Nursing Assistants

Note: All Occupations includes all occupations in the U.S. Economy. Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Employment Projections program

Employment of nursing assistants is projected to grow 11 percent from 2016 to 2026, faster than the average for all occupations. Employment of orderlies is projected to grow 8 percent from 2016 to 2026, about as fast as the average for all occupations.

As the baby-boom population ages, nursing assistants and orderlies will be needed to assist and care for elderly patients in long-term care facilities, such as nursing homes. Older people are more likely than younger people to have disorders such as dementia, or to live with chronic diseases, such as heart disease and diabetes. More nursing assistants will be needed to care for patients with these conditions.

Demand for nursing assistants may be constrained by the fact that many nursing homes rely on government funding. Cuts to programs, such as Medicare and Medicaid, may affect patients’ ability to pay for nursing home care. In addition, patient preferences and shifts in federal and state funding are increasing the demand for home and community-based long-term care, which should lead to increased opportunities for nursing assistants working in home health and community rehabilitation services.

What Nursing Assistants and Orderlies Do About this section

Nursing assistants help patients with activities of daily living like eating and bathing. Nursing assistants, sometimes called nursing aides, help provide basic care for patients in hospitals and residents of long-term care facilities, such as nursing homes. Orderlies transport patients and clean treatment areas.

Duties

Nursing assistants provide basic care and help with activities of daily living. They typically do the following:

  • Clean and bathe patients or residents
  • Help patients use the toilet and dress
  • Turn, reposition, and transfer patients between beds and wheelchairs
  • Listen to and record patients’ health concerns and report that information to nurses
  • Measure patients’ vital signs, such as blood pressure and temperature
  • Serve meals and help patients eat

Some nursing assistants also may dispense medication, depending on their training level and the state in which they work.

In nursing homes and residential care facilities, nursing assistants are often the principal caregivers. They have more contact with residents than other members of the staff. Nursing assistants often develop close relationships with their patients because some residents stay in a nursing home for months or years.

Orderlies typically do the following:

  • Help patients to move around the facility, by doing such tasks as pushing wheelchairs
  • Clean equipment and facilities
  • Change linens
  • Stock supplies

Nursing assistants and orderlies work as part of a healthcare team under the supervision of licensed practical or licensed vocational nurses and registered nurses.

Pay (Nursing Assistants and Orderlies)

Median annual wages,

May 2016

Total, all occupations

$37,040

Orderlies

$26,690

Nursing assistants and orderlies

$26,590

Nursing assistants

$26,590

Nursing, psychiatric, and home health aides

$24,810

Note: All Occupations includes all occupations in the U.S. Economy.

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Employment Statistics.

The median annual wage for nursing assistants was $26,590 in May 2016. The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $20,040, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $37,900.

The median annual wage for orderlies was $26,690 in May 2016. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $19,590, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $40,180.

In May 2016, the median annual wages for nursing assistants in the top industries in which they worked were as follows:

Government
$31,990
Hospitals; state, local, and private
28,540
Nursing care facilities (skilled nursing facilities)
25,670
Continuing care retirement communities and assisted living facilities for the elderly
24,830
Home healthcare services
24,390

In May 2016, the median annual wages for orderlies in the top industries in which they worked were as follows:

Government
$32,820
Ambulatory healthcare services
28,030
Hospitals; state, local, and private
27,120
Nursing care facilities (skilled nursing facilities)
23,030
Continuing care retirement communities and assisted living facilities for the elderly
21,660

Most nursing assistants and orderlies work full time. Because nursing homes and hospitals provide care at all hours, nursing aides and orderlies may need to work nights, weekends, and holidays.

Common Career Paths for Certified Nurse Assistant (CNA)

Certified Nurse Assistant (CNA)Registered Nurse (RN)Family Nurse Practitioner (NP)Registered Nurse (RN), Emergency RoomCharge Nurse (RN)Registered Nurse (RN), Operating RoomRegistered Nurse (RN) SupervisorMDS CoordinatorLicensed Practical Nurse (LPN)Registered Nurse (RN)Medical AssistantMedical Assistant (Certified)Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN)Nurse's Aide (Certified)Medical AssistantMedical Assistant (Certified)

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