Nursing, psychiatric, and home health aides
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Nursing Assistants
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Overview
Nursing assistants, sometimes called nursing aides, help provide basic care for patients in hospitals and residents of long-term care facilities, such as nursing homes. Orderlies transport patients and clean treatment areas.
Predicted employment growth
Over the next decade, jobs for nursing assistants are expected to grow by 12%, and should have about 196,000 job openings a year.
Workforce size
Nursing assistants, with 1,510,300 workers, form a larger workforce than 98% of careers.
Education
Only 10% of nursing, psychiatric, and home health aides have a bachelor's degree or higher.
Education attained by nursing, psychiatric, and home health aides
High School
Some College
Bachelor's Degree
Master's Degree
Doctorate
Context: workers with bachelor's degrees
Fewer nursing, psychiatric, and home health aides have bachelor's degrees than 70% of other careeers.
Salaries
The median (middle) salary for 89% of all other jobs is higher than the middle salary for nursing assistants. The graph shows inflation-adjusted salaries for most nursing assistants.
This job's median $29KAll jobs' median $39K$27K$38K20142015201620172018$0$10K$20K$30K$40K$50K
Context: Median Salary
Gender
Women account for 86% of nursing, psychiatric, and home health aides -- that's a larger percentage than 95% of other jobs.
Gender of nursing, psychiatric, and home health aides
Men
Women
Context: Salary inequity
For each career, we compared the median (middle) men's salary to the median women's salary. For nursing, psychiatric, and home health aides, the median men's salary was 11% more the median woman's salary.
Race/Origin
About 45% of nursing, psychiatric, and home health aides are minority, and 25% are foreign-born.
Race/origin of nursing, psychiatric, and home health aides
White
Black
Pacific Islander
Hispanic
Asian
American Indian
Multiracial
Other
Context: Foreign-born workers (25%)
Where are the most jobs?
We ranked the number of jobs in Nursing Assistants per thousand workers in each state, DC, and Puerto Rico. The darker the blue, the higher the job density.
AKMEVTNHWAIDMTNDMNMINYMARIORUTWYSDIAWIINOHPANJCTCANVCONEMOILKYWVVAMDDEAZNMKSARTNNCSCDCOKLAMSALGAHITXFLPR
Job benefits
Employer or union-sponsored pension plans are offered to 40% of nursing, psychiatric, and home health aides, and 51% have company-sponsored health insurance (14% have dependents enrolled in their employer's health plan).
Employer-provided health coverage for nursing, psychiatric, and home health aides
100% premiums covered
Partial premiums covered
Plan with no cost sharing
No health insurance
The downside
Some jobs are more stressful than others, and some are just plain dangerous. The following list gives the percentages of nursing assistants who report hazardous or difficult situations typically occurring at least once a week.
  • Exposed to Disease or Infections (79%)
  • Responsible for Others' Health and Safety (74%)
  • Time Pressure (67%)
  • Consequence of Error (58%)
  • Deal With Unpleasant or Angry People (51%)
  • Exposed to Contaminants (50%)
  • Frequency of Conflict Situations (41%)
  • Deal With Physically Aggressive People (38%)
SOURCES:24.0 O*NET
Salary and diversity
Salary overview
What do nursing, psychiatric, and home health aides earn?

In this section, we want to give you a clear idea of what you can expect to earn in this career. We use two sources of data here: the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), which asks employers to classify their workforce and to report salaries using the SOC-specialty level of reporting, and the American Community Survey (ACS), which asks people to classify their jobs using the broad classifications that ididio uses for career profiles, and to self-report their salaries. For some jobs, the differences in survey approaches between BLS and ACS can paint a very different end-picture. In particular, the ACS data is reported for the larger career group nursing, psychiatric, and home health aides, which combines the data for 4 careers, including nursing assistants. Whenever possible, we provide data from both sources.

