Each state sets its own requirements, so nursing aides go by various titles. Nursing aides must complete a postsecondary training program and pass a state-specific competency exam. In some states, a passing score on the exam allows nursing aides to use the title certified nursing assistant, or CNA. In other states, they use the name nursing aides or nursing assistants. Pay depends not on title but on factors such as geographic location and employer. The term “good pay” is somewhat subjective, but the average salary for CNAs working for hospitals is neither the lowest nor highest when compared to other jobs.
Pay at Hospitals
Many CNAs work for general surgical and medical hospitals. The average salary at these facilities was $27,690 per year, or the equivalent of $13.31 per hour, according to a May 2012 report from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Specialty hospitals, excluding facilities for substance abuse or psychiatric care, paid an average of $28,070 per year, or $13.49 per hour.
In its report, the BLS listed the five best-paying industries for CNAs. The federal government ranked first, reporting average annual salaries of $35,930. CNAs employed by postsecondary schools earned an average of $32,030 per year. Companies conducting scientific research and development offered the third-best average salary, $30,840 per year. State governments provided average salaries of $30,520 per year, while insurance companies provided an average annual pay of $29,770.
Among the industries the BLS included in its report, the lowest average annual salary -- $23,600 -- went to CNAs providing in-home health services. Assisted living and retirement communities providing continuing care paid an average of $23,850, while nursing homes offered an average salary of $24,650.
Salaries by Location
Nationwide, the average salary, regardless of employer, was $24,420 per year in May 2012, according to the BLS. Average salaries were highest in Alaska, at $34,990, and in New York, at $31,840. Connecticut, Nevada and the District of Columbia offered average annual salaries of $31,660, $31,270 and $30,300, respectively. Mississippi provided the lowest average salary, at $20,220 per year. Salaries were also significantly below the national average in Louisiana -- $20,730 -- and Arkansas -- $21,000.