Certified Nursing Assistant Career and Degree Guide


Salary Guide for CNAs

Find out what certified nursing assistants earn and the opportunities that await with this rewarding career path.

certified nursing assistant with elderly patient

A certified nursing assistant (CNA) is an in-demand position that can offer job stability and scheduling flexibility for individuals interested in the field of patient care.

Median Annual Salary

Nursing Assistants

National data

Median Salary: $30,310

Projected job growth: 4.7%

10th Percentile: $23,880

25th Percentile: $28,900

75th Percentile: $37,170

90th Percentile: $44,240

Projected job growth: 4.7%

State data

State Median Salary Bottom 10% Top 10%
Alaska $41,410 $36,590 $55,520
Alabama $24,300 $22,230 $30,270
Arkansas $28,420 $23,000 $35,010
Arizona $36,090 $28,900 $37,980
California $37,450 $30,230 $49,040
Colorado $36,590 $29,370 $38,500
Connecticut $36,770 $29,100 $46,330
District of Columbia $37,500 $31,270 $47,520
Delaware $34,970 $28,910 $38,140
Florida $29,070 $23,050 $37,020
Georgia $28,560 $22,440 $40,730
Hawaii $36,990 $29,000 $47,520
Iowa $29,990 $28,720 $37,750
Idaho $29,450 $23,970 $37,090
Illinois $32,090 $28,280 $37,460
Indiana $29,690 $24,180 $37,460
Kansas $29,060 $23,070 $36,520
Kentucky $29,060 $22,750 $36,420
Louisiana $24,220 $18,520 $29,830
Massachusetts $37,370 $29,920 $47,280
Maryland $31,570 $27,990 $43,650
Maine $36,040 $29,100 $38,750
Michigan $35,580 $28,900 $38,080
Minnesota $36,770 $29,160 $46,490
Missouri $28,680 $22,810 $36,590
Mississippi $23,780 $22,300 $29,840
Montana $29,690 $28,770 $37,460
North Carolina $29,230 $22,610 $37,250
North Dakota $36,770 $29,130 $46,330
Nebraska $29,960 $28,520 $37,700
New Hampshire $36,770 $29,130 $45,850
New Jersey $36,730 $29,130 $44,630
New Mexico $29,600 $23,400 $38,290
Nevada $36,580 $28,900 $46,180
New York $38,130 $29,620 $47,800
Ohio $29,840 $23,910 $37,400
Oklahoma $28,820 $22,720 $33,240
Oregon $37,460 $29,690 $47,520
Pennsylvania $35,780 $28,510 $39,600
Rhode Island $37,110 $29,610 $46,210
South Carolina $28,900 $22,830 $36,330
South Dakota $28,970 $23,150 $36,800
Tennessee $29,130 $22,960 $36,520
Texas $29,420 $23,260 $37,710
Utah $29,690 $23,440 $37,460
Virginia $29,690 $23,130 $37,750
Vermont $36,590 $29,130 $42,410
Washington $37,140 $29,930 $46,550
Wisconsin $34,760 $28,820 $37,990
West Virginia $28,910 $22,970 $37,500
Wyoming $30,410 $28,900 $38,790

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) 2021 median salary; projected job growth through 2031. Actual salaries vary depending on location, level of education, years of experience, work environment, and other factors. Salaries may differ even more for those who are self-employed or work part time.

Many CNAs find their work to be emotionally rewarding since their patient care and support touch the daily lives of people who need their help. While starting positions involve providing basic care and assisting patients with daily activities such as bathing and grooming, opportunities for specialization allow you to expand your skills and potentially increase your salary.

While entry-level positions involve providing basic care, opportunities for specialization allow you to expand your skills and potentially increase your salary.

What’s My Earning Potential?

Another factor that can influence your salary is where you work, as this chart shows.

Industry

Average CNA Salary


General Medical and Surgical Hospitals
Work under the direction of a nurse to provide personal care and perform tasks for a varied population of patients with a wide range of needs.

