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.

What is a Nurse's Aide?

A nurse's aide performs a variety of basic tasks to assist and care for patients in their daily activities. As a nurse's aide, you'll respond to patient's needs under the direction of nursing and medical professionals. You'll also monitor patients and record health data. Many nurse's aides work in hospitals or in nursing homes and other long-term care facilities.

The following chart gives you an overview of how to become 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 (2014-2024) 17%*
Median Salary (2015) $25,710*

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 17% from 2014-2024 (www.bls.gov). Job growth may be due to the growing number of elderly citizens who require long-term care. Career opportunities for nurse's aides were expected to be excellent because aides frequently transfer into other occupations. The median annual salary for nurse's aides was $25,710 as of 2015.

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.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

If you're interested in a career with similar training and education requirements, but you don't want to work in a hospital or long-term care facility, you may be interested in becoming a home health aide or personal care aide. Personal care aides provide clients with assistance with daily tasks and personal services. Home health aides also provide the same assistance and can perform some health services under direction from a health professional. Both of these professions work in clients' homes.

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