3 Ways to Advance Your CNA Career Path

Last Updated on June 7, 2024

Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) in a classroom setting

Working as a CNA is a great place to get your start in the healthcare industry. As you gain experience in your nursing career, it’s important to know that you can continue to learn and earn more. After becoming a CNA, you can next take the steps to grow your career and boost your salary to match your advancing skills — all with the help of continued education.

The more education and training you get, the more opportunities you can find to further your CNA career. So, let’s explore the next steps for your CNA career path, and three ways to further your nursing career!

How to Further Your CNA Career Path

If you’re a CNA thinking, “What’s next?” you’re not alone. From becoming a CNA to PCT or CNA to LPN, there are endless paths you can take to further your CNA career.

Here are three powerful opportunities you can take to get closer to your healthcare career goals. After becoming a CNA, these career advancement tips can help you determine your next step towards career success:

1. CNA Continuing Education Classes

You don’t have to ditch the CNA career path to boost your pay and qualifications. There are several additional CNA certifications and continuing education classes you can take to further your CNA career and increase your value.

The certifications and classes you choose will depend on your unique career goals and which healthcare settings you prefer:

  • If you’re passionate about working in nursing homes, home health care, or private duty care, you may consider a Home Health Aide Certification.
  • If you’re specifically interested in working with seniors, you may also want to consider Alzheimer’s Training to equip yourself with the knowledge needed for memory care.
  • If you want to work in a more traditional healthcare setting, such as a hospital, walk-in clinic, or doctor’s office, you may consider EKG, Medical Assistant, and/or Phlebotomy training.
  • If you’re passionate about mental health and rehabilitation, you may consider Seclusion and Restraint and/or Psychosocial Care Skills training.

Some of these certifications may not be required for certain positions and settings. However, continuing your education strengthens your qualifications and expands the skills for your CNA resume. As a result? You’ll discover more opportunities to further your CNA career.

2. CNA to PCT: Training and Certification

If you’re interested in working in a hospital setting, shifting from CNA to PCT career path may be the next step for you.

A Patient Care Tech (PCT) has very similar responsibilities, and skills as a CNA yet is trained for more clinical settings, such as hospitals and walk-in clinics. Because of their extra training, PCTs can care for patients at their bedside while assisting with more technical tasks, such as EKGs, phlebotomy, and advanced medical equipment monitoring.

If you’re already a CNA, the switch from CNA to PCT can be pretty simple. There are a few different ways you can make it happen:

  • Enroll in a PCT certification course at a local or online college.
  • Obtain your EKG and Phlebotomy training certifications. This can close the gap between CNA and PCT qualifications and allow you to receive any other necessary training on-site.
  • Get on-the-job training at a hospital or clinic. Note that this may be more competitive and challenging than other routes.

3. CNA to RN or LPN Path: Heading Back to School

As a CNA, you work closely with the nurses around you. It’s easy to dream about taking the leap and furthering your CNA career path to become an LPN or RN, especially when you’re passionate about the field.

If you do head back to school, know you’ll be met with endless career opportunities and options. The current nursing shortage gives you an advantage in the workforce, making your career skyrocket in value.

Which Is Right For You: LPN or RN?

Just like a CNA, a Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) is responsible for supporting patients with daily care and comfort. However, an LPN specializes in basic medical tasks, such as taking vital signs, managing medication, and updating charts. Advancing your career path from a CNA to LPN allows you to further your CNA career while still enjoying valuable relationships with your patients.

RNs (Registered Nurses) provide more advanced daily medical care. RNs often oversee LPNs and CNAs. They might administer treatments and medication, coordinate patient care, perform and analyze tests, and educate patients with post-care tips. Therefore, CNAs looking to grow their nursing career may consider a transition from CNA to RN career paths.

As you can see, your CNA experience lays a solid foundation to further your career in healthcare, whether the next step involves transitioning from a CNA to a PCT, LPN, or RN.

CNA Salary & Education Requirements

Here are the average hourly salaries and education requirements for each career path. Keep in mind that your experience, education level, state regulations, location, and healthcare setting may affect these rates and requirements:

Average Hourly Rates (Nationally)

  • CNAs:$15-$18/hour.
  • PCTs: $17-$19/hour.
  • LPNs: $23-$28/hour.
  • RNs: $29-$38/hour.

Education Required

  • CNAs: It takes an average of 4-16 weeks to become a CNA.
  • PCTs: Training can vary. On average, training can last between 2-8 months.
  • LPNs: It takes an average of 1 year of schooling at a technical or community college to become an LPN.
  • RNs: You must earn your associate’s, bachelor’s, or diploma from an accredited nursing program to become an RN. This can vary from 2-4 years.

Further Your CNA Career Path with CareerStaff

Here’s to reaching your goals, your way. Whether you’re set on furthering your CNA or RN nursing career path, we’re here to help you make it happen! At CareerStaff, we’ll connect you with local, travel, and per diem positions across the country that meet your personal and professional needs. Get started now and explore CNA jobs across the country!

Have questions? As a CNA, you should have total control of your time, pay, and career growth. Connect with a dedicated recruiter to connect you with new job opportunities built around your unique nursing career goals. Quick Apply below to start opening up your CNA career opportunities ASAP.