13 Pros and Cons of Being a CNA
Written By: Jennifer Schlette MSN, RN
Do you enjoy caring for others and making a difference in their lives? If so, you may be interested in becoming a certified nursing assistant (CNA). Certified nursing assistants (CNAs) play an essential role in the health care industry. CNAs provide crucial hands-on care to patients, but what are the pros and cons of being a CNA? If you are curious about whether or not becoming a certified nursing assistant is the right career move for you, you are in luck! Here are the top 13 pros and cons of being a CNA to help you decide if you should pursue this career path.
What Does A CNA Do?
A certified nursing assistant, or CNA, assists nurses and other healthcare professionals in providing patient care. They may help patients bathe, eat, and dress. They obtain vital signs and collect samples for testing. CNAs also may provide primary bedside care, such as changing bed sheets and helping patients with toileting, and turning them in bed. They are also able to transport patients to different parts of a healthcare institution. In some cases, they may also administer medication or treatments.
The scope of practice of a CNA will vary from state to state.
Where Does A CNA Work?
A certified nursing assistant works in a variety of settings. The majority of CNAs work in nursing homes and hospitals. Still, they also may work in residential care centers and assisted living facilities. You can also find CNAs working in correctional facilities, schools, or home health care. CNAs certified to work with intravenous medications may also find employment in clinics and medical offices.
What Is A Typical CNA Work Schedule Like?
As a CNA, you will find that you can work several different schedules. You may be able to work full-time, part-time, or on a per diem basis. This will all depend on the facility you are working in and their needs. Some certified nursing assistants work Monday thru Friday, whereas other CNAs work weekends only. Some CNAs can work a varied schedule encompassing all the days of the week.
You will also find that CNAs have various shifts. Some work nights, some workdays, and some work rotating shifts. This may depend on the facility where you are working.
How Much Does A CNA Make?
As a CNA, you can expect to make a salary slightly over minimum wage
if you are just starting out in this career. The minimum wage in the United States is $7.25 an hour. The entry-level salary for a certified nursing assistant is $10.94 an hour or $22,750 a year. Once you gain more experience, you can expect an hourly rate of $14.83 or $30,085 a year. The top-level salary for a CNA is around $20.25. This means that top-level experience can make approximately $32,050 a year. The average CNA salary is about $15.41 an hour or $32,050 a year.
|Entry-Level||$10.94 ||$22,750 |
|Mid-Level||$14.83 ||$30,850 |
|Top-Level||$20.25 ||$42,110 |
|Average Salary||$15.41 ||$32,050 |
|(Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics)|
Job Outlook For A CNA
When it comes to examining the job outlook for a career as a CNA, you can expect to see positive growth. In 2020 the number of those in the profession was 1,396,700. It is projected that in 2030 the number of CNAs will increase to 1,512,00. That is an increase of 115,300 or a growth of 8.26%. The annual job openings for this career are 187,000. This number reflects the new job openings and those to replace those who have left the profession.
| New Employment|
| Annual Job Openings|
(New + Replacement)
| Number || % |
|(Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics)|
Steps To Becoming A CNA
The first step in order to become a CNA is to graduate with either a high school diploma or your GED
The next step is to complete a certified nursing assistant program.
After you graduate from a CNA program, you will need to take a state-specific CNA certification exam and become licensed in the state you plan to work in.
Finally, you will need to maintain your license with continuing education hours, as mandated by your state.
TOP CONS OF BEING A CNA
(The following are the top 13 disadvantages of being a CNA.)
1. The training courses to become a CNA are not free.
If you wish to become a certified nursing assistant, you will need to complete a training course. The cost of this course can vary depending on the provider, but it is not free. Typically, the price for these courses can range anywhere from $500 to $1,000. The CNA certification exam also costs money to take and pass. The fee for taking the exam varies by state but typically costs between $75 and $125.
2. You will not make a tremendous amount of money.
One of the biggest disadvantages of being a CNA is that your salary is on the lower end of the pay scale for a career in healthcare. You will be working extremely hard for the money you are being paid. CNAs work as much as 40 hours per week, and since they do not make that much money, it is hard to live off that salary. A CNA will most likely need a second job to stay afloat. The average CNA salary is about $15.41 an hour or $32,050 a year.
