What is 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.

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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
$28,738
Average Salary
Job Growth Rate
9%
Job Growth Rate
Job Openings
194,245
Job Openings
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Average Salary for a Certified Nursing Assistant

Certified Nursing Assistants in America make an average salary of $28,738 per year or $14 per hour. The top 10 percent makes over $36,000 per year, while the bottom 10 percent under $22,000 per year.
Average Salary
$28,738
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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.

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

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Certified Nursing Assistant Demographics

Certified Nursing Assistant Gender Statistics

female

82.6 %

male

13.2 %

unknown

4.1 %

Certified Nursing Assistant Ethnicity Statistics

White

64.5 %

Hispanic or Latino

15.6 %

Black or African American

9.1 %

Certified Nursing Assistant Foreign Languages Spoken Statistics

Spanish

71.0 %

French

9.1 %

Portuguese

2.8 %
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Certified Nursing Assistant Education

Certified Nursing Assistant Majors

36.9 %

Certified Nursing Assistant Degrees

High School Diploma

28.5 %

Certificate

24.1 %

Associate

18.6 %
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Online Courses For Certified Nursing Assistant That You May Like

Vohra Wound Care Certification for Facility-Based Nurses
edX (Global)

The Vohra Wound Care Certification program was developed by Vohra Wound Physicians. Vohra is the largest group of wound physicians in the United States, with more than 20 years of clinical experience providing wound care services to more than 3000 skilled nursing facilities in 30 states, with thousands of patients treated every month. We believe every patient, family, nurse, and caregiver can be empowered through education. Hundreds of thousands of people have already benefited from this course...

Vohra Wound Care Certification for Facility-Based Nurses
edX (Global)

Vohra’s expert physicians developed this advanced wound care program to help you deliver excellent healthcare: Understand the latest, most innovative wound care techniques and treatment options Identify the different types of wounds and recommended treatment plan for non-healing wounds Review the primary wound dressing options and wound care products Treat wound patients confidently, leading to improved medical outcomes Benefit from an enhanced knowledge share from Vohra´s healthcare...

Introduction to Integrative Nursing
coursera

This course is designed for nurses who are drawn to practice in a different way - nurses who value whole-person care and know that the essence of nursing practice is truly caring and healing. You will learn about the principles and practices of Integrative Nursing and how you can be a healing presence to all you serve. Then, you will do an integrative assessment and apply the principles of Integrative Nursing to improve symptom management and overall patient outcomes. Finally, you will explore w...

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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, 20.3% of certified nursing assistants listed cna on their resume, but soft skills such as communication skills and compassion are important as well.

12 Certified Nursing Assistant RESUME EXAMPLES

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, Oregon, and New Hampshire. Certified nursing assistants make the most in Hawaii with an average salary of $40,046. Whereas in New York and Oregon, they would average $34,381 and $34,163, respectively. While certified nursing assistants would only make an average of $33,668 in New Hampshire, 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. New Hampshire

Total Certified Nursing Assistant Jobs:
864
Highest 10% Earn:
$47,000
Location Quotient:
1.22
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. Maine

Total Certified Nursing Assistant Jobs:
902
Highest 10% Earn:
$46,000
Location Quotient:
1.67
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

3. Oregon

Total Certified Nursing Assistant Jobs:
1,822
Highest 10% Earn:
$48,000
Location Quotient:
1.08
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
Full List Of Best States For Certified Nursing Assistants

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 $31,002. Golden Living follows up with an average salary of $28,913, and then comes Genesis HealthCare with an average of $28,592. 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 Jackson Memorial Hospital, Select Medical, and Adventist Health System

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Certified Nursing Assistant FAQs

How long does it take to become a certified nursing assistant?

It takes 1 to 2 years to become a certified nursing assistant. To become a certified nursing assistant you must complete a state-approved training program. These programs are generally found at local community colleges, high schools, vocational or technical schools, or local hospitals.

Many programs for CNAs take about 4 to 12 weeks to complete - depending on the class schedule. Programs usually consist of both class hours and clinical hours. Each state has its own designated number of clinical hours that an individual must complete before applying for certification.

The American Red Cross, for example, runs an in-person CNA training program throughout the country that runs for 4-8 weeks depending on class size and location.

Most programs have similar requirements that must be completed prior to application and acceptance.

