Freeing up nurses and physicians to concentrate on the care of their charges, nurses’ aides perform a variety of tasks throughout their days. A typical workload may include cleaning a patient’s room, preparing paperwork, answering patients’ help requests, taking vital signs, preparing meals, performing hygiene work on the patient and helping the patient with basic tasks such as walking.
When it conducted a 2009 poll on nurses’ aides throughout the nation, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics found the average hourly rate for the profession to be $12.01. Nurses’ aides employed outside doctors’ offices and hospitals earned at higher hourly rates. The BLS’ top-paying industry for the profession was scheduled air transportation, paying almost double the hourly rate at $20.06. Scientific research and development services also paid much more per hour with an hourly mean wage of $16.83.
No specific pattern emerged from the top-paying states for nurses’ aides salaries in 2009. The BLS’ top-paying state for the profession was Alaska, offering an hourly mean wage of $15.57. Nevada also beat the national average at $14.89 per hour, followed closely by New York at $14.83, Hawaii at $14.66 and Connecticut at $14.44.
The minimum requirement for earning a salary as a nursing aide is a high school diploma or GED. Prospective nurses’ aides receive training from vocational high schools, community colleges and technical schools offering short-term diploma or certificate programs. On-the-job training is also usually a factor to get the aide up to speed on the particular doctor’s office or hospital-specific procedures. Nursing aides usually must submit to a criminal background check and health screening.
The BLS expects to see a continued 19 percent rise in employment of nursing aides, adding 276,000 jobs across the country through 2018. An aging population and increased requirements for long-term care contribute to the demand for nursing aides.