Certified Nursing Assistant

Certified Nursing Assistant logoWelcome to CNA Certification Advice and congratulations on your decision to pursue a career in the healthcare industry! The healthcare industry is one of the fastest growing sectors of the economy and the number of CNAs employed in the United States is expected to grow by over 20% in the next decade. By becoming a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) you will set yourself up for a career that will open doors to tremendous career opportunities and rewarding work in the healthcare industry. The ability to advance your career while being well-compensated in the healthcare industry are excellent reasons why many people decide to become a CNA, but new CNAs will also find out that the contributions they make to their patients lives, community and society to be equally rewarding. The work and dedication from CNAs is vital to the success of hospitals, doctor’s offices, nursing homes and any other healthcare provider where patients are managed. Once you become a Certified Nursing Assistant, it is safe to say that you will have a career where you have the opportunity to make a positive impact in your patient’s lives each and every day that you go to work!

CNA Job Description

Certified Nursing Assistant CNA with patientThe acronym CNA stands for Certified Nursing Assistant, but other positions in the industry that carry out similar job duties as a CNA are: State Tested Nurse Aid (STNA), Registered Nursing Assistant (RNA) and Licensed Nursing Assistant (LNA). While some of the job description details or certification requirements may differ a little within these positions, they all perform similar duties to that of a CNA. CNA is the most commonly used title for nursing assistants in the healthcare industry, but some states do use other acronyms to describe the title for these positions. For more information on training and/or certification in your state, please refer to the Training and Certification pages where you will find all the information that you will need for your desired state.

CNAs and all nursing assistants are key components of their organizations as they have a variety of roles and responsibilities in wide range settings, but their core fundamental role is to assist their supervising Doctor and/or Registered Nurse in providing the best possible care for the patient. The following list contains examples of what a CNA may be expected to do during a typical workday:

  • Record a patient’s vitals (temperature, blood pressure and heart rate)
  • Clean, bathe and change patients
  • Record patients symptoms/explanation for visit
  • Assist patient with meal
  • Move patient within the facility
  • File paperwork
  • Oversee patients medication (may require additional certification)

While these are some of the most common responsibilities for a CNA, there are many other tasks that they may be required/expected to be able to perform. However, there are also actions that CNAs are not legally allowed to do and those will be covered more in the state certification information.

CNA Training

Certified Nursing Assistant CNA examCertified Nursing Assistants must have the proper training at a state-accredited program so that they can become certified. While the training is important so that they may be certified, it is equally important that the training program best prepare the student for their future position. CNAs have important duties in the healthcare industry and they need to be properly trained. Post-secondary education is a requirement for CNA certification and there are abundant options for prospective nursing assistants to learn their craft. Accredited CNA training programs are offered at community colleges, online programs and organizations like the Red Cross throughout the country. Before enrolling in a program you should confirm that the program is accredited in your state and the programs credit will be honored towards your states certification status. For more information please visit the “Certification” page.

While there are many places you can receive training, they should all be teaching similar criteria that will show you the fundamentals of how to become an effective CNA.

CNA Certification

There are many good-paying jobs in the healthcare industry that do not require a certification, but getting CNA certified make your resume stand out and set you up better for a long-term successful career that will open the door to more opportunities in the future. Getting CNA certified is often the first step for many professionals to a successful career in the healthcare industry. CNAs earn a competitive entry-level wage, but many enter the profession with the end goal of becoming a registered nurse (RN) in mind. Starting your career as a CNA will allow you to begin working in the healthcare industry earlier and gain experience that will be useful if you choose to become a RN. The amount of time it takes for you to transition from a CNA to an RN is completely up to you, but many professionals will start working as a CNA so they can get valuable experience and have a solid income, and at the same time they are able to attend and pay for nursing school without having to take out student loans. That is not to say that every CNA eventually becomes a RN though, the services that CNAs provide is extremely valuable and many find it rewarding to stay in that position throughout their career. However, the median annual salary for a RN is over $65,000 leading many CNAs to eventually pursue the degree.

The first step in becoming a CNA is to complete a state-approved education program. The length of class time is most commonly around 100 hours. Once you have completed the accredited program, you are then able to take a state-competency exam. After passing the state-competency exam, the requirements vary from state to state. Once all state requirements have been satisfied you will be placed on the state registry and be recognized as a Certified Nursing Assistant! Please refer to the Certification page where you will find the necessary information to become CNA certified in your desired state.

CNA Careers

Certified Nursing AssistantsThere is a shortage of Certified Nursing Assistants in the United States and nursing assistants that are certified are in high demand in the healthcare industry. According to the BLS, there were over 1.5 million CNAs in the United States in 2012. The number of employed CNAs is expected to grow by over 20% before the year 2022. Therefore, that means there will be an additional 300,000 CNAs in the workforce by 2022! Factors like the baby boomer generation aging and population growth over the past decade has led to the need for more CNAs. While there will be high demand and any nursing assistant that is certified should be able to find open positions to apply for, it will still require excellent skills and a proven ability to do the necessary work to get a job. CNAs assist many patients from a variety of demographics everyday and will need to have strong interpersonal skills and demonstrate this ability in their interview. Patients will not always be easy to work with and the ability to stay calm and mature is also necessary. While your technical skills and the ability to perform “nursing skills” is important, your interpersonal skills will be just as important on the job.

CNAs earn excellent pay as the BLS says that the median wage was $11.73/ hour in 2012. CNAs are often paid by the hour instead of an annual salary but will often times have the opportunity to work overtime if they would like. Additionally, the work hours can vary based on where you are employed. Hospitals may require you to be able to work nights and weekends whereas a general practice office may hold normal business hours. You should keep this in mind when you are searching for a position so that you can find the best long-term fit for yourself.