Certified nursing assistant (CNA) positions are entry-level jobs in the nursing field. Oftentimes no prior healthcare work experience is required aside from the classroom and practice hours needed to complete a state-approved CNA training program. Working under the supervision of more senior registered nurses (RNs) or licensed practical nurses (LPNs), nursing assistants do not generally earn as high a salary as other nursing professions or other entry level healthcare options. However, becoming a certified nursing assistant is an excellent way to quickly enter the healthcare profession, provide important basic care to patients in need, and determine if a career in nursing is right for you.

Salary Comparison Tool

This tool will allow you to easily search and compare the average salaries of nurses for many cities and locations across the U.S. You can search by city and state. Salary data is provided through the BLS.

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How Much Does a Certified Nursing Assistant Make?

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median annual wage for nursing assistants was $28,530 as of May 2018 (most recent data available). However, the specific salary for a CNA will vary slightly based on the following factors:

Type of Employer

Certified nursing assistants may work in a variety of job settings providing basic patient care such as feeding, dressing and bathing patients, helping with activities of daily life and taking vital signs. They may find jobs in government organizations such as the Department of Veteran Affairs and local departments of health, hospitals, nursing care facilities, home health organizations, and retirement and assisted living communities for the elderly. According to BLS data, nursing assistants working for government organizations make slightly more ($3,750) than average annually nationwide and than those who work for other types of healthcare organizations such as hospitals; state, local, and private and $5,270 more than median annual pay as an industry.

The median annual wages for nursing assistants in the top industries in which they worked were:

  • Government organizations: $33,800
  • Hospitals: $30,050
  • Nursing care facilities: $27,840
  • Home healthcare services: $27,290
  • Continuing care retirement communities and assisted living facilities for the elderly: $27,200

Geographic Location

In general, jobs in larger cities and more populated areas tend to offer higher salaries than smaller towns and rural areas to compensate for higher costs of living. However, in some cases if there is a high demand for nurses in a more remote area, salaries will increase to attract new employees. Currently, the states with the highest paid nursing assistants are Alaska ($39,830 annual mean salary) and New York ($37,010 annual mean salary).

CNA Salary Table

Location Total Employment Annual Salary
United States 1,450,960 $28,540
Alabama 22,590 $23,290
Alaska 1,820 $38,500
Arizona 14,750 $30,540
Arkansas 18,060 $24,610
California 99,440 $33,070
Colorado 21,070 $32,000
Connecticut 22,150 $32,620
Delaware 4,850 $30,020
District of Columbia 3,500 $31,190
Florida 89,860 $26,020
Georgia 36,780 $24,680
Hawaii 4,800 $34,870
Idaho 7,300 $26,770
Illinois 61,140 $27,860
Indiana 30,220 $26,830
Iowa 20,890 $28,520
Kansas 22,290 $25,670
Kentucky 24,060 $26,080
Louisiana 20,690 $22,070
Maine 9,580 $28,350
Maryland 27,980 $30,230
Massachusetts 39,100 $32,310
Michigan 49,760 $29,710
Minnesota 31,640 $33,350
Mississippi 13,850 $22,480
Missouri 38,560 $24,350
Montana 5,760 $28,820
Nebraska 14,580 $28,280
Nevada 6,660 $34,060
New Hampshire 7,980 $31,280
New Jersey 56,500 $29,470
New Mexico 6,200 $27,890
New York 91,400 $36,610
North Carolina 63,010 $25,260
North Dakota 7,080 $33,980
Ohio 65,860 $27,040
Oklahoma 17,120 $24,530
Oregon 12,880 $32,350
Pennsylvania 76,260 $30,080
Rhode Island 10,200 $30,000
South Carolina 20,950 $24,190
South Dakota 6,010 $26,300
Tennessee 28,340 $25,680
Texas 87,750 $25,760
Utah 10,680 $27,650
Vermont 3,040 $29,910
Virginia 39,320 $27,270
Washington 32,690 $31,220
West Virginia 8,330 $25,180
Wisconsin 32,310 $29,240
Wyoming 3,310 $29,970
Guam 330 $28,110
Puerto Rico 360 $19,200
Virgin Islands 180 $29,280

Table data taken from 2018 BLS (http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes311014.htm)

Prior Experience

While many CNA positions do not require prior professional experience beyond the required training hours set by the state nursing board, a nursing assistant may make a higher starting salary if he or she has some previous healthcare experience, for example as a candy striper or volunteer at a local hospital.

CNA Salary Per Hour

As an entry level position, CNA jobs may pay employees an hourly wage. For aspiring nursing assistants who are wondering about average hourly rates, the BLS reports a median hourly wage for nursing assistants of $13.72 nationwide. According to the BLS, nursing assistants can expect to make between $10.24 and $19.02 per hour.

CNA Job Outlook

Certified nursing assistants are in demand nationwide, with a particularly bright career outlook in the future. According to the BLS, employment for nursing assistants nationwide is expected to grow 9 percent from 2018 to 2028, which is a faster rate of growth than the average for all occupations. This increase in demand for nursing assistants is likely due to an aging baby boom population that will require care in hospitals, nursing homes and long-term care facilities. In addition, new nursing assistant job openings are created on a regular basis as CNAs go back to school to seek higher paying nursing positions as LPNs or RNs.

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