How Much Does a CNA Make? | Certified Nursing Assistant Salary & Job Outlook

Are you mulling a career change as a CNA? Have you recently discovered taking care of patients as your calling? Or are you considering this job for its high demand and compensation? This post discussing how much do certified nursing assistants make should help you decide if this medical profession is financially worth your time or not. CNAs have a pretty good job outlook for a licensed practice, so if you're interested in this career path and would love to learn more, make sure to check our best CNA classes near me list. Also, make sure to read our ''How long to become a CNA?'' article.

nurse holding a syringe

Job Outlook: How Much Does a CNA Make 2020 and Beyond?

By now, you should have learned about the average annual compensation of certified nursing assistants and that the many factors could affect the actual wage amount offered, such as education, years of experience in the medical field, technical skills, and location of the job, among others.

Aside from pay and that taking care of patients is a calling, is becoming a certified nursing assistant a good choice in this economy? Are job openings always available in the country? The future of CNA employment ensures you wouldn't have to be on a job search for months at a time.

According to the United States Bureau of Labor & Statistics, the employment of assistant CNA and CNAs is projected to grow 8%  from 2019 to 2029.

A Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) works in nursing homes, hospitals and long-term care facilities for the elderly, disabled, and sick. A CNA works under the supervision of a registered nurse or any licensed practical professional.  He/she performs daily tasks related to patient care, such as feeding, bathing or grooming, monitoring vital signs, changing new sheets, and moving patients from one bed or room to the next.

The average hourly salary paid to CNA and nursing assistants is between $10 and $20 per hour. However, like any other nurse positions, CNA salaries would vary from one person to the next due to the following reasons:

Basic CNA Education Requirements

The basic educational requirement of certified nursing assistants includes a high school diploma (or GED), completion of a CNA certificate program (that takes 6 to 12 weeks), and certification of certain medical skills such as First Aid, infection control, and basic nutrition.

State Certification & Continuous Education

Most states require CNAs to pass a certification exam from the National Association for Home Care. 

The CNA job is often the first step to becoming a registered nurse or doctor, but it could also be a lifetime career for most people.  When CNAs decide to advance their careers, they could choose to do so with higher education or obtaining additional healthcare skills. Both paths could lead to certifications, which would be very useful when negotiating higher salaries for their jobs.

CNA Licensure Requirements

Some states or medical facilities require CNAs to pass a state-issued competency exam that leads to licensure.  If you live in a city where you'd have to take licensure every 2 years, being exceptional at patient care would not be enough to keep your job. You also have to pass the licensure exam to continue working with your CNA license.

Experience Level Matters

A CNA's years of experience generally weigh a lot and could make the entry-level CNA salary double or triple in amount. For example, CNAs who worked as nursing assistants for top hospitals usually find jobs with better pay, than those who just got out of CNA training with no hands-on experience. New grads usually land entry-level positions with no power to negotiate salary.

Resumes with Relevant Skills Land Better Job Offers

Fortunately, the more skills you have, the better your chances of negotiating your wage and benefits.  If you are already an assistant CNA, you can have control over your salary if you take the time to search and learn new skills appropriate for your profession.

whole med team

Type of Employer Affects the Pay Grade CNAs Receive

Nursing assistants employed by assisted living facilities and retirement communities usually receive the lowest pay (around $27,000 per year) with hospitals coming in a bit higher (at around $30,000) and government organizations with $34,000. Of course, these are just estimates and can be higher or lower depending on the other factors listed here.

Different Work Locations, Different Pay Grades

Your job's location also affects the annual wage of a certified nursing assistant. Aside from the state-to-state considerations, urban areas also tend to have a higher CNA salary than rural areas.

What is the Highest Paying State for CNA?

In the United States, the annual salaries of a nurse or CNA vary from one state to the next. Metro areas vs. non-metro areas, cities with a high cost of living, and local or federal income taxes all play into the factors of how companies decide CNA salary.

Here are some interesting figures as of 2020 Q4:
  • Alaska is the highest paying state for CNAs with a rate of $19.15 per hour (or $39,830 annually).
  • New York, Hawaii, and California come next with an average of $17 hourly wage (or around $35,000 to $37,000 a year).
  • Manhattan is the highest paying city in New York with almost $18/hour.
  • In California, the highest paying cities for assisted CNA jobs is Sunnyvale, Santa Cruz, and Santa Rosa at an average pay of $35,000 a year.
  • In North Dakota, the average salary of CNAs in the entire state is around $16, but the city of Williston has a much higher rate (at $18 to $20 an hour).
  • Assistant CNA jobs in Louisiana pay the lowest (at around $10.95 per hour, or $22,750 annually). This is followed by Mississippi (at an average of $11.10/hour or $23k/year) and Puerto Rico (with $11.40 hourly salary and around $23,700 yearly pay). 
  • Two states do not have to be near each other to have similar average salaries. For example, both Washington DC and Rhode Island pay certified nurse assistants about $15.50 or $31,800.

When it comes to healthcare salary, the total compensation is just one of many factors you should consider. You should also find what benefits a company is offering before you accept the salary package. Other possible salary-related considerations include re-location, other healthcare positions offered with opportunities for advancement, patient to nurse ratio, or available continuing education at work.

How Much Do CNAs Make an Hour in a Hospital?

As of November 2020, a certified nursing assistant working in a U.S. hospital takes home an average salary of $17.60.  Of course, the total compensation may still vary based on the factors above.

Because hospitals have many patients compared to other smaller healthcare living facilities and nurse homes,  the certified nursing assistant may work longer hours and paid over-time.  Of course,  others may see this as a disadvantage as well. Even if you are just assigned to take vital signs of patients throughout your shift, being focused on this single task full time and possibly exposed to patient virus and diseases may be a deal-breaker.

The job of licensed practical CNAs in hospitals are also paid with non-monetary benefits. For example, a full-time nurse and CNA who work for a hospital are given free training to further their skills. And because this is a healthcare career and it is heavily involved with patient care, hospitals will ensure that any assistant CNA they hire will have the necessary experience to meet their standards.

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