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Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA)

Certified Nursing Assistants (CNA) originated in WW1 when the Red Cross created a nurse training program called Volunteer Nurses’ Aide Service. As a CNA, you’re part of the greater good, taking care of people who need you. There’s no greater act of kindness than selflessness.

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What Is A CNA?

CNAs work in healthcare settings such as hospitals, outpatient and assisted living facilities, and nursing homes. You may also find a job as an in-home caregiver. Your typical day as a CNA will look like this:

  • Feeding and bathing patients
  • Helping to shower and dress patients
  • Turning and repositioning patients on bedrest
  • Checking vital signs and blood pressure
  • Keeping a detailed report of patients to relate to medical teams
  • Assisting with any medical procedures
  • Sometimes, just sitting and holding a patient’s hand

How To Become A CNA

Becoming a certified nursing assistant is a straightforward process: 

  • Get your high school diploma or GED.
  • Apply to a CNA program through a community college, technical school, or hospital offering a CNA program.
  • You may also find training through a medical facility, which is a free option much like an apprenticeship.
  • The average CNA training program costs $1,500.
  • Every state has its own requirements for CNAs, so check with your state board to find out more information.
  • Programs only take between 75-150 hours of combined hands-on and classroom instruction.
  • To become fully certified, you must take your state’s exam.

Expect the clinical (hands-on) portion of the exam to be a bit harder than the practical (written) section. Be warned, you may have to recruit a friend for the clinical part of the state exam.

Also, depending on your state, you may have to provide your fingerprints and background check to be eligible to sit for the exam.

What Can Come Next After CNA

Many CNAs decide to go back to school in order to advance their careers. If you’ve decided that is what your plan is, then consider the following nursing options:

LPN: Licensed Practical Nurses (LPN) usually supervise CNAs. You’ll dive deeper into patient care. More education will be necessary. You can choose to get either a diploma/certificate or an associate degree. It should take between nine months to two years to complete your education. You’ll make about $55,860 per year.

RN: You will need an associate degree if you plan on an entry-level registered nurse position. There are bridge programs available to jump from an associate degree to bachelor’s. Expect to earn around $89,010 annually.

Specializing: As an RN, you can decide to go into one of the many specialties. Consider pediatrics, maternal health, geriatrics, and much more. Or, you can decide to continue your education and get your Bachelor of Science-Nursing or Master of Science-Nursing. You could even get a doctorate in nursing. It’s just up to you and how far you want to take your career.

Salary And Job Outlook For CNAs

In 2022, the salary for a CNA was $36,220, with the top 10 percent earning $45,940 according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The highest paying industries are government, hospitals, and nursing care facilities. The highest paying states are Alaska, New York, and California (bls.gov). 

The projected growth of CNA positions is about average between now and 2031, with expected openings of 64,900 jobs at the end of the decade. Due to the baby boomers aging, which is the largest demographic, more health-related issues will be prevalent. Also, there are a lot of openings due to job burnout because of the nature of the occupation. States where the most CNAs are available are Rhode Island, North Dakota, and Nebraska. Industries with the highest concentration of jobs are nursing care facilities, retirement and continuing care facilities, and specialty hospitals (bls.gov).