Following the pandemic, we have become more alert about our health. And this has increased the demand for professionals in the health and wellness industry. With that, not only are there a considerable number of job openings in nursing but a gradual increase in wages of medical professionals has also been recently observed.

CNA Salary
Medical student taking notes in hallway at the university

So, if you are interested in nursing and looking for different types of courses and their importance in the healthcare industry, becoming a Certified Nursing Assistant or CNA might be one of your best options. The latest market trends in the USA show that it is one of the most high-demand jobs for the next 5 years.

Therefore, today, in this article, we will highlight the state-wise wage trends and other factors related to the job of a Certified Nurse Assistant.

How Much Does a Qualified CNA Earn?

Return on investment is essential to consider before stepping into any industry or weighing all your job options. You have to bear the expenses and put effort into courses, certifications, internships, and many other things. Hence, it is only fair that you’d want to know what you are getting out of the job immediately after you start working.

State-Wise Salary of CNAs

As per the statistics of May 2021, the average salary for CNAs in the US was $30,310. However, this list below ranks all the states according to how much they pay to a CNA on average. So, here, have a look!

RankStatesHourly Mean WageAnnual Mean Wage
2New York$19.53$40,620
9North Dakota$17.07$35,510
11New Hampshire$16.61$34,550
14Rhode Island$16.48$34,280
19New Jersey$15.88$33,030
30New Mexico$14.56$30,290
37South Dakota$13.88$28,870
40West Virginia$13.56$28,200
43North Carolina$13.37$27,800
44South Carolina$13.35$27,760

Please note that these figures do not include bonuses, increments, or other benefits.

Impact of Location on a CNA’s Salary

As seen in the list above, salary can largely vary according to the state you are residing in. For instance, while the hourly wage in Alaska is more than $20, Louisiana pays less than $12 an hour to a Certified Nursing Assistant. So, most Northern states of America pay much more than Southern states.

All states have different demands for nursing assistants depending on the number of hospitals and nursing homes or other places situated in the area. Other places include old-age homes, orphanages, mental health units, schools, university campuses, etc.

Besides, different states have different costs of living and lifestyles. For example, Metro cities have higher day-to-day costs. So, it is more expensive to travel, eat, rent an apartment, and lead a life in well-developed US states. On the other hand, states with lesser developed cities are cheaper to spend your daily lives in. So accordingly, these states have jobs that pay less than others.

Impact of Industry on a CNA’s Salary

Many industries require the support of Certified Nursing Assistants. But different sectors pay differently. Well, there are several reasons for this. How profit-oriented an industry is, serves to be the most critical factor.

If an industry relies on competition, it earns more than non-profit organizations. Thus, such sectors pay more salaries to the CNAs.

It would entirely depend on the goal of what you want to get out of your job. Some people solely look for high-paying jobs, while others have social or welfare-related goals. If you wish to get better pay, do proper research on the various industries that offer jobs for CNAs.

So, here’s a classification of how different industries pay CNAs.

RankIndustryHourly Mean WageAnnual Mean Wage
1Scientific Research and Development Services$20.29$42,210
2Federal Executive Branch (OES Designation)$18.80$39,090
3Junior Colleges$18.74$38,970
4Facilities Support Services$18.09$37,630
5Colleges, Universities, and Professional Schools$17.83$37,090
6Specialty (except Psychiatric and Substance Abuse) Hospitals$15.95$33,170
7General Medical and Surgical Hospitals$15.64$32,540
8Nursing Care Facilities (Skilled Nursing Facilities)$14.25$29,650
9Home Health Care Services$14.09$29,310
10Continuing Care Retirement Communities and Assisted Living Facilities for the Elderly$13.99$29,100
11Individual and Family Services$13.49$28,070

What is Your Job as a Certified Nursing Assistant?

Now that you know how much a CNA is paid, let’s discuss what is supposed to be their job!

A Certified Nursing Assistant or a CNA is assigned to care for patients. They help and support them with their daily activities and basic care requirements. A CNA works under the direct supervision of a Registered Nurse (RN) or Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN). These nurses instruct and guide CNAs through all their tasks.

Therefore, CNAs ensure the smooth running of a healthcare unit. Their tasks can range from documentation and paperwork and bringing required supplies to RNs or LPNs to doing basic hygiene work for the patients like bathing, brushing their teeth, and dressing them up.

However, the following are some of their other tasks.

