CNA Salary: What does a CNA make?

A career in healthcare is rewarding in more ways than one.

Imagine being able to provide assistance to the needy, care for the elderly and comfort to the sick. The rewards of a career as a Certified Nursing Assistant or CNA are many. And a well paying salary is just one of them.

There are few vocations as enriching in life experience. As satisfying on a personal level.

But before you choose to become a CNA, you are bound to ask – How much will it pay? Will I be able to meet my expenses? Will I be able to live a comfortable life? Can I hope to earn more in the future?’

However before we discuss Certified Nursing Assistant Salary, let us find out what a CNA is.

What is a Certified Nursing Assistant?

You will find Certified Nursing Assistants wherever there is need for long term or short term, personalized care. From hospitals to nursing homes, from homes to assisted living communities. They are often the human face of healthcare.

They are also known as Nursing Aides, or Patient Care Assistants.

As a Certified Nursing Assistant you will be working with a Registered Nurse or a Licensed Practical Nurse.

What does a Certified Nursing Assistant do?

As a Certified Nursing Assistant you will be the crucial link between healthcare and the patient.

So the doctor treats, the nurse nurses, while it is you as a CNA who will be providing the care. It is you who will be the one to share his pain, to hold his hand and help him walk.

Some of the essential functions that CNAs perform are:

  • Making beds
  • Feeding
  • Dressing
  • Bathing
  • Skin Care
  • Toilet Assistance
  • Monitoring Vital Signs
  • Catheter Care
  • Helping Patients Exercise
  • Making Daily Reports
  • Post Mortem Care

As you can see, a patient is usually helpless without a CNA. Nursing Aides are often the unsung heroes of healthcare.

They also provide the essential link between a doctor or nurse with the patient. Because as a CNA, you will be interacting with the patient on a day to day basis, your opinion and feedback will be crucial in deciding on a course of treatment.

As you can see a patient is completely dependent on the Certified Nursing Assistant. Therefore if you choose to be one you will need to be selfless, caring and have a very strong work ethic.

What is a CNA Salary?

However before you choose to become a CNA, you also need to know how much you will be making. A CNA salary can vary according to state or job. It may depend on the place where you are working, the cost of living in your city or the current budget of your employer.

To understand how much you could be earning, you need to understand the following.

Experience Counts

The more experience you get, the more competent you become the better CNA salary you will get. If you are a quick learner, sincere and willing to work hard, there is no reason why you cannot command a premium. This is especially true of hospitals and other medical institutions which value good Nursing Aides and reward them accordingly.

However there is no guarantee that CNA Salary will increase with years. There are usually many other factors that come into play.

Where do you live?

The Nursing Assistant Salary you make could also depend on where you live. States with a high cost of living pay higher while states where the cost of living is not so high pay significantly lower. Let’s have a look at the average CNA Salary by state.

