How to Become a Nurse's Aide in 5 Steps

Research what it takes to become a nurse's aide. Learn about job duties, education requirements, certification requirements 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.

What Does A Nurse's Aide Do?

Nurse's aides are also referred to as nursing assistants. They provide direct care to patients. This may include grooming, bathing and feeding patients. It also involves repositioning patients, updating patient charts, checking the patient's vital signs, and alerting registered nurses to any concerns. With the correct training level they can also dispense medication. They work under the supervision of nurses. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported in 2014 that 41% of nurse's aides worked in nursing care facilities, while 25% worked in hospitals.

Degree Required Postsecondary diploma
Education Field of Study Nursing assistant or nurse's aide
Key Responsibilities Assist patients with bathing and using the bathroom; serve patient meals; assist patients with transferring in and out of bed and walking; monitor patient status and report changes to nurse
Certification Certification may be required in some states and for some jobs; other employers may prefer it
Job Growth (2014-2024) 18%*
Median Salary (2015) $25,710*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Is a Nurse's Aide?

As a nurse's aid, you will help make patients more comfortable. You may help patients eat, drink, dress and bathe, as well as monitoring their vital signs. You could also help with other duties in their rooms, such as changing bed sheets and emptying bed pans. Depending on where you work, you may be required to collect patient samples, such as urine or saliva, to use in laboratory tests.

Step 1: Earn a High School Diploma

In most cases, a high school diploma or its equivalent is required for aide positions. If you're planning a career in this field, you should focus on courses in science, health and nutrition. Some high schools offer programs for nurse's aides or have work programs offering hospital experience for part of the day.

Step 2: Attend a Training Program

You may need to attend a formal training program for nurse's aides, which is a federal certification requirement for those planning on working in nursing care facilities. Vocational schools and community colleges offer nurse's aide training programs where you can study medical fundamentals and learn how to help patients with personal care tasks. Some employers offer training programs for new employees, while others may offer on-the-job training by experienced staff.

Step 3: Become Certified

Regulations for nurse's aides vary by state, but the federal government requires all nurse's aides who work in nursing care facilities to be certified. The Certified Nurse Assistant (CNA) credential typically requires successful completion of a state-approved training program and passage of a skills assessment examination.

Step 4: Find a Job

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that the employment of nursing aides, orderlies and attendants would increase by 18% between 2014 and 2024, which is faster than average growth for all other occupations (www.bls.gov). This increase would be due in part to an overall increase in the number of elderly in the general population. As a trained, certified nurse's aide, you can find work in hospitals, nursing care facilities, community care facilities or other healthcare institutions or agencies.

Step 5: Advance Your Career

Although advancement in the CNA field can be rare, there are a few advanced certified nurse's aide education programs that provide advanced training in areas such as medical procedures, phlebotomy, medical terminology and electrocardiography. Other CNAs advance within the medical field by seeking additional training in areas such as nursing or medical assistance.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

Home health aides and personal care aides visit patients in their homes. They may assist them with daily routine tasks, such as personal grooming and feeding, or provide support for community outings. They do not necessarily need any formal postsecondary training, although some on-the-job training may be required.

Medical assistants work under the supervision of physicians, and they perform many clerical and basic tasks. They may take a patient's vital signs, record the patient's health concerns and document the vital signs before the doctor sees the patient. They usually complete a postsecondary certificate or program to prepare for their career. Licensed practical or vocational nurses complete a diploma or associate's degree and must also have their nursing license. Like nurse's aides, they provide direct patient care and may administer medications.

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:

  • 1. Degree Options:
The schools in the listing below are not free and may include sponsored content but are popular choices among our users. Tuition and costs will vary across programs and locations. Be sure to always request tuition information before starting a program.

Popular Schools

  • Herzing University

    Herzing University responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Herzing University:

    Online Programs Available

  • Southern New Hampshire University

    Southern New Hampshire University responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Southern New Hampshire University:

    • Master

    Online Programs Available

  • Northern Illinois University

    Northern Illinois University responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Northern Illinois University:

    • Doctoral
    • Master
    • Bachelor Degrees

    Online Programs Available

  • Regent University

    Regent University responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Regent University:

    • Doctoral
    • Master
    • Bachelor Degrees

    Online Programs Available

  • Northcentral University

    Northcentral University responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Northcentral University:

    • Doctoral

    Online Programs Available

  • Purdue University Global

    Purdue University Global responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Purdue University Global:

    Online Programs Available

  • Independence University

    Independence University responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Independence University:

    • Master
    • Bachelor Degrees

    Online Programs Available

  • Penn Foster High School

    Penn Foster High School responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Penn Foster High School:

    Online Programs Available

  • Milwaukee Area Technical College

    Campus Locations:

    • Wisconsin: Milwaukee
  • Goodwin College

    Campus Locations:

    • Connecticut: East Hartford
  1. 1
  2. 2
  3. Next »