CNA Salaries by State

A career as a Certified Nursing Assistant brings emotional fulfillment, but it won’t make you rich. In its May 2012 report, the Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates an average yearly wage of $24,420 for nursing assistants and related staff. Ten percent of nurse aides earn less than the reported average with $18,095 per year, and another ten percent of nurse aides earn significantly more with $35,170 per year. That being said, your actual salary will depend on a wide range of factors, including your experience, education, specialized training, employer, and location. New CNAs generally earn wages at the lower end of the pay scale. However, their wages increase with time and experience.

If you can get past the starting salary, you can use your job as a CNA as a valuable opportunity to gain entry into the medical field. Following is a list of factors that affect CNA salaries and a breakdown of the wages by state.

Factors that affect CNA Salary

Education and experience: Experience is possibly the biggest determining factor that influences your earning potential as a CNA. Nurse aides with two to five years’ experience can earn more than $32,000 per year. The CNA’s salary increases exponentially over the first four years before reaching a plateau in the fifth year. The plateau is expected since a CNA’s responsibilities are restricted to approved tasks – to go beyond the designated duties, you’ll need to pursue further education and training.

Industry: Nursing homes and long term care facilities have the greatest demands for new CNAs. Due to the wide availability of jobs at these institutions, many CNAs often overlook the potential to earn more at specialized centers. For instance, research and development centers, the Federal Executive Branch and surgical hospitals are just a few examples of places CNAs can work to earn more. Keep in mind that these employers may require specialized training and experience, so consider getting advanced training to give your salary a boost.

Location: Your location determines your salary as much as any other factor. CNAs, who work in metropolitan areas where there are a large number of retirees, tend to earn more. Those who work in rural areas in the South Eastern parts of the nation earn well below the national average. The average cost of living and demands for nurse aide staff are other variables that determine what a prospective employer will pay. As the following data suggests, CNAs in Alaska, New York, Connecticut, Nevada and Hawaii are among the highest paid.

1 Alaska $16.74 $34,990
2 New York $15.64 $31,840
3 Connecticut $14.85 $31,660
4 Nevada $14.48 $31,270
5 Washington, D.C. $14.22 $30,300
6 Hawaii $14.52 $30,040
7 Massachusetts $13.83 $29,610
8 California $13.42 $29,400
9 Maryland $13.15 $28,810
10 Washington $13.29 $28,710
11 New Hampshire $13.54 $28,670
12 Rhode Island $13.35 $28,590
13 Wyoming $13.29 $27,840
14 Arizona $13.15 $27,660
15 Colorado $13.07 $27,580
16 North Dakota $13.11 $27,530
17 New Jersey $12.87 $27,430
18 Pennsylvania $12.91 $27,290
19 Delaware $13.05 $27,250
20 Minnesota $12.79 $27,220
21 Oregon $12.20 $26,400
22 New Mexico $11.92 $26,210
23 Vermont $12.11 $26,020
24 Michigan $12.34 $25,750
25 Wisconsin $12.03 $25,740
26 Iowa $11.38 $25,270
27 Illinois $11.23 $24,570
28 Montana $11.26 $24,470
29 Maine $11.32 $24,300
30 Ohio $11.23 $24,210
31 Nebraska $11.23 $24,180
32 Florida $11.25 $24,080
33 Virginia $11.18 $24,010
34 Texas $10.75 $23,150
35 Indiana $10.81 $23,120
36 Kansas $10.84 $23,030
37 Utah $10.86 $23,000
38 South Dakota $10.79 $22,900
39 Kentucky $10.76 $22,870
40 Idaho $10.73 $22,730
41 Tennessee $10.64 $22,600
42 North Carolina $10.60 $22,510
43 Missouri $10.45 $22,260
44 West Virginia $10.12 $21,790
45 Georgia $10.15 $21,780
46 South Carolina $10.28 $21,710
47 Oklahoma $10.12 $21,280
48 Arkansas $10.12 $21,000
49 Louisiana $9.61 $20,730
50 Mississippi $9.48 $20,220

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

The best way to maximize your earning potential – even in states with low pay rates – is to be versatile. You can learn specialized skills where possible and be willing to learn and work unfavorable shifts.

Employers pay more, not only to senior nurse aides, but to those who have demonstrated sound knowledge and good judgment on the job. Your flexibility, versatility, sound judgment and superior skills will always stand out when employers need nurse aide trainers to teach new staff – nurse aide trainers can increase their hourly wage by a few dollars.

Finally, if you’re no longer happy with your CNA salary, you can study to become a licensed practical nurse or registered nurse and double your salary.

6 thoughts on “CNA Salaries by State”

  1. Soo. Go to school and earn minimum wage as a CNA. Hate to break it to you but 24k is still poverty level in CA and the people at Mc Donalds do not need to clean up bodily fluids unless they have bathroom duties.

    1. @Meagan Rogers – Many people don’t even have a job with the current economy being what it is, so $24k is better than $0. Besides, you should not be getting into the Nursing field if you have no desire to serve and don’t like caring for people. The Nursing profession is a noble one and is not meant for everyone.

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