Nursing Assistants and Orderlies: Salary, career path, job outlook, education and more

Job Outlook
The projected percent change in employment from 2016 to 2026: 11% (Faster than average)
(The average growth rate for all occupations is 7 percent.)
Licenses/Certifications
After completing a state-approved education program, nursing assistants take a competency exam. Passing this exam allows them to use state-specific titles. In some states, a nursing assistant or aide is called a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA), but titles vary from state to state.
Median pay: How much do Nursing Assistants and Orderlies make?
$26,590 Annual Salary
$12.78 per hour

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.

What do Nursing Assistants and Orderlies do?

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.

Careers for Nursing Assistants and Orderlies

  • CNAs
  • Certified nurse aides
  • Certified nursing assistants
  • Emergency room orderlies
  • Hospital aides
  • Hospital attendants
  • Hospital orderlies
  • Medical orderlies
  • NACs
  • Nursing aides
  • Nursing attendants
  • Nursing care attendants
  • Orderlies
  • Registered nursing assistants
  • Surgical orderlies

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