Guide To CNA Careers And Specialties

If you’re interested in becoming a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA), that’s great news! The job job outlook for this career is strong, with employment expected to grow 11 percent from 2016 to 2026. This is faster than the average for all occupations, according to The Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The links below provide detailed information about becoming a CNA and how to advance in your career later on.

  1. How Do I Find A Job As A Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA)?
  2. Do I Need A License To Work As A CNA?
  3. Where Do CNAs Find Employment?
  4. CNA Specializations: Psychiatric Aide, Radiology/Sonography Aide, Occupational Therapy Aide, And More
  5. What Is The Career Mobility Of CNAs?

How Do I Find A Job As A Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA)?

After you’ve completed your CNA training, it’s time to find employment! This can be daunting at first, but with the proper preparation and mindset, you’ll land a job in no time.

First things first – did you take AND pass your CNA certification exam? In order to work as a CNA, you need a passing score on the CNA certification exam. This test is made up of two parts, written and clinical. A CNA training program SHOULD properly prepare you to sit for and pass this exam.

It’s also a good idea to ask your former instructors for job leads. And while you’re at it, you might consider asking your former colleagues for advice too, as they may have already found a job and know of other openings.

The most important things to consider when looking for employment are to stay motivated and not give up. It’s also important to have a well-written resume and cover letter ready to submit at any time. You can also join online forums to learn more about employment opportunities.

Organization is key. Make sure you keep all of your paperwork (cover letters, resumes, letters of recommendation, etc.) organized and ready for submission. It’s also smart to have copies of your resumes with you at all times, just in case you encounter a potential employer.

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Do I Need A License To Work As A CNA?

Yes, you need a license to work as a CNA. By enrolling in an accredited CNA training program, you should be more than prepared to pass this exam. The Certified Nursing Assistant Examination is divided into two sections, the written examination (WE) and a clinical skills test (CST). You must successfully pass both sections to earn your CNA certification.

CNA licensure ensures you are qualified to provide patient care. It also ensures mastery of essential skills and knowledge. And you’ll need a license to apply for most jobs. If you find a CNA training program that does NOT offer exam preparation courses, or courses that cover topics on the test, it’s in your best interest to find another program. The programs that prepare you to sit for the CNA exam are likely accredited and not a diploma mill.

Each state has its own licensing requirements. If you’re unsure of your state’s licensing requirements, you can visit your your state’s nursing board website for more information. You’ll also need to stay on top of continuing education requirements. Again, each state has its own continuing education requirements, and these can be verified by contacting your state’s nursing board.

If you’re confident in your decision to become a CNA, the accredited programs listed below will help you find a school that meets your needs.

Click here to see more Nursing programs...

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Where Do CNAs Find Employment?

Once you’ve received a passing score, you’re ready to start you job search. Below is a list of the most common places of employment for CNAs:

  • Nursing care facilities
  • Hospitals; state, local, and private
  • Continuing care retirement communities and assisted living facilities for the elderly
  • Home healthcare services
  • Government
  • Outpatient clinics

CNAs most commonly work in hospitals, nursing care facilities, and home care facilities, so take stock of these employers in your area. Typically hospitals and nursing care facilities advertise job openings on their websites. If they don’t, you might want to consider stopping in, or contacting the human resources department.

Becoming a CNA can be a great way to break into the medical industry. The following statistics, provided by The Bureau of Labor Statistics, predict an increase in job availability as well as pay.

  • Employment of nursing assistants is projected to grow 11 percent from 2016 to 2026, faster than the average for all occupations. Employment of orderlies is projected to grow 8 percent from 2016 to 2026, about as fast as the average for all occupations.
  • The median annual wage for nursing assistants was $27,520 in May 2017. The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount, and half earned less. The median annual wage for orderlies was $27,180 in May 2017.

Some areas of the country are in need of CNAs more than others. States with the highest employment level in this occupation are highlighted in the illustration below. (Source: BLS.gov: Occupational Employment And Wages: Nursing Assistants, data for May 2017.)

As the map illustrates, some states need CNAs more than others, and that depends on a number of different factors. If your living situation is flexible and you’re having a hard time finding employment in your current state, you might want to consider moving to an area in need of qualified CNAs.

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CNA Specializations: Psychiatric Aide, Radiology/Sonography Aide, Occupational Therapy Aide, And More

The medical field is diverse, and there are a wide range of employers and work environments available to job-seekers. Some CNAs choose to become registered nurses. Whatever path you choose, working as a CNA is a great way to enter the field and test the waters.

CNAs can pursue a few different areas of specialties, such as the ones listed below.

  • Psychiatric Aide: As a psychiatric aide, you can work in a mental health ward or hospital, alongside psychologists, psychiatrists, and other mental health workers. You may work with housed patients over a long period, as well as shorter term patients needing acute care.
  • Radiology/Sonography: Working as a radiologist or sonographer, you’ll use unique machinery to take images of patients’ bones, organs, and other soft tissues, which doctors use to diagnose illness and injury.
  • Occupational Therapy Assistants and Aides: Occupational therapy assistants and aides help patients develop, recover, improve, as well as maintain the skills needed for daily living and working. Both assistants and aides work under the direction of occupational therapists.

You’re by no means limited to the specializations listed above. The medical field offers career opportunities for people at all educational levels. It’s up to you how far up the career ladder you wish to go.

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What Is The Career Mobility Of CNAs?

Becoming a CNA can also lead to greater job fulfillment. Some CNAs choose to advance their careers by moving to the administrative level of healthcare. Others choose to become registered nurses. If you want to continue working in the medical field, but want to advance in your career, a degree in nursing could be your next step. Here are a few tips on how to transition from a CNA into a nursing degree program, and eventually to a career in nursing:

  1. Keep Your Day Job: If you can continue to work as a CNA while taking nursing classes online, in the evening, or both, you can alleviate some of the stress of taking on debt to finance your education. Some employers may even pay for your education. Take advantage of that assistance if it is available to you.
  2. Pick a Specialty: If you want to work as an acute care nurse, try to find employment as CNA in an acute care setting. This can be especially useful when applying to jobs. You’ll also get more on-the-job training.
  3. Network: If you’re already working in a medical facility, chances are you know someone with hiring power, or someone who can guide you in the right direction. If someone within an organization recommends you, you have a much greater chance of getting hired./li>
  4. Keep on Learning: Continuing education is crucial in any job in the medical industry. New technologies are rapidly changing and expanding the field. Even if you feel comfortable with your current knowledge level, it always helps to keep up with the latest innovations. You can do this by taking classes, or just reading reliable sources on your own time, such as peer-reviewed medical journals.

Whatever path you choose to pursue, starting your career as a CNA is a great way to learn about the healthcare industry. You’ll make connections, discover an area of specialty that interests you, and find out if you really want to work in the medical field.

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