CNAs play a crucial role in patient care, and with the right experience and certifications, they can progress to more specialized and higher-paying roles. Here’s a potential career ladder for a CNA:
A Direct Support Professional (DSP)
Many people who begin their careers as DSPs continue on to become CNAs and higher-level health care professionals. The roles are quite similar but a DSP who wants to become a CNA will need to complete some additional trainings and certifications.
Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA)
The entry-level position for people interested in pursuing a career in health care is that of a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA). CNAs typically work in various healthcare settings, such as hospitals, nursing homes, and home care, assisting patients with daily activities like bathing, feeding, and mobility. Typically at this stage, you cannot give out or administer medication.
To become a CNA, a person must complete a state-approved training program and pass a competency evaluation, leading to certification. No prior experience is usually required for entry into a CNA training program.
Certifications: Obtain a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) certification by passing the state competency exam.
In terms of pay, Talent.com reports that CNAs in Massachusetts make about $19.22 an hour, but this could be more or less depending on experience and the location/state the person is working in.
Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) or Licensed Vocational Nurse (LVN)
After gaining experience as a CNA, a person can advance their career by becoming a Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) or Licensed Vocational Nurse (LVN). LPNs/LVNs provide basic nursing care under the supervision of registered nurses (RNs) and physicians. Their responsibilities include monitoring patients, administering medications, and providing wound care. Typically, CNAs can transition to LPN/LVN programs after gaining some experience and meeting specific program requirements.
Certifications: Completion of an accredited LPN/LVN program and passing the National Council Licensure Examination for Practical Nurses (NCLEX-PN) leads to licensure.
In terms of pay, Zip Recruiter reports that LPNs in Massachusetts make about $29.41 an hour, but this could be more or less depending on experience and the location/state the person is working in.
Registered Nurse (RN)
An ambitious CNA may want to become a Registered Nurse (RN), which is a highly sought-after and versatile position in the healthcare field. RNs assess patient conditions, develop care plans, administer treatments, and coordinate with other healthcare professionals to deliver comprehensive patient care. RN programs will typically run between 2-4 years.
CNAs can gain valuable experience while working as LPNs/LVNs, which can be beneficial when transitioning to RN programs. Certifications: Becoming an RN requires completing an accredited nursing program (Associate Degree in Nursing or Bachelor of Science in Nursing) and passing the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN).
In terms of pay, Herzing University reports that RNs in Massachusetts make about $46.46 an hour, but this could be more or less depending on experience and the location/state the person is working in.
Advanced Practice Nurse (APN)
For CNAs who want to specialize in a specific area of nursing, becoming an Advanced Practice Nurse (APN) is an option. APNs are highly trained and can work as Nurse Practitioners, Clinical Nurse Specialists, Certified Nurse Midwives, or Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists. These roles involve a more advanced level of patient care and may allow for independent practice in some states. Typically to become an APN, you will need to complete a masters program in addition to other trainings and licenses.
In terms of pay, Nightingale College reports that APNs in Massachusetts make about $60.60 an hour, but earning potential for APNs varies based on location, experience, and specialization. In general someone in this role will be able to maximize their earnings over time, grow a client base, and help others level up their careers.
As you can see, all of these positions play important roles in the human services industry, providing essential support and care to people in need. Each level has different requirements which lead to greater earnings and opportunities for success.
To learn more about this type of career path, or to learn how you can get started on it today, reach out to us with your interest. Whether you are looking for your first job in health care or to make a move to grow your career, Arbor Associates is here to help.
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