Nurse's Aide: Job Duties, Employment Outlook, and Educational Requirements

Research what it takes to become a nurse's aide. Learn about education requirements, job duties, average wages and job outlook to find out if this is the career for you. Schools offering Nursing degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Career Information At a Glance

A nurse's aide, also known as a nursing assistant, could perform a variety of basic tasks under the direction of nursing and medical professionals at nursing homes and hospitals. The following chart gives you an overview about becoming a nurse's aide.

Degree Required Postsecondary diploma
Key Responsibilities Respond to patient call signal; provide assistance for patient's daily activities, movements and hygiene; take and record vital signs; observe patient and report changes in status
Certification All states require nursing assistants to complete state-approved education and pass an exam; certification is required for some nursing assistant positions
Job Growth (2012-2022) 21%*
Median Salary (2013) $24,190*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Job Duties Might I Have as a Nurse's Aide?

Nurse's aides are often the main caregivers for elderly patients in nursing homes. As such, you may have a variety of duties including helping patients to dress, shave and bathe. You'll utilize stretchers or wheelchairs to escort patients to and from medical treatment rooms, record vital signs and feed patients if necessary. You may also encourage patients to walk for exercise.

In an effort to ward off bedsores, you'll frequently reposition your bedridden patients. If there are significant changes in a patient's eating and drinking intake and output, or in his or her emotional or physical state, you will report the information to supervisory staff. Some other routine tasks include changing dressings, cleaning patients' rooms, emptying bedpans, changing sheets and collecting bodily specimens.

What Is the Employment Outlook?

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), reported that employment opportunities for nurse's aides, orderlies and attendants were expected to grow approximately 21% from 2012-2022 ( Job growth may be due to the growing number of elderly citizens who require long-term care, as well as modern technology that helps extend the lives of citizens who need continual care. Career opportunities for nurse's aides were expected to be excellent because aides frequently transfer into other occupations in order to advance. The median annual salary for nurse's aides was $24,190 in 2013.

What Educational Requirements Must I Meet?

Nurse's aides aren't required to have college degrees, but completion of formal training programs can be helpful in securing employment. Certificate-granting nurse's aide or nursing assistant programs can be found at vocational schools and community colleges. If you enroll in one of these programs, you'll learn about nutrition, clinical principles and procedures, patient feeding and patient grooming. On occasion, employers may offer on-the-job training programs or classroom lessons for nurse's aides.

If you'd like to work in a nursing home, government regulations require that you complete an approved training program, consisting of at least 75 hours. You can then take an examination to earn the Certified Nurse Assistant (CNA) credential. Some states may have other licensing requirements, so it's best that you check the laws for the state in which you reside. Additional requirements can include clearing a criminal background check, passing a drug screening and earning CPR certification.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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