CNA Salary Guide

According to the latest data from U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics or, the average CNA salary in the U.S. is $24,400.

This makes the Certified Nursing Assistant one of the better paying jobs in the health-care industry for those who have not completed 2 years of formal continued education, and ranks it above the national average for all positions at its level.

That being said. There are four major factors that determine the level of pay for a Certified Nursing Assistant. The education of all CNAs is very similar so there is little you can do in the education  process except make sure your CNA program is accredited. It can be an online school. That rarely makes a difference in a negative way.

CNA Salary – The Four Factors for Higher Pay

There are four major factors that generally influence how much a CNA makes. While there may be additional variables that are also added into the mix in certain situations, for the most part, the following are the most impactful on your salary expectations.

#1 - Experience

No.  1 – Your Experience

As with many other careers, the amount of experience a CNA has on the job is the largest factor of how much he or she is paid. A CNA salary will typically increases consistently over the first 4-5 years before reaching a plateau around the 5 year mark.

What This Actually Means to Your Salary

“So why does a CNA’s  pay plateau after 4-5 years?” The answer is quite clear when you consider the actual job description.

Due to the nature of their role – Assiting LPN/LVNS and RNs with their jobs, it is quite common and natural for certified nurse aides to transition in to those careers with bridge programs like CNA to LPN programs.

#2 – Additional Certifications

No. 2 – Additional Certifications

Getting certified will raise your pay. But getting additional certifications will increase your portfolio and increase your potential for a higher salary. Below we list a few of those such certifications.

  • Certified Phlebotomy Technician (PBT)
  • Automated External Defibrillator (AED)
  • Certified Medical Technician (CMT)
  • Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR)
  • Basic Life Support (BLS)
  • Emergency Medical Technician (EMT)
  • Advanced Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA-A)
  • Certified Home Health Aide (CHHA)

#3 - Employer Type

No. 3 – Type of Employer

Whether or not you work in a hospital or senior care facility can determine a lot about your salary. It could be a difference of thousands of dollars a year. Hospitals pay the most on average. These are all averages that do not take additional certifications in to account. But, that being said, the larger the facility, the more you will make.

CNA Salary by Employer Type


Type of Employer Average Yearly Salary
Nursing Care Centers
Community and Senior Centers
Home Care Agencies

Data Source –

#4 - Location

No. 4 – Location

Do not let the fact that location is the fourth factor fool you. It can be HUGE! If you live in a big city like New York City you can expect to make more than if you live in Huntsville Alabama. But that depends on the other four factors too. But the data shows that some states do pay more on average.

Below is a chart that shows the top five states for CNA salary. What we found is that nursing aides make more on the coastal regions of the United States. Check out the stats:

Top 5 States for CNA Pay


State Average Yearly Salary

Data Source –  O*Net

Earning the Highest CNA Salary Possible

In the effort to maximize your earning potential as a certified nursing aide, it’s going to be extremely important to do this one huge thing. Be open to change and be versatile! Ask your employer what you can do too! They will give you opportunities for change and growth. Just don’t get your basic cna certification and settle!

There are usually opportunities for growth all around, you just need to keep your eyes open and be ready! Good Luck!!

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