Prerequisites include:

  • Attendance at an orientation information session

  • TABE (reading and math assessment) OR verification of High School diploma or GED

  • Red Cross criminal background check prior to registration

  • Completion of Red Cross physical form and TB test

After completing a state-approved training program, an individual can take the National Nurse Aide Assessment Program (NNAAP) examination required in many states for licensure as a CNA. This exam contains two parts, a written and oral exam, and must be passed to become licensed in many states.

Keep in mind that there are different types of CNA -: CNA 1 and CNA 2. Both types require state certification; however, should one desire to work in a hospital setting, a CNA 2 certification is required.

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How much do nursing assistants make per hour?

Nursing assistants make $15.00 an hour, on average. The average pay range for a nursing assistant varies by as much as $4.57. Factors such as certification, education, location, and prior job experience have a marginal impact on earning potential.

Most nursing assistants are certified nursing assistants (CNAs). However, there are some non-certified nursing assistants (NCAs). An NCA makes an average hourly wage of $14, but the range typically falls between $13 and $17.

There are two different types of CNAs (CNA 1 and CNA 2) for certified nursing assistants, and each has a different salary. For example, a CNA 1 salary usually starts between $10 and $15 per hour, while a CNA 2 salary pays around $15 to $20 per hour.

The main difference between the two types of CNA is where they are allowed to work. A CNA 2, for example, can work at a hospital while a CNA 1 is not.

Other factors that impact how much a nursing assistant can earn include the type of CNA and the location of the job.

For example, a nursing assistant who works in a government setting (e.g., VA hospital) earns the highest pay rate for a nursing assistant with a national average of $37,240, while home health care services have the lowest pay rate at $29,210.

Also, the state that you work in makes a difference. Alaska ($18.24 per hour) and New York ($16.87 per hour), for example, earn the most, while a nursing assistant in North Carolina ($10.74 per hour) or Florida ($10.73 per hour) earn the least.

The number of years of experience also has a small impact on a nursing assistant's earning potential.

For example, a nursing assistant with 1-4 years of experience earns an average of $12 an hour, while a nursing assistant with 5-9 years of experience earns an average of $14 an hour, and a nursing assistant with 10-19 years of experience earns about $15 based per hour.

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How much does it cost to get CNA certified?

It costs $1,400 to get a CNA certified, on average. However, it can range from $600 to $2,000. The tuition cost varies largely from school to school and is based on geographic location and other factors. Tuition is generally not the only cost of CNA training.

One of the benefits of becoming a certified nursing assistant (CNA) is the relatively lower cost of CNA training courses compared to courses for becoming a licensed practical nurse or a registered nurse.

Many vocational schools, community colleges, the American Red Cross, and some medical facilities offer CNA training programs. Usually, the tuition is charged by credit hour or as a flat program fee.

There are many CNA training programs now available completely online. The cost range of an online CNA program may vary, depending on the institution or program, but the average cost of an online CNA program is from as low as $700 to as high as $1,500.

Keep in mind that some programs with higher fees cover the cost of the state certification exam, uniforms and classroom supplies. Those with a lower fee may not.

In addition to the tuition price, there are other expenses that students need to take into account when budgeting for their education. These costs may include:

  • Program Supplies - nursing assistant training programs generally have a list of required supplies, including textbooks, educational DVDs, uniform scrubs, non-slip tennis shoes, a watch with a second hand, a stethoscope, and note-taking supplies such as notebooks, pens, pencils, highlighters, etc.

  • Medical Examination CNA applicants are often required to complete a physical examination that certifies they are physically fit enough to perform the duties of a nursing assistant. In addition, an applicant will need to pass a TB test and show proof of current immunizations prior to working with patients. Cost varies by state.

  • Criminal Background Check - Most states require nursing assistants to undergo a criminal background check prior to beginning work. Some schools or states will pay for these background checks on behalf of the students, and in other cases fingerprinting and background checks cost the students around $20-$40.

  • Certification Exam Fees - Each state requires nursing assistants to pass a certification exam to begin working. In some cases, the certification exam fee may be included in your training program cost. The exam fees will vary from state to state, but as an example of cost, in California, the NNAAP exam is $90 for the written version of the exam and $105 for the audio version.

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Is it hard to become a CNA?

