Trying to keep a job as a full-time college student is hard. Very hard to be honest with you, but it’s doable.

I’ve done it, and I’ve known plenty of nursing students who also have.

While it’s not the easiest thing, there’s a lot of reasons why you might want a job as a nursing student. A common job nursing students wonder if they can get is a CNA job. I’m going to answer that question in this article.

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Can a Nursing Student Work as a CNA?

A nursing student can work as a certified nursing assistant. Some nursing programs may encourage or require that you do because it gives you valuable experience that will help you throughout the program and provide you with networking opportunities helping you get your dream job after graduating.

You can go to my job board to search for and apply to CNA job positions.

Should Nursing Students Work as a CNA?

Now that you know you can work as a CNA, your next question might be, should you work as a CNA? Should you even work at all?

You should work as a CNA because you earn an income while working in a field related to working as a nurse. Even if you’re not concerned about the money, there are valuable experiences and networking opportunities available.

1. You Get to Earn an Income

One of the reasons you should consider working as a CNA is that you earn an income in a job that pays double the minimum wage. According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, a nursing assistant/nurse aide makes about $14.82 an hour or about $30,830 a year.

While that pales in comparison to what you’re going to make as a nurse, it’s not a bad amount if you’re just working part-time and trying to make ends meet until you graduate from nursing school.

There are jobs out there that make more than a CNA that you might want to consider, but some of them do require extra certifications.

The nice thing about the CNA position is that many places will allow nursing students to work as a CNA without the certificate if they’re enrolled in nursing school and have taken so many nursing school classes.

For some states, it could be as easy as passing your Fundamentals of Nursing class, which is usually one of your first classes.

If you want to see what other high-earning options are available for nursing students, check out this other article I wrote on the best jobs for nursing students.

Find CNA Jobs

Use our job board to start looking for and applying to CNA jobs near you.

2. You Learn Things That Can Help You For Exams

Working as a CNA while you’re in nursing school is not just about making money. For some students, it’s a big part of it, but for others, it’s about trying to get a first-hand experience working in healthcare.

If you’ve never worked in healthcare before or have never really been inside a hospital, I highly encourage you to get a job in a hospital.

Even if that first job is not as a patient care tech (another name you’ll often see used in place of a nurse aide), then at least as a transporter, a phlebotomist, or another hospital job.

When you’re sitting in class and learning about how to do bed baths, talk to patients, talk to doctors, etc., that’s all fine and dandy (and important), but it’s not the same as being in the actual hospital and getting to see and do some of the things you’re talking about in lecture.

A first-hand experience gives you a framework or reference point for some of the things you’ll talk about in lectures.

3. You Get to Network

The last important part of working as a CNA is you get to network.

Let’s say you really want to work in the intensive care unit. In some areas trying to get a job as an ICU nurse as a new grad can be really hard.

A way to make that a little easier is to get a job as a nurse tech in the ICU you want to work in after graduating from your registered nurse program. Make sure the hiring manager knows you’re in nursing school and work hard and be a good team player.

Throughout your time working there, make sure to occasionally remind the nurse manager that you would like to work for them in the ICU after you graduate.

I’m not saying that it will guarantee you get a job there after graduating from nursing school, but it will significantly improve your chances over another new grad.

Look at it this way if the choice comes down between you and another nurse and all else was equal, who do you think the manager will roll the dice on? Someone they don’t know, or you who’s been working your butt off for them.

A Word of Caution!
Consider your time working as a nurse aide as an extended interview.

If you’re a lazy worker. You show up late. You’re difficult to work with, and nobody on the unit likes you. It’s going to be hard for you to get a job there after graduating.

What are Downsides To Working as a CNA While in Nursing School?

While there aren’t that many, there are some negatives to working as a patient care tech while going through nursing school.

Working as a CNA is physically demanding and comes with low pay, and if you’re not careful, it might confuse you during exams since what happens in real life isn’t always what your textbooks say should happen.

Find CNA Jobs

Use our job board to start looking for and applying to CNA jobs near you.

1. Being a CNA is Demanding

I’ve worked as a CNA, and I can tell you from first-hand experience that it’s a very demanding job. It’s physically, mentally, and emotionally draining, depending on what specialty of healthcare you’re in.

If that’s not bad enough, you’ll have to do all of that and then try to study and go to your lectures and still put in all your clinical hours afterward.

It’s doable—so many students before you have done it. You just need to be aware that it’s going to be hard.

2. What You See at Work Might Be Different From Your Textbooks

What you see in real life working as a CNA isn’t always going to be textbook nursing. It could be for a multitude of reasons.

  • Your textbook is more up to date on the latest evidence based practice than the facility or healthcare providers at your job.
  • Your facility could be more up to date.
  • Unlike your textbook where your patients never has any comorbidities, you will have patients with comorbitiie that require different interventions.
  • You miss a crucial detail.
  • You have bad providers.

There are many reasons the primary point is that if you’re not careful, you’ll get confused when answering questions during your nursing exams.

There are some places I’ve heard of that are so hard to get into that new grads can’t get a job there unless they started working there while they were in their nursing program.

You Should Consider Getting a Job in Nursing School

For all the points mentioned up, I think a CNA job in nursing school can be beneficial. Check out some of my other articles below for more guidance on this topic. You can go here to find CNA jobs in your area.

Have You Read Any of These Yet?

Here are some other articles related to this topic on working as a CNA while in nursing school.

Frequently Asked Questions

There are better job options for nursing students, depending on what your goals are.

Many facilities and states allow you to work as a CNA without taking a certification exam as long as you’re in nursing school and have taken certain nursing school classes. You might be required to undergo a competency evaluation and or pass a competency evaluation.

Depending on your state and jurisdiction, a nursing student may be able to work as a CNA without going through a CNA program. Some states might let you bypass the class but still have to sit for the certification exam.

In many ways, being a nurse (RN or LPN) is harder than being a CNA or a nurse tech. You have a lot more critical decisions to make and everything is ultimately your responsiblity. This is not to diminish how hard CNAs work or their value.

Students enrolled in a nursing program may be eligible to sit for the CNA exam. Depending on your state, you may not have to take the exam. Ask your nursing school faculty because certain restrictions may apply.

You can usually get a job at a hospital as a CNA after finishing your first semester of nursing school.

A nursing student can become a CNA after finishing their first semester of nursing school.

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