CNA Salary- Everything You Should Know

Certified Nursing Assistants are paid differently depending on the institution and the state where they work. The pay for CNAs will also change with experience. However, most people in such jobs do not usually have experience of more than 20 years.

The United States Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the position CNA will grow to about 21% by 2022, which is higher than the growth rate of other jobs. If you are considering to become a Certified Nursing Assistant, you need to know how you will earn for your work.

The Average Pay for CNAs

According to, the median salary of a Certified Nursing Assistant is between $17,691 to $31,207 yearly. estimates the median wages of these professionals working in a nursing home, having a high school diploma and a technical certificate, to be between $25,651 to $26,452. It explains further that payments and bonuses will depend on your level of education, the area you are working in and your experience.

Considering that a CNA position will help you begin a career in the medical field, it is an excellent way to start. The average pay for CNAs with additional education or college degrees is about $30,000 yearly, according to With more education and experience, you get more skills, and your salary will improve.

How Much CNAs Make Per Hour

Several factors determine how much a nursing assistant earns per hour and this varies according to state. The benefit of being a CNA is that you have job security and that you are in a position to advance to another level. Also, if you get a certificate in one state, you can easily transfer it to another, when you relocate.

Also, salaries vary according to the industry. According to, Scientific Research and Development Services was the highest paying institute in 2011, with hourly earnings of $17.75. Other sectors that had competitive wages within that period included federal executive branch, with $17.23 per hour, College and Universities with $ 15.48 hourly, Grantmaking and Giving Services with $14.18 per hour, and state governments with $14.00 per hour.

CNA Salary VS Other Medical Jobs

The wages that CNAs get is slightly lower than other jobs, but starting off your career as a CNA will help you gain experience that will open you to some of these jobs in the future. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics as of May 2017, the median earnings of occupations that compare to CNA were:

  • Personal Care Aide: $23,130
  • Medical Assistants: $32,480
  • Phlebotomist: $33,670
  • Physical Therapist Assistant and Aide: $46,920
  • Licensed Practical and Vocational Nurses: $45,030
  • Occupational Therapist Assistant: $56,690
  • Registered Nurse : $70,000

A CNAs salary is between a Personal Care Aide and a Medical Assistant. However, most of the professionals working above CNA had worked previously as Certified Nursing Assistants, especially the Registered Nurses. It is essential to start from a lower position to know if this career is for you. Once you gain knowledge and experience, you can move to another area.

Starting Salary for  CNAs

Entry-level CNAs are expected to “pay their dues” much like other entry-level workers in other industries, in order to get the experience necessary to move to bigger and better positions. However, this is not an area that’s completely out of the control of the CNA.

Gaining experience ahead of time as a volunteer in hospice care or another allied health position can often allow the new CNA the necessary leverage to negotiate a slightly higher salary. The key to keep in mind is to provide solid value to the employer at all times. Anything you can do to set yourself aside from the other CNA candidates is definitely a good thing.

The first salary that a CNA earns is about $18,600 per year, which approximates to $9.00 an hour, according to However as mentioned earlier, this depends on the state or the institution where you work. A report from even suggests that a non-experienced CNA can earn an average of $30,000, with the range being between $23,000 to$38,000.

The entry position of a CNA allows you to gain experience as you care for the patients. You also learn medical knowledge that will be useful for jobs you would want to pursue in the future. At this stage, you should be organized, efficient, pay attention to detail and learn how to multitask. You will need to be dedicated to this job because you will be taking care of the sick and elderly.

The starting pay for a CNA is just the beginning. By taking other roles like training new workers, you will raise your salary. The skills you gain at this stage will prepare you for other future jobs.

How Much Do Senior CNAs Make?

The salary that a CNA gets will improve with experience. Extra education is one of the ways you can earn a higher wage. Oftenly, states will mandate a CNA to add more training so you will be on the right path if you do so, even without the state requiring it.

It will not take long for you to start earning as much as the average CNA earns. reported the median salary of a long-term care CNA was between $28,102 as of March 29, 2018, and the range was between $24,826 to $32,416, although some factors can cause a variation in these figures. According to, a CNA with lots of education can even make up to $15.15 an hour.

Since most CNAs do not stay in their positions for more than 20 years, the knowledge you gain as you go to school and the experience you acquire as you work would apply to later levels of your career. Working with doctors and nurses will help you decide which career path to follow.