No, it is not hard to become a CNA. To become a certified nursing assistant (CNA) does not require a bachelor's or even an associate's degree. To begin a CNA program requires only a high school diploma or GED equivalent, and the program can be completed in as little as 2 to 3 months.

Compared to other health care professionals that require you to have a college degree, applying to become a nursing assistant doesn't require you to have one. With a minimum of a high school degree or equivalent, you can apply for a nursing assistant course near you.

Other additional requirements that may be asked when applying include a clean criminal record, physical and mental fitness certification, and attending a local orientation.

Completing a CNA course will take you anywhere from 8 to 12 weeks. While completing the course, you can learn about basic clinical skills such as taking vital signs and administering basic life support.

Once you complete the course, you become eligible to take the nursing assistant certification examination. This examination will cover topics that you need to master as a nursing assistant. Once certified, you can start working as a nursing assistant right now.

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What is the difference between LNA and CNA?

The main difference between an LNA and CNA is that an LPN provides a higher level of patient care than a CNA. The differences between a licensed practical nurse (LPN) and a certified nursing assistant (CNA) reflect differences in educational / certification requirements, job duties, and salary.

A certified nursing assistant, or CNA, helps patients with activities of daily living and other healthcare needs under the direct supervision of a Registered Nurse (RN) or Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN).

CNA's are also commonly referred to as nursing assistants, patient care assistants (PCA), or Nurse's Aids. An LPN, on the other hand, can perform additional tasks to care for patients under the supervision of an RN.

A major difference between becoming a CNA and becoming an LPN is the education required. Aspiring Certified Nursing Assistants first need a high school diploma or GED certificate, and then they may enroll in a CNA training program.

A CNA program does not take very long to complete - anywhere from 6 to 12 weeks, unlike an LPN, who usually requires a more rigorous formal training program, which usually takes about 12 months to complete.

A key difference between the two: only LPNs are required to pass the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-PN) at the end of the program.

CNA's and LPN's are both members of a patient's care team and may share some of the same daily tasks, which include basic patient care under the supervision of an RN.

These tasks include:

  • Checking a patient's vital signs

  • Assisting with patients' activities of daily living, including dressing, bathing, using the bathroom, etc.

While LPN's and CNA's do perform a few of the same tasks, LPNs provide more robust patient care, while CNAs have a more limited scope of practice. For example, the LPN also performs the following job duties.

  • Administers medication and vaccinations

  • Collects samples (e.g., blood, urine, etc.)

  • Assists with wound care

  • Inserts and cares for urinary catheters

  • Cares for patients with ventilators and tracheostomy tubes

  • Provides feedings through nasogastric or gastrostomy tubes

  • Performs emergency CPR

  • Executes a nursing care plan under the direction of an RN

The additional requirements of an LPN compared to a CNA reflects differences in pay rates. For example, the mean annual salary for Certified Nursing Assistants was $30,083 compared to a mean annual salary of $44,840 for LPNs.

While, in general, CNAs make significantly less than LPNs, many nurses use their CNA experience as a stepping stone to further education and a higher-paying nursing position.

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What is the fastest way to become a CNA?

The best and fastest way to become certified as a CNA is by becoming a part of a Consolidated Nurse Aid School in your local area. Consolidated nurse aid schools provide fast-track certification options with smaller class sizes and multilingual tutors to give each applicant the best chance at completing their certification.

On average, CNA programs take 6 to 12 weeks to complete. With such a quick program length, becoming a CNA is a great fit for students who wish to begin working in the nursing profession as quickly as possible.

At a consolidated nurse aid school, training to become a CNA can take as little as three weeks, with other slightly longer course options available for those who can only attend evening or weekend classes.

CNA training programs are usually split into two parts, with the first taking place primarily in the classroom introducing CNA students to the basics of patient care through presentations, lectures, and other audio-visual tools.

Having learned the basics of patient care in a classroom setting, CNA students will then progress to an externship to practice and improve on their skills in a real-life setting. During their phase 2 clinical externship, CNA students are supervised by a nurse who is licensed as a Primary Nurse Assistant Instructor.

Having undergone both classroom and clinical training, the final step to becoming a certified CNA is to take a certifying exam, sometimes referred to as a state test. The training program provided by your consolidated nurse aid school will have provided you with all of the information and skills needed to pass this exam.

The test is split into two parts, a multiple-choice question paper and a practical skills examination, both of which must be passed to become accredited.

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Updated August 18, 2021