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How to Become a Nurse’s Aide - Training and Career Guide

What Does a Nurse's Aide Do?

nurse aide with patient outside

Nurses’ aides (NAs) work under the supervision of nurses or physicians to address the most fundamental elements of a patient’s care. They feed, dress, bathe and groom patients, contributing enormously to their sense of normalcy and wellbeing. NAs are sometimes given more medically oriented duties such as measuring and recording temperature, blood pressure, and other vital signs. Nurses’ aides also assist with the administrative duties and record-keeping that accompany patient care.

Also known as nursing assistants or nursing attendants, nurses’ aides have an enormous impact on the day-to-day experience of patients, helping them to feel well-cared for and capable as they face medical challenges or diminishing physical capacity.

Workplace Details

Most nurses’ aides work in long-term care facilities that provide rehabilitative or custodial care of patients. They may also work in the increasingly popular assisted living environments, or in general care hospitals. There are other opportunities for NAs with home health agencies, outpatient facilities, community health centers, physicians’ offices, or patients’ homes. Round-the-clock shiftwork usually goes along with this kind of work, and there may be holiday or weekend commitments.

Salary and Job Outlook

State
Average Wage
California
$32770
New York
$34300
Florida
$25230
Texas
$25410
Pennsylvania
$29190

Hover over any state to explore local income and job growth data.

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ALABAMA

Median Salary: 
$21,600
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $16,700
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $29,500

2014-2024 Job Growth: 16%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 800

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Birmingham$16,770$21,850$29,700
Huntsville$18,040$22,950$32,520

ALASKA

Median Salary: 
$36,800
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $28,700
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $47,200

2014-2024 Job Growth: 10%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 70

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Anchorage$26,950$36,570$46,860
Fairbanks$31,760$36,310$43,190

ARIZONA

Median Salary: 
$28,400
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $21,700
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $37,100

2014-2024 Job Growth: 19%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 1,030

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Phoenix$22,470$28,940$37,520
Tuscon$21,470$27,350$33,010

ARKANSAS

Median Salary: 
$21,700
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $17,000
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $28,500

2014-2024 Job Growth: 15%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 690

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Little Rock$19,650$23,240$30,760
Fort Smith$16,560$20,210$24,850

CALIFORNIA

Median Salary: 
$29,100
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $21,300
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $45,000

2014-2024 Job Growth: 19%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 4,170

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Los Angeles$21,230$28,620$41,950
San Francisco Bay$22,430$34,560$53,930
San Diego$22,000$28,980$44,060
Sacramento$24,440$37,720$49,340

COLORADO

Median Salary: 
$28,700
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $21,500
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $37,900

2014-2024 Job Growth: 30%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 930

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Denver$24,300$30,480$38,870
Colorado Springs$20,130$25,570$32,120

CONNECTICUT

Median Salary: 
$30,800
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $24,900
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $41,300

2014-2024 Job Growth: 5%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 640

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Hartford$22,980$29,680$40,020
Bridgeport$26,130$32,710$41,910
New Haven$25,150$32,930$44,510

DELAWARE

Median Salary: 
$28,000
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $21,800
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $36,300

2014-2024 Job Growth: 13%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 200

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Wilmington$22,240$28,510$37,070
Dover$20,350$27,960$36,420

DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA

Median Salary: 
$32,000
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $24,100
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $42,900

2014-2024 Job Growth: 13%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 130

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Washington DC$20,990$28,380$38,730

FLORIDA

Median Salary: 
$23,800
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $19,200
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $30,700

2014-2024 Job Growth: 23%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 4,050

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Miami$18,520$23,230$30,510
Orlando$19,270$24,010$30,890
Tampa$19,630$24,070$30,890
Jacksonville$19,340$23,450$30,160

GEORGIA

Median Salary: 
$22,100
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $16,900
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $30,200

2014-2024 Job Growth: 19%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 1,530

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Atlanta$17,530$22,980$31,310
Augusta$16,960$22,540$33,040

HAWAII

Median Salary: 
$30,400
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $22,200
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $39,100

2014-2024 Job Growth: 17%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 210

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Honolulu$21,610$29,870$39,080

IDAHO

Median Salary: 
$23,700
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $18,000
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $30,600

Job Growth Data Not Available

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Boise$18,340$23,870$30,890
Idaho Falls$18,220$23,020$29,780

ILLINOIS

Median Salary: 
$24,500
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $19,800
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $35,600

2014-2024 Job Growth: 12%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 2,220

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Chicago$19,910$25,490$36,900
Rockford$20,860$26,990$38,030

INDIANA

Median Salary: 
$23,500
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $19,400
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $30,900

