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Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) Salary Ultimate Guide

Are you a CNA or thinking of becoming one? If so, how much you can make as a CNA must be foremost on your mind. Luckily, you have come to the right place. This ultimate guide to certified nursing assistant (CNA) salary covers everything there is to know about CNA income: how much CNAs make in different states and industries throughout the United States, CNA minimum wage, the highest-paid CNAs, and much more. Keep learning to find out how much you can earn as a CNA.

Highest-Paid CNAs

CNAs earn a substantial salary - which can be increased with PRN shifts.

According to the latest data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the national average CNA salary is $33,250 annually. However, the highest-paid 10 percent earns $44,240 annually. The following sections cover the states, cities, and industries that this highest-earning group of CNAs work in. Plus, in case you’d like to know “How much do CNAs make an hour, a week, monthly, or annually?” we’ll cover that as well.

Highest-Paying States for CNAs

When it comes to predicting CNA income, the state you live in is one of the most illuminating factors. The following are the top ten highest-paying states for CNAs:

Rank State Hourly Rate Weekly Average Monthly Average Annual Average
1 Alaska $20.71 $828.40 $3,590.00 $43,080
2 New York $19.56 $782.40 $3,390.00 $40,680
3 California $19.12 $764.80 $3,313.33 $39,760
4 District of Columbia $18.94 $757.60 $3,282.50 $39,390
5 Oregon $18.67 $746.80 $3,235.83 $38,830
6 Washington $18.40 $736.00 $3,189.17 $38,270
7 Massachusetts $18.12 $724.80 $3,140.00 $37,680
8 Minnesota $17.66 $706.40 $3,060.83 $36,730
9 Connecticut $17.36 $694.40 $3,009.17 $36,110
10 and 11 North Dakota and New Hampshire $17.34 $693.60 $3,005.83 $36,070

  Source: Table created based on data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)

Highest-Paying Cities for CNAs

Find out where CNAs make the most money. Are you thinking about packing your bags and moving to one of these high-paying states? Then, you’ll want to know which specific areas within these states offer CNAs the highest average salaries. The following are the top ten highest-paying metropolitan areas for CNAs:

Rank Metropolitan Area Hourly Rate Weekly Average Monthly Average Annual Average
1 San Jose, Sunnyvale, and Santa Clara, CA $22.93 $917.20 $3,974.17 $47,690
2 San Francisco, Oakland, and Hayward, CA $22.84 $913.60 $3,958.33 $47,500
3 Salinas, CA $21.26 $850.40 $3,684.17 $44,210
4 Fairbanks, AK $21.10 $844.00 $3,656.67 $43,880
5 Napa, CA $20.34 $813.60 $3,525.83 $42,310
6 New York, NY; Newark and Jersey City, NJ $20.17 $806.80 $3,495.00 $41,940
7 Anchorage, AK $19.99 $799.60 $3,465.00 $41,580
8 Santa Cruz and Watsonville, CA $19.74 $789.60 $3,422.50 $41,070
9 Santa Rosa, CA $19.60 $784.00 $3,397.50 $40,770
10 Seattle, Tacoma, and Bellevue, WA $19.51 $780.40 $3,382.50 $40,590

Source: Table created based on data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)

Highest-Paying Nonmetropolitan Areas for CNAs

Don’t like living in cities? Don’t worry; there are high-paying nonmetropolitan areas for CNAs as well! The following are the five highest-paying nonmetropolitan areas for CNAs to earn more money in the United States:

Rank Nonmetropolitan Area Hourly Rate Weekly Average Monthly Average Annual Average
1 Alaska nonmetropolitan area $21.84 $873.60 $3,785.83 $45,430
2 North Valley and Northern Mountains Region of California nonmetropolitan area $18.56 $742.40 $3,217.50 $38,610
3 East North Dakota nonmetropolitan area $18.04 $721.60 $3,126.67 $37,520
4 Eastern Sierra and Mother Lode Region of California nonmetropolitan area $18.02 $720.80 $3,123.33 $37,480
5 West North Dakota nonmetropolitan area $18.00 $720.00 $3,120.00 $37,440

Source: Table created based on data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)

