By Mark Alison
There are so many great reasons to become a Certified Nursing Assistant: plenty of CNA jobs available; choices in work environments; the opportunity to make a difference in people’s lives every day; and the ability to earn a good living. The average annual salary for a CNA is almost $30,000.
CNA training can be completed in as little as two weeks through a hospital or nursing home, slightly longer through the Red Cross CNA training, or through a community college training program in just a few months. Once training and licensing is completed, a Certified Nursing Assistant can see an average starting salary between $11/hour and $14/hour.
Exactly how much a Certified Nursing Assistant earns will vary somewhat, depending on geographic location, workplace, experience, and other factors. A CNA working in a hospital in New York, for instance, will earn approximately 8% more than a similar position in Arizona. Generally speaking, salaries follow COA’s or “Cost Of Living” indexes. The more expensive area’s such as the Northeastern US generally pay higher wages than the mid-West.
The type of position will have a bearing on earnings as well. Hospitals are usually the highest salary, followed by nursing homes, then patient homes. Even within a hospital, pay will vary by department: a nurse assistant working in ICU – the Intensive Care Unit – will often receive a slightly higher wage than a nurse assistant in a lower-stress department.
A working CNA can also expect their pay scale to go up with experience. As a profession, nursing – and Certified Nursing Assistants in particular – have a fairly high ‘burn-out’ rate. As the job often carries with it a great deal of physical and emotional stress and exhaustion, some people find they don’t want to stay in the field. One result is that the numbers of CNA’s with experience diminishes. Another result is that there are plenty of jobs in the field available.
In addition to base pay, most nurse assistant and medical assistant positions offer benefits, such as health coverage and retirement savings plans. While some nursing positions are filled through agencies, and those typically do not have the same types of benefits, most medical facilities and institutions such as hospitals, nursing homes, medical clinics, and such do offer excellent benefits packages to their employees.
The medical and health care fields are virtually recession-proof. Even in the toughest economic times, a properly licensed Certified Nursing Assistant rarely has difficulty finding a good-paying job. There were estimated to be over 500,000 individuals employed as nursing assistants, medical assistants, etc. in 2008. As a profession, nursing assistants are ranked well above average in the field for job growth, job sustainability, and potential. It is expected to remain one of the market’s fastest-growing jobs for years to come.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Office of Occupational Statistics and Employment Projection, the projected growth rate for nurses aides and nursing assistants is expected to grow by a combined 28 percent. This is even faster than the medical health care field in general, far outpacing the expected 14 percent growth of LPNs (Licensed Practical Nurse) between the years 2006 and 2016.
By becoming a Certified Nursing Assistant, you take the first steps towards a rewarding and fulfilling career, unlike any other. As a medical professional, you will earn respect, personal satisfaction, job security, and financial safety.