July 3, 2024

The 5 Best Paying States for Certified Nursing Assistants (CNAs)

A CNA in light blue scrubs sits and embraces a patient in a wheelchair as they both smile.

Certified Nursing Assistants (CNAs) play a crucial role in the healthcare system, providing essential care and support to patients in various settings. For aspiring CNAs seeking rewarding career opportunities with competitive compensation, certain states stand out as lucrative destinations. Let's dive into the top five best paying states for nursing assistants, based on their average hourly wages according to recent data from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics.

1. District of Columbia

With an average hourly wage of $23.01,* the District of Columbia emerges as the top-paying state for CNAs. Nestled in the heart of the nation's capital, CNAs in D.C. benefit from competitive salaries and a vibrant healthcare landscape. Whether working in hospitals, long-term care facilities, or community health centers, CNAs in the District of Columbia enjoy rewarding careers amidst a dynamic healthcare environment.

2. Alaska

Alaska, known for its breathtaking landscapes and abundant wildlife, also offers attractive opportunities for CNAs. With an average hourly wage of $22.63,* CNAs in Alaska enjoy above-average compensation along with the unique lifestyle and outdoor recreational activities that the state has to offer. Whether providing care in remote rural communities or bustling urban centers, CNAs in Alaska find fulfillment in serving diverse patient populations.

3. California

California, renowned for its cultural diversity, scenic beauty, and innovative healthcare initiatives, ranks among the top-paying states for CNAs. With an average hourly wage of $22.63,* CNAs in the Golden State benefit from competitive salaries and abundant job opportunities across a wide range of healthcare settings. From world-class medical centers to community clinics, CNAs in California contribute to delivering high-quality patient care while enjoying the state's rich cultural tapestry and mild climate. Check out available CNA opportunities in California.

4. Oregon

Nestled in the Pacific Northwest, Oregon offers CNAs an attractive blend of natural beauty, progressive healthcare policies, and competitive wages. With an average hourly wage of $22.58,* CNAs in Oregon find themselves in a thriving healthcare environment characterized by a commitment to patient-centered care and professional development. Whether working in urban hubs like Portland or rural communities, CNAs in Oregon play a vital role in delivering compassionate care to patients across the lifespan.

5. Washington State

Rounding out the list of the best paying states for CNAs is Washington State, renowned for its lush landscapes, thriving tech industry, and progressive healthcare system. With an average hourly wage of $22.32,* CNAs in Washington State enjoy competitive compensation along with abundant opportunities for career advancement and professional growth. Whether employed in hospitals, nursing homes, or home healthcare agencies, CNAs in Washington State contribute to enhancing patient outcomes and promoting health and wellness within their communities.

CNA work settings and pay

While geographic location plays a big part in pay, salaries can also be affected by a CNA’s work setting. Those employed in hospitals or specialized medical facilities often receive higher wages due to the demanding nature and complexity of care required in these environments. In contrast, CNAs working in long-term care facilities, nursing homes, or assisted living communities might earn slightly less, reflecting the differing levels of acuity and resource availability. Nursing assistants also have the option of finding per diem work. This can allow for a more flexible schedule, better work-life balance, and opportunities to work where you choose.

Finding top-paying opportunities as a nursing assistant

For nursing assistants seeking fulfilling careers with competitive compensation, these top-paying states offer attractive opportunities to thrive and excel in the healthcare industry. From the bustling streets of the nation's capital to the rugged wilderness of Alaska, CNAs play a vital role in delivering compassionate care to patients while enjoying the diverse landscapes and vibrant communities that each state has to offer. 

While CNAs don’t have the option of compact multi-state licensure like registered nurses, they do have the freedom to seek certification in any high-paying state. Aspiring CNAs can explore these promising destinations to embark on a rewarding career path filled with growth, fulfillment, and prosperity.

*This average hourly wage data for Nursing Assistants comes from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics

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