CNA Job Description, Salary, & Required Skills

CNA Job Description, Salary, & Required Skills

A Certified Nursing Assistant, or CNA, is an integral part of the patient care team at nursing homes, long-term care facilities, and hospitals. They also may provide in-home care to patients. CNAs typically report to RNs or LPN/LVNs to assist them with basic patient care. The average CNA salary is more than $30,000 annually, and the need for CNAs in the country is growing.

CNA Job Description

A CNA provides direct care to patients as directed by the RN or LPN/LVN in charge, including cleaning, dressing, and grooming patients. CNAs provide assistance to the rest of the medical staff and are required to communicate any concerns about a patient’s condition to them. These nurse assistants are responsible for making patients feel comfortable, safe, and responding to their requests.

A CNA may perform the following duties:

  • Take vitals: Take patient vitals regularly as instructed, record the results, and alert the rest of the care team to any concerns.
  • Examine patients: Check patients for bruises, bedsores, and wounds, and inform the rest of the care team if any are found. Assist with applying and changing non-sterile wound dressings and give patients ice packs or heat therapy.  Monitor and record patients’ attitudes and reactions.
  • Communicate effectively: Answer patient calls and relay important information, questions, and concerns to the rest of the patient care team. Take detailed notes about any services provided.
  • Attend to patient hygiene: Help patients keep clean by assisting them in bathing, dental care, and grooming. Give bed-bound patients bed baths.  Dress patients and help them change clothes.
  • Provide mobility assistance: Help patients get in and out of bed, help them walk, and assist patients who use wheelchairs. Lift patients onto exam tables, and rotate bed-bound patients.
  • Provide toileting assistance: Check and change catheter bags, help patients to the toilet, provide and clean bedpans. Clean patients after accidents and change bed linens and patient clothing.  Care for incontinent patients by changing diapers/pads and cleaning the patient.  Monitor and record bowel movements.  Administer enemas.
  • Clean patient rooms: Clean and sanitize patient rooms and restock room supplies. Change bed linens and assist in tidying the patient rooms.
  • Assist patients with eating: Assist patients with eating and drinking.  Record intake and output.
  • Prevent infection spread: Use standard precautions and safety devices to help prevent the spread of infection and disease.
  • Additional Responsibilities:  CNAs may help with additional responsibilities at the request of their supervisor, such as admitting and discharging patients, assisting with patient transfers, and helping with initial post-mortem care.  Depending on state regulations and facility rules, a CNA may administer medications to patients.

CNA Required Skills

  • Understanding of medical terminology, anatomy, and physiology
  • Knowledge of basic nursing skills such as taking and recording vital signs
  • Current CPR certification
  • Excellent written and verbal communication skills
  • Friendly and compassionate bedside manner
  • Ability to deal with graphic medical situations
  • Basic computer skills

CNAs take coursework at community colleges, healthcare employment agencies, and vocational schools to learn the skills required to pass state certification exams and skill assessments. The courses cover the proper way to handle all of the duties outlined in the CNA job description, such as lifting patients, cleaning them, and taking vitals.

Training to become a CNA takes about two to 12 weeks and culminates in a certification exam.  Many CNA training programs have certification test preparation built into the lesson plan.    

CNA Salary and Job Outlook 

The average annual salary for CNAs in the United States is $30,720, with an average hourly rate of $14.77, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Rates vary widely across states, with Alaskan CNAs making the most nationwide, with an average hourly wage of $19.38. The next high-paying states for CNAs are New York ($18.66 per hour on average), Hawaii ($18.13 per hour on average), and California ($17.61 per hour on average).

The job outlook for CNAs is excellent. Since many CNAs work in nursing homes and long-term care facilities, there will be a growing need for them as baby boomers enter their senior years, and the proportion of older adults in the population grows. According to the BLS, nursing assistant and orderly positions are growing. The need for CNAs is expected to grow 9% from 2018 to 2028, which is faster than the average for all occupations.

Overall, being a CNA is an exciting job in the medical field where you can help patients one-on-one, earn a good living, and enjoy strong job security. For maximum job flexibility and work/life balance, qualified CNAs can apply at Clipboard Health today, and start working per-diem shifts at nearby facilities tomorrow.  The Clipboard Health app gives CNAs the ability to view open shifts in their area, choose shifts that work with their preferences and schedules, and get paid ASAP for their shift with our partner DailyPay.  

Jessica Bishop

Jessica has spent her career in marketing and communications, working on growth and retention, content creation, video production, operations, data analytics, and project management. Jessica works on various projects for Clipboard Academy and Clipboard Health, including content creation, project management, and copy editing. She is an avid reader, writer, TV-watcher, skier, and coffee-drinker.