If you're looking for a certified nurse assistant job, you may notice that some employers list a sign-on, signing or hire-on bonus in their job descriptions. This is a one-time cash payment used as an incentive to encourage CNAs to apply for specific jobs. The extra money may look appealing, but it may also come with some disadvantages.
Employers give sign-on bonuses when they want to attract job applicants. This often happens in sectors such as health care where there may be a large number of jobs or a lot of competition for available candidates. In some cases, a signing bonus is offered if the salary for a job is lower than the applicant's current package. The bonus is a one-time payment and is separate from your annual income.
CNA Sign-On Bonuses
Typically, CNA sign-on bonuses are given because nursing is a competitive sector, and it can be hard to recruit certified staff, especially for less-popular shifts. All types of employers, including hospitals, health care facilities and nursing and care homes, may offer them as part of a job package. The dollar value of a bonus varies -- there is no standard level, and figures range from less than $100 to thousands of dollars. Typically, you might assume that an employer has difficulty recruiting or has an unpopular shift to fill if they offer higher bonuses.
There's no such thing as a free lunch, and there's usually no such thing as a free sign-on bonus. Most come with conditions that could affect the CNA job you take. Some employers offer a bonus as an incentive for you to apply for specific shifts such as night or weekend/holiday work. Payments may also be staggered rather than paid as soon as you start work -- you may get a percent when you join and the rest after a period of service. Finally, the bonus may depend on you staying with the company. If you leave within a certain time frame, you may have to pay some or all of it back.
Advantages and Disadvantages
A sign-on bonus may give you some useful extra cash, but you should assess it against the salary being offered and its conditions. It won't be worth as much to you if it masks a lower-than-average hourly rate. If it is dependent on working a specific shift, then make sure that you are happy with this. This might not be an issue if you prefer the hours; it may not be worth it if you don't. Since 2004, the IRS has also viewed signing bonuses as taxable, so you won't get the full amount in your paycheck.
- Monster.com: The Signing Bonus -- Is it What You Want?
- Nurse.com: Certified Nursing Assistant/CNA -- All Shifts
- Homecare California: Caregiver/CNA/Home Health Aide (Hire Bonus $75-$100)
- IRS: Rev. Rul. 2004-109
- Morgan Lewis: New IRS Rulings Include Signing Bonuses and Cancellation of Contract Payments as Wages for Employment Tax Purposes
Carol Finch has been writing technology, careers, business and finance articles since 2000, tapping into her experience in sales, marketing and technology consulting. She has a bachelor's degree in Modern Languages, a Chartered Institute of Marketing.certificate and unofficial tech and gaming geek status with her long-suffering friends and family.