2014-2024 Job Growth: 13%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 1,140

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Indianapolis$20,490$24,600$31,760
South Bend$20,090$24,300$33,160
Fort Wayne$19,660$22,970$30,320

IOWA

Median Salary: 
$25,100
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $20,400
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $34,800

2014-2024 Job Growth: 15%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 870

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Des Moines$19,730$27,550$37,130
Cedar Rapids$19,910$24,420$31,130

KANSAS

Median Salary: 
$23,300
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $19,900
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $30,000

2014-2024 Job Growth: 5%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 510

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Wichita$20,110$23,310$29,910
Kansas City$20,090$24,680$32,370

KENTUCKY

Median Salary: 
$24,000
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $18,000
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $31,200

2014-2024 Job Growth: 46%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 1,750

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Louisville$20,360$26,190$33,300
Lexington$20,850$26,490$31,450

LOUISIANA

Median Salary: 
$20,100
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $16,300
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $27,700

2014-2024 Job Growth: 12%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 830

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
New Orleans$16,900$22,270$29,730
Baton Rouge$16,570$21,080$28,100
Lafayette$16,080$18,760$24,490

MAINE

Median Salary: 
$24,500
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $19,800
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $31,900

2014-2024 Job Growth: 9%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 290

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Portland$21,360$27,480$36,200
Lewiston$20,340$24,770$30,800

MARYLAND

Median Salary: 
$28,000
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $21,100
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $37,900

2014-2024 Job Growth: 31%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 1,640

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Baltimore$21,150$28,200$37,540
Frederick$21,490$29,100$39,430

MASSACHUSETTS

Median Salary: 
$29,100
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $22,300
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $38,700

2014-2024 Job Growth: 7%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 1,250

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Boston$23,460$29,560$39,470
Worcester$23,070$30,010$39,160
Springfield$21,800$28,810$38,450

MICHIGAN

Median Salary: 
$27,800
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $20,900
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $36,400

2014-2024 Job Growth: 10%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 1,640

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Detroit$20,600$28,170$36,850
Grand Rapids$21,900$27,630$34,170

MINNESOTA

Median Salary: 
$27,900
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $21,100
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $38,200

2014-2024 Job Growth: 8%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 920

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Minneapolis - St. Paul$23,020$30,030$39,620
Rochester$21,250$29,210$39,770

MISSISSIPPI

Median Salary: 
$20,100
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $16,400
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $28,000

2014-2024 Job Growth: 11%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 530

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Jackson$16,630$21,130$28,130

MISSOURI

Median Salary: 
$23,000
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $17,600
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $31,000

2014-2024 Job Growth: 11%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 1,600

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
St. Louis$20,050$23,670$31,300
Kansas City$20,090$24,680$32,370

MONTANA

Median Salary: 
$24,400
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $20,200
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $31,200

2014-2024 Job Growth: 16%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 230

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Billings$20,340$24,490$32,150
Missoula$20,150$22,860$29,080

NEBRASKA

Median Salary: 
$24,100
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $20,300
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $32,400

2014-2024 Job Growth: 12%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 470

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Omaha$20,450$24,500$33,250
Lincoln$20,540$24,650$31,150

NEVADA

Median Salary: 
$31,000
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $25,100
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $44,400

2014-2024 Job Growth: 21%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 230

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Las Vegas$25,640$32,430$46,520
Reno$22,480$29,210$37,390

NEW HAMPSHIRE

Median Salary: 
$29,000
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $22,100
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $38,400

2014-2024 Job Growth: 17%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 340

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Manchester$25,030$30,850$38,950
Nashua$21,620$27,680$36,180

NEW JERSEY

Median Salary: 
$27,700
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $21,200
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $37,300

2014-2024 Job Growth: 15%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 2,060

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Newark$21,280$27,750$37,480
Trenton$21,350$27,270$35,410

NEW MEXICO

Median Salary: 
$25,900
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $20,000
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $36,200

2014-2024 Job Growth: 9%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 220

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Albuquerque$20,290$27,850$36,800
Las Cruces$20,540$23,700$30,520

NEW YORK

Median Salary: 
$33,700
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $23,200
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $44,600

2014-2024 Job Growth: 16%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 4,270

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
New York City$24,740$34,250$45,000
Buffalo$21,510$29,160$37,590
Rochester$20,680$27,110$35,200
Albany$20,930$26,950$36,050

NORTH CAROLINA

Median Salary: 
$22,500
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $17,000
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $30,200

2014-2024 Job Growth: 25%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 2,560

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Charlotte$17,460$22,830$30,220
Raleigh$17,750$23,340$30,900
Greensboro$17,420$22,610$29,830
Winston - Salem$17,680$23,020$30,110

