As with any career, there are many pros and cons of being a CNA or Certified Nursing Assistant. While this career offers a slew of advantages, such as gaining hands-on experience in a medical environment, there are also several disadvantages worth noting. The following are the most noteworthy benefits and drawbacks of working as a Certified Nursing Assistant.
Pros and Cons of Being a CNA
Pro: Quick Training
Are you looking to make a rapid change? Do you wish to work as a nurse, but the years of training and study make your dream feel as if it’ll never become a reality? If so, then a career as a Certified Nursing Assistant will likely spark your interest. On average, CNA training takes anywhere from four to 12 weeks and costs substantially less than a BSN nursing degree.
Con: Limited Room for Growth and Advancement
While this shouldn’t come in as a surprise, it’s worth noting that as a Certified Nursing Assistant you’re limited in terms of career advancement. Because state laws are quite strict when it comes to determining who can perform what service, CNAs are limited in upward mobility. However, you can workaround this limitation by simply attending more training programs.
For example, if you wish to perform the duties of a Registered Nurse, enroll in a nursing degree program. Interestingly, most of your work and training as a CNA may be used as transferable credits. This means you’ll spend less money and time attending nursing school.
Pro: In-Demand Career Path
Job security may feel like a thing of the past for most professions, but Certified Nursing Assistants are lucky in this aspect. According to the Department of Labor, between now and the year 2026, the CNA career path is expected to grow by a whopping 11 percent. This means that even by the year 2024, there will be nearly 300,000 new CNA jobs.
Con: Emotionally Taxing
While this isn’t a specific disadvantage for CNAs, it’s definitely worth mentioning. As with many other nursing specialty that closely deals with sick and elderly patients, your daily tasks can be quite emotionally demanding. This is especially true when you have a patient who dies or continues to degrade. Be prepared to face challenging and traumatic experiences throughout your career.
Pro: Regular Physical Activity
Does the idea of sitting behind a desk all day sound like torture? If so, then a career as a Certified Nursing Assistant will prove to be right up your alley. As a CNA, you’ll spend much of your day running around the medical facility tending to patients, gathering supplies and assisting other medical team members. The most sedate job opportunity for CNAs is working in a private practice, which requires more administrative and clerical duties.
Pro and Con: Average Compensation
Lastly, the average income for a Certified Nursing Assistant is roughly $12.36 per hour, or just over $25,000 per year. While this is ample for some, for others this income level may not be enough to support an entire family. However, when you consider the federal minimum wage is only $7.25 per hour, this is an excellent increase of income. Of course, pay will vary based on state. For example, California features an average CNA hourly wage of just over $16 per hour.