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Working as a Certified Nursing Assistant

Nursing Assistants are some of the favored people among patients. They help with daily activities as well as provide basic care for patients. In general, you'll work in a nursing home or a hospital as a nursing assistant.

As the job title implies, you will need to be certified. All this takes is completing a state-approved education program and passing the state competency exam. Good luck!

What Does a Certified Nursing Assistant Do

Nursing assistants, sometimes called nursing aides, help provide basic care for patients in hospitals and residents of long-term care facilities, such as nursing homes. Orderlies transport patients and clean treatment areas.

Duties

Nursing assistants provide basic care and help with activities of daily living. They typically do the following:

  • Clean and bathe patients or residents
  • Help patients use the toilet and dress
  • Turn, reposition, and transfer patients between beds and wheelchairs
  • Listen to and record patients’ health concerns and report that information to nurses
  • Measure patients’ vital signs, such as blood pressure and temperature
  • Serve meals and help patients eat

Some nursing assistants also may dispense medication, depending on their training level and the state in which they work.

In nursing homes and residential care facilities, assistants are often the principal caregivers. They have more contact with residents than other members of the staff. Because some residents stay in a nursing home for months or years, assistants may develop close relationships with their residents.

Orderlies typically do the following:

  • Assist patients with moving about the facility, such as pushing wheelchairs
  • Clean equipment and facilities
  • Change linens
  • Stock supplies

Nursing assistants and orderlies work as part of a healthcare team under the supervision of licensed practical or licensed vocational nurses and registered nurses.

How To Become a Certified Nursing Assistant

Nursing assistants must complete a state-approved education program and must pass their state’s competency exam. Orderlies generally have at least a high school diploma.

Education and Training

Nursing assistants must complete a state-approved education program in which they learn the basic principles of nursing and complete supervised clinical work. These programs are found in high schools, community colleges, vocational and technical schools, hospitals, and nursing homes.

In addition, nursing assistants typically complete a brief period of on-the-job training to learn about their specific employer’s policies and procedures.

Orderlies typically have at least a high school diploma and receive a short period of on-the-job training.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

After completing a state-approved education program, nursing assistants take a competency exam. Passing this exam allows them to use state-specific titles. In some states, a nursing assistant or aide is called a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA), but titles vary from state to state.

Nursing assistants who have passed the competency exam are placed on a state registry. Nursing assistants must be on the state registry to work in a nursing home.

Some states have other requirements as well, such as continuing education and a criminal background check. Check with state boards of nursing or health for more information.

In some states, nursing assistants can earn additional credentials, such as becoming a Certified Medication Assistant (CMA). As a CMA, they can give medications.

Orderlies do not need a license, however, many jobs require a Basic Life Support (BLS) certification, which shows they are trained to provide cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR).

Important Qualities

Communication skills. Nursing assistants and orderlies must be able to communicate effectively to address patients’ or residents’ concerns. They also need to relay important information to other healthcare workers.

Compassion. Nursing assistants and orderlies assist and care for the sick, injured, and elderly. Doing so requires a compassionate and empathetic attitude.

Patience. The routine tasks of cleaning, feeding, and bathing patients or residents can be stressful. Nursing assistants and orderlies must have patience in order to complete these tasks.

Physical stamina. Nursing assistants and orderlies spend much of their time on their feet. They should be comfortable performing physical tasks, such as lifting or moving patients.

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Average Salary$31,917
Job Growth Rate9%

Certified Nursing Assistant Jobs

Certified Nursing Assistant Career Paths

Top Careers Before Certified Nursing Assistant

Cashier
22.9%

Top Careers After Certified Nursing Assistant

Cashier
10.8%

What is the right job for my career path?

Tell us your goals and we'll match you with the rights job to get there.

Average Salary for a Certified Nursing Assistant

Certified Nursing Assistants in America make an average salary of $31,917 per year or $15 per hour. The top 10 percent makes over $49,000 per year, while the bottom 10 percent under $20,000 per year.
Average Salary
$31,917

Best Paying Cities

Average Salary
Salary Range31k - 48k$39k$38,724
Salary Range24k - 55k$37k$36,874
Salary Range28k - 46k$37k$36,595
Salary Range31k - 41k$36k$36,256
Salary Range27k - 45k$36k$35,701
Salary Range27k - 44k$35k$35,285
$23k
$55k

Recently Added Salaries

Job TitleCompanyCompanyStart DateSalary
Direct Support Professional or CNA (PRN)
Direct Support Professional or CNA (PRN)
Merakey
Merakey
10/31/2020
10/31/2020
$27,13110/31/2020
$27,131
Stna
Stna
Connectrn
Connectrn
10/31/2020
10/31/2020
$33,39210/31/2020
$33,392
Connectrn
Certified Nursing Assistant
Certified Nursing Assistant
Connectrn
Connectrn
10/31/2020
10/31/2020
$31,30510/31/2020
$31,305
Avamere
Certified Nursing Assistant CNA
Certified Nursing Assistant CNA
Avamere
Avamere
10/31/2020
10/31/2020
$25,04410/31/2020
$25,044
Certified Nursing Assistant SNF
Certified Nursing Assistant SNF
Masonic Homes
Masonic Homes
10/31/2020
10/31/2020
$43,30510/31/2020
$43,305
See More Recent Salaries

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Certified Nursing Assistant Demographics

Gender

female

82.6%

male

13.2%

unknown

4.1%

Ethnicity

White

64.4%

Hispanic or Latino

17.6%

Asian

8.9%

Foreign Languages Spoken

Spanish

71.0%

French

9.1%

Portuguese

2.8%
See More Demographics

Certified Nursing Assistant Education

Degrees

High School Diploma

28.4%

Associate

21.7%

Certificate

17.8%

Entry Level Jobs For Becoming A Certified Nursing Assistant

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Part Time
Internship
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Top Skills For a Certified Nursing Assistant

The skills section on your resume can be almost as important as the experience section, so you want it to be an accurate portrayal of what you can do. Luckily, we've found all of the skills you'll need so even if you don't have these skills yet, you know what you need to work on. Out of all the resumes we looked through, 15.0% of certified nursing assistants listed cna on their resume, but soft skills such as physical stamina and compassion are important as well.