Where to Get the Highest Pay

The company that you work for will significantly determine how much money you earn. The position of CNA is in high demand and persons with this certification can get jobs in many medical facilities. Hospitals and nursing homes have the most CNAs, but you can find jobs in other specialized institutions too. Here are some of the areas that offer high CNA salaries according to

  • Home Health Care Services: $19,769
  • Community Care Facilities: $21,840
  • Hospitals: $24,010
  • Nursing Homes: $24,946
  • Hospice: $27,191
  • Psychiatric and Substance Abuse Centers: $28,290
  • College Universities and Professional Centers: $31,030

Different employers have different requirements for CNAs to work in their facility. Some will only hire experienced nursing aides, but they will always want someone who knows how to care for patients. The employers will also have different obligations to the CNAs, like how they will assist doctors, Registered Nurses, and therapists. In most cases, CNAs deal with the elderly. The elderly population is the reason why CNAs are in high demand.

Top Paying Skills

Apart from the level of skills that you are needed to become a CNA, the location in the place you work determines how much you get at the end of the day. The area where you can get higher salaries includes the Intensive Care Unit, Operating Room, Telemetry, Emergency Room and Medicine and Surgery settings.

Intensive Care Unit (ICU)

ICU is the area where patients with critical illnesses are taken care off, which means it can be high stress and fast-paced. Oftenly, patients in this area are in dangerous and life-threatening conditions and need close attention. You will be required to transfer patients, tend to their needs and read their vital signs.

According to, the average earnings of a CNA in the ICU is $25,700, and the range is reported to be between $19,097 to $35,639 yearly. CNAs working in Seattle, WA with ICU skills will expect to make the most money, with an average pay of $37,000 annually. Philadelphia, PA, Las Vegas, NV, and Boston, MA are the next highest paying states, where CNAs get yearly salaries of $33,000, $32,000 and $30,000 respectively.

Operating Room (OR)

A Certified Nursing Assistant working in the OR can get a great experience, which translates to a higher yearly salary. CNAs with skills for working in the OR will help to prep the patients for surgeries, move them to operation rooms, set up equipment and prepare the rooms for other patients.

The average salary that CNAs get with OR skills as per is $25,943 yearly, whose range is between $18,766 to $35,648. CNAs with OR skills get the most money in Seattle WA, with a reported average salary of $29,000 per year.

The next highest pay for CNAs who work in the OR is in Philadelphia, PA with an average salary of $27,000 yearly, then Denver, CO, and Phoenix, AZ at 26,000 per annum in both states.


Telemetry is the monitoring of vital signs of a patient, using the different medical equipment. Such devices are used to monitor patients with an acute diagnosis of diabetes and heart failure. CNAs with experience of working in telemetry can bump up their annual pay. reports that A CNA with telemetry skills will get an average of $26,040 per annum, and the range is between $19,208 to $34,562. Telemetry CNAs make the most pay in Seattle, WA, and Las Vegas, NV an average salary of $32,000 yearly. The next highest paying state is Philadelphia, PA which is reported to be an average of $30,000 per year.

Emergency Room

CNAs who work in the ER learn to multitask, and therefore they should always be on alert since this is a fast pace environment. Their salaries are usually higher because of how this area is busy. estimates the average wage of CNAs with ER skills to be $27,927 yearly, and the average range is between $18,663 to $35,075. CNAs with ER skills get the most pay in Las Vegas, NV with a reported average salary of $33,000 per year. In Tacoma, WA, and Phoenix, AZ, CNAs make a yearly average of $29,000.

Medicine and Surgery

The role of nursing assistants in medical and surgery settings is to help patients in between medical procedures and operations. CNAs can include this skill to their resume either by training to become CNAs or by working in the position.

According to, the average salary that CNAs in this setting earn is $28,425, with the range between $19,068 and $34,671. The states that pay the most for such skills are Philadelphia, PA, and Seattle, WA, getting an average of $33,000 per year. Las Vegas NV follows closely, with CNAs in the state getting a yearly salary of $30,000.

Other Determining Factors


The location of a CNA job opening is a major factor in determining how much the position will actually offer. If the job opening is in a smaller city or town, it will be harder to actually get a larger starting salary than if the job opening is in a major city.

This is because most opening salaries are based on the cost of living for that particular area, and CNA jobs are not an exception to this rule. If you are finding that the CNA positions offered in your area are not to your liking, you may want to consider moving to a larger area where there are more opportunities available. Again, this is definitely general information and every area will vary in terms of salary.


The size of the facility will also make a difference in terms of the salary offered. A small home aide facility may not be able to offer as much as an upscale retirement community or a full-fledged hospital. Knowing what type of organization, you are applying for employment to can help you determine how much leeway you have with respect to CNA salary.


