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How Much Do CNAs Make a Year?

Now is as good of a time as ever to become a certified nursing assistant (CNA). The demand for nursing assistants is expected to grow at 8% over the next decade, which is twice as fast as the average for all occupations. When you decide on your next career move it’s always important to look at the financial side of things, or in other words, how much you’re going to get paid. We’ll answer the question of how much does a CNA make a year as well as what you can expect for CNA pay per hour. Those numbers can change pretty dramatically based on a number of factors.

What is an average CNA yearly salary?

The current average CNA salary in the United States is $36,200. By state, the national average salary ranges from a high in Alaska of $44,420 to a low in Mississippi of $27,140.

How much does a CNA get paid hourly?

The average pay for a CNA in 2022 according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics was $17.41 per hour. The highest average CNA hourly pay was in Alaska, with a rate of $21.35 per hour. The lowest CNA hourly wage was in Mississippi, with an hourly rate of $13.05.

CNA salary comparison by state

The table below shows averages for nursing assistant salaries hourly and annually from both the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics as well as Indeed.com.

StateBLS HourlyBLS AnnualIndeed HourlyIndeed Annual
District of Columbia$21.07$43,820$20.41$46,110
New Hampshire$18.77$39,050$21.47$47,985
New Jersey$18.98$39,480$21.31$47,460
New Mexico$16.39$34,090$19.02$43,465
New York$20.89$43,450$21.94$48,618
North Carolina$15.28$31,780$17.50$39,778
North Dakota$18.37$38,200$20.66$48,108
Rhode Island$18.99$39,490$21.42$46,957
South Carolina$15.62$32,490$15.82$36,852
South Dakota$15.54$32,330$22.02$52,051
West Virginia$15.61$32,470$19.59$42,554

Factors that impact a CNA nurse salary

There are a number of factors that can impact how much a CNA gets paid. The first, and most obvious, is location. As the state by state paytable on this page clearly demonstrates, some states pay their CNAs substantially better than others.

Location goes much deeper than the state level in determining pay, however. Within each state, how much a CNA makes also depends on the different regions and metro areas within that state. For example a CNA in New York City will likely have a higher salary than one working in Cheektowaga, New York. A CNA working in Minneapolis would likely have a higher annual wage than one working in a small northern Minnesota town like Bemidji.

The industry a CNA works in also can have a major impact on pay. One of the more common jobs for a nursing assistant is at assisted living facilities, but this is one of the lower paying jobs available to CNAs, with an average annual wage of $34,130 On the other hand, CNAs who work at facilities like general medical and surgical hospitals make $37,820 annually.

To work in some of the better paid CNA positions, you may need a specialization. CNAs can earn a variety of specializations that make them more attractive to employers, and thus earn a higher level of pay. Some specific career specializations you can achieve through experience or continuing education that can increase your pay include roles such as:

How does a CNA salary change over time?

According to data from payscale.com, a CNA can expect to make average pay for the position between their 5th and 9th years on the job. CNA starting pay for a first time nursing assistant is typically 8% below the average pay rate. A CNA starting salary for someone with 20+ years of experience is typically 10% more than the local or regional average.

cna salary by experience graph

Additional benefits and value of benefits

Beyond salary, many employers offer valuable benefit packages to their CNAs. If you’re fielding multiple job offers it’s important to factor in the value of the benefits package and not just the pay. Some benefits you may be offered as a CNA include:

  • Paid vacation
  • Insurance: health, disability, worker’s compensation
  • Flex time
  • Family leave
  • Paid continuing education and tuition assistance
  • Professional development and mentoring opportunities
  • Retirement or pension plans
  • Stock options
  • Employee assistance programs
  • Job sharing opportunities

You’ll want to make sure you understand the benefits available to you and their value, both personally and financially. Flex time schedules, for example, might allow you to work four longer shifts each week instead of five shorter ones. That type of schedule might be valuable enough to some CNAs to accept a slightly lower rate of pay in exchange for the additional time.

Which states have the highest CNA pay rate?

Location, location, location as they say in the real estate world. It holds true when it comes to making money as a CNA as well. Of course, there will be some variance between pay at the type of facility you work at, as specialized medical facilities will likely pay more than a nursing home. That said, on average some states pay their CNAs substantially better than others. Here are the best and worst paying states for nursing assistants.

The states with the highest CNA salaries in 2022 were:

  • Alaska: $44,4200
  • New York: $California: $43,570

The states with the lowest CNA average salaries in 2022 were:

  • Louisiana: $28,190
  • Mississippi: $27,140

Lucrative career paths

Many CNAs use the role as an initial first position in the healthcare field. CNAs may look to develop foundational health care skills and then progress onto a position as an LPN (licensed practical nurse) or an RN (registered nurse). According to the most recent May 2022 Bureau of Labor Statistics report, both positions pay significantly better than even specialized CNAs.

  • CNAs – $36,220
  • LPNs – $48,070
  • RNs – $77,600

If you’re interested in progressing up the healthcare ladder, you may want to check out our guide to see the options for how a CNA can become an RN or LPN.

While CNAs often pursue opportunities in nursing, there are other lucrative career paths available as well. Many CNAs are exposed to the business side of the healthcare industry, and a common path for those interested in pursuing a more business-focused career, becoming a medical billing technician or a coding technician can earn you a salary of more than $40,000 annually.

If you’d prefer to stay in a healthcare related position where you’re working with patients, becoming a physical therapy assistant can be another lucrative opportunity. Physical therapy assistants work along with licensed physical therapists to help people recovering from injuries. The average salary for a physical therapy assistant can reach $50,000 annually.

Interested in learning more about becoming a CNA?

Now that you have an understanding of what nursing assistants get paid, you may be interested in learning more about what it takes to become a CNA. These resources may prove helpful in your research.

How do I find a CNA job?

You can always go about it the old fashioned way – pick up the local newspaper and check the want ads. Since you’re on the web right now, however, you’re probably more likely to seek out a CNA job online. Fortunately, we’ve developed a job search tool specifically for CNAs to help them find their next job. Check out our CNA job listings tool, which aggregates results from multiple websites all in one convenient location.