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Individuals who are considering becoming a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) can be assured of a career that offers them personal and professional fulfillment, with the possibility of advancing their personal goals. Although the hours can be long and the work demanding, people in this field are generally satisfied because they are helping people. Because CNAs can work in different settings and with a variety of populations, they can find positions that match their interests. Those looking to become a CNA can use the guide below to learn more about entering this discipline, CNA training classes, the components of a successful career, related occupations, salary information, and job prospects.

What does a CNA do?

A CNA deals with providing basic care to patients in a variety of health care settings, with responsibilities ranging from daily assistance with personal needs, such as bathing and exercising, to monitoring vital signs and dietary restrictions. All job requirements tend to be non-invasive procedures and revolve around daily routines that patients are unable to complete on their own. Working under the supervision of licensed practical nurses, CNAs provide personal and professional assistance, ensuring that patients are treated with dignity and respect while receiving the medical care they need.

Salaries for CNAs and Career Prospects

After learning about the various opportunities available for a Certified Nursing Assistant, people will most likely be interested in learning more about compensation. As of 2014, the median annual salary for CNAs was $25,100. It should be noted that hourly pay and compensation fluctuates based on experience level and geographic location.

Job Outlook for CNAs

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that employment opportunities for certified nursing assistants will increase by 21 percent between 2012 and 2022, faster than the national average job growth. This growth equates to an additional 321,200 jobs across the United States, although the percentages of growth experienced by some states will be higher than others. Most of this expansion can be attributed to a growing population of senior citizens, resulting in an increased number of professional caregivers needed in long-term care facilities.


Training requirements vary by state, so those interested in becoming a CNA will need to check local regulations before enrolling. Students should also check with the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing. CNA training programs are offered by a variety of institutions, including the American Red Cross, local health care providers, community colleges, vocational and technical schools, and online training programs. CNA programs last from 4 to 16 weeks, depending on the institution. Those who choose to receive their training from a health care provider should be aware that some require students to work at the facility for a set period of time after receiving their certification.


Once students have completed their CNA training, they must pass a state-specific exam to be fully certified. In many cases, certified individuals can work up to four months without certification while they wait to take the exam. While the specific questions will vary based on state requirements, they will most likely include both practical and clinical components. Students should be aware that some states have additional certification requirements, including passing a background check and completing a certain number of continuing education credits each year.


After CNA training, graduates can apply for their first job. It is important to remember that certified nurse assistants can only practice under the supervision of licensed nurses, which means it is illegal to offer their services as independent providers. CNA roles are expanding much faster than the national average for job growth, giving graduates a variety of options when filling their top positions. Because CNAs can be found in almost every type of health care facility, they can also find an environment that fits their individual career goals.


In addition to completing their initial training and certification, some states require CNAs to complete a certain number of continuing education credits each year to maintain their qualifications. These are offered by a variety of educational providers and healthcare facilities. Students should check with their state board of directors for requirements for their area.