The BLS-compiled salary data is reported by companies for their employees. This data is classified by SOC specialty, and excludes self-employed workers. We first show the distribution of salaries for nursing assistants, and then we show how the middle (median) salary for nursing assistants compares to the BLS-computed median salaries of other careers.
Distribution: Salaries for nursing assistants (BLS Salary Data)
$29K$0$20K$40K$60K$80K$100K$120K
Context: Median salaries across careers (BLS Salary Data)
$29K$0$20K$40K$60K$80K$100K$120K
We compiled household data from the ACS to determine the salaries that people working at least 35 hours a week report themselves to earn. Unlike the BLS estimates, this data includes self-employed wages. Additionally, we only have ACS survey data for the larger career category and not for the specialty level. We first show the full salary distribution for all nursing, psychiatric, and home health aides, and then we show how the median (middle) salary for nursing, psychiatric, and home health aides compares to the median ACS-reported salary of other careers.
Distribution: Salaries for nursing, psychiatric, and home health aides (ACS Salary Data)
$25K$0$20K$40K$60K$80K$100K$120K
Context: Median salaries across careers (ACS Salary Data)
$25K$0$20K$40K$60K$80K$100K$120K
Employers and salary
A look at employers and corresponding salaries
The donut shares the break-down of workers by employer type, and following we show the salary distributions for these workers based on those employer types. For some careers, the salaries can be vastly different between private, government, and self-employment. As with our salary overview, we view the both the BLS economists' salary profiles and the household-reported salaries from ACS to get a thorough understanding of where nursing assistants work and for what salary. We have the great faith in the accuracy of economist-vetted BLS data; however, the BLS restrictions on which employers are surveyed skews the data a bit (read more in the sources), and the ACS responses provide different and useful categorizations of employers and salaries.
Employers of Nursing, psychiatric, and home health aides (ACS)
Private for-profit (74.2%)
Private not-for-profit (14.1%)
Local government (3.5%)
State government (4.5%)
Federal government (1.4%)
Self-employed incorporated (0.5%)
Self-employed not incorporated (1.7%)
Working without pay (0.0%)
Distribution: Salaries of nursing, psychiatric, and home health aides by type of employer (ACS data)
Following are the salary distributions by employer type calculated by aggregating individual household survey responses. These salaries were reported for the larger career group of nursing, psychiatric, and home health aides, which combines the 4 specialties for this career.
$25K$27K$28K$25K$36K$30K$24K$27K$0$20,000$40,000$60,000$80,000$100,000Self-employed not incorporatedSelf-employed incorporatedFederal governmentState governmentLocal governmentPrivate not-for-profitPrivate for-profitAll
Distribution: Salaries of nursing assistants by type of employer (BLS data)
Following are the salary distributions by employer type as reported by BLS based on large employer-focused surveys. We note that smaller employer categories are not included by BLS. Remember that the BLS salaries are for the specialty nursing assistants, and may differ signficantly from the ACS salary estimates which combine several career specialties.
$29K$39K$29K$28K$31K$0$10,000$20,000$30,000$40,000$50,000Federal governmentState governmentLocal governmentPrivateAll
Age and career advancement
Salary growth for nursing, psychiatric, and home health aides

The biggest take-away from the following two charts is the relationship between salary and experience that we can infer from age. Does this job seem to attract especially younger or older workers? Does it reward experience?

Take a minute a look at how much you might expect your salary to increase with each five years' experience, as well as how the numbers working in this career changes. We only provide this data when there are enough consistent ACS survey responses to allow a reasonable margin of error, so for some careers you will see gaps in our reporting of salary by age.

$29K$28K$26K$25K$27K$24K$20K$28K$29K$0$20K$40K$60KSalary distribution20-2425-2930-3435-3940-4445-4950-5455-5960-64
050K100K150K200KNumber employed20-2425-2930-3435-3940-4445-4950-5455-5960-64

Our only sources for career data containing age, gender, or origin/race come from the Census Bureau. To provide these breakdowns, we have aggregated ACS person-level career survey responses by career, gender, race, and age. These graphics reflect the results of our aggregations, and are useful for identifying trends. A careful statistical study of the impact of age, gender, and race on salaries would correct for other factors that could be contributing to salary differences.

