Nursing careers offer growth and security because of an ever increasing aging population. Many career women are returning to school to pursue nursing careers for these very reasons. Becoming a registered nurse takes approximately four years, or less if you already have a bachelor’s degree. Women looking to enter the field of nursing at a slightly faster pace may consider becoming a certified nursing assistant, or CNA. The road to becoming a CNA is significantly shorter than some other nursing careers.
The education requirements needed to become a CNA are lower than other nursing careers. Programs for CNAs can be found at community colleges, high schools, vocational schools and technical schools. Some nursing homes and assisted living facilities may offer on-the-job training for interested applicants. Although you probably won’t be able to transition to your new CNA career in 30 days, it will not take you much longer than two months. Most training programs run from six to 12 weeks. Prospective candidates do need a high school degree before entering into a CNA program.
Attending a program to train as a CNA is not the only step in becoming a CNA. Like other nursing professions a license to practice is needed before you are officially a certified nursing assistant. Every state has a nursing board that regulates the requirements needed for nursing designations. They also administer the examinations that must be passed before conferring a designation. The exam covers topics that should be covered in the training program. Before signing up for any program, make sure that they are accredited by the state board so that you will be adequately prepared for the exam.
With a higher than average growth rate of 20 percent, certified nursing careers offer a promising outlook for interested candidates. Many of the jobs available to CNAs are located in nursing homes, clinics and hospitals. Assisted living facilities and nursing homes offer the largest concentration of jobs. The U.S. Bureau of Labor statistics does state that because nursing homes tend to rely on government funding, jobs in this sector may be somewhat dampened. CNAs can expect a salary in the range of $24,010, although those in the top 10 percent of the profession make more than $34,580, the BLS reports.
CNAs can expand their career opportunities by studying to become a Certified Medication Assistant, which is a designation that allows CNAs to dispense medication. This could provide increased pay and responsibilities. CNAs can also take the next step and become a licensed practical nurse, or LPN. According to the BLS, LPNs make a median salary of $40,480, which is higher than the top tier of CNAs. CNAs can train to become an LPN while at their current job because of part-time programs that allow them to attend classes while still working.
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