The Complete Guide
Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA)
How To Become A CNA and save time and money on your certification
Why We Love CNA
What if you could have a rewarding career in healthcare, bringing aid and comfort to others in their time of need?
And what if you could start this medical career working on the front lines of patient care in as little as 6 months instead of spending 4+ years (and thousands of dollars) in medical school?
A certified nursing assistant (CNA) is a healthcare professional who provides hands-on care to patients in medical settings under the supervision of a registered nurse (RN) or licensed practiced nurse (LPN). These professionals play a vital role on any healthcare team.
If you think you’ve got what it takes to be a CNA, then keep reading to find out more about this exciting career!
What is a CNA?
Under the supervision of licensed nursing professionals, CNAs care for patients who are injured, disabled, or otherwise unable to care for themselves. In many healthcare settings, CNAs are the people patients interact with the most.
Their duties are incredibly important for the patient’s well-being and recovery.
Depending on the employment setting, these tasks can vary. But typically, a CNA will perform some or all of the following duties:
- Checking vital signs
- Collecting specimens
- Help with skin care and oral care
- Reposition bedridden patients
- Help transfer patients from wheelchair to bed
- Help patients get dressed and eat
- May walk patient to appointment or for exercise
So let’s say you are working in a hospital setting. Your shift begins and you make the rounds, taking patient’s vital signs. While you’re in room 2034, a patient asks if you can help her stand up and get into her wheelchair. You do and then continue on with your rounds.
Later in the day you assist a few patients down to their physical therapy appointments and help Mrs. Rodriguez with getting dressed. It’s a busy day for you and at the end of it you feel great about the care you have provided and the difference you’ve made in people’s lives.
Top 7 Reasons to Become a CNA
Here are 7 reasons you should consider a career as a CNA Nursing Assistant:
1. No Prior Experience is Needed
You don’t need any prior experience or degree to begin your certification program – you could start towards a career as a CNA in just 5 months.
2. Emotionally Rewarding Career
The work is challenging but incredibly rewarding. At the end of each day you can feel real satisfaction knowing you made a profound impact in people’s lives.
3. Gain Firsthand Exposure to Other Healthcare Careers
CNAs work closely with licensed vocational nurses and registered nurses. This gives you an opportunity to watch and learn what they do to determine if you want to advance your career in this direction. And, since you will develop a rapport with nurses, you can also seek professional guidance to make a career choice that’s best for you.
4. Prerequisite for Entry into a Nursing Program
There are some nursing schools that only admit candidates who have gotten their CNA certification and some real-world experience. This experience prepares nursing students for the rigors of the nursing program.
5. Varied Work Environments
CNAs can choose to work in a variety of work settings. Many will seek employment in hospitals, while others will work in hospices and still others will care for patients in their home.
6. Flexible Schedules
CNAs typically work full-time schedules. Having said that, because patients require care around the clock, you will most likely be able to find positions that offer flexible scheduling through shift work. That way could maximize time with family on a schedule that works best for you.
7. Job Outlook
The Bureau of Labor Statistics has predicted that this profession will see tremendous growth over the coming years. But we’ll get to specific statistics in just a bit.
How to Get a Certified Nursing Assistant Certification
Whether you work in a hospital, nursing home or a private home, employers typically require candidates to be certified. So if you want to increase your prospects in landing that dream job, a certification may be the best way to get started in this exciting new career.
We recommend you take our certification savings quiz to get started.
Our quiz could help you save time and money on a certification program from an authorized school or accredited university – and it takes less than a couple minutes to complete.
5 Things to Look for In A CNA Certification Program
1. Find an online CNA program from an authorized school or accredited university
Getting a proper education is paramount to your success. In addition to gaining critical skills and information, you’ll have a certificate to proudly display on your wall.
2. Look for a discount and a low monthly payment plan
Adult learners typically don’t have large amounts of money to put toward their education. Don’t worry though…that’s why OnlineDegree.com has made it our mission to help adult learners get huge discounts toward their certification! We can help 🙂
3. Make sure an externship placement is included
Real-world experience is what will set you apart from other candidates and make you more marketable for the best job opportunities.
4. Look for an online, mentor supported course you can take at your own pace
Certification through online classes is the way to go. You can learn at your own pace while still getting the support and mentorship you need.