  • Recording vital signs whenever required
  • Seeing to the requests and calls of patients
  • Cleaning and dressing wounds
  • Providing meals to patients, measuring and recording their solid food and liquid intake
  • Offering them hair, nail, and teeth care
  • Cleaning the patient’s room and changing sheets
  • Stocking supplies
  • Preparing rooms for admissions
  • Helping with medical procedures

These responsibilities can vary according to the organization you are working in. Some organizations might assign more duties and give you more authority, while others might not do so. Also, it will depend on the respective state guidelines. So, you must work according to the standard protocols.

How Do You Become a Certified Nursing Assistant?

You are probably still on this article if you genuinely consider CNA a profession! However, for that, you must know how to proceed with becoming a CNA.

So, here are the things you must do to achieve the same.

Undergo Professional Training Programs

You must complete a training program approved by your state. CNA does not require a college degree.

So, these courses will equip you with the basic training and understanding of the tasks mentioned above.

Clear Competency Exams

After completing the training program, you will need to give a competency exam that you must pass for your certification.

As these examinations are set according to the state’s rules, each has a unique format. Therefore, you need to accomplish a specific cut-off score to qualify for the exam.

Abide By Miscellaneous State Requirements for Certification

Apart from the exam, you must fulfill other requirements set by your state. These may include training hours, personal information like physical and mental status, any history of conviction, etc.

Get Specialty Certifications

After becoming a licensed CNA, you can opt for additional certifications in specialization to broaden your potential area of work. It not only ensures you a good job in the industry you are interested in but also renders higher pay and quick promotions.

There are different certificates for these specializations beyond the usual CNA certification awarded by specific organizations. So, you can explore these options according to your preferred specialization.

The following are some of the popular specializations amongst CNAs.

  • Pediatrics Aide
  • Geriatrics Aide
  • Cardiology Aide
  • Psychiatry Aide

How Long Does It Take to Become a CNA?

Not considering the specialization, getting a CNA certification can take around 4-12 weeks, depending on the structure of the program and state guidelines.

Also, the class and clinic work hours are extremely flexible and can be planned according to the student’s schedule. So, even managing CNA training classes won’t be a hassle for you.

How Soon Can You Start Earning as a CNA?

Certified Nursing Assistant Salary
Flat vector image of a doctor with money behind him

Certified Nursing Assistant is one of the few jobs in which you can start earning earlier, that too without a college degree! After completing the training program and exam mentioned above, you can get a decent job and start earning.

Some organizations can even hire you before you get the certification. However, it solely depends on state guidelines and your academic performance as a student.

How to Increase Your Pay as a CNA?

Standing out from other students will always be in your favor, and you must work towards it!

So, here are some effective tips you can follow to make yourself a more favorable candidate and earn relatively higher than others.

Earn Specialization Certificates

Education is the most important thing you need as a CNA to make more money. As mentioned before, specialization is beneficial in terms of determining your career. Also, it helps you with long-term job prospects and higher pay.

Enhance Your Soft Skills

Education and certification are not enough to become a good CNA. You also need excellent soft skills to make it through without obstacles and do your job well.

So, here are some of them, including interpersonal skills, which are really important.

  • Observational Skills
  • Verbal Communication Skills
  • Empathy
  • Dependability
  • Critical Thinking and Problem Solving
  • Time Management

Gain Experience

As you add working years to your resume, your salary will increase simultaneously. CNA is a growing job position. So, you will get a generous percentage of salary hike if you are implementing your experience at work and are consistent in your post.

Career as a CNA

In the dynamic and uncertain world we presently live, nothing stays the same for too long. The same goes for jobs, and it is common for employed people to keep changing their workplaces, specialization, or promote themselves to a much higher position.

Well, in that case, CNA becomes the right profession to choose if monotony is not something you are looking for as a working person. Thus, many students start working as CNAs while attending medical school.

It lets them gain enhanced experience over their fellow batchmates in a proper workplace. Also, it enables them to solidify their ideas about specializations and hospitals and build a network in the industry.

CNA is also a ladder to other nursing professions and healthcare jobs. If you wish to continue in the nursing field and eventually progress, CNA is the easiest stepping stone towards it. Getting up the ladder of nursing professions will subsequently increase your pay and provide you with many other benefits.

Most students get CNA certification to become Registered or Licensed Practical Nurses. But of course, many wish to continue as CNAs to get a promising career.

Spending a hefty amount of time at the organization will get you many additional benefits as you will have built a strong relationship with them. It does not only include impressive increments but holidays, paid vacations, and vision, dental, and health insurance. In some cases, there are tuition pay-offs and other significant advantages too.

Final Words

So now you know all about becoming a Certified Nursing Assistant and earning a living through it. While most of these are important guidelines, you should plan your career according to your favorable pace and interests.

Balance out your priorities and start planning even if you do not want to put things into action soon. Being ready for your career is always good, and we hope this article contributed to that!