CNAs are a vital part of the healthcare industry. They are responsible for providing patients with daily care. This includes taking vital signs, bathing patients, and helping them to eat or take medication. They also assist patients with walking and moving around. Additionally, they help clean rooms and prepare meals. They may also assist nurses and physicians with various medical procedures.

Nursing homes and other facilities that receive reimbursement from Medicare or Medicaid must have certified nursing assistants on staff. This is a federal requirement. To become a nursing assistant, a student must complete an approved training program and pass the state competency exam. These programs can cost anywhere from $500 to $1,500. Several schools offer financial aid and payment plans to make the program more affordable.

Once a nursing assistant is certified, they are eligible to work in a variety of settings and earn a range of salaries. In addition to the type of setting, geographical location can have a significant impact on salary. Cities with a high cost of living and a large senior population tend to pay CNAs higher salaries than rural areas.

In order to maximize their earning potential, nursing aides should look for positions that offer sign-on or retention bonuses. These incentives can be worth $1,000 to $3,500 in additional earnings over several months of employment. Also, it is important to work night and weekend shifts to increase income. Many nursing assistants who work at facilities that have Medicaid contracts are reimbursed for their overtime hours.