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Certified Nurse's Aide Job Information

Learn about the job duties of a certified nurse's aide. Discover necessary education and training, certification requirements, working conditions and employment outlook to make the right career choice.

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Career Definition for a Certified Nurse's Aide

Certified nursing aides (CNAs) work under the guidance of a licensed nurse to provide direct care to patients. Certified nurse's aides work as part of a health care team; their duties include monitoring patients; preparing and delivering medications; taking patients' pulse, respiration, blood pressure and temperature; escorting patients to exam or operating rooms; setting up equipment and supplies; and recording treatment. Certified nurse's aides may also be responsible for helping patients eat, dress, bathe and get in and out of bed.

Required Education A high school diploma, on-the-job training
Job Duties Include helping patients eat, dress, bathe; monitoring patients; preparing and delivering medications; recording treatment
Median Salary (2017) $27,520 (all nursing assistants)
Job Outlook (2016-2026) 11% growth (all nursing assistants)

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Educational Requirements

Training to become a certified nurse's aide is offered in some high schools, vocational schools, technical colleges, community colleges and universities. Generally, you'll need at least a high school diploma and complete 75 hours of accredited training and an exam to become a certified nurse's aide. Courses and training include information on nutrition, anatomy, physiology, patient's rights and body mechanics.

Skills Required

Because CNAs work as part of a team of medical professionals, it's important that you have good communication and interpersonal skills to succeed in this career. Working as a certified nurse's aide can also require long or unusual hours; an ability to work in a stressful and demanding environment is also important for success as a certified nurse's aide.

Employment and Economic Outlook

The employment outlook for nursing assistants, which includes certified nursing aides, is expected to be excellent. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects that employment in this field will grow 11% from 2016-2026. The median annual wage for nursing assistants was $27,520 as of May 2017.

Alternative Career Options

Here are some examples of alternative career options:

Medical Assistant

Although they perform more administrative duties than a nurse's aide, medical assistants also provide hands-on care to patients and prepare them for examinations and tests. They can also administer medications under a doctor's supervision. Formal training beyond a high school diploma is not required, but many employers prefer someone who has earned a related career diploma, certificate or associate degree. Some states may also have specific requirements related to education and certification exams.

The BLS projected much faster than average employment growth for medical assistants of 29% between 2016 and 2026. Median yearly income for these medical professionals was measured at $32,480 by the BLS in 2017.

Registered Nurse

With a little more education and training, one can go from assisting nurses to being a nurse in charge of patient care. Nurses perform additional duties, such as operating medical equipment, administering treatments, keeping records and contributing to care planning. Education options for nurses range from a career diploma to associate and bachelor's degrees. However, nurses with more education and training may have more opportunities for employment. In May of 2017, the BLS reported the median salary of registered nurses was $70,000. It also projected a 15% increase in job opportunities from 2016 to 2026.

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