$35,190

Nursing Care Facilities (Skilled Nursing Facilities)
Provide daily personal care to residents, often for the same people over an extended period of time. 

$32,090

Home Health Care Services
Visit patients in their homes to provide assistance with daily tasks and basic medical care such as taking vital signs.

$29,930

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2021

You’ll also have opportunities to earn extra income as a CNA by working overtime. Federal law categorizes positions that require an advanced degree as “exempt learned professionals,” who aren’t entitled to overtime. Since CNAs don’t need an advanced degree, federal law says they must be paid 1.5 times their hourly wage for all hours over 40 in a work week.

Keep in mind that if you want to expand your skills and take on more responsibilities, you can always enroll in an education program to become a licensed practical or licensed vocational nurse (LPN/LVN) or a registered nurse (RN).

How Do CNA Salaries Compare?

This chart illustrates varying salaries for other healthcare workers with entry-level education.

Career Median Annual Salary
Nursing Assistants $30,310
Licensed Practical and Licensed Vocational Nurses $48,070
Registered Nurses $77,600
Medical Assistants $37,190
Physical Therapist Assistants $61,180

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Employment Statistics, 2021

Is There Demand for This Career?

The BLS anticipates employment for CNAs to grow 5% through 2031, as fast as the average for other jobs. Demand could translate into more job opportunities for certified nursing assistants in hospitals and clinics.

However, CNA jobs may sometimes be a bit more difficult to find in nursing homes, the BLS says, because many rely on funding from the government. It’s not uncommon for funding to increase at a slower rate than the cost of patient care, a situation that could leave a nursing home with less money to hire healthcare workers.

The BLS anticipates employment for CNAs to grow 5% through 2031, as fast as average for all other jobs.

Because of the nursing shortage in the U.S., careers in nursing in general are quite stable. This means that if you work as a CNA and decide later to advance in your nursing career, your job prospects could be promising.

Is There Competition for Jobs?

Hospitals, nursing homes and long-term care facilities operate 24/7, which means a CNA may be required to work nights, weekends, or holidays. If you face competition and you’re flexible about your hours, make this one of the first things you tell a potential employer. It might help you stand out in a field of job candidates.

Where Do Most CNAs Work?

According to the BLS, the following industries employ the largest number of CNAs:

IndustryNumber of CNAs
Nursing Care Facilities (Skilled Nursing Facilities)471,160
General and Medical Surgical Hospitals386,510
Continuing Care Retirement Communities and Assisted Living Facilities for the Elderly140,850

How Do I Advance in My Career?

In most fields, furthering your education can help propel you to the next phase of your career. The same applies to CNAs. For example, you can train to become an LPN, the next nursing role up from a certified nursing assistant. In this position, you may supervise CNAs and have added responsibility.

Look for CNA-to-LPN bridge programs that will allow you to apply some of your CNA education and/or experience toward LPN program requirements.

You may increase your earning potential by qualifying for one of the specialty certifications available to CNAs who want to expand their roles.

“There are many certifications, such as bathing aides, oral care aides, restorative aides, and oncology aides, all of which offer advancement at the bedside without changing to another career,” says Genevieve Gipson, RN, MEd, RNC, and director of the National Network of Career Nursing Assistants and Career Nurse Assistants Program Inc.

Each certification is awarded by a different professional organization, which sets standards for the experience and education necessary to earn the credential. Here are some common certifications.

Specialty Certification

Certifying Group


CNA II

Offered by some state boards to CNAs with specified advanced training and/or experience

Certified Alzheimer Caregiver

Certified Hospice and Palliative Nursing Assistant

Certified Wound Care Associate

Medication Aide Certification

Another option is to get certified as a medical assistant (CMA) through a CNA-to-CMA bridge program. The pay is slightly higher and most medical assistants work in physicians’ offices, where the hours are more regular.


anna giorgi

Written and reported by:

Anna Giorgi

Contributing Writer

With professional insight from:

Genevieve Gipson RN MEd RNC

Director, National Network of Career Nursing Assistants and Career Nurse Assistants Program