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Have you been thinking about a career in the healthcare field, but you aren’t ready to spend the time or money on nursing or medical school? Maybe you just want to make sure you enjoy working with patients first before pursuing a nursing or medical degree. Either way, a certified nurse assistant (CNA) job may be right for you. What is a CNA? How long does it take to become a CNA? Where can you work as a CNA? Here’s everything you need to know about becoming a CNA.
What Is a Certified Nurse Assistant (CNA)?
What Is a Certified Nurse Assistant (CNA)?

What Is a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA)?

Certified nursing assistants (CNAs) work under the supervision of nurses and perform entry-level patient care tasks (1). CNAs – also known as nursing assistants, nurse’s aides, or patient care assistants – assist people with activities of daily living such as bathing, dressing, feeding, and toileting. CNAs help people with personal care tasks they can’t do themselves due to illness, injury, or old age.

Is a CNA Considered a Nurse?

No, a CNA is a nursing assistant, not a nurse.  

CNA’s Job Description

CNAs help people with personal care tasks they can’t do themselves due to illness, injury, or old age. Depending on the type of facility a CNA works at and the state they live in, a CNA’s tasks may include:
  • Taking patients’ blood pressure, temperature, pulse, and other vital signs
  • Documenting patients’ health issues and reporting to nurses
  • Helping patients walk with gait belts, canes, walkers, and other devices
  • Transferring wheelchair-bound patients to and from beds, toilets or commodes, and other seating places
  • Transporting patients
  • Feeding patients and/or recording how much they eat and drink
  • Bathing and skincare
  • Dressing patients
  • Grooming patients by brushing their teeth and hair, shaving them, etc.
  • Toileting assistance and catheter care
  • Repositioning or turning bedridden patients
  • Answering patient calls
  • Making beds
  • Assisting with some medical procedures
  • Dressing wounds
  • Gathering supplies
  • Assisting with range-of-motion exercises
  • Safety procedures
  • Post-mortem care

What Training and Certification Do You Need to Be a CNA?

CNAs must complete a state-approved training program where they learn some basic principles of nursing and do supervised clinical practice. Each state has different requirements for its training programs (2). In some cases, you may be able to do a two-week intensive training program at a nursing home. In other cases, you may be required to attend classes for three months or longer. In addition to nursing homes, you can find CNA training programs at high schools, hospitals, community colleges, and technical or vocational schools. After the educational program, nursing assistants usually have some supervised on-the-job training and must pass a test to become certified. The test is usually part written and part practical. -You may be able to become a CNA in as little as two weeks, or it may take three months or longer.

How Long Does it Take to Become a CNA?

It depends on which state you live in and how many hours per week you can invest in your education. You may be able to become a CNA in as little as two weeks, or it may take three months or longer.

Can You Make a Living as a CNA?

While a CNA is considered an entry-level position, it generally pays better than fast food, retail, and other entry-level positions. Additionally, there is a growing demand for CNAs. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics:
-”Overall employment of nursing assistants and orderlies is projected to grow 8 percent from 2020 to 2030 (3).”

How Much Does a CNA Get Paid?

As of September 23, 2021, the average hourly wage for a CNA is $16.14 per hour, with an average of $4,500 of additional overtime pay per year (4). Keep in mind that wages will vary depending on where you live, what type of facility you work at, and how much experience you have. An experienced CNA in New York City will make more than a new CNA in rural Wyoming.

Where Can You Work as a CNA?

Many types of facilities hire CNAs, so you have lots of options for the types of places you can work as a CNA.

In-Home Care Jobs

Home health CNAs go to patients’ homes and only need to focus on one person at a time (or maybe a couple). This is in contrast to most other facilities, where one CNA is responsible for many patients at once. In-home CNAs assist with things like:
  • Activities of daily living
  • Making and serving meals
  • Light housekeeping

Caregiver Live-in Jobs

Some people need around-the-clock care but would rather stay in their own home than go to a skilled nursing facility. These people may hire a caregiver to live with them who will assist with activities of daily living, cook, perform light housekeeping, and do other duties to help the patient age in place.

CNA Jobs in Hospitals

27% of CNAs work in hospitals, where they help nurses with things like (5):
  • Transferring patients between wheelchairs and beds
  • Turning and repositioning patients in bed
  • Monitoring vital signs

CNA Jobs in Nursing Homes, Rehabilitation Facilities, and LTC Facilities

More than 1 in 3 (37%) CNAs work in nursing homes and other skilled nursing facilities (6). They help residents with eating, dressing, bathing, and other activities of daily living along with providing residents with companionship, helping them participate in social activities, monitoring their vital signs, and taking them outside for fresh air.

CNA Jobs at Assisted Living and Retirement Communities

Residents in retirement communities and assisted living facilities usually don’t need 24-hour medical care. Instead, they get assistance tailored to their needs. CNAs may help with activities of daily living, perform light housekeeping duties, and help patients visit dining rooms and other common areas.

Hospice CNA Jobs

As people approach the end of their life, they may need a lot of care. CNAs who work in a hospice may help people with activities of daily living, monitor the patient’s health, administer medication, and prepare meals.

CNA Travel Jobs

CNAs who want variety, flexibility, and competitive pay may enjoy being a travel CNA, where you receive work assignments through an agency and work anywhere you’re needed. Travel CNAs assist patients with activities of daily living, communicate with patients’ family members and doctors, and record medical information.

Is a CNA a Good Job?

Do you love helping people? Do you want to make money and gain experience as you pursue a nursing or medical degree? Are you looking to get out of fast food, retail, or another entry-level position? You may love being a CNA! It is a physically demanding job, and it can be emotionally draining, as well, so it isn’t right for everybody, but many people would consider being a CNA to be a good job.

Are There CNA Jobs Near Me?

Probably! CNAs are in high demand and, with an aging population, will continue to be needed (7). We can help you find the perfect CNA job. Contact us today!


  1. What is a CNA? Job description and career guide. WGU Texas,
  2. What Is a CNA?,
  3. Occupational Outlook Handbook: Nursing Assistants and Orderlies, US Bureau of Labor Statistics,
  4. Nursing Assistant salary in the United States, Indeed,
  5. Maura Deering, Most Common Job Settings for CNAs, Nurse Journal,
  6. Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics, US Bureau of Labor Statistics,
  7. An Aging Nation: Projected Number of Children and Older Adults, United States Census Bureau,
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