I’m going to break down who has the harder job, a nurse or a CNA.

This answer comes from a nurse (me) who has worked as a nurse aide before becoming a nurse.

*Disclosure: This article on is being a CNA harder than being a nurse may contain affiliate links. If you click and make a purchase, I may receive a commission. For more info, please see my disclaimer.

Is Being a CNA Harder Than Being a Nurse?

Being a CNA as a whole is not harder than being a nurse. Nor is being a nurse necessarily harder. There are some areas of nursing where nurses have an easier role than CNA’s and some where CNAs have an easier role than nurses.

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I Have Worked as a CNA

Let me start by saying that I have worked as a nurse aide before.

I worked as a nurse aide for several years in mental health, the intensive care unit, and the medical-surgical floors before getting my LPN license and, ultimately my RN licensure.

So I have experience working as a CNA, so I don’t want you to take this as an I’m bashing nurse aides or nurse techs or that I don’t appreciate the work nurse aides do because that couldn’t be further from the truth.

Related: Is Being a CNA Dangerous?

CNAs and Nurses Can Make Each Other’s Life Easier…

a nurse aide helping patient in wheelchair

Having worked as an aide for several years and now as a nurse for several years, I can tell you that a good aide makes a nurse’s life much easier.

I can’t put into words how much it frustrated me when I was a nurse aide, and I had to work with a nurse who didn’t appreciate my work.

Or when I worked with a nurse who had RN’itis and couldn’t be bothered to help do “tech work.”

Nurses like that ultimately made my job more difficult because they wouldn’t help turn patients or do vitals or bed baths when they were free, and I had a lot of patients to take care of.

Different But Equally Hard Roles

That gets me to this point: both nurses and nurse aides have roles that they have to do. Roles that I think are both unique and challenging in their way.

For instance, I think in general, CNAs are going to have more physically demanding roles. In many places, they’re going to bear most of the brunt with turning patients, getting patients up and out of bed, etc.

On the other hand, nurses will have the more legally responsible role where the job is to act on the information presented.

If a tech takes a vital their job is to report the vital signs to the nurse. It’s the nurses’ job to act on the information.

If the nurse acts incorrectly and the patient has a negative outcome, the nurse will bear the brunt of the consequences. The nurse is, after all, the licensed profession that acted incorrectly.

Does that mean nurses don’t have physically demanding jobs or that nurse aides don’t have legally responsible roles?

Obviously not!

The point of the example was to highlight that both roles can have primary responsibilities that is both challenging and unique to their respective roles.

If You’re a CNA You Should Become a Nurse

If you’re still reading this, the last thing I would like to add is that you should consider getting your LPN or your RN licensure if you’re a CNA.

As an LPN or RN, you’ll have a lot more opportunities open up for you, not to mention you’ll see a significant bump in your pay.

Check out this article where I compare a CNA versus an LPN and RN and see some of those differences.

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Search our school database to find schools and get information on the right programs for you. (Don’t worry, it’s fast and free!)

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Frequently Asked Questions

While both jobs can be very physically demanding, CNA jobs tend to be more physically demanding than nursing jobs.

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