Gender and Equity
Nursing, psychiatric, and home health aides and gender

With 86% women, this occupation has a higher percentage of women than 95% of careers.

Context: Women in the workforce
86%0%20%40%60%80%100%
Gender of Nursing, psychiatric, and home health aides
Men (14%)
Women (86%)
Distribution: Salaries by gender

As we'll illustrate at the bottom of this section, the median salary for all full-time male workers in the US exceeds the full-time median salary for women by 20%. The situation is a little better for nursing, psychiatric, and home health aides, with the median salary for men 11% higher than the median salary for women. This chart shows you the salary range for most workers by gender.

$25K$28K$0$20K$40K$60KWomenMen
Context: Salary Inequity

Nationwide there are twenty careers for which men do not have a higher median (middle) salary than women. The chart below shows the salary inequity, the percentage by which the median men's salary is higher than the median women's salary, for most jobs. Nursing, psychiatric, and home health aides have one of the smaller percentage increases for men's salary, with the increase the men's median salary over the women's median salary in this job lower than that for 67% of other jobs.

11%0%20%40%60%80%100%

Our only sources for career data containing age, gender, or origin/race come from the Census Bureau. To provide these breakdowns, we have aggregated ACS person-level career survey responses by career, gender, race, and age. These graphics reflect the results of our aggregations, and are useful for identifying trends. A careful statistical study of the impact of age, gender, and race on salaries would correct for other factors that could be contributing to salary differences.

Race/Origin
Race and origin of nursing, psychiatric, and home health aides

The representation of minority and foreign-born workers is quite different between careers, and the relative pay of those workers also varies significantly between careers. There is a higher percentage of minority nursing, psychiatric, and home health aides than for 99% of other careers. This career hires a larger percentage of foreign-born workers than most other careers.

Race/origin of nursing, psychiatric, and home health aides
White (50% )
Black (35% )
Asian (5% )
Other (5% )
Multiracial (2% )
American Indian (1% )
Hispanic (1% )
Pacific Islander (0% )
Context: Representation of minorities in the workforce
45%0%20%40%60%80%100%
Context: Representation of foreign-born workers
25%0%20%40%60%80%100%
Distribution: Salaries for nursing, psychiatric, and home health aides by race/origin

For some careers, there is a pay disparity depending on race or origin, though this is not prevalent. We calculate standard errors for all of our calculations, and when the error is high we do not show results. Therefore, for some jobs will have omitted race/origin categories.

$24K$24K$25K$25K$25K$26K$27K$29K$0$20K$40K$60KHispanicMultiracialOtherWhiteAmerican IndianBlackPacific IslanderAsian
Distribution: Salaries for nursing, psychiatric, and home health aides by nativity
$25K$27K$0$10K$20K$30K$40K$50KAll native citizensAll foreign-born

Our only sources for career data containing age, gender, or origin/race come from the Census Bureau. To provide these breakdowns, we have aggregated ACS person-level career survey responses by career, gender, race, and age. These graphics reflect the results of our aggregations, and are useful for identifying trends. A careful statistical study of the impact of age, gender, and race on salaries would correct for other factors that could be contributing to salary differences.

Pathways to this career
Education requirements and salary
Education attained by nursing assistants

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), nursing assistants typically hold a postsecondary nondegree award.

Sometimes the typical education identified by the BLS differs a bit from the reality of the how much education current workers actually have. The donut shows the education level held by people currently working as nursing, psychiatric, and home health aides as reported in responses to the American Community Survey. Following, we investigate whether education level influences salary for nursing, psychiatric, and home health aides.