One factor to also consider as you begin reviewing potential CNA salaries is the possibility of bonuses. Many positions that have been open for a long time often come with bonuses to help the employer find someone to fill it. The additional money they would have to pay pales in comparison to having someone qualified on staff to take care of patients and otherwise keep order in the facility.

While some bonuses are indeed paid upfront upon actually signing an offer of employment, many bonuses are actually paid out after a certain amount of days have been worked. Even if the job does not have an advertised bonus, it is always worth your time to ask the employer if the position qualifies for any sign on bonuses. The worse they can tell you is no, and it becomes your decision of whether or not to continue to seek employment within that organization.

CNA Salaries by State

As expected, those working in larger metropolitan areas such as Albany, New York, and Sacramento, California can expect to earn a higher CNA salary than those found in less populated, rural areas.

Nevertheless, almost all health care facilities in various states provide bonuses and other fringe benefits to their CNA employees. These include pensions and 401(k) insurance. They are usually given their own health care and life insurance benefits, which may even extend to their immediate family members. The clinic hours can sometimes be varied, but they are entitled to paid leaves.

Moreover, CNAs who are working in Medicare/Medicaid facilities can request reimbursement for their CNA training after its successful completion. Some nursing homes and hospitals also support their employees by letting them undertake paid training in affiliated schools.

Many states have reciprocity agreements, which means state-approved CNAs can move out and work in another state without having to retake the training and examination. Generally, they will only require endorsements; however, in some cases challenging the exam might be required.

There’s a lot of room for career growth for CNAs. Because of their formal training, they can apply favorably to a Licensed Practical Nursing program should they choose. Another option afterward is to move on to Registered Nursing, earning better salaries and benefits.

Knowledge is power. Knowing what the average pay rate is for nursing assistants in your State will give you greater confidence when it comes to negotiating your starting salary or commanding a pay raise.

Below you will find the latest data for CNA salary by state, courtesy of Salaries were calculated based on average data taken from each state’s capital city. Both salaries and hourly wages are indicated as a range.

State Annual Salary ($)
Annual Salary ($)
Hourly Rate ($)
Hourly Rate ($)
Alabama 22,589 27,218 11 13
Alaska 30,241 36,438 15 18
Arizona 26,341 31,739 13 15
Arkansas 22,738 27,398 11 13
California 28,141 33,908 14 16
Colorado 26,744 32,225 13 15
Connecticut 28,299 34,099 14 16
Delaware 27,384 32,675 13 16
Florida 24,358 29,350 12 14
Georgia 26,466 31,890 13 15
Hawaii 29,031 34,981 14 17
Idaho 24,980 30,099 12 14
Illinois 24,383 29,381 12 14
Indiana 25,660 30,919 12 15
Iowa 25,682 30,946 12 15
Kansas 24,432 29,439 12 14
Kentucky 24,474 29,490 12 14
Louisiana 23,242 28,005 11 13
Maine 23,432 28,234 11 14
Maryland 27,564 33,213 13 16
Massachusetts 29,280 35,281 14 17
Michigan 26,096 31,444 13 15
Minnesota 24,051 31,611 13 16
Mississippi 21,998 26,506 11 13
Missouri 23,896 28,793 11 14
Montana 23,197 27,951 10 12
Nebraska 23,034 27,755 13 16
Nevada 27,081 32,631 13 16
New Hampshire 27,743 33,428 13 16
New Jersey 30,545 36,805 15 18
New Mexico 22,848 27,531 11 13
New York 26,692 32,162 13 15
North Carolina 26,326 31,721 13 15
North Dakota 23,800 28,678 11 14
Ohio 26,281 31,667 13 15
Oklahoma 25,167 30,324 12 15
Oregon 25,671 30,932 12 15
Pennsylvania 26,666 32,131 13 15
Rhode Island 27,590 33,244 13 16
South Carolina 24,276 29,252 12 14
South Dakota 20,540 24,750 10 12
Tennessee 24,489 29,508 12 14
Texas 25,231 30,402 12 15
Utah 25,257 30,434 12 15
Vermont 25,885 31,190 12 15
Virginia 26,225 31,600 13 15
Washington 27,554 33,201 13 16
West Virginia 23,064 27,791 11 13
Wisconsin 24,151 29,100 12 14
Wyoming 23,563 28,393 11 14

Overall, CNA salary is just one key in determining whether or not this career path is right for you. Naturally, you do not want to enter this profession just for the money. However, if you are truly serious about helping others as a CNA, you’ll find that the standard CNA salary offered is actually very competitive.