Best States For a Certified Nursing Assistant

Some places are better than others when it comes to starting a career as a certified nursing assistant. The best states for people in this position are Hawaii, New York, Maine, and Wyoming. Certified nursing assistants make the most in Hawaii with an average salary of $40,303. Whereas in New York and Maine, they would average $38,776 and $36,415, respectively. While certified nursing assistants would only make an average of $36,400 in Wyoming, you would still make more there than in the rest of the country. We determined these as the best states based on job availability and pay. By finding the median salary, cost of living, and using the Bureau of Labor Statistics' Location Quotient, we narrowed down our list of states to these four.

1. Maine

Total Certified Nursing Assistant Jobs:
309
Highest 10% Earn:
$56,000
Location Quotient:
2.67
Location Quotient is a measure used by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) to determine how concentrated a certain industry is in a single state compared to the nation as a whole. You can read more about how BLS calculates location quotients here

2. New Hampshire

Total Certified Nursing Assistant Jobs:
373
Highest 10% Earn:
$55,000
Location Quotient:
2.06
Location Quotient is a measure used by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) to determine how concentrated a certain industry is in a single state compared to the nation as a whole. You can read more about how BLS calculates location quotients here

3. Vermont

Total Certified Nursing Assistant Jobs:
137
Highest 10% Earn:
$53,000
Location Quotient:
1.96
Location Quotient is a measure used by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) to determine how concentrated a certain industry is in a single state compared to the nation as a whole. You can read more about how BLS calculates location quotients here
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Certified Nursing Assistant Resumes

Designing and figuring out what to include on your resume can be tough, not to mention time-consuming. That's why we put together a guide that is designed to help you craft the perfect resume for becoming a certified nursing assistant. If you're needing extra inspiration, take a look through our selection of templates that are specific to your job.

At Zippia, we went through countless certified nursing assistant resumes and compiled some information about how best to optimize them. Here are some suggestions based on what we found, divided by the individual sections of the resume itself.

Learn How To Write a Certified Nursing Assistant Resume

At Zippia, we went through countless certified nursing assistant resumes and compiled some information about how best to optimize them. Here are some suggestions based on what we found, divided by the individual sections of the resume itself.

View Detailed Information

How Do Certified Nursing Assistant Rate Their Jobs?

Zippia Official Logo

1.0

TerribleFebruary 2020

1.0

Zippia Official LogoTerribleFebruary 2020

What do you like the most about working as Certified Nursing Assistant?

Helping residents or patients Show More

What do you NOT like?

Underpaid.. Work overload. Sometimes unorganized management. Unfairness...number one is understaffing Show More

Zippia Official Logo

5.0

Certified nursing Assistant December 2019

5.0

Zippia Official LogoCertified nursing Assistant December 2019

What do you like the most about working as Certified Nursing Assistant?

My clients they are awesome. Helping people and putting a smile on someone's face. Show More

What do you NOT like?

Check and changes Show More

Zippia Official Logo

3.0

CNASeptember 2019

3.0

Zippia Official LogoCNASeptember 2019

What do you like the most about working as Certified Nursing Assistant?

Easy license to get for anyone who want to enter a market where there is always job openings available. You take care of residents or patients who need your help and as a reward become part of their family. Show More

What do you NOT like?

It can a short staff sometimes and as a girl when you are young and have to lift heavier patient it can be tiring. Fear of getting sick from the patients. Show More

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Top Certified Nursing Assistant Employers

We've made finding a great employer to work for easy by doing the hard work for you. We looked into employers that employ certified nursing assistants and discovered their number of certified nursing assistant opportunities and average salary. Through our research, we concluded that CNA Financial was the best, especially with an average salary of $38,710. Golden Living follows up with an average salary of $44,004, and then comes HCR ManorCare with an average of $43,602. In addition, we know most people would rather work from home. So instead of having to change careers, we identified the best employers for remote work as a certified nursing assistant. The employers include Brightstar, Essentia Health, and Boston Medical Center

1. CNA Financial
4.4
Avg. Salary: 
$38,710
Certified Nursing Assistants Hired: 
8,755+
2. Golden Living
3.9
Avg. Salary: 
$44,004
Certified Nursing Assistants Hired: 
5,526+
3. HCR ManorCare
4.4
Avg. Salary: 
$43,602
Certified Nursing Assistants Hired: 
4,730+
4. Maxim Healthcare Services
4.2
Avg. Salary: 
$46,242
Certified Nursing Assistants Hired: 
3,160+
5. Genesis HealthCare
4.0
Avg. Salary: 
$40,049
Certified Nursing Assistants Hired: 
3,130+
6. National Healthcare
4.2
Avg. Salary: 
$43,702
Certified Nursing Assistants Hired: 
2,257+

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Recently Added Certified Nursing Assistant Jobs

Updated October 2, 2020