Becoming a nursing assistant is one way to gain experience in the medical field. And you don’t need an advanced degree to do it.

On average, nursing assistants make $17.26 per hour, helping patients with daily tasks.

So if you want to see what it’s like to work in healthcare, consider training to work as a nursing assistant. And if you’re wondering, “what does a nursing assistant do”, and want to know how to become one, keep reading.

What Does a Nursing Assistant Do?

Certified nursing assistants (CNAs) can work in hospitals, nursing homes, and hospice centers. Some may also work within private medical offices and clinics. CNAs can also meet people in their homes, providing care outside of a formal medical facility.

Licensed nurses or nurse managers supervise CNAs as they work with a variety of patients. If a patient is unable to care for themselves, a CNA offers help.

CNAs may move bedridden patients to prevent bedsores. They’ll often take blood pressure, temperature, and heart rate readings.

CNAs can perform administrative tasks too. They may answer phones or write notes about a patient’s progress.

Besides these tasks, CNAs are responsible for cleaning rooms when patients leave and preparing for the next patient. They may assist nurses with medical procedures, dress wounds, or change bandages.

In assisted living facilities, nursing assistants often take care of a patient’s hygiene. They may bathe their patients, comb their hair, or trim their nails.

Steps to Becoming a Nursing Assistant

There are only three steps to becoming a nursing assistant. Once you have the required education and training, you’re eligible to take the CNA exam.

1. Get a High School Diploma or GED

The first step in becoming a CNA is to graduate with your high school diploma or earn your GED. Nursing assistants should have basic knowledge in writing, science, and math. It’s helpful if they also have communication, time management, and administrative skills.

2. Complete CNA Training

Once a student has their diploma or GED, they have to complete nursing assistant training. CNA hopefuls can enroll in programs at community colleges or trade schools. Some hospitals and medical centers may offer training as well.

The National League for Nursing Accredited Commission has to approve the program. And it should meet state nursing assistant requirements.

In class, students will learn how to develop a gentle bedside manner. They’ll practice tasks like documenting health information, dressing wounds, and cleaning bed linens.

3. Pass the CNA Certification Exam

Once a student has finished their CNA training, they have to take and pass the certification exam. There are two parts to the CNA exam. The first part, a written multiple-choice test, takes 90 minutes.

The second part, a practical exam, tests the student’s skills. During this part, students will have 30 minutes to show proficiency in four skills. If a student passes, they become a nurse assistant.

Become a Certified Nursing Assistant

Now you can confidently answer the question, “what does a nursing assistant do?” Once you have your diploma or your GED, all you need to do is complete a nursing assistant program at a local college. Then, take the two-part CNA exam and pass to earn your certification.

Becoming a nursing assistant can be fulfilling, life-long work. For more on careers that involve helping people, check out our Career Insight section.