.
  • CNA designation is obtained by passing a state approved exam.
  • CNA jobs exceed 1,492,100 and are growing at 1.8% per year.
  • CNA average salary is $25,100 per year or $12.07 per hour.

As a nursing career, Certified Nursing Assistant offers excellent job opportunities at a lower pay compared to the higher level nurses. Working as a Certified Nursing Assistant is often seen as a stepping stone to becoming an LPN or RN, however, advancement is limited unless higher level training and certification is completed.

How To Become A Certified Nursing Assistant

To become a Certified Nursing Assistant, you must complete a state approved nursing assistant program, then pass the state's competency exam. Nursing assistant programs generally last 6 to 12 weeks and are offered by high schools, hospitals, nursing care facilities, vocational nursing schools, technical schools, and community colleges.

State government guidelines vary as to the minimum number of hours required for classroom and clinical training. Always remember to verify that your nursing assistant program is approved by your state board of nursing, otherwise you may not be able to sit for the competency exam or obtain CNA certification.

Aside from the training requirements, CNA candidates should be caring and sympathetic by nature. In other words, if you are easily agitated by others, then becoming a Certified Nursing Assistant may not be your best career choice. Caring for the sick, injured, disabled and convalescent can also drain novice nurses emotionally. If you currently suffer from depression or drug addiction, for example, then Nursing Assistant may not be your best career choice.

CNA candidates should not be squeamish and afraid to interact with patients in a medical setting. Good decision making and communication skills are also required given the amount of interaction between the CNA, LPN, RN, patients, the patients' family, and other nursing and medical facility staff.

Certified Nursing Assistant Job Prospects

Nursing assistant jobs are expected to grow faster than average through 2024 according to the U.S. Department of Labor. Nursing Assistant employees hold approximately 1,492,100 jobs according to the Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2016-2017 Edition. The reported average hourly pay is $12.07 per hour for a Nursing Assistant. CNA average salary is $25,100 per year assuming a 40 hour work week.

The state in which you live, the industry for which you work, and your experience level will greatly impact your hourly wage rate or annual average salary as a Certified Nursing Assistant. The latest 2016 report from the U.S. Department of Labor shows that the lowest 10% of Nursing Assistant employees earned less than $9.03 per hour while the highest 10% earned more than $17.39 per hour. Assuming a 40 hour work week and 52 weeks per year, the annual average salary for a CNA is in the range of $18,790 to $36,170 per year.

The industries listed below currently employ the most nursing assistants.

  • Nursing care facilities: 41%
  • Hospitals: 25%
  • Retirement / assisted living facilities: 11%
  • Home healthcare services: 5%
  • Government: 4%
  • Other: 14%

The difference between a retirement facility and an assisted living facility is the level of assistance offered to the patient. A retirement facility can be thought of as a nursing home which provides constant medical supervision. An assisted living facility can be thought of as an apartment style residential complex, which provides room, board, housekeeping, and assistance with basic activities such as bathing, dressing, eating, and walking.

Certified Nursing Assistant Programs

CNA state licensure restrictions alongside employer policies and procedures generally limit what duties a Certified Nursing Assistant can perform. While exploring a career as a Certified Nursing Assistant, we recommend that you visit and talk to CNA nurses or a hiring manager currently working at a nearby hospital, nursing, or residential care facility.

Before you enroll into a nursing assistant program, search for current Certified Nursing Assistant jobs online for your intended state(s) of employment. Doing so provides real-time job descriptions, entry level job requirements, minimum education, degree requirements, and sometimes localized annual CNA salary information.

Finally, search our nursing schools database for Certified Nursing Assistant programs in your preferred state(s) of employment. Take note of each CNA nursing programs length of study, cost of attendance, accreditation (local vs national), and competitiveness.

Last updated: February 19, 2017


  • Nursing Assistants and Orderlies. Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor. Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2016-2017 Edition. Retrieved January 27, 2016.
  • Certified Nursing Assistant. York College, Health Sciences & Professional Programs. Retrieved January 27, 2016.
  • Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA). Community College of Rhode Island. Retrieved January 27, 2016.