Certified nursing assistants (CNA) play an important role in the lives of patients. It is estimated that over 4.5 million certified nursing assistants care for patients in nursing homes and residential care facilities every day. This overview will explain the qualifications of a CNA, the duties that they perform their salary and the job outlook for the future.


A certified nursing assistant (CNA) is a nursing assistant who has completed the required education for their state, passed the competency exam and as a result, has earned a nursing assistant certificate. Once you have your certificate, you are a certified nursing assistant and are placed on your state’s registry. Depending on the state you reside in, you may be required to undergo a criminal background check and then complete continuing education courses to keep your knowledge fresh and up-to-date. In order to complete the required education, a nursing assistant must acquire a nursing degree or certificate after receiving their high school diploma. These can be earned at technical trade schools, vocational schools and community colleges. If you have been approved in one state and move to another state, you can request reciprocity which means that one state will accept the approval of another state.


CNAs care for their patients. They help their patients dress, eat and use the toilet, reposition patients to avoid bed sores, bathe them, take their vital signs, and serve as liaison between the patient and the registered nurse by reporting the patient’s health status. CNAs may be required to work weekends, nights and holidays. This profession can be emotionally and physically demanding. In order to perform these duties, it is best if you possess compassion, patience and excellent verbal communication skills.


According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the annual wage of CNAs in May 2010 was $24,010. The lowest wage reported by 10 percent was $17,790 while the highest wage reported by 10 percent was $34,580.

Job Outlook

As baby boomers age and become senior citizens, CNAs will be needed to support this growth. Although most jobs will be found in nursing homes and other long-term care facilities, there will be a demand for healthcare services in hospitals and clinics. Employment is expected to grow 20 percent from 2010 to 2020 which is faster than average.

Job Prospects

The job prospects for certified nursing assistants are excellent. As CNAs leave the profession, opportunities are created for those entering. Many CNAs leave to obtain more training to advance their career.

CNAs may keep abreast of the latest news and current events taking place in the profession by joining nursing associations. The National Association of Health Care Assistants (NAHCA) and National Network of Career Nursing Assistants  (NNCNA) are excellent resources. In addition, most states have an association for certified nursing assistants. If you decide to pursue a career as a CNA, you will find this profession to be very rewarding.