The income of a certified nursing assistant (CNA) can vary greatly depending on several factors. We look at some of the key factors that affect how much CNAs make and answer some faqs.

Nursing assistants play an essential role in the medical field. They provide primary patient care, help with daily activities, and emotional support. 

To become certified, nursing assistants must complete a state-approved training program and pass a competency exam. In addition, some states require CNAs to renew their certification every few years.

Certified nursing assistants (CNAs) typically work in hospitals, nursing homes, assisted living facilities, and other long-term care settings. The income of a certified nursing assistant (CNA) can vary greatly depending on several factors. Here, we'll look at key factors that affect how much CNAs make and answer some frequently asked questions about CNA salaries.

Recommended Reading - What is a CNA?

CNA Salaries in the United States

CNAs handle various tasks, including taking vital signs, bathing, dressing patients, providing meals, transferring patients to and from bed, and providing emotional support. They might also perform basic medical procedures, such as checking blood pressure and taking electrocardiograms (EKGs). 

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the average median annual salary for CNAs in the United States is $32.501, or $15.63 per hour. However, salaries can vary depending on experience, geographical location, and employer.

The highest-paying industry for CNAs is home healthcare services, and the lowest-paying industry is nursing care facilities. This disparity is because of the work's nature and the facility's size. Home healthcare services provide one-on-one care in the patient's home, while nursing care facilities have a larger staff-to-patient ratio.

A note about our data: we use the median of the data gathered from The BLS at and other salary data sources such as,, and We believe this is the best average to follow, rather than the mean or mode. The mean will find the average of all salaries in each state; the mode will favor the most frequently reported salaries. However, the median will find the middle. Therefore, all data in this report will favor the middle salary from all ranges, which means 50% will fall below and 50% will be above the salary data reported below. On another note, we have removed data from Puerto Rico, Guam, and The Virgin Islands from the data we have sourced as we have focused on the 50 US States plus The District Of Colombia.

Median CNA Salaries

How much does a CNA make a year?

Depending on factors, salaries can range from $23,780 to $41,410 per year. 

The top 10 percent of earners make more than $38,000 annually, while the bottom 10 percent earn less than $25,000 annually. 

However, most CNAs earn somewhere in the middle at $32,501

How much does a CNA make an hour?

The median hourly rate for a CNA is $15.63; however, rates might vary from $11.43 to $19.91, depending on certain variables. 

The top 10% of earners earn more than $18 per hour, while the bottom 10% make less than $12 per hour. It is important to note that hourly rates are not always calculated based on a 40-hour workweek. Some employers might offer overtime pay or shift differentials for working evenings, weekends, or holidays.

CNA Salary by State

Salaries can vary significantly from state to state. 

The top-paying states for CNAs are Alaska, California, Hawaii, Massachusetts, and Oregon. 

These states also have a higher cost of living than others, so it is noteworthy to factor that when considering salary. The lowest-paying states for CNAs are Arkansas, Mississippi, Louisiana, Kentucky, and West Virginia.

Here is a list of the median annual salaries for CNAs in all 51 states:


Hourly median wage

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New Hampshire




New Jersey




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New York




North Carolina




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Rhode Island




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West Virginia












National Average



Factors That Affect How Much a CNA Makes

Several factors can affect how much a CNA makes. These include:

  • Experience: CNAs with more experience usually earn higher salaries than those just starting. The reason for these higher salaries is because more experienced CNAs have acquired the necessary skills and knowledge to perform their job duties more efficiently. They are also able to handle more complex tasks than entry-level CNAs.

  • Geographical location: Salaries can vary significantly from state to state. For example, CNAs in Alaska make a median annual salary of $41,410, while CNAs in Arkansas earn $28,420. But, again, this is because the cost of living varies from state to state.

  • Employer: The type of employer can also affect a CNA's salary. In most cases, CNAs who work in hospitals earn more than CNAs in nursing care facilities or home healthcare services. This difference in pay is because hospitals tend to have a higher staff-to-patient ratio and offer more complex care than other facilities.

  • Overtime: Some CNAs might be eligible for overtime pay if they work more than 40 hours per week. Overtime rates are usually 1.5 times the CNA's regular hourly rate.

  • Shift differentials: Some employers offer shift differentials for CNAs who work evenings, weekends, or holidays. Shift differential rates vary from employer to employer but are typically 1.5 times the CNA's regular hourly rate.

  • Benefits: In addition to their salary, CNAs might receive health insurance, paid time off, and retirement plans. These benefits can add thousands of dollars to a CNA's compensation package.

How quickly can you become a CNA and start earning?

If you want to become a CNA, you can start earning money relatively quickly. Most states require CNAs to complete a training program that lasts between four and twelve weeks. After completing their training, CNAs must pass a certification exam before they can start working.

