Becoming a CNA (Certified Nursing Assistant) is a great way to get your start in the medical field. CNAs are required to complete a relatively short—at least when compared to comparative programs for the healthcare industry—and affordable training program, and they still get to help improve their patients’ lives. Still, there are several factors you should consider before choosing to become a CNA.
Here are some of the pros and cons of becoming a CNA:
- You get to help improve the lives of your patients, and these patients often truly appreciate you and the work you do. Who doesn’t like to feel appreciated at work?
- As the baby boomers grow older, there is going to be more and more need for CNAs around the world. The job market is booming. In 2012 the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicted a 21% rate of job growth between 2012 and 2022. And they’re far from being the only country in the world with an aging population.
- If you’re pursuing a more serious career in the medical field, becoming a CNA can be a great stepping stone to your dream job. Once you further your medical education enough for a more advanced position in the industry, you’ll have the edge of experience to help you advance your career ahead of other graduates.
- Most CNAs can count on regular 40 hour work weeks. This gives them a stable income without requiring the 60+ hour weeks many doctors perform regularly.
- Working as a CNA is very physically demanding. CNAs are needed in hospitals and nursing homes 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, so CNAs can get stuck working nights or weekends for an extended period of time, drastically altering their sleep schedule. The job also requires serious physical labour, often including bathing and dressing patients. With all these factors in play, a CNA has a fairly high risk of injury on the job, especially when compared with entry level positions in other industries.
- Some patients aren’t so appreciative of the work you do and can sometimes become angry and even downright mean. This can take a serious toll on anyone’s mental health, and burn out is a fairly common experience for long time CNAs.
- It’s incredibly difficult to advance your career if you aren’t pursuing further medical education, meaning this job can be less than ideal if you’re not interested in continuing your studies.
- Most CNAs are paid only a few dollars over minimum wage. Compared to regular nursing staff, this is pay is considered rather low, and can become extremely constricting if you’re not getting the education you need to advance further in the medical field.
Choosing to become a CNA can be one of the best decisions you make for your career, but like any major career decision, you shouldn’t be making it on a whim. The medical industry is extremely rewarding to work in, but it certainly isn’t easy. Weigh the pros and cons listed here carefully and decide whether or not becoming a CNA is really in line with your career goals before you take the leap.
*All pros & cons based on statistics from the U.S. Federal Bureau of Labor & this article: