CNAs Are Essential - But Often Receive Low Salary Pay

hard working CNA earns low salary
Written by
Miranda Kay, RN
June 30, 2021

Table of Contents

Learn How to Find the Highest-Paying CNA Jobs

In spite of vaccine availability and public awareness campaigns, COVID-19 continues to be a battle in healthcare systems both around the world and within the United States. Over the past year and a half is that there tends to be more media coverage and public appreciation for the risk and hard work that doctors and nurses are experiencing while working in pandemic settings. What about all the allied health professionals? Certified nursing assistants (CNAs), orderlies, and other healthcare workers have been working the frontlines along with all the doctors and nurses, and they are often referred to as the “legs of a facility”. Without them, daily operations would cease to exist. 

Indispensability of CNAs 

CNAs provide some of the most basic, yet absolutely crucial services to their medical patients. Without CNAs a hospital, a skilled nursing facility, a retirement home simply would not be able to function. Here's a generic list of the work responsibilities a CNA fulfills, and when we say generic, this means that in each different medical setting there is undoubtedly MORE that they do, specific to their work environment.

  • Routinely checks vital signs including the patient's blood pressure and heart rate
  • Feed or assists with feeding the patient
  • Turning or rearranging the patient to prevent or relieve bed sores
  • Stock medical supplies for the patient's room
  • Provides assistance with grooming the patient, this can include assistance with bathing, brushing teeth, washing and combing hair, and shaving
  • Responding to patient calls
  • Documents patient vitals, food and water intake, and any reports of complaints or progress
  • Transports or assists with transportation of patients
  • Cleans and tidies patient's room

As previously stated, the list of CNA work responsibilities will include other tasks specific to the department or setting in which they are employed. When you read through that list, can you imagine a hospital or nursing home in which those services weren't provided? It would be chaos, and it would not be safe or clean for patients. 

CNA Salary or Income

Unfortunately, in spite of the fundamental importance of their role, a CNA's income is often markedly less than that of other specialized healthcare workers. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, CNAs in 2020 had a median income of $14.82 per hour or $30,830 for the year. The median income isn't the same as average, median income in this reference means the number the majority of CNAs across the country earned.

While it is a better income than some other entry-level type jobs in other industries, some reports indicate a high number live around the poverty line.

Being a CNA Is More than a Paycheck

Low wages are certainly frustrating for more than just the reason that it might make you feel undervalued. It can be hard making ends meet, and that stressor is just one on top of a pile, right?

The reality is, many CNAs come to work every day because they understand the work they do matters to the patients they care for. It's true that work as a CNA is often the first step into a career in nursing. Moreover, it's also true that many work as CNAs because they are compassionate, empathetic, hard-working, and love to help others.

There are ways to earn more as a CNA, let's dive into that topic next.

How to Earn More Income as a CNA?

There are talks from important people to raise the wage for CNAs. And while that is certainly reassuring, it doesn't change your income earnings right now. Nevertheless, there are a few things you can do to grow your income as a CNA. First, you need information.

Take a look at the CNA pay averages by state, and compare them to what you are currently earning. Are those two numbers close? For your convenience, we've put in a run-down of the top-paying states, and a link to the rest if your current state isn't listed.

If you're in one of the lower-paying states, it doesn't mean you have to relocate, nor does it mean where you're at is a "bad" deal. After all, most (although not all) of those states also have high costs of living. It does, however, provide you with some perspective.

One way to earn more is to be willing to work night shifts and/or holidays when employers offer shift differential. These shifts are less convenient for people with families or who prefer to actually sleep at night time, but if you can arrange your life in such a way that makes you available to work at these times, you're likely to see an increase in your hourly pay.

Relocation, technically, is something for you to think about but better yet, look into the world of per diem nursing. Per diem nursing is when healthcare workers pick up shifts on an as-needed basis. The beauty of PRN shifts is that you don't have to give up your current employment if you don't want to, you can do both if you're organized and make sure to manage your need for rest. 

Work PRN CNA Jobs By Using NursaTM

At NursaTM, we've created a platform that allows CNAs to find and apply for PRN shifts in facilities near them. It's free to download and easy to use. We've streamlined the process and made it easier for CNAs to work PRN shifts around their schedules, by simply browsing the shifts that are available and choosing ones that fit.

Often PRN shifts offer higher hourly pay rates than the typical CNA employment. You'll find we have hundreds of CNA shifts offering $18-$25 per hour for a shift. Working PRN to supplement your income is a great way to earn more. Even more, some of our CNAs have switched to only working PRN shifts full time.

For CNAs who are struggling with the imbalance between the love of their jobs and their feeling of being undervalued by income, per diem nursing helps to level the playing field.

Blog published on:
June 30, 2021

Miranda is a Registered Nurse, Medical Fact Checker, and Publishing Editor at Nursa. Her work has been featured in publications including the American Nurses Association (ANA), Healthcare IT Outcomes, International Living, and more.

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