NORTH DAKOTA

Median Salary: 
$29,100
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $22,800
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $37,500

2014-2024 Job Growth: 21%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 310

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Fargo$21,790$28,020$35,820
Bismarck$23,220$29,140$37,350

OHIO

Median Salary: 
$24,100
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $19,600
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $32,800

2014-2024 Job Growth: 16%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 2,710

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Cleveland$19,590$25,100$33,210
Columbus$20,010$24,230$31,280
Cincinnati$20,480$24,850$33,740
Dayton$20,660$25,930$34,920

OKLAHOMA

Median Salary: 
$22,500
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $17,500
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $29,500

2014-2024 Job Growth: 11%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 690

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Oklahoma City$19,350$23,340$29,970
Tulsa$17,680$22,720$29,890

OREGON

Median Salary: 
$29,400
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $23,200
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $38,400

2014-2024 Job Growth: 17%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 470

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Portland$22,290$28,990$38,690
Salem$22,020$28,870$38,410

PENNSYLVANIA

Median Salary: 
$28,000
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $21,000
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $37,500

2014-2024 Job Growth: 12%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 2,710

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Philadelphia$21,310$28,460$38,220
Pittsburgh$21,290$28,260$36,910
Harrisburg$22,100$28,570$36,840
Allentown$20,780$27,950$37,360

RHODE ISLAND

Median Salary: 
$28,300
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $21,400
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $38,200

2014-2024 Job Growth: 12%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 330

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Providence$21,320$28,170$38,020

SOUTH CAROLINA

Median Salary: 
$22,700
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $17,100
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $30,500

2014-2024 Job Growth: 16%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 750

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Greenville$17,440$23,050$30,660
Columbia$17,490$23,120$31,950
Charleston$19,130$26,010$34,900

SOUTH DAKOTA

Median Salary: 
$23,300
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $19,100
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $30,500

2014-2024 Job Growth: 8%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 200

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Sioux Falls$19,990$23,930$30,670
Rapid City$20,370$24,700$34,760

TENNESSEE

Median Salary: 
$22,400
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $17,200
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $30,100

2014-2024 Job Growth: 23%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 1,320

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Nashville$16,750$22,050$30,900
Memphis$17,950$23,880$30,640
Knoxville$19,190$23,270$30,250
Chattanooga$18,330$22,920$30,100

TEXAS

Median Salary: 
$23,400
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $17,700
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $32,300

2014-2024 Job Growth: 30%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 4,410

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Dallas - Ft. Worth$18,570$24,020$34,530
Houston$18,570$24,520$34,470
San Antonio$19,850$23,850$31,180
Austin$19,730$25,730$32,510

UTAH

Median Salary: 
$23,400
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $19,700
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $30,000

2014-2024 Job Growth: 33%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 610

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Salt Lake City$20,480$24,970$30,660
Ogden$18,640$22,530$28,610

VERMONT

Median Salary: 
$27,300
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $21,000
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $35,400

2014-2024 Job Growth: 10%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 120

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Burlington$21,480$28,350$36,720

VIRGINIA

Median Salary: 
$24,400
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $18,300
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $33,000

2014-2024 Job Growth: 26%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 1,790

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Virginia Beach$18,640$24,190$30,500
Richmond$19,670$24,860$31,710

WASHINGTON

Median Salary: 
$28,500
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $21,600
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $38,600

2014-2024 Job Growth: 17%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 1,140

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Seattle$24,550$30,400$39,750
Spokane$21,020$26,250$35,310

WEST VIRGINIA

Median Salary: 
$23,000
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $18,200
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $31,600

2014-2024 Job Growth: 9%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 200

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Huntington$18,680$23,400$32,970
Charleston$20,080$23,340$30,370

WISCONSIN

Median Salary: 
$26,900
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $20,800
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $35,800

2014-2024 Job Growth: 13%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 1,230

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Milwaukee$20,580$26,530$35,800
Madison$22,210$28,920$39,340

WYOMING

Median Salary: 
$27,600
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $21,300
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $36,200

2014-2024 Job Growth: 14%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 110

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Cheyenne$20,740$26,600$36,640
Casper$21,110$27,600$36,280

Most NAs are paid on an hourly basis and the latest information from the U.S. Department of Labor shows the median salary of NAs at approximately $12.78/hour. This is roughly equivalent to $26,590 a year. On the low end, NAs make about $20,040 a year and the highest 10% in the field make more than $37,900.