CNA Salary by State in 2022

Now, not everyone is willing to pack up and move to the highest-paying locations, and you might even find that the state you live in already offers a decent average salary for CNAs. So if you were wondering, “How much do CNAs make in California, Texas, Florida, or Oklahoma?” here are the average CNA hourly rates and annual income in all fifty states organized in alphabetical order: 

State Hourly Rate Annual Average
Alabama $12.78 $26,590
Alaska $20.71 $43,080
Arizona $16.64 $34,610
Arkansas $13.38 $27,840
California $19.12 $39,760
Colorado $16.93 $35,210
Connecticut $17.36 $36,110
Delaware $16.46 $34,240
District of Columbia $18.94 $39,390
Florida $14.35 $29,840
Georgia $14.71 $30,600
Hawaii $17.64 $36,680
Idaho $14.61 $30,380
Illinois $15.97 $33,230
Indiana $14.96 $31,110
Iowa $15.60 $32,440
Kansas $14.30 $29,730
Kentucky $14.08 $29,290
Louisiana $12.43 $25,840
Maine $16.52 $34,360
Maryland $16.37 $34,040
Massachusetts $18.12 $37,680
Michigan $16.25 $33,790
Minnesota $17.66 $36,730
Mississippi $12.35 $25,690
Missouri $17.66 $36,730
Montana $15.41 $32,050
Nebraska $15.57 $32,380
Nevada $17.22 $35,820
New Hampshire $17.34 $36,070
New Jersey $17.23 $35,830
New Mexico $15.20 $31,620
New York $19.56 $40,680
North Carolina $14.14 $29,410
North Dakota $17.34 $36,070
Ohio $15.06 $31,330
Oklahoma $13.39 $27,850
Oregon $18.67 $38,830
Pennsylvania $16.44 $34,190
Rhode Island $17.12 $35,610
South Carolina $14.07 $29,260
South Dakota $14.26 $29,660
Tennessee $13.89 $28,900
Texas $14.72 $30,620
Utah $14.72 $30,630
Vermont $16.63 $34,600
Virginia $14.85 $30,890
Washington $18.40 $38,270
West Virginia $14.21 $29,560
Wisconsin $16.28 $33,870
Wyoming $16.07 $33,430

Source: Nursa’s Nurse Salary Guide: Understand How Much You Can Make as a Nurse

Highest-Paying Industries for CNAs

Now, location is not the only factor determining CNA pay. CNAs can literally earn more than double in some industries than they can in others. Therefore, working in the right industry can be even more important than moving to the highest-paying state. Take a look at the top ten highest-paying industries for CNAs:

Rank Industry Hourly Rate Annual Average
1 Junior colleges $29.48 $61,310
2 Scientific research and development services $21.43 $44,580
3 Insurance carriers $20.58 $42,810
4 Federal executive branch (OEWS designation) $20.12 $41,850
5 Technical and trade schools $19.36 $40,280
6 Specialty hospitals (except psychiatric and substance abuse hospitals) $17.02 $35,400
7 General medical and surgical hospitals $16.92 $35,190
8 Nursing care facilities (skilled nursing facilities) $15.43 $32,090
9 Continuing care retirement communities and assisted living facilities for the elderly $15.15 $31,520
10 Home health care services $14.39 $29,930

Source: Table created based on data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)

CNA Minimum Wage

The lowest-earning 10 percent of CNAs earn $11.48 per hour or $23,880 annually, which is lower than some state’s minimum wage but higher than the current Federal minimum wage, which is $7.25 per hour. Here are the average hourly rates for CNAs in each state compared with each state’s minimum wage:

