Which CNA Jobs Pay the Most?

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If you heard that Certified nursing assistants have significant benefits, you didn’t hear wrong. Becoming a CNA is becoming increasingly popular, and the need for CNAs continues to grow. However, there are likely a couple of questions on your mind.

What is a certified nursing assistant’s salary per hour? Which CNA jobs pay the most? These are two very valid questions and ones that will be answered within this article. However, it is essential to remember that being a CNA is different everywhere, including salary.

Please keep reading to find information about the most lucrative CNA careers and which states pay their CNAs the most. If you were thinking about moving, make sure you read this first. What are you waiting for?

What Does a CNA Do?What Does a CNA Do?

No matter what venue a CNA is prominent in, they will likely wear multiple hats. They spend their days juggling a variety of patients and catering to their needs. CNAs also spend time helping nurses as needed. It is important to remember that no two days will likely look the same. A CNA performs various tasks a day; the list below contains several activities that a CNA performs each day.

So what is it really like working as a CNA? What does a typical day look like? For a CNA, as previously stated, no two days look the same. Each day there will be several opportunities for learning, growth, and to satisfy a new patient.

Each day CNAs will receive a listing of their patient assignments. These assignments can vary from day to day, depending on the environment that you’re working in. With patient assignments that vary, their specific needs will change as well. It is up to the CNA to read up on their particular patients each day to determine what they need. Some patients may need help being fed, others may need their medicine provided to them, and some may need help being transported.

A CNA’s day will be made up of several different activities. These activities generally center around providing patient care and ensuring that each of your patients is comfortable and has what they need. A CNA will also set up medical equipment or help nurses and doctors with their necessary tools. CNA’s are allowed to assist in several procedures depending on what state they are in.

Maintenance is another task that falls under the umbrella of CNA work. This may include tidying a patient’s room, making beds, and even delivering meals to patients. CNAs will also work to bathe, groom, and dress patients.

However, though there are a number of tasks that you may think CNAs do, they ultimately can not. The duties they are not authorized to do include the following:

  • Give shots or injections
  • Perform wound care
  • Remove or insert catheters
  • Perform tube feedings
  • Bowel evacuation

Though these are a few items that CNAs can’t do, other tasks they are prohibited from performing will vary by state.

What's the Average Salary for CNAs?

What’s the Average Salary for CNAs?

Now it’s time for the information that you came here for. You are likely wondering how much you can make from being a CNA, and we are here to help you with that. Being a CNA is a great stepping stone to a career in healthcare.  However, unlike other professions which require a degree, being a CNA only mandates a high school diploma. This can be seen in the salary differences for CNAs. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average salary of a CNA is $32,050 in 2020. This is also equivalent to $15.41 an hour. This wage can increase or decrease depending on where you obtain your license and the industry you work in.

There are several different places you can choose to work when looking to go into a career as a certified nursing assistant. These places can include government facilities, assisted living facilities, nursing homes, home health care, and many more options. Each of these facilities will have a different set of rules and pay grades for their nursing assistants.

For example, individuals who opt to work for the government will make slightly more than the traditional average. Government organizations tend to be highest on the list of average salaries. These individuals will generally make on average $4000 more than the others. These facilities typically include veteran facilities, as well as private and state facilities.

What's the Most a CNA Can Make an Hour?

What’s the Most a CNA Can Make an Hour?

When you begin to drill down on the salaries of CNAs, there are a number of characteristics that come into play, like location and industry. Though technically, there is no cap that a CNA can make, according to the 2021 data for zip recruiter, the highest earners will earn an hourly wage of $18. This $18 an hour salary puts an individual at a yearly salary of $39,500, which is on the high end of the spectrum.

However, the lowest salary, according to zip recruiter, is $8.41 per hour. This is a meager wage and is often not seen in urban areas or high-traffic cities.

What are the Highest Paying Specialties for CNAs?

What are the Highest Paying Specialties for CNAs?

Did you know that high-paying CNA jobs are usually found in more demanding specialties? Did you even know that CNAS can have specialties? There are several different specialties for CNAs; these include the following:

  • Cardiology Nursing Aide – A cardiology aid will often help out with patients in the cardiology department of a hospital. Becoming a cardiology aid will likely help you to learn more about cardiology as a whole. This can be an excellent avenue for anyone who wants to be a cardiology nurse in the future.
  • Home Care Nursing Aid – A home care CNA does precisely what the name entails. This individual will work in a patient’s home. This can be highly beneficial for CNAs who are looking for a slower start. Individuals who work in-home care only work with one patient at a time rather than several.  This reduces the number of distractions. The number of patients you receive maxes out at around 4. However, the setting in which they are working is never the same.
  • Psychiatry Nursing Aide – A Psychiatry aide is not a position for the CNA who is not looking for a challenge. Not only will this CNA have to deal with mentally or emotionally unstable patients, but things may also even have a tendency to get dangerous depending on the level of patients the facility accepts. CNAs can be advocates for these patients, and this is an excellent atmosphere for individuals who are looking to specialize in psychiatry. This gives them a leg up when dealing with people.
  • Pediatric Nursing Aides – These aids will work with children. This will typically be in the pediatric ward of a hospital. This is the perfect profession for individuals who have a knack for working with kids and a more consistent workload. This area provides excellent benefits for its CNAs.
  • Elderly Nursing Aids – Elderly nursing aids or individuals who work in assisted living environments or nursing homes fall into this category. These CNAs work with the senior population. This can be a complicated area to work in mentally. You will often see families fighting to hold on to family members, waning medical conditions, and even patients reaching the end of their lives. This is an area that is expected to increase in demand as baby boomers continue to get older.

