What is a CNA?

Certified Nursing Assistants (CNAs) provide direct patient care to residents under the senior nurses’ supervision.

They’ve become an integral part of the healthcare process in nursing facilities, becoming the residents’ primary caregivers.

As a result, they’ve become intimate confidants and friends of residents.

Also, being CNA is often an entry-level position, which is a good starting point if you want to level up to nursing or other healthcare professions.

So, if you’re a compassionate person who enjoys helping others and wants to serve in healthcare, being a CNA may be right for you.

On this page, you’ll learn…

  • What a CNA does
  • Where a CNA works
  • How to become a CNA
  • Job growth and salary of a CNA

What Does a CNA Do?

Sometimes called nurse aides, a CNA works with all types of residents, providing nursing care to ensure their wellbeing.

Because you work closely with them, you understand their behaviors and personality at an intimate level.

And so, at the first sign of mental, emotional, and physical changes, you can detect them and discern if these could affect their health.

If it is so, you can inform senior nurses about any health issues promptly.

Typically, your responsibilities include the following:

  • Helping patients with activities of daily living
    • Hygiene-related activities, e.g. bathing, toileting
    • Dressing
  • Serving meals and helping patients eat
  • Measure vital signs
  • Facilitating patient care
  • Providing companionship and friendship
  • Communicating with the healthcare team and family members
  • Lifting and moving patients between beds and wheelchairs
  • Listen to and record patients’ health concerns and report that information to nurses
  • Maintaining a clean and sanitized environment

Where Does a CNA Work?

One contributing factor as to where a CNA works is their place of residence.

Some healthcare facilities in one place may need more CNAs than others.

But still, it doesn’t change the fact that you have plenty of workplace options to choose from.

If you’re interested and comfortable, you may work at these healthcare facilities:

  • Long-term care and nursing facilities
  • Hospitals
  • Rehabilitation centers
  • Adult daycare centers
  • Private homes/home health agencies
  • Assisted living establishments
  • Clinical facilities

The table below shows the industries with the highest level of employment* as of May 2021:

Nursing care facilities (skilled nursing facilities)471,160
General medical and surgical hospitals386,510
Continuing care retirement communities and assisted living facilities for the elderly140,850
Home health care services83,560
Employment services38,910

*Information retrieved from Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) Occupational Employment and Wages

How Do I Become a CNA?

Unlike other healthcare programs, you don’t need a college degree to become a CNA.

For this reason, many who like to work in healthcare consider becoming a CNA their career of choice.

To be a CNA, you will need to do the following:

  • Complete a state-approved CNA training program
  • Pass the state’s competency evaluation exam
  • Enlist in the state’s Nursing Assistant Registry in good standing

And depending on the state, other requirements include:

  • Must be at least 16 years old
  • Holds a high school diploma or GED equivalent
  • Pass the medical/physical exam
  • Undergo a complete criminal background check

To know how you can be a CNA in your state, go to https://www.cnaclasses101.com/by-state/.

CNA Job Growth and Salary

According to BLS, CNAs projected the following statistics as of May 2021:

  • Held about 1.4 million jobs
  • Earned an average of $30,310 a year

These numbers symbolize a positive job outlook and salary for individuals in this career.

The tables below show how good the future of CNAs will be for this decade:

Job Outlook
Employment, 20201,396,700
Projected employment, 20301,512,000
Percentage of change8%


Percentile Wage
Hourly pay$11.48$13.89$14.57$17.87$21.27
Annual pay$23,880$28,900$30,310$37,170$44,240


Is Being CNA Right for You?

For some, it is; for others, it’s not.

It mainly depends on your passion and preferences.

But do note that the CNA career is very suited to those who love to care for people, especially the elderly.

You are the frontline caregiver to these residents, so you must exhibit…

  • Compassion
  • Patience
  • Communication skills
  • Physical stamina
  • Dependability
  • Teamwork
  • Composure

Plus, your experiences as a CNA help you gain career benefits in the long term.

For instance, if you plan to become RN or LPN in the future, you can apply your knowledge and understanding as a CNA here.

You are able to develop nursing skills and experience in…

  • Assessment
  • Planning
  • Implementation
  • Delegation

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