CNA Job Outlook

Due to the high demand for health care for the aging and elderly, the job outlook for a certified nursing assistant or CNA is expected to increase through 2020.

Certified nursing assistants (CNAs) are also known as nursing aides and attendants. The nursing assistant role is to provide basic care for the sick and injured in hospitals and other similar facilities, or the residents of long-term care institutions, such as nursing homes. CNA jobs are expected to grow due to the high emotional and physical demands of the occupation. Many certified nursing assistants choose to leave the profession in order to acquire more training or find other jobs which creates opportunities for those who want to become a CNA.

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Job Duties

A nursing assistant or nursing attendant assists patients with basic everyday living activities that they cannot do by themselves, such as cleaning and bathing; using the toilet and getting dressed; turning, repositioning and transferring patients between their beds and wheelchairs; and, serving meals and helping them eat. Aside from these tasks, the CNA is also tasked with listening to and recording the patients’ concerns about their health and communicating these with the nurses and measuring vital the patients’ vital signs, such as their blood pressure and temperature.

The exact job description of a nursing assistant varies depending on the health care facility where they work, level of CNA training and state in which they live and work. For instance, some nursing attendants are allowed to dispense medication.

Nursing aides work as part of a team of health care professionals and are often supervised by licensed practical or vocational nurses or registered nurses.

Work Environment

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics asserts that in 2010, nursing assistants, orderlies and nursing aides held approximately 1.5 million jobs, with a majority working in nursing and residential care facilities. Several are also employed in other health care facilities such as hospitals, home care and hospices.

The work of a CNA can become strenuous. You can expect to spend much of your time on your feet, often performing unpleasant tasks, such as emptying patients’ bed pans and changing their soiled sheets. CNA jobs will also require you to lift people and other physically demanding duties, and this can lead to injuries which are common in this type of occupation. You will need proper CNA training wherein you will learn how to properly lift and move patients.

Nursing homes, hospitals and other such health care facilities provide round the clock care to patients; thus, as a nursing assistant, you may need to work nights, weekends and even holidays.

Employment Outlook

The BLS reports that the employment of nursing aides, orderlies and attendants is expected to increase by 20 percent from 2010 to 2020, faster than the average for all occupations. Because of the rising population of the elderly, nursing assistants will be needed to fill CNA jobs in long-term care facilities. The 2010 median annual pay received by nursing aides, orderlies and attendants was $24,010.

Job prospects for those who undergo formal CNA training are expected to be excellent.