Education attained by nursing, psychiatric, and home health aides
None
High School
Some College
Associate's Degree
Bachelor's Degree
Master's Degree
Professional Deg/Doct
Doctorate
Details: Licensing and certification recommended for nursing assistants

After completing a state-approved education program, nursing assistants take a competency exam. Passing this exam allows them to use state-specific titles. In some states, a nursing assistant or aide is called a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA), but titles vary from state to state.

Nursing assistants who have passed the competency exam are placed on a state registry. They must be on the state registry to work in a nursing home.

Some states have other requirements as well, such as continuing education and a criminal background check. Check with state boards of nursing or health for more information.

In some states, nursing assistants can earn additional credentials, such as becoming a Certified Medication Assistant (CMA). As a CMA, they can give medications.

Orderlies do not need a license, however, many jobs require a basic life support (BLS) certification, which shows they are trained to provide cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR).

Distribution: Salary by education level

What level of education is truly needed for nursing, psychiatric, and home health aides? Below we see the distribution of nursing, psychiatric, and home health aides salaries based on the education attained. These comparisons are based on all survey responses by those who identified themselves as nursing, psychiatric, and home health aides, and are not intended as a statistical analysis of salary differences that would correct for non-educational factors that could contribute to high or low earnings.

$23K$25K$25K$27K$30K$38K$53K$60K$0$50K$100K$150KNone (10%)High School (36%)Some College (34%)Associate's Degree (10%)Bachelor's Degree (7%)Master's Degree (1%)Professional Deg/Doct (1%)Doctorate (0%)
Certificate/degree pathways

The Department of Education recommends the following college degree programs as preparation for this career. You can click a program row to learn more about the program and explore a list of schools that offer the program.

Program
Education
Education level of awarded degrees
Less than bachelor's
bachelor's degree
Higher than bachelor's
Gender
Gender of graduates
Men
Women
Race/Origin
Race/origin of graduates
White
Minority
International
Number of degrees awarded in 2017
Nursing Assistant/Aide and Patient Care Assistant/Aide
42,392
Specialized Study in Practical Nursing, Vocational Nursing and Nursing Assistants
4,601
Health Aide
1,404
Switching Careers
Most common new jobs
The most common next careers for nursing, psychiatric, and home health aides

What jobs will most nursing, psychiatric, and home health aides hold next year?

The data in this chart comes from person interviews for the Census Bureau's Current Population Survey. The survey interviews households eight times over a two-year period, allowing us a glimpse into how people move from job to job. You can see more details from the results of the survey in our last tab in this section, and you can read about our methodology in our source descriptions.

Here we see all of the jobs that at least 1% of nursing, psychiatric, and home health aides reported holding in their second year's survey. Is your future job on this list?

Nursing, psychiatric, and home health aidesPersonal care aidesRegistered nursesLicensed practical and licensed vocational nursesMedical assistants
Lateral career moves
Lateral job transitions for nursing, psychiatric, and home health aides

A lateral career transition is a move to a job with similar pay and responsibilities. A move to such a job can offer a change of pace without an increase in stress or a decrease in pay. The following table simply identifies all 4 jobs which were held by at least 1% of survey respondents before working as nursing, psychiatric, and home health aides as well as 1% of respondents after working as nursing, psychiatric, and home health aides. Select a row to investigate the job's full description and determine if it truly offers an opportunity for a lateral transition.

Lateral-move careers for nursing, psychiatric, and home health aides
Annual openings
How many openings are expected each year?
Salary
Salary distribution for people in this occupation. Range is 0-$200,000.
Median
Middle 50%
Middle 80%
Education
High School
Some College
Bachelor's Degree
Master's Degree
Doctorate
Gender
Men
Women
Personal care aides
418,400
$0$200K$22K
Registered nurses
203,800
$0$200K$63K
Medical assistants
95,000
$0$200K$30K
Licensed practical and licensed vocational nurses
62,800
$0$200K$38K
Full prior and next career listings
Prior and next careers for nursing, psychiatric, and home health aides: full listings

What do people typically do before and after they work as nursing, psychiatric, and home health aides? Here are the full lists of all jobs that at least 1% of nursing, psychiatric, and home health aides surveyed reported as holding a year earlier or later.

