Working as a certified nursing assistant is an honorable and rewarding career, as you're helping care for elderly adults who require aid. It's also a career that lets you earn a decent salary. The median annual wage of nursing assistants in the United States, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), is $25,710, and some make as much as $36,890 a year. If you're a certified nursing assistant and would like to increase your income, here are three tips to help you advance your career.
Specialize in a Particular Area
Doctors and nurses regularly specialize in a particular area of medicine, and certified nursing assistants can too. Focusing on acute care, psychiatric care or radiology will give you valuable experience and make you more attractive to employers in those fields.
One of the most common ways to specialize in a specific field is to focus on that during your training. Even if you're already a fully certified nursing assistant, or if your certified nursing assistant program doesn't let you declare a concentration, you can still specialize in a single area. In addition to declaring the specialty in an academic program, you can also specialize by:
- only taking positions in the field you're specializing in
- taking continuing education courses in your chosen specialty
- attending seminars relevant to your chosen specialty
If you want to start only applying to positions in your selected area of focus, you might have to volunteer for a little while to get some initial experience. After volunteering, however, you should have experience that will help you find a paid job.
Become a Travel Certified Nursing Assistant
Many nurses enjoy working as travel nurses. Doing so lets them both see different parts of the United States and take the best-paying positions they can find regardless of geographic area.
While working as a travel healthcare provider is less common among certified nursing assistants, it's possible to do. You can take short-term positions in different parts of the country, selecting jobs based both on where you'd like to live for a few months and how much you'd like to make. If your goal is to increase your salary as much as possible, working as a travel certified nursing assistant will let you pursue jobs in the highest paying regions of the country.
Become a Registered Nurse
Specializing in a particular field and traveling to high-paying job areas can help you increase your salary, but there is ultimately a limit on how much certified nursing assistants make. Just the top 10 percent earn over $36,890 annually according to the BLS' data.
Registered nurses earn much more, and it's fairly easy to become a registered nurse if you're already a certified nursing assistant. The BLS says the median yearly income for registered nurses at $65,950, and they can earn as much as $96,630 annually. To become a registered nurse, you'll need to go back to school. Bridge programs designed specifically to help certified nursing assistants become registered nurses, however, make it easier to become a registered nurse. They take into account the training that certified nursing assistants have and transfer their credits towards becoming a registered nurse.
You could also become a licensed practical nurse if you're already a certified nursing assistant. Like becoming a registered nurse, this would require going back to school. Licensed practical nurses, however, don't make as much as registered nurses. The BLS places their and licensed vocational nurses' median annual income at $43,170. The upper 90th percentile earn $59,510 a year. If you're going to enroll in another full degree program, you might as well become a registered nurse and earn as much as you can.