Certified nurse assistants provide hands-on patient care and perform other tasks at hospitals under the supervision of medical staff. The job is physically demanding because CNAs often need to lift and move patients to help them bathe and get into and out of bed. Still, the pay that CNAs receive at hospitals and other facilities is low, even if a CNA has many years of experience.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicted that CNAs will have excellent job opportunities from 2008 through 2018. The downside of the prediction is that those opportunities are likely to arise from less competition as fewer people pursue the profession due to low pay. Many vacancies may result from CNAs leaving the occupation to train for other healthcare jobs.
The BLS data show that CNAs who worked at hospitals in 2009 earned mean annual salaries of $26,540. Alaska, Connecticut, Hawaii, New York and Nevada are among states that paid higher industry salaries that year. For example, CNAs who worked in Nevada in 2009 earned mean annual wages of $30,970.
The employment of CNAs and others in similar professions may grow faster than average when compared with all other occupations the BLS tracks. More than 275,000 additional jobs could be available in the industry if the employment of CNAs and others grows 19 percent through 2018 as the BLS predicted. The BLS data show that the majority of CNAs work at nursing care facilities, but hospitals pay slightly higher wages. CNAs earned mean annual salaries of $24,080 at nursing care facilities in 2009.
A PayScale website survey of more than 20,000 CNAs also showed that hospitals pay slightly higher salaries than nursing care facilities. According to the PayScale survey, CNAs earned hourly wages at hospitals that ranged from $9.89 to $12.84 in April 2011. The survey shows they earned wages that ranged from $9.54 to $12.14 per hour at nursing care facilities. The overall salary range for CNAs cited in the survey is $19,599 to $26,475.
The BLS expects improved medical technology to help drive future demand for CNAs wherever they work. The BLS notes that better medical technology can potentially extend people's lifespans, which also may increase the need for services provided by CNAs as people age.
However, CNAs might consistently earn low wages no matter how long they remain in the profession. The PayScale survey indicated that CNAs who have been in the profession for 20 years or more only make $10.34 to $14.67 per hour.