CNA Salary and Job Growth
Certified nursing assistants may not make a huge salary, but there’s always room to grow.
Median Annual Salary
Unfortunately, working as a certified nursing assistant (CNA) won’t make you rich. If you can look past the salary, a CNA job can be your first foot in the medical field door and often allows you to create close relationships with patients.
According to The U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) current Occupational Outlook Handbook, the median expected annual salary for certified nursing assistant is $26,590. Actual salaries may vary greatly based on specialization within the field, location, years of experience and a variety of other factors.
What’s my earning potential?
Like other nursing jobs, a certified nursing assistant salary if often related to where the job is. According to the BLS, the top 10 percent of nursing assistants earned more than $36,170.
Keep in mind that if you find you’re not happy with a CNA salary, you can always enroll in an education program to become a licensed practical or licensed vocational nurse or a registered nurse.
How do certified nursing assistant salaries compare?
|Nursing Career||Median Annual Salary|
|Licensed Practical and Licensed Vocational Nurse||$44,090|
|Physical Therapist Assistants||$55,610|
Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2018-19 Edition, Nursing Aides, Orderlies and Attendants; Licensed Practical and Licensed Vocational Nurses, Registered Nurse; Medical Assistants, Physical Therapist Assistants and Aides
*The salary information listed is based on a national average, unless noted. Actual salaries may vary greatly based on specialization within the field, location, years of experience and a variety of other factors. National long-term projections of employment growth may not reflect local and/or short-term economic or job conditions, and do not guarantee actual job growth.
Is there demand for this career?
The demand for more health care services is growing, which could translate into more job opportunities for certified nursing assistants in hospitals and clinics. And, as the U.S. population continues to age and the elderly population gets bigger, CNAs could become invaluable at nursing and long-term care facilities.
Because of the nursing shortage in the U.S., careers in nursing are in high demand. This means if you work as a CNA for a period of time, but decide to advance further in your nursing career, the job prospects look promising.
What is the job growth for the field?
The BLS anticipates employment for CNAs, attendants and orderlies will grow 11 percent through 2026, which is much faster than average. Be aware that national long-term projections of employment growth may not reflect local and/or short-term economic or job conditions.
The BLS says CNA jobs may sometimes be more difficult to find in nursing homes because many rely on funding from the government. It’s not uncommon for the funding to increase at a slower rate than the cost of patient care.
How much competition will I face for a job?
Hospitals, nursing homes and long-term care facilities operate around the clock, which means a CNA may be required to work nights, weekends or holidays. If you’re willing to work irregular hours, let a potential employer know right off the bat. It might help stamp out some of the competition (those looking for regular hours) and make you a more desirable candidate.
What kind of institutions hire CNA nurses?
The BLS reports the following industries employ the largest number of CNAs:
- Nursing care facilities
- Continuing care retirement communities and assisted living facilities for elderly
- General medical and surgical hospitals
How do I advance in my certified nursing assistant career?
In most fields, furthering your education can help propel you to the next phase of your career. The same rule applies to CNAs. You can receive training to become a licensed practical or licensed vocational nurse, which means you may supervise CNAs and have added responsibility. Learn about an LPN/LVN career.
Another option is to get certified as a medical assistant. The pay is slightly higher and most medical assistants work in physicians’ offices, where the hours are more regular.