State CNA Hourly Rate State Minimum Wage Alabama $12.78 None required
Alaska $20.71 $10.34
Arizona $16.64 $12.80
Arkansas $13.38 $11.00
California $19.12 $14.00
Colorado $16.93 $12.56
Connecticut $17.36 $14.00
Delaware $16.46 $10.50
District of Columbia $18.94 $16.10
Florida $14.35 $10.00
Georgia $14.71 $7.25
Hawaii $17.64 $12.00
Idaho $14.61 $7.25
Illinois $15.97 $12.00
Indiana $14.96 $7.25
Iowa $15.60 $7.25
Kansas $14.30 $7.25
Kentucky $14.08 $7.25
Louisiana $12.43 None required
Maine $16.52 $12.75
Maryland $16.37 $12.50
Massachusetts $18.12 $14.25
Michigan $16.25 $9.87
Minnesota $17.66 $10.33
Mississippi $12.35 None required
Missouri $17.66 $11.15
Montana $15.41 $9.20
Nebraska $15.57 $9.00
Nevada $17.22 $10.50/9.50
New Hampshire $17.34 $7.25
New Jersey $17.23 $13.00
New Mexico $15.20 $11.50
New York $19.56 $13.20
North Carolina $14.14 $7.25
North Dakota $17.34 $7.25
Ohio $15.06 $9.30
Oklahoma $13.39 $7.25
Oregon $18.67 $13.50
Pennsylvania $16.44 $7.25
Rhode Island $17.12 $12.25
South Carolina $14.07 None required
South Dakota $14.26 $9.95
Tennessee $13.89 None required
Texas $14.72 $7.25
Utah $14.72 $7.25
Vermont $16.63 $12.55
Virginia $14.85 $11.00
Washington $18.40 $14.49
West Virginia $14.21 $8.75
Wisconsin $16.28 $7.25
Wyoming $16.07 $7.25

Source: Table created based on data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) and the U.S. Department of Labor

As we can see in this table, even in the lowest-paying states for CNAs, nursing assistants can expect to earn more than the minimum wage in their states.

Will CNA Salary Increase in 2023?

CNA helping patient
CNAs may have a chance to make more money.

In May 2021, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics estimated that the employment of nursing assistants and orderlies would grow by 5 percent over the following decade, which is about as fast as the average for all occupations. This growth rate translates to about 220,000 job openings for nursing assistants and orderlies per year, mostly resulting from the need to replace workers who transfer to different occupations or exit the labor force.

The HCS Nursing Home Salary & Benefits Report, released July 2022, found that nursing aides working at nursing homes—the healthcare setting that employs the largest percentage of CNAs—had seen a pay raise of 11 percent over the past year, from $15.23 in 2021 to $16.87 in 2022. Interestingly, turnover rates continue to be high despite the salary increase.

Although high turnover rates indicate a significant level of job dissatisfaction, the good news is that healthcare facilities are continuously looking to hire new CNAs. In conclusion, there is evidence for both an increase in CNA salary and job growth in 2023.

Do CNAs Make Good Money? 

Considering that it is possible to train as a certified nursing assistant in as little as four weeks—and that some may even be able to train as CNAs for free—plus the fact that CNAs earn more than minimum wage regardless of the state where they work, it is safe to say that CNAs make relatively good money.

That said, the higher the level of education, the higher the pay. Therefore, CNAs who want to continue working in the nursing field long-term should certainly consider transitioning from CNAs to RNs. The good news is that the time you spend working as a CNA is by no means time lost because it can give you the necessary first-hand experience to decide if nursing is the best career choice for you. Furthermore, a 2016 study found that BSN-educated RNs who had previously worked as CNAs had a higher entry-level salary (between $3,400 and $7,700 more per year) than those without previous health-related work experience. In other words, working as a CNA on your way to becoming an RN is a very smart financial move. 

Another smart financial move is to work per diem as a CNA. Working per diem has many benefits besides significantly higher hourly rates. First of all, if you are working as a CNA while in nursing school, you will appreciate the flexibility that per diem work offers. You can pick up shifts around your school schedule, take time off to study during exams, and work full-time over school breaks. Secondly, per diem CNA work doesn’t tie you to a specific facility. If you enjoy working at a facility, you can request more shifts there and even accept a full-time position. On the other hand, if you hate a facility, you never have to go back.

Final Thoughts on CNA Salary

Compared with other healthcare positions, working as a CNA does not offer a very high salary. However, it is arguably the best way to enter the nursing profession. Here are some reasons why:

  • CNA training can be completed in as little as four weeks, and the training could even be free.
  • Working as CNAs gives aspiring nurses valuable first-hand information about the nursing profession and working in healthcare overall.
  • CNAs can easily find flexible and high-paying per diem shifts.

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