CNA Salary By State

State Median Mean Annual Mean
Alaska $16.74 $16.82 $34,990
Arizona $13.15 $13.30 $27,660
Arkansas $10.12 $10.10 $21,000
California $13.42 $14.13 $29,400
Colorado $13.07 $13.26 $27,580
Connecticut $14.85 $15.22 $31,660
Delaware $13.05 $13.10 $27,250
Florida $11.25 $11.58 $24,080
Georgia $10.15 $10.47 $21,780
Hawaii $14.52 $14.44 $30,040
Idaho $10.73 $10.93 $22,730
Illinois $11.23 $11.81 $24,570
Indiana $10.81 $11.11 $23,120
Iowa $11.38 $12.15 $25,270
Kansas $10.84 $11.07 $23,030
Kentucky $10.76 $11.00 $22,870
Louisiana $9.61 $9.97 $20,730
Maine $11.32 $11.68 $24,300
Maryland $13.15 $13.85 $28,810
Massachusetts $13.83 $14.23 $29,610
Michigan $12.34 $12.38 $25,750
Minnesota $12.79 $13.09 $27,220
Mississippi $9.48 $9.72 $20,220
Missouri $10.45 $10.70 $22,260
Montana $11.26 $11.77 $24,470
Nebraska $11.23 $11.62 $24,180
Nevada $14.48 $15.03 $31,270
New Hampshire $13.54 $13.78 $28,670
New Jersey $12.87 $13.19 $27,430
New Mexico $11.92 $12.60 $26,210
New York $15.64 $15.31 $31,840
North Carolina $10.60 $10.82 $22,510
North Dakota $13.11 $13.24 $27,530
Ohio $11.23 $11.64 $24,210
Oklahoma $10.12 $10.23 $21,280
Oregon $12.20 $12.69 $26,400
Pennsylvania $12.91 $13.12 $27,290
Rhode Island $13.35 $13.75 $28,590
South Carolina $10.28 $10.44 $21,710
South Dakota $10.79 $11.01 $22,900
Tennessee $10.64 $10.87 $22,600
Texas $10.75 $11.13 $23,150
Utah $10.86 $11.06 $23,000
Vermont $12.11 $12.51 $26,020
Virginia $11.18 $11.54 $24,010
Washington $13.29 $13.80 $28,710
Washington D.C. $14.22 $14.57 $30,300
West Virginia $10.12 $10.47 $21,790
Wisconsin $12.03 $12.37 $25,740
Wyoming $13.29 $13.38 $27,840

The information displayed on the table above is from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics compiled in 2012. Of course, some changes must have occurred since then. It is calculated from the hourly rate assuming that a full time employee would be working approximately forty hours every week.

Percentile 10% 25% 50% 75% 90%
Hourly Wage $8.80 $10.07 $11.74 $14.16 $16.99
Annual Wage $18,300 $20,940 $24,420 $29,450 $35,330

The average CNA salary across the United States is approximately $11.73 by the hour and $24,000 if you calculate annually.

Where do you work?

The CNA salary you receive could also depend on where you are working. Different workplaces have different work pressures and responsibilities and hence pay accordingly. Some places offer average salaries but great benefits, while others offer more pay but no benefits.

And then of course there are places where Certified Nursing Assistants prefer to work because they provide a more satisfying work experience.


Hospitals are usually high pressure and demanding work environments. However they also provide an amazing opportunity to learn. As a CNA you will usually find work in providing after-care to the elderly and the sick. You could also be assisting in taking care of recuperating invalids or accident cases.

These jobs pay about the same as the state average. However you may also be able to avail of additional benefits.

As skilled and competent CNAs are valued by hospitals, they tend to offer support – both financial and otherwise – to deserving Nursing Aides. Some have even got an opportunity to participate in employee profit sharing schemes.

Nursing Homes

Nursing Homes are the refuge of the elderly. Those who can lead normal lives but still need assistance. You will be playing a crucial role in making their daily lives comfortable.

Here too the jobs usually pay the same as state average with additional benefits to complement your CNA salary.


This could be the most rewarding job anyone can have. Your job as a CNA would be to take care of those who are in the final stages of life. Usually the people you will be working with know that they may just have a few hours to live. You will ease pain, provide comfort and support. For a short time at least, you will be the most important person in your patient’s life.

The CNA salary in this environment is normally not as good as hospitals and nursing homes. However you will be working side by side with volunteers and the work environment can be the best possible.

Long Term Care

Elderly, who have been discharged from the hospital but are still unable to take care of themselves come to Long Term Care facilities. As a CNA, you will be taking care of them. Your patient could be under your care for months and even years. As a result sometimes life long relationships are formed.

A CNA salary here is usually at par with the state average. Some of them might also offer benefits.

Home Health Aides

The elderly and sick who stay at home but are unable to take care of themselves need CNAs. Here the job might include not just taking care of your patient but also providing them emotional support and giving them company. So not only will you be giving them nursing care but may also be expected to watch television with them or join them in a game of cards.

These are private jobs and your CNA salary might be higher than in other places. However these jobs pay by the hour and do not come with benefits. 

By the hour or full time?

