Nursing Aide

Nursing aides, orderlies, and attendants help transport patients in hospitals or residents of nursing homes.

Nursing aides, orderlies, and attendants help transport patients in hospitals or residents of nursing homes.

Some of us are naturally gifted at caring for others — such people are patient, kind, soft-spoken, and diligent in their efforts to improve others’ lives. If you think you fall into this category, then you may find life as a nursing aide to be rewarding. Nurse’s aides are often the principal caregivers for residents of nursing homes, residential care facilities, and other long-term medical centers. In hospitals, nursing aides are responsible for basic patient comfort and care.

Fast Facts

Minimum Degree Required: Post-secondary non-degree certificate

Top Skills: Empathy, Communication, Patience

Average Starting Salary: approx. $20,000/year

Job Description

Many patients in long-term care facilities, particularly the elderly or disabled, need help with simple daily tasks like bathing, dressing, and eating. A nursing aide is there to provide such patients with all the support they need to live as independent a life as possible — this may include helping patients with limited mobility into their wheelchairs or into bed. Nursing aides may also be required to clean the patient’s room or ensure the patient takes their necessary medications. While nursing aides cannot diagnose or treat any ailments, they can check their patient’s vital signs and listen to any complaint the patient has, and report their findings to the overseeing nurse or physician.

One of the most important parts of a nursing aide’s job is patient interaction. Sometimes a sympathetic ear or kind word can help a patient just as much as their medical treatment. An ideal candidate would be comfortable with the elderly and the physically and/or mentally disabled and be able to handle their needs without making the patient feel embarrassed or uncomfortable.


Many hospitals offer nursing aide courses, which lead to certification. Other times, the appropriate course is available at a local high school or community college. The specific requirements vary from center to center and state to state, so be sure to inquire about what training prospective employers expect you to have.

Interested high school students can gain patient-interaction experience by volunteering at their local hospital or nursing home.

Job Outlook: Good

From 2010 to 2020, the Bureau of Labor Statistics expects nursing aide positions to rise by 20%, which is above the national average. In 2010, a nursing aide could expect to earn a median wage of $24,010 a year, working full time.

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