This website was developed and is maintained by the North Central Wisconsin Area Health Education Center.

Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA)

   cna low.wmv

Note: Windows Media Player is required to play this file. Click here to download Windows Media Player.

Work Activities/Work Locations

  • Certified Nursing Assistants (CNA) is an entry-level position. Persons interested in health careers often begin as a CNA.
  • CNAs provide personal care to residents/patients of nursing homes, home care, hospitals, and other health agencies.
  • They accomplish a number of tasks to assist nursing and medical staff in the care of patients. They are responsible for attending to a patientís everyday needs which may include turning or repositioning a patient in their bed, bathing or dressing, transporting a patient by gurney or wheelchair, taking blood pressures and temperatures, serving food, feeding, and maintaining patientís hygiene.

Advantages and Disadvantages

  • CNAs enjoy helping people.
  • Their work requires lifting and moving of residents/patients in bed and to and from chairs. They run the risk of injury/back problems.
  • Their job has a lot of walking and standing.

Method of Entry

  • Individuals must have completed the tenth grade and be 16 years of age to take the CNA course.
  • Employers prefer to hire people who have a high school diploma, age 18.
  • Students complete a short-term Nursing Assistant program offered at technical colleges. Many high schools now offer CNA training as a class.
  • Must pass a state examination to be Certified as Nursing Assistants.
  • Because training is only a 120-hour program, many high school students become Certified as a CNA and then can work part-time during high school or college.

Education and Training

  • Most technical colleges offer a 120-hour program that requires passing an examination for Certification.
  • Coursework usually includes 75 hours of lecture/laboratory and 45 hours of supervised hands-on experience with patients in nursing settings.
  • Students learn personal care skills, such as how to help patients to bathe, eat, and groom themselves.
  • They must pass a competency evaluation program in order to work in most practice settings as part of their certification.
  • Those who complete the program are included in the State Directory of Nursing Aides that requires updating every so many years.

Helpful High School Courses and Experiences

  • Students should take general high school curriculum that meets graduation requirements.
  • Helpful high school courses would include algebra, health and fitness, Medical Terminology, biology, clerical, English, and chemistry.
  • Many high schools now offer CNA training as a course in their curriculum.

Advancement Opportunities

  • Advancement opportunities for nursesí aides are often limited to pay raises with experience.
  • Some become ward clerks.
  • Others work independently and contract their services as Home Health Aides.
  • At North Central Technical College (NTC) and Mid-State Technical College (MSTC) experienced CNAs currently on the Federal Nursing Assistant Directory, can complete a 100-hour program to become a Medication Assistant allowing them to administer medication to residents of a skilled care nursing facility.
  • Registered Nurses in Wisconsin are now required to be Certified as a CNA before being admitted into a nurses training program.
  • Can specialize into specific areas of focus: Geriatric Nursing Assistant, assists in the personal and daily care of elder patients; Psychiatric Nursing Assistant, assists psychologists, psychiatrists and other staff to care for mentally or emotionally challenged patients.


  • CNAs usually work 40 hours per week.
  • Shift work can include evenings, nights, weekends, and holidays.
  • They can work full-time or part-time.


  • Typical Salary Range (2014) (Wisconsin): $20,600 to $34,800 per year.
  • Typical Salary Range (2014) (National): $18,800 to $36,200 per year.

Employment Information (Wisconsin)

  • Number Employed in 2012: 38,180
  • Expected Employment in 2022: 41,100
  • Percent Employment Growth (2012-2022): 8%
  • Expected Annual Openings: 1,020
Salary information is located at Career One Stop

Nurse Assistant/Certified Nursing Assistant's salary data is profiled under Nursing Aides, Orderlies, and Attendants.

Wisconsin AHEC Health Careers Information Center provides the most current salary information available from CareerOneStop. CareerOneStop will have a lapse between when the information is gathered and when it is released.

Educational Institutions
Blackhawk Technical College
Chippewa Valley Technical College
Fox Valley Technical College
Gateway Technical College
Lakeshore Technical College
Madison Area Technical College
Mid-State Technical College
Milwaukee Area Technical College
Moraine Park Technical College - Beaver Dam
Moraine Park Technical College - Fond du Lac
Moraine Park Technical College - West Bend
Nicolet Area Technical College
Northcentral Technical College
Northeast Wisconsin Technical College
Southwest Wisconsin Technical College
University of Wisconsin - Fond du Lac
Waukesha County Technical College
Western Technical College
Wisconsin Indianhead Technical College - Ashland
Wisconsin Indianhead Technical College - New Richmond
Wisconsin Indianhead Technical College - Rice Lake
Wisconsin Indianhead Technical College - Superior

Professional Organizations & Additional Information
American Assisted Living Nurses Association
P.O. Box 10469
Napa, CA, 94581

American Health Care Association
1201 L Street NW
Washington, DC, 20005

Coalition of Geriatric Nursing Organizations
Hartford Institute for Geriatric Nursing and New York University College of Nursing
433 First Avenue, 5th Floor
New York, NY, 10010
212/992 - 9416

Hospice Association of America
228 Seventh St. SE
Washington, DC, 20003
202/546-4759 and 202/547-7424

Leading Age Wisconsin
204 South Hamilton Street
Madison, WI, 53703

National Association for Home Care and Hospice
228 Seventh St. SE
Washington, DC, 20003
202/546-4759 or 202/547-7424

National Association of Health Care Assistants
501 E. 15th St.
Joplin, MO, 64804-0708

National Network of Career Nursing Assistants
3577 Easton Rd.
Norton, OH, 44203-5661

Nursing Assistant Resources

Paraprofessional Healthcare Institute
400 E. Fordham Rd, 11th Floor
Bronx, NY, 10458

Private Duty Homecare Association
228 Seventh St. SE
Washington , DC, 20003

Visiting Nurse Associations of America
2121 Crystal Dr., Suite 750
Arlington, VA, 22202
571/527-1520 or 888/866-8773

Wisconsin Association for Home Health Care
563 Carter Court, Suite B
Kimberly, WI, 54136

Wisconsin Health Care Association/Wisconsin Center for Assisted Living
131 East Wilson Street, Suite 1001
Madison, WI, 53703

Wisconsin Nurse Aide Program
Department of Health Services
1 West Wilson St.
Madison, WI, 53703

Wisconsin Primary Health Care Association
5202 Eastpark Boulevard, Suite 109
Madison, WI, 53718-8337

World Homecare & Hospice Organization
228 Seventh St. SE
Washington, DC, 20003

Home | Healthcare Occupations | WI Educational Institutions | Professional Organizations | Programs and Resources
Close Survey