How to Become a Nursing Assistant

Those healthcare professionals who provide hands-on care to patients are called Certified Nursing Assistants (CNAs). They work under the direct supervision of the Registered Nurses (RNs) or under the care of Licensed Practical Nurses (LPNs). CNAs typically help patients with daily day-to-day activities that they can’t carry out by themselves such as, dressing and bathing etc.

Should I Become a Nursing Assistant?

Becoming a Nursing Assistant is not a difficult process however, it is a demanding career and requires a lot of stamina and strength to work long hours. Although Nursing Assistants are not required to hold a college degree, they must complete a certain set of courses, field training and become certified to be able to work in this field.

Education Required At least a High School Diploma/GED/with state-approved CNA training
Major Requirement Nursing
License/Certification State issued license/certification as a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA)
Experience/Training Completion of on-site Clinical Training is must
Key Skills Communication, Compassion, Patience, Physical Stamina, Critical-thinking, Problem-solving Skills etc.
Annual Mean Salary (2019) – National $30,720 (Nursing Assistants)
Job Outlook (2018-2028) 9% (Nursing Assistants and Orderlies)

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (2019)

Career Outlook

In 2019, the US Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that 1,419,920 Certified Nursing Assistants (CNAs) were currently employed all over the US. Job employment opportunities are expected to grow by 9% for Nursing Assistants and Orderlies between 2018 and 2028. In addition to that, BLS listed Scientific Research and Development Services as the highest paying industry for this career with an annual mean salary of $42,210.

Steps to Become a Nursing Assistant

If this career is your passion and you want to get started right away! Becoming a CNA is a simple 2 step process.

1. Completing CNA Training To enroll in a CNA Training program, you must at least hold a high school diploma or a GED. It is important that you complete a CNA Training program that is accredited not only by your state’s nursing board but also by the National League for Nursing Accredited Commission (NLNAC). Such programs are usually offered by community and vocational colleges and medical facilities.

2. Getting Certified as a CNA: All Nursing Assistants must get certified in the state where they want to be employed and the requirements vary from one state to another. Typically, Nursing Assistants must pass a 2-part CNA certification exam which includes a written portion and a clinical skill portion.

How Long Does It Take to Become a Nursing Assistant?

Becoming a CNA typically takes about 2 to 4 years including the completion of required education and certification. However, the duration may vary from person to person based on the decisions they make regarding their education and work life. It may also vary depending upon the state requirements where they choose to work.

What Are the Requirements of Becoming a Nursing Assistant?

Although some requirements of becoming a Certified Nursing Assistant or a CNA vary from one state to another, candidates must complete all of the following steps to be able to work as a CNA:

  • Hold a High School Diploma or
  • Complete an NLNAC accredited CNA Training
  • Complete the clinical CNA Training at a hospital
  • Pass the state conducted exam to become a certified CNA in their state

How Much Can I Make as a Nursing Assistant?

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), Nursing Assistants working in the US in 2019 had an annual mean salary of $30,720. In addition to that, Alaska was named as the highest paying state for this occupation with an annual mean salary of $40,320 in 2019.

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