Become a Nurse's Aide: Education and Career Roadmap

Explore the requirements to become a nurse's aide. Learn about the job description and duties, and review the step-by-step process that can help you start a career as a nurse's aide. View article »

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Video Transcript

Nurse's Aides

Nurse's aides work under the supervision of registered nurses. They may help patients take medication, transport patients, and provide assistance to nurses and other healthcare professionals. Nurse's aides may stand for much of their workday. They may also have to lift or move patients who need assistance.

Career Skills and Info

Nurse's aides need compassion, patience, and strong verbal communication skills. They should also be able to take a patient's vital signs and know how to use medical software and Microsoft Excel. According to PayScale. com in 2016, certified nurse's aides earned a median annual salary of $24,165.

Degree Level No degree required, but individuals must complete a postsecondary certificate program
Degree Field Nurse aide; Certified nurse assistant
Licensure/Certification Must pass state competency exam
Experience Entry level; no experience necessary
Key Skills Strong verbal communication skills, compassion, and patience; knowledge of medical software, Microsoft Excel; ability to measure vital signs
Median Annual Salary (2016)** $26,250

Sources: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, O*Net Online, Oregon State Board of Nursing, **PayScale.com

Coming up next are some of the requirements you'll need to fulfill to qualify for a job as a nurse's aide.

Step 1: Training

To qualify for employment, nurse's aides usually need a certificate earned through a postsecondary program at a community college, vocational school, hospital, or nursing home. In order to enroll, individuals may need to submit to criminal background checks and drug screenings; current vaccinations are often required as well. Aspiring nurse's aides enrolled in certificate programs learn effective communication skills and basic nursing techniques through hands-on training with certified nurses. These programs generally include clinical instruction and can be completed in less than one semester.

Step 2: Certification

After meeting education requirements, prospective nurse's aides must take a state competency exam. Individuals who pass the exam may be called certified nursing assistants (CNAs), but the specific title can vary by state. Nursing assistants who pass the exam are often placed on state registries; in many cases, state registration is required for aides who work in nursing homes.

Success Tip

  • Prepare for the state's competency exam. Graduates of postsecondary programs may take certified nursing assistant (CNA) exam preparation classes to increase their chances of passing the exam. Prep classes may be available through some schools' continuing education departments.

Step 3: Advance & Renew

Certified nursing assistants have to continually renew their certifications for cardio pulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and first aid in order to maintain their standing as nurse's aides. In some states, nurse's aides can further their career by becoming Certified Medication Assistants (CMAs) or specializing in a specific area of medicine.

Let's summarize what we just talked about. Nurse's aides must complete a postsecondary certificate program and pass their states' competency exams, after which, the may earn a median annual salary of $24,165.

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