5. Find out if textbooks are included in the cost of the program
Have you seen the prices of textbooks? Books for a CNA program can cost and arm and a leg! Make sure to find a program that doesn’t charge extra for books. Again, we can help 🙂
6. (Bonus!) Use our free quiz to find a certification program that meets all of this criteria
You can save a lot of time because we’ve done the research for you. Take our healthcare quiz to get matched with the best certification programs. All programs meet this criteria and are chosen for you based on your career goals and life situation.
Certified Nursing Assistant Salary Data
How much do Certified Nursing Assistants make? Here is the salary and growth data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS):
The median annual wage for CNAs was $29,660 in May 2019. This salary is dependent of a variety of factors including experience, certifications and location. Industry also impacts how much you can earn. For example, CNAs working in the government can earn as much as $35,500 a year.
Although most CNAs work full time, some choose to work part time. And, because hospitals and nursing homes provide care at all hours, CNAs may need to work nights, weekend and holidays.
Certified Nursing Assistant Job Growth Projections and Forecast
How fast is the CNA field growing? According to the BLS, employment of CNAs is expected to grow 9% from 2018 to 2028, which is faster than the average for all occupations.
With the baby boomer population aging, there will be more need for CNAs to help care for an increasing number of older patients in hospitals and nursing homes.
While job prospects are good across the board, those candidates who have obtained certification will have the easiest time landing a job. Luckily we can connect you with accredited universities that offer this training!
How to Find a Job as a Nursing Assistant
Your first step toward your career as a certified nursing assistant is to complete the certification training program through an accredited university. This will help you gain critical skills so you are ready to enter the job market.
Next, you’ll want to determine what setting you’d like to work in. As we mentioned, many CNAs will work in a hospital setting, but there are other settings you may wish to work in. For instance, CNAs also work in nursing homes, home care, assisted living, Hospice, community based long-term care, correctional institutions, and other long-term care settings. Each of these work environments offers its own benefits and challenges, so be sure to spend some time researching to determine what setting appeals to your personality best.
Once you’ve determined your preferred work setting, your next step is to gain some valuable real-world experience before starting your job search. The good news is a quality certification program will include an externship so you can gain some hands-on experience!
Frequently Asked Questions
Additional questions and answers you may have about a day in the life, becoming a CNA or getting the Certified Nursing Assistant certification:
Q: What Does a Nursing Assistant Do Every Day?
A: A CNA works to help patients who need help with everything from:
- Taking vital signs (temp, pulse, blood pressures etc)
- Helping patients be mobile
- Helping patients get dressed
- Bathing and skin care
- Helping them eat
- Mouth and hair care
- Making beds or rooms ready for next patients
- Toileting assistance and catheter care
- Transfer wheelchair-bound patients to and from bed
- Turning and positioning bedridden patients regularly
- Post-mortem care
Q: What is a Nursing Assistant Certification?
A: This certification is a valuable asset to have as it shows prospective employers that you have taken the time to learn the fundamentals. This certification will help you stand apart from the crowd and hopefully get your resume noticed.
Q: What Skills Will I Learn in Nursing Assistant Training?
A: Your training will focus on basic care for patients, understanding medical terminology, following proper safety regulations, filling out incident reports, and knowledge of CPR.
Q: What Are the Prerequisites for Enrollment in a Certificate Program?
A: The only requirement for enrollment in these programs is a high school diploma or equivalent.
How to Start Towards a Nursing Assistant Career In 6 Months
Even if you don’t have any prior experience or degree – you could start towards a career as a certified nursing assistant in just 6 months! That’s one of the greatest advantages of this profession.
So here’s what we recommend you do to get started: Take this quiz to see if you qualify for a discount with an online certification program from an authorized school or accredited university.
CNA Certification is required or preferred by most employers. Plus, taking a certification program could be the best way to get your foot in the door, build your network, get training, and work experience.
Take this quiz to see if you qualify for:
- 10% Off A Certification Program
- An Externship For Real Work Experience
- Affordable Program and Low Monthly Payments
- A FREE Laptop To Take The Course If You Don’t Have One
- No Extra Cost For Textbooks – All Included and Shipped To Your Door
- Online, Mentor Supported Courses You Can Take 24/7 At Your Own Pace
If you are ready to get started on an exciting and rewarding career in healthcare, then take this short quiz to get started toward your dream!