How much does a Nursing Assistant make?

Nursing assistants give hands on care to patients in hospitals and residents of long-term care facilities. They are not nurses but work alongside RNs, LPNs, and doctors. In order to become certified, a nurse assistant must take and pass the state competency exam. While pay varies depending on which state you work in, here are some factors to consider:

Cost of Living.  Where you live makes a big difference. If the cost to buy groceries, pay rent, afford childcare and pay for gas is expensive, you will need to find work that pays you a living wage. The good news is becoming a nurse assistant now will jump-start your career and help you get a good paying job. On average, nursing assistants make more than minimum wage and have the job experience employers are looking for.

Benefits. Besides the immediate benefits of having long-term care residents that adore you and doing meaningful work, your employer will likely offer you health and lifestyle benefits which increase your rate of pay. How does that work?! Imagine if you are paid $13.23 per hour, which is the national average for a nurse assistant according to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics, but you also have free health insurance and a gym membership. Now you are being paid closer to $18 an hour, based on how much you are SAVING by not paying for health insurance and a gym membership. Often, large employers like hospitals will also pay for you to go back to school as well.

Job outlook. Knowing if your job will be around in the next 10 years is important to both your financial future and your ability to bargain for better pay. Nationally, nurse assistant opportunities are on the rise and working as a nurse assistant is largely available in both a community and urban setting.  This is good news for you! Having job security and the ability to find work wherever you go is always a great career choice.

Where you work. And as the saying goes, it’s all about location, location, location…and for nurses, speciality practice and where you work too! Working in a hospital or speciality practice, like a drug and alcohol center, are on average higher paying jobs. Typically, you will need to work in a long-term care setting before getting hired at a hospital though.

Top paying states to work as a nurse assistant:

  1. Alaska $37,950
  2. New York $35,080
  3. Nevada $34,480
  4. District of Columbia (D.C.) $34,170
  5. California $33,560

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the national average pay in 2017 for a nursing assistant was $27,510, or $13.23 per hour.

A lot of my readers want to know the average rate of pay in Main, Mississippi, North Carolina, Arkansas, Connecticut. Here’s the breakdown from 2017:

  1. Main: $27,250
  2. Mississippi: $22,970
  3. North Carolina: $24,680
  4. Arkansas: $23,970
  5. Connecticut: $32,970

Still have questions? Comment below!


Hi! I'm Nerissa, RN, BSN. I teach at a nursing assistant training program in Washington state. I work as an nurse educator and love to travel, hang out with my dog, and write in my free time.

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