Typical Salaries for Experienced Certified Nursing Assistants
If you're considering a career as a certified nursing assistant, or CNA, one of the first things you'd probably like to know is how much you can expect to earn. As is the case with many careers, the more experienced a CNA is, the more they can expect to make. However, other factors affect CNAs' salaries too. Some of them, like geographic location, may be beyond your control. Others, like earning specializations, aren't. By understanding the factors affecting typical salaries for CNAs, you can make a more informed decision about your career trajectory and take steps to maximize your earning potential.
What is the Median Annual Salary for a CNA?
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, or BLS, maintains information regarding median salaries across many industries. According to the BLS, the median annual salary for a CNA in 2014-2015 was around $24,420. Many CNAs earn much more than this; many others earn less. The top 10 percent of CNAs during that timeframe earned around $35,330 per year, so salaries within this field vary widely.
CNA Salaries versus Salaries for Other Nursing Professionals
If you are primarily concerned with making as much as you can, you might consider how the typical salary for a CNA compares to that of other nursing professionals. Here's a quick rundown:
- Medical Assistant - $29,370
- Physical Therapy Aide - $39,430
- LPN - $41,540
- RN - $65,470
Factors Affecting the Salaries of Experienced CNAs
Other than gaining experience, which takes time, other facts affect the earning potential of the typical CNA. If you are unhappy with the median annual salary cited above, you may be able to increase your earning potential by keeping these factors in mind:
- Specialization - CNAs are entry-level employees, so their salaries typically start out on the lower end of the scale. One way to quickly command more pay is by focusing on an area of specialty. The median annual salary for a medical or surgical CNA, who works primarily in operating rooms and the like, is around $27,000. CNAs who work at medical clinics earn around the same amount. Those who work for the VA earn an average of $42,000 a year. Needless to say, government jobs like these are highly coveted by CNAs.
- Location - If you're willing to relocate, you could quickly boost your earning potential as a CNA. CNAs in Alaska earn a median annual salary of $29,868. The next highest paying state is New York, where CNAs earn an average of $28,350 per year. CNAs in Connecticut earn around $28,163 per year. If you'd like to earn more while living in a tropical area, consider Hawaii. CNAs there earn a median annual salary of $26,062.
- Experience - More than anything, experience dictates how much money a CNA can expect to make. Early in your career, you will have to accept less pay. As you gain more experience and skills, you will become eligible for higher paying jobs with more desirable schedules.
Becoming a CNA won't make you rich. Although the compensation isn't extremely competitive, the rewards are great because you make a direct impact on people's lives on a daily basis. Also, this job can easily serve as a jumping-off point for more advanced roles in the field, including RN, so progressing in your career will boost your earning potential too.