Choose which type of transition to view
Prior jobs
Next jobs
Prior careers for nursing, psychiatric, and home health aides
Annual openings
How many openings are expected each year?
Salary
Salary distribution for people in this occupation. Range is 0-$200,000.
Median
Middle 50%
Middle 80%
Education
High School
Some College
Bachelor's Degree
Master's Degree
Doctorate
Gender
Men
Women
Percentage Transitioning
What percentage worked in this job the previous year?
Personal care aides
418,400
$0$200K$22K
9.4%
Nursing, psychiatric, and home health aides
380,800
$0$200K$25K
48.0%
Maids and housekeeping cleaners
207,700
$0$200K$20K
1.3%
Registered nurses
203,800
$0$200K$63K
2.6%
Medical assistants
95,000
$0$200K$30K
1.3%
Licensed practical and licensed vocational nurses
62,800
$0$200K$38K
3.5%
No occupation
11.9%
Read about nursing assistants
Responsibilities and activities
Responsibilities and activities

Nursing assistants provide basic care and help with activities of daily living. They typically do the following:

  • Clean and bathe patients or residents
  • Help patients use the toilet and dress
  • Turn, reposition, and transfer patients between beds and wheelchairs
  • Listen to and record patients’ health concerns and report that information to nurses
  • Measure patients’ vital signs, such as blood pressure and temperature
  • Serve meals and help patients eat

Some nursing assistants also may dispense medication, depending on their training level and the state in which they work.

In nursing homes and residential care facilities, nursing assistants are often the principal caregivers. They have more contact with residents than other members of the staff. Nursing assistants often develop close relationships with their patients because some residents stay in a nursing home for months or years.

Orderlies typically do the following:

  • Help patients to move around the facility, by doing such tasks as pushing wheelchairs
  • Clean equipment and facilities
  • Change linens
  • Stock supplies

Nursing assistants and orderlies work as part of a healthcare team under the supervision of licensed practical or licensed vocational nurses and registered nurses.

Personality and skills
Personality and skills

Can you see yourself in the ranks of nursing assistants? Here are the skills and traits that could lead to success.

Communication skills
Nursing assistants and orderlies must communicate effectively to address patients’ or residents’ concerns. They also need to relay important information to other healthcare workers.
Compassion
Nursing assistants and orderlies assist and care for the sick, injured, and elderly. Doing so requires a compassionate and empathetic attitude.
Patience
The routine tasks of cleaning, feeding, and bathing patients or residents can be stressful. Nursing assistants and orderlies must have patience to complete these tasks.
Physical stamina
Nursing assistants and orderlies spend much of their time on their feet. They should be comfortable performing physical tasks, such as lifting or moving patients.
Trends in employment
Salary trends
Distribution and trends: Salaries for nursing assistants
Choose actual dollars or inflation-adjusted dollars to view
Adjusted for inflation
Historic dollars

In 2018, the median (middle) for 89% of all other jobs were higher than the median (middle) salary for nursing assistants. This graphic shows how the salary distribution (adjusted for inflation) has changed for this job over recent years. The gray line, as a comparison, shows the median salary of all US workers.

This job's median $29KAll jobs' median $39K$27K$38K2012201320142015201620172018$0$10K$20K$30K$40K$50K
Projected versus actual employment
Exploring actual employment trends versus projected trends

Currently, jobs for nursing assistants are anticipated to grow by 12% over the next decade; only 19% of jobs are predicted to grow more.

The projected employment for nursing assistants is the best guess created by talented economists and statisticians at the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). However, as you look through several careers you'll notice that the projections are heavily influenced by past performance and may miss current trends. No one can tell the future, and as new information and better techniques are developed, actual counts and future projections may change. Here's a glimpse at the actual counts versus the projections over time.

