A certified nursing assistant or CNA is one of the most important roles in the health care team. Their role is to assist not just the medical staff, but patients as well. There is an incredibly high demand for CNAs and they have highly varied duties and roles. Yet, for some reason, a lot of people overlook this role when they search for a career. Additionally, most people in society are barely aware of the fact that CNAs exist. Many do not realize that it takes a special kind of person to become one.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the healthcare industry is set to grow tremendously. This is seen very strongly in the outlook for CNAs as well. Indeed, the increase is projected to be as much as 20% by 2020, which is well above the national average. In real terms, this means that some 300,000 jobs are set to be created. This is, of course, a fantastic benefit, as is the fact that salary growth expectations also stand at 19%. CNAs do not require a post-secondary degree and they are some of the highest paid in that category of people, and their salary is set to grow significantly.
Here are some of the reasons why being a CNA makes such a great career choice.
- Opportunity to Make a Difference – You will work directly with patients and their families. This means you truly have the opportunity to make a difference in the lives of people in a positive way.
- Opportunity to Specialize – Being a CNA is a fantastic way to start a more specialized nursing career should you choose to do so. You could study on to become a registered nurse (RN) or you could specialize in fields such as surgery or pediatric care. Being a CNA is a great way to become familiar with the healthcare world and decide where you want to go from there.
- Affordability– Education is incredibly expensive and takes a lot of time. However, in order to become a CNA, you can take various community classes, many of which are available online. Some of these courses are even offered for free. As such, choosing to be a CNA is one of the most affordable and quickest ways to get into a health career. Furthermore, a CNA has certification rather than a degree, which makes the education process much quicker.
- Job Stability – Being a CNA offers tremendous job stability because the demand will always be there, and will continue to grow. Indeed, with the changing picture of the healthcare industry, it is believed that the demand for CNAs is one of the best.
- Variety – The job is incredibly varied and no two days will ever be the same. You will have to deal with many different circumstances, situations and people. Each of these are unique.
- Ability to Work in Various Sectors – You can work in a variety of different sectors. This can be anything from a small retirement community in a rural state to a major hospital in a big city. CNAs are needed everywhere, from private clinics to assisted living facilities.
- Wide Experience – By being a CNA, you can experience the various medical fields that exist, which is a great way to choose what sort of specialization you would like to obtain if you ever decide to study on.
- Flexibility – CNAs have very flexible jobs. Although some CNAs will eventually shift to other kinds of work, others work in private clinics and have regular 9 to 5 jobs. You basically have an opportunity to set a schedule as you like it.
- Job Security – Regardless of the condition of the economy, your job will be secure. Although a failing economy may mean that you will not get a wage increase, you don’t have to worry about actually losing your job.
- Emotionally Rewarding – It is a very emotionally rewarding career. Although a very demanding position, you will get the satisfaction of helping people feel better. This means you also have the opportunity to really develop a relationship with your patients. Many CNAs work with elderly people who will require care for the rest of their lives.
- Opportunity for Network Connections – As a CNA, you will also develop relationships with other nurses who have higher qualifications. These are invaluable network connections for your own career later on in life. They will be able to guide and mentor you, which is mutually beneficial, as those with higher degrees must educate others.
- Easier to Get Accepted in Nursing Programs – As a CNA, it may be easier to gain access to other nursing programs, in particular accelerated ones. As you can demonstrate that you have working experience in the field, it will be more likely for you to be accepted to these programs.
- Transferable Credit – Your CNA experience may be classed as a transferable credit for further education, even in non-nursing fields.
- Affordable Courses – Anyone who is employed in the field of health care is committed to their continuous professional education. The courses you will take to become a CNA tend to be far more affordable than other types of training while not being any less important.
- Easy to Change Careers – You can switch to a completely different career. Your job is physically and emotionally demanding, which means you will be suitable for any other job that has similar demands. Changing careers will be very easy if you ever choose to do so, not in the least because you will also have a lot of experience in soft skills.
- Personal and Professional Pride – You will have personal and professional pride, and deservedly so. You are truly making a difference in the lives of other people and this is something that they will be grateful for. Indeed, you can expect many thank you cards and boxes of chocolates from your patients and their loved ones. Having that personal pride is something you will have earned.
- Ability to Take Care of Loved Ones Better – You can apply you professional knowledge to your personal life as well. You will learn how to properly care for people and prevent illnesses and injury. If at any time anyone in your personal circle becomes ill, you will be able to provide them with the care and support they need.
- Good Salary – The salary you will receive as a CNA is very interesting. Most people who choose this career do not do so for the money, but it is always good to be rewarded for you efforts. Considering the job requires certification rather than a degree, and considering you could be certified in just six weeks time, a median salary of $24,000 nationally is certainly interesting.
- Good Bonuses and Benefits – Most CNAs also get very good bonuses and benefits. These include such things as health, dental and vision insurance, life insurance, disability insurance and more. Furthermore, there are sometimes profit-sharing opportunities depending on the sector in which you work. These can really increase your salary as well.
- Enriching Work Experience – You will work with absolutely wonderful people. As a CNA, you will work together with people across all levels in the health care industry, from doctors to janitors. Each of these will enrich your life and teach you about their roles and experiences.
Many people choose this option because they are unsure about what they want to do in the field of healthcare. In doing so, they do not have to go through the time and expense required to obtain a degree only to find out later that the field may not be what they really want. For instance, if you are unsure whether you want to work in geriatric care, pediatric care or psychological care, being a CNA will allow you to test all of those fields before coming to a decision. This will also allow you to gain invaluable work experience to boost your CV. If you ever wish to study on, perhaps even towards your Master’s degree, this will be highly beneficial for your application essay.