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How Much Can You Earn as a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA)?

Good news! If you have been thinking of becoming a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) in the future, this article is for you. Based on data from the Department of Labor of the United States of America, employment in healthcare support positions, including CNAs, is expected to grow by 20% up until the year 2020. The increase in CNA employment is a natural result of the aging baby boomer population. This means more opportunities for those who are currently CNA students (or those who are prospective students).

If you already know now that your possibility of getting a CNA position is very good, keep on reading this article to know more about the typical salary of a working CNA.

What will be my salary as a working CNA?

CNAs who are working full-time can earn from between USD 16,000 to USD 31,000. The median CNA salary, according to the Department of Labor of the United States, an estimated USD 24,000. Nevertheless, there are many variables that contribute to the salary that you receive as a nursing assistant that is certified. The described variables below can affect how much money you will earn as a CNA.

Education and Training

Similar to other jobs, your level of education and training play huge roles in determining your CNA salary. Actually, CNAs can earn a competitive wage level without having to spend so many years studying in a university or any other educational institution. Yet even with this advantage, it would be much better if you receive the highest level of education possible before you begin your career as a CNA. For instance, CNAs who have the minimum educational requirements for certification can earn around USD 20,000. On the other hand, CNAs who have additional education or a college/university degree would usually earn around USD 30,000 or above as their CNA salary.


The lengthier your experience as a CNA, the more your CNA salary will increase. This, of course, is a relatively universal concept for most jobs. In addition, most states require continuing educational courses for CNAs. This, coinciding with hands-on-experience, will naturally result in higher salaries throughout your career as an experienced health care worker.

One clear reason for the rise in your pay throughout your career (if you are an experienced CNA) is that you already have the significant education and experience and thus, your tasks and responsibilities will also increase. It is up to your discretion whether you will take advantage of each and every training opportunity you may have during your career. This exposure will usually lead to higher dividends, such as the financial benefit of having a higher CNA salary and of course, more job satisfaction.


Midwestern states in the United States have a lower cost of living as compared to most states in the East Coast and the West Coast. The difference in their living costs can greatly affect your salary, depending on which part of the country you are working in. Case in point, in 2012, a CNA working in Iowa receives a CNA salary of USD 23,500. On the other hand, the CNA salary of one working in New York receives around USD 32,000. This is according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Based on these quick facts, it may seem that it is more beneficial to work in New York than in Iowa. Nonetheless, you could probably rent two apartments in Iowa for the cost it would take you to get one apartment in New York.

If you do think that moving to another state for your career as a CNA is better for you, you can transfer your CNA license by researching the reciprocity procedures utilizing the Nurse’s Aide Registry in your state.


One other variable that is considered for a CNA salary is the kind of employer that you select. CNAs typically get work in hospitals, nursing homes, community care facilities, and even as home health aides.


A very good benefit of getting a job in a hospital is that you can work in a number of differing assignments. In particular, you could be starting work at a maternity unit. Afterwards, you can be transferred to the medical or surgical floor. In this case, you can be exposed to many and varying clinical procedures. In a way, you are gaining more experience. The CNA salary is higher in hospitals than in other facilities and can range from USD 11 to USD 15 per hour.

Nursing Homes

Many CNAs work in nursing homes. Since Americans have been living longer, the necessity to have long term care facilities will continue to rise in nursing homes. CNAs employed in nursing homes usually earn between USD 10 to USD 13 per hour.

Community Care Facilities

Community care facilities include not just the elderly, but other patients as well who need specialized care. The clinical setting of community care facilities is very similar to nursing homes. Nevertheless, patients found in community care facilities usually have fewer needs than nursing home patients, and thus the lower pay rate. The average CNA salary for one working at a community care facility ranges from USD 9 to USD 12 an hour.

Home Health Aides

Private companies usually hire CNAs employed as home health aides. As a home health aide, you are in charge of patients located in different localities. The CNA salary for a home health aide ranges from USD 8 to USD 11 in an hour.

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