Certified Nursing Technician: Job Description & Education Requirements

Learn about the education and preparation needed to become a certified nursing technician. Get a quick view of the requirements as well as details about training, job duties, and certification to find out if this is the career for you.

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Certified nursing technicians work under the supervision of registered nurses to provide medical patients with routine care. They need at least a high school diploma in addition to nursing assistant training and state certification in order to get started.

Essential Information

A certified nursing technician, also referred to as a nursing aide or a certified nursing assistant (CNA), works with elderly, disabled, and infirm patients to help them perform routine daily tasks. They may also perform basic medical tasks, such as taking and recording vital signs. Certified nursing technicians need to complete a short training program that combines classroom studies with hands-on clinical practice, and they must pass a state certification examination.

Required Education High school diploma and state-approved CNA training program
Certification State certification required
Projected Job Growth (2014-2024)* 18% increase for nursing assistants
Median Salary (2015)* $25,710 for nursing assistants

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

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Job Description for Certified Nursing Technicians

Supervised by registered nurses (RNs), certified nursing technicians provide hands-on and routine care to patients in medical or psychiatric hospitals, elderly care facilities, or through home care services. They help with day-to-day tasks that may have become difficult for patients, like eating, preparing meals, bathing, and dressing. They also assist RNs with some medical equipment and procedures.

For some patients, a nursing technician is the main caregiver, spending more time with them than others. For this reason, nursing technician positions often serve as an introduction to the nursing profession; the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that many technicians become medical assistants or RNs later on.

Employment Outlook and Salary Information

According to the BLS, employment of nursing aides is expected to increase by 18% from 2014 to 2024, much faster than the national average for all occupations. Job prospects in the elderly and home-based care sectors will be the best, due to the U.S.'s aging population.

The majority of salaries earned by nursing assistants, according to the BLS, ranged between $19,390 and $36,890 per year as of May 2015. Nursing assistants employed by the federal government had a higher average salary than their counterparts in other industries; other high-paying industries included postsecondary schools, scientific research and development services, and educational support services, all of which paid mean salaries over $31,000 in 2015.

Education Requirements

There is little formal education required for nursing technicians. In addition to a high school diploma or equivalent, certified nursing assistant (CNA) training is frequently required. Covering subjects like body mechanics and nutrition, training usually lasts 75-80 hours and is offered by each state individually. The eligibility requirements for CNA training also vary by state.

Additional training can be obtained in a variety of places, including community colleges and vocational centers. Some employers offer formal training after employment. More specialized nursing aide positions, like those for psychiatric hospitals or home care services, may require additional training or certification.

Certified nursing technicians assist patients with daily tasks under the guide of RNs. Those who are interested in becoming certified nursing technicians should plan on completing CNA training offered through their state, followed by passing a state certification exam. They might also consider pursuing additional training, especially if they might want to advance to more specialized positions in the field at a later date.

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