There are many careers to pursue in the health-care field. Each one is unique, with specific training requirements and its own set of duties. However, they are all important in maintaining patient health and comfort. One health-care career position that is crucial to those objectives is that of a certified nursing assistant (CNA).
Often referred to as a nursing assistant or nurse aide, a certified nursing assistant (CNA) helps registered nurses (RNs) or licensed practical nurses (LPNs) with patient care. The particular duties of a certified nursing assistant vary depending on where she works. However, CNAs are often charged with providing one-on-one patient care, including helping patients with eating, bathing, grooming and dressing. Sometimes, CNAs are also required to serve meals and make beds for patients. They may also handle such basics as taking patients' blood pressures, checking pulses and taking temperatures. All of their duties are performed under the supervision of more highly trained nurses, such as registered nurses or LPNs.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average hourly rate for a certified nursing assistant was $11.50 in the spring of 2007. The average annual salary was $23,920. The lowest 10 percent of employees in this field earned less than $9 per hour. Those who were paid the most, accounting for the highest 10 percent of nurse aides, were paid upwards of $15 for each hour of work.
According to PayScale, the hourly payment rate for certified nursing assistants increases with the length of time on the job. For certified nursing assistants with less than 1 year of experience, the median (middle value) hourly rate was about $9.72 as of December 2008. Of those with 20 years or more experience, the median rate was $12.20. According to All Allied Health School, the average yearly salary range for a CNA is between $23,663 and $29,801.
To be eligible to work as a CNA, a person must have at least 75 hours of training that has been approved by the state in which he plans to work. He must then take and pass a competency test. Once the training and test are complete, a person is given the title of CNA and a listing on the registry of nursing assistants that is maintained by his state.
A person may train to become a CNA in a variety of settings. For example, there are some courses a person may take in high school, as well as those offered by vocational-technical centers. Often, community colleges offer CNA training, and many private companies offer training as well. A person may even obtain training at some nursing care facilities.