3. You will be performing a task that is not always fun.
When evaluating the pros and cons of being a CNA you will need to take into consideration that you will be expected to do some dirty tasks. This can include cleaning up bodily fluids, changing bed sheets that are soiled, and helping patients in the bathroom. It is essential to be prepared for this before starting your training and knowing that it is part of the job. If you are not comfortable doing these types of tasks, it may not be the right career for you. Remember that as a CNA, it is your responsibility to keep the patients in your care clean and safe.
4. Your job is physically demanding.
When you work as a CNA, you can expect your job to be extremely physically
demanding. Every shift, you are required to move, lift, push and pull your patients. While this is excellent exercise, it can be highly uncomfortable and even painful on the body. You will be at risk of being injured. You will also come home from work very sore each day.
5. You may have to work weekends and holidays.
One of the disadvantages of being a CNA is that you will often have to work on holidays and weekends. This can be really tough because you will miss out on time with family and friends. Additionally, it can be hard to find the time to see your loved ones when you are always working. So, if you cannot even bear the thought of missing a holiday with family or friends and cannot give up your weekends, well, this is not for you.
6. You may have to work the overnight shift.
As a CNA, you may have to work the overnight shift. Working nights is difficult because your body's natural rhythm is disrupted
. You may have trouble sleeping during the day, and you are more likely to get sick and be overweight
. You may also find that you're more irritable or moody, and your appetite could change.
7. You can become exposed to pathogens.
Another fact that you will have to consider when evaluating the pros and cons of being a CNA is that as a CNA, you will be exposed to all sorts of unpleasant entities, like pathogens
. Most pathogens can be acquired through blood products, mucous membrane contact with respiratory or GI secretions, contact with broken skin or wounds, and exposure to the stool and/or urine of infected patients. These little buggers can make you sick, and if you are not careful, they can also make your family sick.
8. You will be exposed to bodily fluids.
While it is admittedly not the most glamorous of professions, being a CNA does come with its own unique set of risks. In addition to working closely with patients who may be unwell or in pain, CNAs can also expect to be exposed to bodily fluids on a regular basis. These bodily fluids include blood, sweat, vomit, urine, and feces.
9. You will be subject to little upward movement in your career.
One of the most significant disadvantages of being a CNA is that there is not much room for growth in the position. As we discussed, the pay is not great. You will not go very far if you are not willing to get additional education after receiving your CNA certification. So, if you are looking to climb to the top with this career, well, it will not happen, so you should try a different career avenue.
10. You may experience burnout
As a certified nursing assistant, you may experience burnout. The burnout you will experience is the death of passion for your work due to being so overworked and spread thin. This will cause you to stop caring about your job and its responsibilities, which leads to mistakes on the job, higher turnover rates, and less quality care being provided. Most times, this ends up in you wanting to quit.
11. Your job can be emotionally draining.
CNAs will have an emotionally draining job. This is not because you will have to deal with cranky patients all day long (although that is definitely a possibility). Instead, it is because you will be responsible for the emotional well-being of your patients. Think about it - most people in the hospital are there because they are not feeling well physically. As a result, their emotional state may be a bit fragile. It is up to the CNA to ensure that these patients are comfortable and emotionally supported, which can be a lot of pressure.
12. You may have to work for short staff
One of the biggest cons of being a CNA is that you will often find that you will be working short-staffed, and you will always have to do more with less help. This can be really tough, especially when you are already short on time as it is. But it is something that you will have to get used to if you choose this career.
13. You may have to deal with abuse by patients
One of the top disadvantages of being a CNA is that you may find yourself working with abusive patients. Abusive patients can be challenging to deal with. You will often find that you will be treated rudely or yelled at. It is essential to stay calm and professional, even when feeling frustrated. If you are not really on board with being subjected to this treatment, I guess you should keep shopping for a career.
TOP PROS OF BEING A CNA
(The following are the top 13 advantages of being a CNA.)
1. Your requirements to enter a CNA training program are minimum.
The requirements to begin your training to become a CNA are simple. You only need a high school diploma or GED. That means that just about anyone can become a CNA with a bit of effort. This makes the CNA an accessible and easily entered career.
2. You will have a short training time.
One of the most significant advantages of being a CNA is the short training time required in order to start this career. This means that you will be able to get out there and start working sooner, which is excellent news if you are looking for a new career. The training itself is relatively straightforward, and most programs can be completed in just a few weeks. So, if you are interested in helping people and learning new skills, becoming a CNA might be the right choice.
3. You can earn your certification online.
Another advantage of being a CNA is that you can often complete your training online. This can be more convenient, as you can study at your own pace and take exams in the comfort of your own home. Plus, there are plenty of great online courses available, so you can be sure to find one that suits your needs.
