How Do I Become a Certified Nursing Assistant?

A certified nursing assistant (CNA) helps patients dress, bathe, and perform other basic everyday chores while fulfilling their healthcare requirements. They work under the direct supervision of a registered nurse (RN) or licensed practical nurse (LPN). CNAs are also well-regarded as nursing assistants, patient care assistants (PCAs), or nurse’s aides.

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Some people use their CNA experience as a bridge to advance in their profession and become LPNs or RNs. In fact, many CNAs are already enrolled in a nursing degree and utilize their position to learn more about the healthcare industry and expand their knowledge and expertise in the field. In contrast, others enlist as CNAs to see if they want to go on to the next phase of their healthcare careers.

The growing population, emergence of new diseases, and lack of healthcare aides are some major factors driving the demand increase for healthcare personnel. Also, the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects that employment in the healthcare industry will increase by 16% in the next 10 years.

How Much Does a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) Make?

The average Certified Nursing Assistant’s pay in the United States is $34,069. A licensed nursing assistant makes an average of $31,479 annually or $16.14 per hour. However, the standard compensation range lies between $31,047 and $37,617.

Pay scales can vary significantly based on various crucial aspects, including schooling, supplementary talents, certifications, and the duration for which you have been working in a given field. However, the highest average total remuneration for a CNA (Certified Nursing Assistant) salary (USA) is $26,448 in Los Angeles.

The starting CNA salary for entry-level employment can range between $19,390 and $27,300. Particularly in the US, CNAs make an average initial salary of $25,710. However, the average yearly salary for experienced professionals can go as high as $42,900.

What Does a Certified Nursing Assitant (CNA) Do?

A licensed nursing assistant carries out a wide range of duties, including assisting patients in bathing, eating, dressing, and monitoring their vital signs.

In a nursing home or residential facility, you have to work as the patient’s daily caregiver and primary point of contact. CNAs may also make a unit function more efficiently, especially for nurses who care for several patients with complex medical needs.

The work environment for nursing assistants may include a wide range of settings. Usually, CNAs work in hospitals, nursing homes, and assisted living facilities for older people. But you may also work in community clinics, urgent care facilities, and private physician offices. In addition, CNAs have the option of working as home health aides, facilitating patient care while they are at home.

As a nursing assistant, you may also have to perform extra duties, such as giving medication based on state and institutional laws. Since you connect with patients frequently and directly affect their quality of life, working as a licensed nursing assistant may render a very emotional and fulfilling career.

So, here are the job responsibilities you may have to perform as a CNA.

  • Accepting and responding to patient calls and bells
  • Recording the necessary information about patients
  • Feeding patients and measuring and recording their food and beverage intake
  • Patient cleansing, hair combing, shaving, nail care, and tooth brushing
  • Cleaning their bedrooms and sheets
  • Preparing rooms for new patient admissions
  • Covering patient’s wounds
  • Shifting or turning patients confined to beds
  • Noting the patient’s temperature, blood pressure, and other vital indicators
  • Recording the health problems of patients and reporting them to nurses
  • Helping with simple medical procedures
  • Assembling and maintaining medical or nursing supplies
  • Maintaining or distributing supplies like dressing packs or therapy trays
  • Educating patients and their families about medical testing and procedures
  • Providing medicine as directed
  • Changing bandages and dressings
  • Putting together apparatus like portable radiograph (X-ray) equipment, IVs, or oxygen tents
  • Keeping an eye on the patient’s needs and alerting medical professionals to problems, if any
  • Assisting patients with everyday tasks, including eating, bathing, dressing, and using the restroom
  • Ensuring patient comfort by rearranging objects, so they are easily accessible, changing the bedding, and filling water bottles
  • Helping patients transition from a chair or wheelchair to the bed and back
  • Transferring patients from beds to exam tables, operating tables, or stretchers

How Do I Become a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA)?

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Female nurse helping senior woman to get up from wheelchair in bedroom of nursing home

You need a high school diploma or equivalent to become a certified nursing assistant (CNA). Also, you must complete an education program recognized by the state to get the certification. And for doing so, you must pursue CNA training courses offered at high schools, community colleges, vocational schools, and hospitals. You can easily finish them in as little as 3 weeks.

Besides, you may anticipate learning to carry out the following duties throughout your CNA training.

  • Making sure patients are safe
  • Monitoring their vitals
  • Carefully moving patients
  • Maintaining one’s hygiene
  • Administering CPR

Since programs differ, prospective students must conduct comprehensive research to identify the one that best meets their needs. Some community colleges and vocational institutions provide online CNA classes. Throughout the nation, the American Red Cross offers a reckoned CNA training course, depending on the region and class size, which lasts for 4–8 weeks.

However, an individual must sit for a state-approved competence exam after finishing the training program. The test comprises two mandatory sections. You will have a written multiple-choice exam and a skill-based practical assessment. Once qualified, you get listed on the state registry as a certified nursing assistant and can start applying for respective jobs.

Some people decide to work as CNAs while they study to become nurses. On the contrary, others work in this field to determine whether being a nurse is the right career option before spending ample time and money to become a registered nurse (RN) or licensed practical nurse (LPN).

How Long Does It Take to Become a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA)?

The duration of becoming a CNA relies on several factors, including the course you are enrolled in and your exam readiness. However, the average time to become a licensed nursing assistant is 4-12 weeks, depending on particular programs and student schedules.

If the course covers topics in-depth, it can take longer for specific students, who may be trained for 6 months or more. Usually, students with busy schedules choose this lengthier part-time alternative. However, those who want to enter the industry as soon as possible would prefer accelerated programs that they can finish in just a few weeks.

So, to choose the application that best suits your needs, look into different training courses. After completing the training, you must take a CNA skills test to get the license to practice.

Classes and clinical hours both make up a program. So, before applying for the certification, you must complete a specific number of clinical hours, which varies by state.

Where to Find Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) Jobs?

You may obtain employment in governmental agencies, including the Department of Veteran Affairs and regional health departments. Also, you may look for jobs in hospitals, nursing homes, home health agencies, and retirement and assisted living facilities for the elderly. They are great places to obtain entry-level employment as they frequently hire.

Additionally, these occupations offer substantial hands-on experience working with various patient types. Moreover, according to BLS statistics, nursing assistants employed by governmental organizations earn $3,750 more per year than those employed by private healthcare organizations.

The largest employer of CNAs in the USA is skilled nursing institutions, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). CNAs are also essential to home health and home care companies because they enable patients to remain comfortable in their own homes.

Therefore, a job in home healthcare facilities may seem appealing if you love concentrating on one client at a time. Usually, CNAs who reside distant from hospitals and long-term care institutions may find these jobs advantageous.

How to Find a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) Near Me?

Since CNAs work in demanding positions, offering attractive compensation packages and positive workplace culture can entice the best people for this entry-level role. Prospective applicants may get attracted by the pay and other perks provided.

So, if you are looking for a CNA for your organization, get your job ads to appear in search results using Google for Jobs. It enhances the job’s visibility significantly. Employers can also use services that automatically build a correctly prepared job page by Google. By seeking professional help, these ads can be formatted appropriately on the website.

In addition, employers can start by placing an ad on generic job-posting websites. Due to their high traffic volume and accessibility, they are excellent starting points. Also, you can use a nursing employment board to enlist open positions. It will enable the search to focus more on CNAs who can be a better fit.

While looking for CNAs, you must include the job responsibilities, skills, credentials, and licenses that the applicant must meet. Also, let them know if they have to use software for electronic medical records (EMR), billing, or healthcare services.