As a CNA you can choose to work in flexible hourly schedules or in a full time job. This is therefore an ideal career option for those who are either studying or have additional responsibilities at home.

CNA jobs that pay by the hour usually pay more (per hour) than a full time CNA salary. However full time jobs do not just offer assured employment but also health insurance and other benefits.

Some hospitals also give annual raises and offer bigger salaries to competent and experienced nursing aides.

A challenge of a lifetime

A career as a Certified Nursing Assistant is however not a bed of roses. The demands of the job are exacting and the pressure can be high. Also as there is a huge demand and not enough certified professionals, you may feel that you are in a high stress situation all the time.

Most Nursing Aides however learn to cope early on. In fact they tend to enjoy the challenges that they face in this job on a day to day basis.  It helps that a CNA salary can also compensate you pretty well, while allowing you to care for others.

Where do you go from here?

There is always a high demand for CNAs. Why? Because most CNAs do not stay CNAs for long. They usually end up applying for and getting certified into more advanced nursing careers.

So there is always a high demand for CNAs. And you will never have to sit at home, idle. Moreover if so wish you can choose to become a full time certified nurse.

The first rung

Many qualified nurses and healthcare professionals have started their careers as CNAs. This an easy way to move up the healthcare ladder. As you do so, you are assured of more benefits and more pay.  If you are not happy with the amount of money you make on a CNA salary, there is a lot of room for growth.

There are many online courses available that you can pursue while working as a CNA and can help you get a higher paying job. Maybe as a Licensed Practical Nurse or Registered Nurse.

Who can be a Certified Nursing Assistant?

Anyone. The main thing is temperament. If you feel that you have it in you to help others and provide care to those who need it most, this is the right career choice for you.

However there are some academic and certification requirements.

You will need at least a high school pass certificate . And then complete a state approved program which teaches you the basics of nursing and healthcare. There are a whole range of courses available. To find the one which suits you can use the search function in our website.

After this, you will be required to spend some time on the field, getting hands on experience in your nursing assistance. Here you will learn all the practical skills required to become a competent CNA, and earn the CNA salaries mentioned on this page.

Now that you are ready, you will be asked to pass a state level examination which will test both your theoretical as well practical knowledge in this field.

To know more about where to get access to courses and test materials, use the search function in this website.

CNA’s are valued as professionals by the healthcare industry as well as the state. So if you decide to commit yourself to any of these programs you can also access financial aid in easy terms.

The future is bright

The Affordable Care Act has made it possible for more and more people to access the healthcare system. At the same time the percentage of the elderly among the population is also at a high. This translates into a high demand for more and more Certified Nursing Aides.

Add to this the fact that most Certified Nursing Assistants soon move on to more well paying jobs as Certified Nurses. This too creates a constant demand for fresh new recruits.

The US Bureau of Labor estimates that this is going to be one of the most in-demand jobs in the next one year.

As a CNA, you are not only assured of steady employment with a good CNA salary, but also many opportunities of advancements to the higher rung of the healthcare ladder.

Long term or short term?

With its steady demand and employment being a CNA offers a good long term career. Many are the men and women who have found a satisfying and well paying profession as nursing aides.

This is also the ideal way to have a sustainable job while pursuing other goals. So whether you are a student or a struggling artist, the flexible schedules of this job allows you to keep on concentrating on your long term goals.

Choose a vocation, not just a profession

There are jobs. And then there are opportunities to make a difference. To impact lives, to inspire hope and to heal. Becoming a CNA is not just a career option. It is a calling.

To be a CNA, the most important thing you will need is compassion. A sense of empathy with your fellow human beings.
And the most lasting reward is not just the salary that you will be earning but the joy you will be bringing with you wherever you go.

A calling, just a few weeks away

If you have decided to commit yourself to this wonderful calling, you can be a Certified Nursing Assistant in a matter of weeks. It is the easiest and fastest way to a rewarding career in healthcare.

Choose now. Apply now. Tomorrow can be full of possibilities.


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