Becoming a CNA is no guarantee of high earnings, however. CNAs earn less than other healthcare professionals, such as registered nurses and licensed practical nurses. Therefore, CNAs should consider pursuing further education and training to maximize their earning potential.

Recommended Reading - How to become a CNA

How much a CNA makes against other nursing jobs

CNAs earn a median annual salary of $32,500, lower than more senior nursing jobs' salaries. For example, registered nurses earn a median yearly salary of $76,945, while licensed practical nurses earn a median annual salary of $51,098.

The difference in earnings is due to the different levels of education and training required for each job. For example, CNAs typically have less education and training than registered nurses and licensed practical nurses.

However, it is essential to note that earnings potential is not the only factor to consider when choosing a nursing career. CNAs typically have more patient contact and flexible work schedules than other nursing jobs. This patient contact can be a rewarding experience for those who enjoy helping others and working with people.

How much do CNA's salaries increase with each year of experience?

CNAs' salaries tend to rise with each year of experience as they obtain the necessary skills and knowledge to do their job more effectively.

They're also better able to complete more complicated tasks than entry-level CNAs.

The average salary for a CNA with one year of experience is $30,920. 

The average salary for a CNA with five years of experience is $35,540. 

Ten years of experience is enough for a CNA to make an average salary of over $40,000.

CNAs wishing to maximize their earnings should consider pursuing further education and training. CNAs can become registered or licensed practical nurses with additional education and training. These jobs typically have higher salaries than CNAs.

CNA Salary FAQs

Following are some frequently asked questions about CNA salaries:

Am I being paid fairly as a CNA?

The best way to determine if you are paid fairly is to compare your salary to other CNAs in your area. You can use online resources, such as the Bureau of Labor Statistics' Occupational Outlook Handbook, to find the average CNA salary in your area.

You can also ask for a raise if you feel you are not being paid fairly. But, again, be sure to have a solid argument for why you deserve a raise before approaching your employer.

Are CNAs paid mostly hourly or annually?

Most CNAs are paid hourly. However, some employers do pay CNAs a salary. 

Hourly pay is most common in nursing homes and long-term care facilities. Before agreeing to a job offer, be sure to learn the frequency you will get paid; it will help you negotiate a fair salary.

Do CNAs get paid overtime?

Overtime pay is not typical for CNAs. However, some employers offer overtime pay for CNAs who work over 40 hours per week. Ask your employer about their overtime policy before you accept a job offer.

Do CNAs get paid more privately or in hospitals?

There is no definitive answer to this question. It depends on the employer and the area where you work. However, it would help if you researched CNA salaries in your area to get an idea of what you can expect to earn.

You can also ask CNAs working in hospital and private settings about their experiences. They may be able to give you some insight into which environment pays better.

What state pays CNAs the most per hour?

Currently, New York is the state that pays CNAs the most per hour, with an average hourly wage of $18.33. Other states that pay CNAs well include California ($18.00), Alaska ($19.91), and Oregon ($18.01).

Can you live off a CNA Salary in the USA?

It is possible to live off a CNA salary in the USA. However, it depends on your lifestyle and where you live. To make ends meet, you may need to make sacrifices, such as living in a smaller home or apartment.

You can also look for CNA jobs that offer benefits, like health insurance and retirement savings plans. These benefits can help offset the costs of living on a CNA salary.

Do hospitals pay CNAs more than nursing homes?

In some high-end health care residential facilities, highly qualified nurses will be paid well because of the wealthy individuals who live or stay in such places. It depends on the employer and the CNA's qualifications.

In general, hospitals tend to pay more than nursing homes. The reason is that hospitals usually have more resources and can offer higher salaries to attract and keep employees.

Why do we pay CNAs so little?

CNAs get paid less than other nursing positions which require further education, such as Registered Nurses. However, the median hourly wage for a CNA is $15.63, which is more than double the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour.

Is becoming a CNA worth it?

There is no easy answer to this question. It depends on your situation and what you hope to gain from becoming a CNA.

Becoming a CNA may be worthwhile if you are looking for a stable career with good pay and benefits. However, if you are looking for a job to tide you over until you can find something better, then becoming a CNA may not be the best option.

Final Thoughts on CNA Salaries

Becoming a CNA may be an excellent start to a career in medicine. It's also wise to seek secure employment with decent pay and benefits. However, it is vital to consider that becoming a CNA demands hard work and sacrifice. If you are not ready to put in the effort, being a CNA might not be worth it. Do your homework and be sure you're up to speed on how much nurses get paid in each state of the United States. You may enjoy a secure profession with decent pay and benefits if you work for the right company.