201020152020202520300500,0001,000,0001,500,0002,000,000
Employment counts
Actual measured employment
BLS 10-year predictions
Variation by state
Employment
State-by-state employment numbers

Some careers tend to be centered in specific parts of the country. For example, most jobs in fashion are in New York or California. Let's see if your dream job is easy to find in your dream location! We have a few choices for viewing the data that can help you get a full employment picture.

Job density versus job count

Which states hire the most nursing assistants? We wonder if that's a fair question since states come in all sizes, so instead let's start with the question of which states have the highest density of people working as nursing assistants. You can choose to view the number of jobs per state if you prefer.

BLS vs ACS data

This map defaults to employment information from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), which provides job totals carefully compiled for accuracy and with a primary focus on how employers describe their workers. The BLS job totals do not count self-employed workers. We've also compiled totals using the Census Bureau's American Community Survey (ACS) which are based on how workers describe themselves. Sometimes ACS results are quite a bit different from the employer-based BLS data.

One important factor in the differences between ACS and BLS data is that the ACS numbers are for all nursing, psychiatric, and home health aides, comprised of all specialities listed in the menu bar, and you can choose to view the BLS at the specialty or full career level.

Choose the metric to review
Jobs per 1000 working
Number of jobs
Use this data source
BLS for this specialty
Number of Nursing Assistants per 1,000 workers (BLS)
Select a state to see local area details
AKMEVTNHWAIDMTNDMNMINYMARIORUTWYSDIAWIINOHPANJCTCANVCONEMOILKYWVVAMDDEAZNMKSARTNNCSCDCOKLAMSALGAHITXFLPR
0.05.010.015.020.025.0
Salary
Salaries by state
Let's get a feel for where nursing assistants earn the highest salaries. There are several choices for which data we consider and how we view that data, and each can lead to different conclusions, so please read on...
Median salary versus state ratio

We use two methods to compare salaries across states:

  • In-state comparisons: the ratio of median (middle) salaries for nursing, psychiatric, and home health aides compared to the median salary for all people working in each state, or
  • Median salary: the unaltered median salaries for nursing, psychiatric, and home health aides.

We hope the ratio allows perspective about how salaries may compare to the regional cost-of-living.

BLS vs ACS data

We have two sources for statewide salary information with important distinctions. The BLS data is created by surveying companies, missing individuals who are self-employed or work for smaller companies. The ACS data is compiled from multi-faceted household surveys and may reflect the inconsistencies that people may have in reporting information. The ACS salaries are for all nursing, psychiatric, and home health aides, which combines the specialities from which you can choose at the top of the page.

Choose the metric to review
In-state comparisions
Median salary
Use this data source
BLS for this specialty
Median salary ratio: Nursing Assistants to all workers (BLS for this specialty)
The darkest shading corresponds to states in which nursing assistants earn the highest salary when compared to other jobs in the state. We think this ratio might be a better indicator than the actual salary for your buying power as a state resident.
Select a state to see local area details
AKMEVTNHWAIDMTNDMNMINYMARIORUTWYSDIAWIINOHPANJCTCANVCONEMOILKYWVVAMDDEAZNMKSARTNNCSCDCOKLAMSALGAHITXFLPR
0.00.20.40.60.81.0
Compare to similar jobs

If this job interests you, then use the dots below to find other jobs you might like. The dots closer to the top represent jobs that are like Nursing, psychiatric, and home health aides (shown with a blue star). Look for the dots to the right to find the best salaries! (We pulled salary data from BLS, and they give a top salary value of just over $200K to protect privacy, so our graph would go much higher if the salaries were not top coded.)

How should the career similarity be computed

There are a number of ways to measure the similarity of jobs, here are a few we provide:

  • Interests: Also known as a Holland Code - Are you a thinker? A helper? What fits your personality?
  • Environment: Are there hazards? Will you be comfortable? Will it be stressful?
  • Knowledge: What do you need to know the most about?
  • Physical Abilities: Do you need to especially strong or coordinated?
Choose the similarity measure to compare careers
Interests
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Knowledge
Physical Abilities
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