Nursing Assistant Salary Guide

7 Min Read Published April 28, 2023
Nursing Assistant Salary Guide 2024

In 2021, healthcare facilities nationwide employed around 1.3 million nursing assistants. You may also know these ancillary healthcare workers by the title certified nursing assistant (CNA), nurse aide, nurse attendant, or patient care assistant. 

Nursing assistants are vital healthcare workers regardless of how you refer to them. Supervised by a registered nurse (RN), they provide close patient care like checking vitals, mobility assistance, feeding, and bathing. Many nurses start out as CNAs because it’s a quick, affordable, and accessible credential to earn.

But before you commit to a nurse aide career, you should know how much you can earn. This article looks at certified nursing assistant salaries by state and other factors that will impact your earning potential. Keep reading this comprehensive salary guide to learn how much you could make as a CNA and how to maximize your CNA income.

How Much Does a Nursing Assistant Make?

The average annual base nursing assistant salary in the United States is $44,509, based on over 440K reports according to Indeed. That works out to around $19.70 an hour, not including overtime.

The lowest 10% of earners make $30,898 or less, while the highest 10% make $64,116 yearly. Your starting salary will likely fall around the average but can fluctuate depending on where you live, your workplace, and your experience.

Nursing Assistant Salary by State

How much you can earn as a CNA depends a lot on where you live and work. Here’s a list of the average CNA salary by state. 

Nursing Assistant Salary by State


Annual Salary

Hourly Wage


































District of Columbia




















































































New Hampshire




New Jersey




New Mexico




New York




North Carolina




North Dakota




















Rhode Island




South Carolina




South Dakota




























West Virginia












Source: Indeed nursing assistant salary data, April 2023

Nursing Assistant Salary by Years of Experience

The more experience you earn as a nurse aide, the more you will make. In general, newly certified nursing assistants begin their careers with entry-level salaries. But, healthcare employers often offer annual raises as you develop your skills.

Nursing Assistant Salary by Years of Experience 

Years of Experience

Annual Salary

Hourly Wage

Less than 1 year



Between 1 to 2 years



Between 3 to 5 years



Between 6 to 9 years



10 years or more



Source: Indeed nursing assistant salary data, April 2023

With more experience, benefits, bonuses, and overtime, you could earn closer to $64,116 or more annually.

Nursing Assistant Salary by Work Setting

Nursing assistant pay may also change depending on where you work. The current average salaries by work setting are as follows:


Industry employment of nursing assistants

Average Hourly Wage

Average Annual Salary

Junior Colleges




Scientific Research and Development




Insurance Carriers




Technical and Trade Schools




Specialty Hospitals




General Medical and Surgical Hospitals




Nursing Care Facilities




Assisted living facilities




Home Health Care Services




Source: BLS data updated May 2021

According to these findings, industries with the highest-paying nursing assistant jobs also have the fewest positions available. You must stand out from other high-qualified and experienced applicants to compete in these industries.

Conversely, the highest concentration of nursing jobs is at nursing care facilities, which employ around 34% of all CNAs. As a state-certified nursing assistant, you’ll find it easier to find a job in this lower-competition industry. Plus, the average pay for these industries is comparable to nationwide averages.

How to Increase Your Salary as a Nursing Assistant

These salary estimates don't have to define your career. Here are some ways to increase your certified nursing assistant salary:


Some states don't require nursing assistants to hold a CNA certification. But, many employers will pay less for non-certified nursing assistants. Getting a CNA license is a quick and easy way to get larger wages for your nurse aide job.

Patient care technician (PCT) is another credential you could earn to increase your salary. PCTs perform similar tasks to nursing assistants but have more technical responsibilities like:

    Is Becoming a Nursing Assistant Worth It?

    Certified nursing assistant requirements and costs vary by state. CNA training programs usually take between 4 and 12 weeks to complete, and you can find them at community colleges or technical schools. CNA job training is a time and money investment, so you should understand the associated costs before taking the plunge.

    Fortunately, these programs are relatively affordable. Becoming a nursing assistant usually costs between $1200 to $1500. Other costs you might incur while attending CNA school include:

    • Tuition
    • Textbooks
    • Supplies
    • Lab fees
    • Exam fees
    • Certification/license fees

    Depending on your current employer, you could qualify for tuition assistance to pay for your CNA program. Some hospitals may also offer tuition reimbursement after you complete your certification.

    Overall, CNA certification isn't costly, and you can recoup your investment after getting your license. The time and costs associated with becoming a CNA are worth it, considering the skills you gain and your earning potential.

    If you're looking for a fast, entry-level healthcare job, you may also be considering occupations related to nursing assistance. Here is a quick salary review of jobs related to nursing assistance:

    Medical Assistant 

    Medical assistants are like nursing assistants, but they perform administrative tasks in addition to their clinical duties. However, medical assistant pay is similar to nurse aide pay. 

    In 2021, medical assistants earned an average of $37,190. However, Indeed reports that it increased to $42,772 in 2023.

    Licensed Practical Nurse

    Many CNAs pursue higher education to become licensed practical nurses (LPNs) or licensed vocational nurses (LVN). LPN programs take about a year to complete. But LPNs earn an average annual wage of $60,050, according to 2023 Indeed salary reports.

    Registered Nurse

    In 2021, registered nurses earned $77,600 annually or $37.31 per hour, as the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported. These statistics include nurses with an associate's degree in nursing (ADN) and those with a bachelor's degree (BSN).

    Although associate degree and bachelor-degree-trained RNs generally earn the same salaries, many employers prefer hiring nurses with a BSN. Some employers will not employ ADN-trained nurses or heavily favor BSN-trained nurses in their hiring process. Therefore, having an ADN may limit your career opportunities, affecting your overall earning potential.


    • What’s the most a nursing assistant can make per hour?

      • Top-earning nursing assistants earn hourly wages upwards of $28.38. But the national average is around $19.70 per hour.
    • What is a nursing assistant's monthly salary?

      • The average monthly nursing assistant salary is $3,151. The bottom 25th percentile of CNAs earn around $2,188 a month, and the top 75th percentile makes about $4,540.
    • What does a nurse assistant do?

      • Nursing assistants work in nursing homes, hospitals, and other healthcare facilities to provide basic patient care. They complete duties like mobility assistance, charting vitals, and collecting lab specimens.
    • Do nursing assistants make good money?

      • On average, nursing assistants earn a decent living compared to the cost of living. In the United States, one person's average cost of living is $40,859, while average nursing assistant salaries are around $34,961 to $44,509.
    • Are nursing assistants in-demand workers?

      • Nursing assistants are in-demand healthcare workers. The BLS projects nursing assistants' career growth at a steady 5%, creating a demand for 64,900 new nursing assistants in the next decade.
    Sarah Jividen
    RN, BSN
    Sarah Jividen Contributor

    Sarah Jividen, RN, BSN, is a trained neuro/trauma and emergency room nurse turned freelance healthcare writer/editor. As a journalism major, she combined her love for writing with her passion for high-level patient care. Sarah is the creator of Health Writing Solutions, LLC, specializing in writing about healthcare topics, including health journalism, education, and evidence-based health and wellness trends. She lives in Northern California with her husband and two children. 

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