4. You will be in demand.
One of the biggest advantages of being a CNA is that you are in high demand. The need for CNAs will only increase in the years to come, so if you are looking to start a new career, this is a great option. In 2020 the number of CNAs was 1,396,700. It is expected that in 2030 the number of CNAs will increase to 1,512,00. That is a positive growth of 115,300 or a growth of 8.26%. The annual job opening for this career is 187,000.
5. You can find a job anywhere.
One of the top pros of being a CNA is that as a CNA, you can find
a job anywhere – from a city big enough to have its own symphony orchestra to a tiny town that only has one traffic light. You can work in a hospital or a nursing home or even at a clinic– it does not matter what state the job is in! CNAs are needed everywhere.
6. You may be able to further your education for free.
When you are a CNA, one of the most extraordinary aspects about the job is that you can further your education for free. Many hospitals will pay for your tuition, so you can get the training you need to move up in your career. This is just one more reason why becoming a CNA is such a great choice. With this kind of opportunity available to you, there is no reason not to pursue a career as a CNA.
7. Your job will keep you physically active.
One of the pros of being a CNA is that a job as a CNA will keep you very active. You will find that you are on your feet most of the day and rarely sitting down. This is an excellent job for someone who likes to be active and stay busy. This career will definitely keep you in shape. If you are looking for a job that will keep you engaged, then a career as a CNA is the right choice for you.
8. You will have a variety of settings to choose from
If you choose to work as a CNA, you will have a wide range of settings. These include hospitals, skilled nursing facilities, and private homes to name a few. Having so many settings to choose from to work means you will have the perfect fit for your personality and career goals. You can also find work close to home, which makes balancing work and personal life much easier. CNAs who work in hospitals often have the opportunity to move up the ladder and become nurses. This is a great way to continue your education while working in a field you love.
9. You may be entitled to good benefits for you and your family
One of the pros of being a CNA is that you will be entitled to some great benefits. This includes health benefits, dental benefits, and vision benefits. This is excellent news for you and your family, as you will be able to take care of your health and wellbeing, while also saving money on dental and vision care.
10. You are helping others
As a certified nursing assistant, you will be helping those that need it the most. A person's health is a huge thing to help maintain, and as a CNA, you will be the first one on the scene to begin working with them. It is a great feeling to help somebody else, and as a CNA, you will be able to do just that. You will be helping with their health, but you will also be providing emotional support. People often just need to talk to somebody, and being a CNA allows you to do that.
11. You can work overtime
One of the top pros of being a CNA is that you will often have the opportunity to work overtime. This can be a great way to make some extra money, and it can also be a way to get some additional experience in the nursing field. So, if you are not happy with your salary or want to save for a vacation, then picking up overtime is a must.
12. You can work holidays for extra money
When examining the pros and cons of being a CNA, you will need to take into consideration that you may have to work holidays. The upside to working holidays is that this is a great way to make extra money. As a CNA, you will work hard during the holiday season, but it is worth every second! Any holiday that falls on your regular schedule is more than likely paid double. So, if you work every Sunday, do not be surprised when you get an extra paycheck for Easter or Christmas.
13. You can get paid to travel
If you are a CNA who loves to travel, you will be glad to know that you can work and travel
simultaneously. This is an excellent option for those who want to see the world while earning a living. Many opportunities are available for CNAs who wish to take advantage of this option. You can become a travel CNA. As a travel CNA, you will be able to work in various settings. You could work in a nursing home one day and a hospital the next. This is a great way to see new parts of the world while you work. You could also become a home health aide. This would allow you to work with clients in their own homes.
My Final Thoughts
The CNA position is a popular entry-level job in the healthcare field. So, what are the pros and cons of being a CNA? Well, a career as a CNA offers excellent benefits, and there are always opportunities for advancement and growth in the healthcare field. However, it can be challenging to find time outside of work hours for personal life commitments when working at least 40 hours per week or more and the pay is not that great. There are a lot of pros and cons to being a CNA that you will have to consider. The top 13 pros and cons of being a CNA that I have presented to you, will help you decide if this is the right career path for you.
Jennifer Schlette MSN, RN
Jennifer Schlette is a registered nurse in pediatric critical care in New York City. She is the former Director of Undergraduate Nursing at a college located in New York. After obtaining her BSN from the College of Mount Saint Vincent, she went on to complete her MSN.