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Career Info for a Degree in Nurse Assisting

Programs in nurse assisting typically cover basic principles of caring for the sick and elderly. Find out about the curricula of these programs, and learn about career options, job growth and salary info for nurse assisting graduates.

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Nursing assistants can prepare to enter this profession with a postsecondary certificate or diploma. Degree programs for nurse assisting aren't available. These professionals may work in hospitals, nursing homes or as home care aides, and are required to meet state certification guidelines.

Essential Information

A diploma or certificate program in nurse assisting or patient care assisting prepares individuals to work in entry-level health care positions, such as home care aides or certified nursing assistants (CNA) in long-term care facilities or nursing homes. Online programs are not usually available and no prior experience is necessary to gain admission to a nurse assisting program. Some states require nursing assistants to pass a test to become certified.

Career Titles Nursing Assistant, Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA)
Education Requirements Certificate, diploma or training program; in some states, no formal education is required
Certification Some states require certification; additional credentials are available
Projected Job Growth (2014-2024)* 18%
Median Salary (2015)* $25,710

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

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Career Options

Programs in nurse assisting training future nursing assistants, nursing aides and patient care assistants to help and care to disabled, ill and elderly patients. Once an individual completes a nursing assistant training program and obtains certification as a CNA, he or she may find work as a long-term care nursing assistant, short-term care nursing assistant or home healthcare aide.

Career or Salary Outlook for Nursing Assistants

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), nursing aides, orderlies, and attendants, a category which includes CNAs, are expected to see much faster than the national average growth in employment opportunities (www.bls.gov). Employment of nursing assistants was projected to grow by 18% between 2014 and 2024. Contributing to the growth is the increased need for long-term care provided by nurse or patient care assistants.

The BLS also reported that nursing assistants earned a median annual wage of $25,710 in 2015. Salaries and employment opportunities may vary by location and employment; the majority of nursing assistants work in nursing homes, hospitals and long-term care facilities.

Educational Requirements

A high school diploma or equivalent may be all that's required to become a nursing assistant, although most employers require some sort of training. Colleges and vocational and technical schools often offer nursing aide training programs. Nurse assistant programs usually result in a diploma or certificate and can be completed in less than a year.

Students learn to help patients with daily grooming, eating, personal care and maintaining their daily routine. They also learn basic nursing skills through a curriculum mixed with courses, lectures, lab studies and supervised internships. Courses include anatomy and physiology, resident's rights, legal and ethical issues, nutrition and personal care skills.

Certification

Certification and licensing requirements may vary from state to state, but federal law dictates that nursing assistants must complete at least 75 hours of state-approved training to work in nursing care facilities. Additionally, these candidates must pass a test that demonstrates their competency. Once they've passed the test, their names are added to the nurse aide registries in their state.

Nursing assistants help patients complete daily activities such as bathing, eating and personal care. With a high school diploma and the completion of a state-approved postsecondary training program, prospective nursing assistants are ready to become certified after passing an exam. The CNA field is expected to see much faster than average employment growth from 2014 to 2024.

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