These are only a few of the specialties available to you. Others may include intensive care, Operating room aids, telemetry aids, and even emergency room aides. Out of these specialties, you may be wondering who boasts the highest pay. We are sure the suspense is getting to you, so we will not let you wait any longer.

Out of these specialties, the ones which tend to pay the most handsomely include Pediatrics and ICU. Individuals working in the pediatric ward are expected to have advanced expertise and more experience. Areas of high demand and a swift pace also tend to offer higher pay. These specialties include intensive care units, emergency rooms, and even operating room aides.

What is the Highest Paying State for CNAs?

What is the Highest Paying State for CNAs?

Another crucial thing to be evaluated when looking into becoming a CNA is the pay rate for the state you live in. This has the potential to make or break your enrollment in a CNA program. If the average for your state is $8 an hour, it may not be as beneficial for you to become a CNA as it would be for someone in New York.

High-paying CNA jobs do exist; you have to know where to look. Some of the states which have the highest-paid CNAs include the following locations.


Alaska is the highest-paid state for certified nursing assistants. Individuals working in Alaska will likely make an average salary of $ 42,500. However, this can be said to be a gift and a curse. Alaska has a very high cost of living which offsets the high salaries that CNAs make.

New York

Like Alaska, New York also boasts a high cost of living and a high average CNA salary. In New York, the average wage is roughly $40,600.


California, who much like Alaska and New York, has an extremely high cost of living, is not a shocker in the top paying list. Their salary falls third in line with an average salary of $39,280.

If living in one of these three top states is not in your budget, there are two other states you can go to to achieve a top CNA salary, but the cost of living will not be any much lower. Hawaii and Massachusetts fall on the fourth and fifth place of this list. These states have average salaries of $38,650 and $37,160.

These top five states are some of the highest to live in, and it is not surprising that they have the highest paying salary, especially if we look at the five lowest states on the list. For your information, the five lowest include Louisiana, Alabama, Mississippi, Arkansas, and Oklahoma. All of these states have a low cost of living and are more rural states.

Though these are some of the highest paying states, there are even areas in these states which have the power to make more than the state average. For example, in California, San Francisco, San Jose, and even Sacramento are some areas where CNAs may earn between $41,000 and $48,000.

How Can I Make More Money as a Certified Nursing Assistant?

How Can I Make More Money as a Certified Nursing Assistant?

No matter what area you live in, you may be wondering what you can do to make more money. However, the answer to this question is simple; you must upgrade your skills and versatility. The list below contains a few things you can do to make more as a CNA.

  • Relocation – Likely, one of the most challenging things to do is relocate. Though this is not an option for all, relocating is the easiest way to ensure that you get higher pay. However, this doesn’t always mean moving state to state. This could mean something as simple as driving ten extra minutes to get to a different city for work.
  • Work overtime or irregular hours – Due to the lack of adequate staffing to fulfill the needs of the healthcare system, overtime is available in abundance for CNAs. You may also have the ability to work the main shift but pick up changes at other times of the day. For example, if you are a morning shift person, you may get extra money from picking up shifts at night, offering $2 or more an hour.
  • Upgrade your skills – Several doors become open to you when you become a CNA. You also gain exposure to a number of fields that you may otherwise not have known about. If you have the time and funds to do so, upgrading your skills can be a great benefit. One natural upgrade from a CNA is a PCT or LPN. These acronyms stand for Patient Care Technician and Licensed Practical Nurse. PCTs are trained to perform additional tasks in addition to the CNA tasks. These tasks may include performing electrocardiograms or even Phlebotomy.

Wrapping Things Up: Which CNA Jobs Pay the Most?

Overall, becoming a CNA offers several advantages. There are several tasks which they can do and many specializations that they can choose to work in. Some of the highest paying specialties include emergency room CNAs and intensive care unit aids. These specializations pay extremely well but can yield even better in some of the highest-paid states.

States where the cost of living tends to be the highest also manage to pay the highest. This includes New York, California, and even Alaska. However, though moving is a great way to get yourself a raise, it is not the most practical. Doing things like upgrading your skills and even working overtime can be a great aid in making money you may need. There are several tips in this article that could help you take your career to the next level. We hope you have not only found them helpful but will apply them in the future.

If you found this post helpful, you’re definitely going to like our other medical school tips here.

> What’s the Hardest Task as a CNA?

> Is it Hard to Become a CNA?

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Professor Conquer

Professor Conquer started Conquer Your Exam in 2018 to help students feel more confident and better prepared for their tough tests. Prof excelled in high school, graduating top of his class and receiving admissions into several Ivy League and top 15 schools. He has helped many students through the years tutoring and mentoring K-12, consulting seniors through the college admissions process, and writing extensive how-to guides for school.

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