Becoming a nurse assistant is an excellent way for a person without a nursing diploma or degree to enter the nursing field. A nurse assistant salary is not as high as that of a licensed, registered or certified nurse, but it is a respectable entry-level position that could lead to advancement. Salary.com estimates that the average nurse assistant salary in 2012 is $26,566. Some nurse assistants command a higher salary and most make less than this estimate. How much money you may make as a nurse assistant will depend upon factors such as location and experience.
Nurse assistants give patients basic care under the supervision of registered nurses and doctors. They work in hospitals and long term care facilities like nursing homes. Nursing assistants perform duties such as:
•Change bed lines
•Clean and sterilize equipment
•College food trays
•Personal hygiene assistance
•Tend to supplies
These functions are critically important to patient welfare and recovery. However, nursing assistants can learn these skills on the job and therefore are eligible to apply with only a high school diploma or equivalent. Some employers may require up to two years of related experience. Nurse assistants, including nurse aides, attendants and orderlies, do need to pass a competency examination in their state.
Nurse Assistant Salary Expectations
The median salary for a nurse assistant is estimated to be $26,566, though the salary varies. The middle 25% to 75% of nurse assistants earn between $24,093 and $29,741. The top 10% earn upwards of $32,000 and the bottom 10% earn below $21,800.
The salary of a nurse assistant has increased since 2010 when the average salary was $24,010 per year or $11.54 per hour, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The average salary went up to $25,420 in 2011 with an hourly wage of $12.22. The pay varied in 2011 as well. The bottom 10% made $18,060 annually. The bottom 25% made $20,770. The top 25% made $29,270. Hourly nurse assistants made between $8.68 and $16.91 in 2011.
The number of nurse assistant jobs is also increasing. In 2010, there were 1,505,300 nurse assistant jobs. The outlook is promising with an estimated 20% growth and an increase in 302,000 new jobs between 2010 and 2020.
Top Industries for Nurse Assistants
Certain industries and states are known to offer a higher compensation for nurse assistants. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, employers in the Scientific Research and Development Services industry paid more than other industries. Nurse assistants received $36,910 annually in this industry, or $17.75 per hour. Around 300 nurse assistants worked in the Scientific Research and Development Services industry.
The next best paying industry for nurse assistants in 2011 was the Federal Executive Branch (OES Designation). This industry employed much more people. Around 12,300 nurse assistants worked for employers in the Federal Executive Branch and were paid $35,850 annually, or $17.23 per hour.
Universities, colleges and professional schools paid on average $32,200 per year, or $15.48 per hour. These places employed around 5,190 nurse assistants.
Grant making and gifting services was the top fourth highest paying industry, paying out $29,500 per year or $14.81 per hour and employing about 150 workers. State Governments (OES Designation) also paid well. Nurse assistants working for state governments made around $29,130 annually or $14 hourly. They employed 17,170 nurse assistants.
Highest Paying States for Nurse Assistants
Certain states pay more on average for nurse assistants. The top 5 states for highest pay in 2011 according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics were:
•Alaska – $34,700 annually or $16.68 hourly
•New York – $31,830 annually or $15.30 hourly
•Nevada – $31,610 annually or $15.20 hourly
•Connecticut – $31,010 annually or $14.91 hourly
•Hawaii – $30,090 annually or $14.47 hourly
If you want to become a nurse assistant and receive good compensation, you may want to consider moving to one of the higher paying states and then gaining experience to apply for a job in a top paying industry.
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median earnings per week than workers with only a high school diploma.*