CNA Salary Information

In 2020 there were 1,440,700 people in the United States employed as Certified Nursing Assistants (CNA or sometimes referred to as a Nurse Aide or Home Health Aide). With an aging population, expected growth for these positions is expected to be strong, with another 118,500 jobs expected to be added for these positions by the year 2030. Certified Nursing Assistants provide valuable healthcare services, typically to elderly or disabled patients at long-term-care facilities while working under the supervision of a registered nurse or other licensed medical professional. CNAs assist patients with many day to day resident tasks such as feeding, grooming, monitoring vital signs, bathing, and more. For some people, this is the first step in a career in nursing or the healthcare field, while many others are more than happy to continue working as a CNA. A CNA salary, or the hourly rate that CNAs get paid, is dependent on a wide range of factors, and we’ll go into more detail on each of them below.

The CNA schools displayed in this section offer tuition-based programs.

How Much Does a CNA Make a Year?

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median CNA pay per hour in 2020 was $14.82 an hour, up from $14.25 per hour in 2019. The national average annual CNA salary was $30,830 – up from $29,640 in 2019, $28,530 in 2018 and $27,510 in 2017.

How Much Do CNAs Make per Hour?

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports the average CNA salary per hour was $14.82 in 2020. Major CNA job websites have slightly different numbers for the hourly wages, with Payscale showing the CNA pay rate as $13.65 per hour, with Indeed reporting $15.35.

WebsiteAverage Annual SalaryAverage Hourly Pay    
Payscale$28,392 $13.65

CNA Salary By State – How Location Impacts CNA Pay

One of the biggest factors in how much a CNA gets paid is which state they work in. The difference in CNA salaries varies greatly from state to state. The highest paying state is Alaska at $20.43 per hour while Louisiana pays the least, coming in at $11.68. Metro areas also tend to pay more as there are more hospitals and nursing homes, meaning the demand for workers is higher. Of course, most metro areas also have a much higher cost of living, so you’ll need to take that into account as well. The table below shows the average certified nursing assistant salary for each state.

RankStateHourly mean wageAnnual mean wage   
2New York$19.53$40,620
9North Dakota$17.07$35,510
11New Hampshire$16.61$34,550
14Rhode Island$16.48$34,280
19New Jersey$15.88$33,030
30New Mexico$14.56$30,290
37South Dakota$13.88$28,870
40West Virginia$13.56$28,200
43North Carolina$13.37$27,800
44South Carolina$13.35$27,760

Source: Bureau of Labor and Statistics

Other Factors That Impact How Much a CNA Makes

While location is one of the biggest factors in how much a CNA gets paid, it’s certainly not the only one. 

Some Industries Pay More Than Others

Many new CNAs make the mistake of taking the first job offer they get. This can be a costly mistake. While there are many available CNA jobs at nursing homes and long and short-term care facilities, there may be higher paying jobs at more specialized facilities. So, for a more specific answer to the question, “How much do CNAs get paid?” you’ll need to take a deeper look into the various industries that require Certified Nursing Assistants. As you can see in the table below, taking a job in the government or at a research facility can mean a salary increase of $10,000 or more when compared to a retirement community. .

RankIndustryHourly mean wageAnnual mean wage
1Scientific Research and Development Services$20.29$42,210
2Federal Executive Branch (OES Designation)$18.8$39,090
3Junior Colleges$18.74$38,970
4Facilities Support Services$18.09$37,630
5Colleges, Universities, and Professional Schools$17.83$37,090
6Specialty (except Psychiatric and Substance Abuse) Hospitals$15.95$33,170
7General Medical and Surgical Hospitals$15.64$32,540
8Nursing Care Facilities (Skilled Nursing Facilities)$14.25$29,650
9Home Health Care Services$14.09$29,310
10Continuing Care Retirement Communities and Assisted Living Facilities for the Elderly$13.99$29,100
11Individual and Family Services$13.49$28,070

Source: Bureau of Labor and Statistics

More Experience and Education Equals More Pay

As with most jobs, the more experience and education a person has can lead to higher wages. This holds true for nursing assistants. According to data from Payscale, experience has a pretty direct impact on how much CNAs are paid. Salary data from over 19,000 CNAs shows the following increases:

  • 5-10 years of experience: 8.6% higher than starting salary
  • 10-20 years of experience: 13% higher than starting salary
  • 20+ years of experience: 21.7% higher than starting salary

CNA Salary With Experience

While it can take years of experience to see big increases in pay, to see big increases in pay from gaining experience, a quicker route for CNAs to improve their average pay is through education and specialization. A number of popular specializations that can help CNAs command more job opportunities and higher salaries. A few of the more popular CNA specializations include:

  • Pediatrics Aide
  • Geriatrics Aide
  • Cardiology Aide
  • Psychiatry Aide

Some of these positions may require special certifications. Others may only need relevant experience in a facility catering to a certain type of patient. CNAs early in their career would be wise to gain extra certifications and specialized experience to improve their long-term job prospects.

How Quickly Can I Start Earning a CNA Salary?

One of the best parts of becoming a CNA is how quickly someone can become certified and start getting paid. While applicants must have a high school diploma or GED equivalent, no college degree is required. There are a number of paths someone can take to become a CNA, but on average it takes 75 hours of classroom and clinical education. Most people can complete the necessary classroom time and complete the CNA exam in 4-12 weeks. In some cases, employers may pay for an aspiring CNA’s classes if they make an agreement to work for them once they’ve gained their certification. In these cases, it is possible to begin earning a CNA salary even before passing the CNA exam.

How Does A CNA Make Compared To Other Medical Jobs like RNs or LPNs?

There are many different jobs and job titles in the healthcare world that make for interesting salary comparisons for CNAs. Registered Nurses (RNs) and Licensed Practical Nurses (LPNs) require much more formal education and certification for their positions. Therefore, it’s not surprising that they tend to make a fair bit more than CNAs. As a point of comparison, the list below covers average salaries for some other healthcare positions according to Allied Health Schools.

Job TitleAnnual Salary
Medical Transcriptionist$35,210
Pharmacy Technician$35,250
Medical Assistant$35,720
Emergency Medical Technician$38,830
Medical Coding$46,590
LPN and LVN$48,500
Medical Lab Technicians and Technologists$54,780
Medical Laboratory Technician$54,780
Physical Therapy Assistant$58,520
Cardiovascular Technologist$59,600
Occupational Therapy Assistant$61,880
Dietitian / Nutritionist$62,330
Radiographer & Radiologic Technician$63,120
Ultrasound Technician$75,780
Speech-Language Pathologist$82,000
Occupational Therapist$86,210
Physical Therapist$90,170
Medical Scientist$98,770
Physician Assistant$112,410

Common Career Paths: The CNA Career Ladder

Many CNAs may stay in the role for a decade or more. Other CNAs use their position and their experience in patient care as a way to transition to other healthcare jobs. With the increased pay scale for other nursing roles, many CNAs use their position as a starting point to become RNs and LPNs. (You can follow these links to learn more about becoming an LPN and becoming an RN).

The most popular careers that CNAs eventually move into include:

  • Registered Nurse
  • Family Nurse Practitioner (NP)
  • Licensed Practical Nurse
  • Medical Assistant
  • Certified Medical Assistant
  • Certified Nurse’s Aide
  • Nursing Home Administrator
  • Geriatric Care Manager

Zippia has a nice CNA Career Path Map that has a lot of information on CNA jobs and career progression.

Additional Compensation and Job Benefits for CNAs

While a steady paycheck is nice, many CNA jobs come with additional benefits. These benefits can make a major difference in total compensation, too. In some cases, benefit packages can increase pay by up to 25 percent. Full-time CNA positions come with a benefits package that can include holidays, paid vacation, vision, dental, and health insurance. Additional perks offered by some employers may include tuition reimbursement and retirement contributions.

Where Can I Find Open CNA Positions?

There are a huge amount of online resources that can help job hunters find CNA job openings. While a Google search may also unearth some opportunities both locally and nationally, the following links provide quick access to search job openings for CNAs and can be filtered to help you find jobs in whichever location you choose. 

Think You Have What It Takes To Become a CNA?

This site provides many resources to help you learn more about what it takes to become a CNA, as well as prepare for the CNA written exam and skills test. Follow the links below to learn more.