Nurses’ aides are in demand especially in nursing facilities. In coming years there will be a greater number of older Americans than ever before; more of these facilities will be built and will require more NAs to staff them. This reality is reflected in the BLS’s projected job growth of 17% for NAs, which is a lot faster than average for other occupations (projected from 2014-2024).

Compare Salaries by City

New York City NY Median Pay

$34250 Per Year

$16.46 Per Hour

Los Angeles CA Median Pay

$28620 Per Year

$13.75 Per Hour

Steps to Become a Nurse's Aide

1

Get a high school diploma.

Some nurse’s aide programs do not require a high school diploma or equivalent for admission, but in order to be certified, a high school diploma is required (more below).

2

Enroll in a nurse's aide training program.

Nurse’s aide training programs vary in duration from one month to about six months and result in a diploma or certificate upon completion. The shorter programs are typically designed for students with some previous healthcare experience – whether as a personal care aide, volunteer or other analogous role. Longer NA programs are better suited for students who have no previous experience.

Show Me Schools »

NA programs are located in some vocational/technical high schools, community colleges and independent healthcare training schools. Because of an increasing demand for NAs, many employers (particularly nursing facilities) and the American Red Cross also offer courses. The content in NA programs includes basic health concepts and skills training. Longer programs may include additional classes such as communication skills, nutrition and human anatomy and physiology.

3

Become a certified nurse's aide/assistant.

Nurses’ aides do not need a state license to practice. Certification as a certified nurse’s aide/assistant (CNA), however, is an option (and a desirable one) for better job opportunities. In addition, many employers require NAs to be certified.

The certification process may be included in some basic NA training programs or offered as separate training. Beyond the education time commitment required to be a basic nurse’s aide, about 75 hours of additional training is required. To earn certification, NAs also need to pass a competency exam administered by their state. More information can be found at each state’s nurse aide registry.

4

Complete on-the-job and specialized training.

Students learn the job duty basics in their NA program, but most training occurs on the job under the mentorship of another nurse’s aide or a nurse. After completing a basic educational program, NAs can take on additional training in specialized skills that may include working with complex patient care technology or specializing in the care of particular age groups (such as the elderly). Nurses’ aides who work in hospitals may get specialized training depending on the area they work in. Training typically takes a few weeks and includes information about employer policies along with specific job skills. Aspiring NAs may also take leadership and management classes to qualify for administrative positions.

5

Look into advancement opportunities.

Nurse aides, especially CNAs, may become mentors, supervisors or trainers for other NAs. The most common career advancement choice for a former NA is to move into medical assisting, licensed practical nursing or registered nursing. While additional education and training are required to go into these fields, a background as a nurse’s aide provides excellent preparation. More information about these careers can be found at the American Association of Medical Assistants, the National Federation of Licensed Practical Nurses or the American Nurses Association.

Explore Academic Paths

CERTIFICATE OR DIPLOMA PROGRAM

2 weeks-6 months

To become a nurse’s aide, you must complete a training program approved by your state and pass a competency exam. (Many state nursing boards list qualifying programs on their websites.) The duration of the program depends on course structure, state requirements and your own knowledge base as you enter.

You’ll find nurse’s aide training programs at 2-year colleges, career-technical schools, and even some high schools. The American Red Cross also runs a nurse’s aide training program in some cities.

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If you’re a well-qualified candidate, it’s possible to get trained for free by an employer. (You must usually commit to work for that company for a minimum number of months.)

Nurse’s aide training begins with a theory module that describes the role of the aide and develops the skills needed to care for patients. Some schools offer this content online while others use a traditional classroom format. Lectures cover:

Basic nursing skills

Learn about vitals, fluid output, heights and weights, and other aspects of patient monitoring.

Restorative services

Study therapeutic techniques to help patients maximize function, including movement, positioning, and assistive devices.

Personal care

Practice assisting patients with bathing, hygiene, and oral care.

Psychological care

Understand the needs of patients with common mental health issues and cognitive differences.

Nurse’s aide programs also include a clinical component in which students receive hands-on instruction in a healthcare facility. Some programs use simulation to provide additional practice time.

Keys to Success as a Nurse's Aide

Necessary Skills and Qualities

Physically fit

Nurses’ aides need to be in good physical shape to perform the lifting, stretching and bending required to care for patients’ physical needs.

Communication skills

The ability to communicate with members of a multidisciplinary health team is essential, as NAs are very often the primary caregivers for patients.

Professionalism

Dependability and punctuality are also important.

Passion for helping others

Above all else, NAs must have a strong desire to help people.

Holli Sowerby, EdD, RN

Holli Sowerby EdD, RN is an assistant professor of nursing at Weber State University. Her research interests include the perceptions of graduates regarding laboratory simulation experiences and the effectiveness of simulation.

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