A Guide to CNA Compensation in California

CNA Compensation in California

California is the most populous state in the country, and one of the most dense. With so many people living in and moving to the Golden State, demand for healthcare is predictably high. Combine this with a diverse community and lovely beachside scenery, and there is little surprise as to why it has become so popular among healthcare workers. California is not even part of the Nurse Licensure Compact, yet it hardly matters. Even if Registered Nurses (RNs) have to apply for reciprocity or new licensure altogether, many consider these minor inconveniences a worthwhile tradeoff. For RNs looking to move to California, we have provided a comprehensive guide for RN salaries in the Golden State. Before you make any big decisions, you want to be informed and updated.

Exactly how much are CNAs paid?

Currently, the US Bureau of Labor and Statistics estimates that CNAs make around $35,740 annually. Without a doubt, this is notably lower compared to some of their healthcare contemporaries, such as Licensed Vocational Nurses and especially Registered Nurses. At this current time, Registered Nurses can earn $81,220 within the same timespan. All this is due to the lower educational requirements and technical demands of the profession, even if CNAs are highly valued in the workplace.

California nurse aides do not exceed this figure, but there is no denying that they are better compensated than their fellow CNAs. In a year, a nurse aide can make up to $43,722. This is a significant step up, and is why working in California is such an attractive prospect for many CNAs.

What are the best paying cities in California?

Location is a huge determining factor, when it comes to CNA compensation. An area’s population, population density, spending power, and more will determine the demand and market for not just CNAs, but HCPs as a whole. Some cities will provide higher rates than others, as a result.

Listed below are California cities with the highest compensation rates as of 2023. All figures have been acquired from ZipRecruiter.

City Average Annual Compensation
Chowchilla $67,281
Soledad $63,722
San Leandro $49,047
Santa Clara $48,620
Culver City $48,428
San Francisco $48,257
Pleasanton $48,213
Los Angeles $47,527
Harbor City $47,108
San Jose $46,918

Just remember that these figures are subject to change. There is also not much separation between most of the top 10. California CNAs can expect generous compensation wherever they work, in most instances.

What are the best paying CNA roles?

Your salary will also be determined by where you work. CNAs are in demand with all facilities, but certain facilities will compensate their nurse aides far better. Via ZipRecruiter’s database once again, these are the current best-compensated CNA positions in California:

Role Average Annual Compensation
Certified CNA $53,594
School CNA $46,196
Long Term Care $45,410
Agency CNA $45,215
Crisis Care $45,215

Does work experience matter for CNA compensation?

Facilities value experienced CNAs. This proves that they are ready to contribute. Thanks to their years of shifts and practice, experienced candidates are more likely to possess the skills and attributes needed to succeed in the healthcare workplace. This is why more experienced CNAs tend to make more than their newer counterparts, though there are sometimes exceptions. From Indeed’s database, we can see how years of experience affects a CNA’s earning potential.

Years of Experience Average Annual Compensation
Less than a year $47,651
1-2 years $48,125
3-5 years $50,679
6-9 years $51,965
10+ years $57,269

How can one increase their earning potential?

In many cases, increasing your earnings is not as simple as “moving to a different city” or taking on a new CNA role. For people who cannot afford to make those changes, there are thankfully options available to them. HCP salary is heavily dependent on a number of different factors. Anyone can increase their earning potential, with the right strategy and approach.

Negotiate your compensation rate

You want to know what you are worth, as a CNA. When you are discussing compensation in your position, you do not want to be lowballed by a prospective employer. Be open to negotiating your compensation, before signing any contracts. Research the going rate for HCPs of your experience in your area, and use that as a benchmark for negotiations. Do not be afraid of this process if you are a newer CNA, as it is a natural part of the hiring process. Provided that you maintain a level of professionalism, level-headedness, and respect, you can engage in these conversations in good faith.

Take on temporary nurse work

We live in a new age of healthcare staffing. Facilities are looking to fill short term CNA vacancies with temporarily staffed CNAs. They can take on contracts with nurse staffing agencies, or they can pick up shifts from staffing apps like VitaWerks. This has provided CNAs with flexibility and earnability that they never experienced before. They can take on temporary shifts alongside their current roles, or they can work entirely on a per diem (as needed) basis.

Because of the incredibly high demand for healthcare services, thanks to the HCP shortages, temporary rates tend to be considerably higher than you would think. CNAs can also take on as many shifts as they can accommodate for, and can create their own work schedules. Nurse aides can earn more than they usually make, while enjoying a greater opportunity to achieve work life balance. When you book shifts with VitaWerks, you can even guarantee the best possible temporary CNA rates available in California. With our AI-based matchmaking and 24/7 staff, we are here to set you up for success wherever your career takes you.

Build work experience

Even if you prefer full time CNA roles (which is perfectly valid), temporary CNA work will allow you to gain valuable work experience in a variety of different settings. Not only will you develop new skills and perspectives, but you will also build a formidable portfolio filled with diverse work experiences. This can all add up, and will make you a far more appealing CNA candidate to a number of different California-based facilities. This is just one of the many advantages that temporary staffing can provide to nurse aides, with regards to increasing their earning potential and career opportunities.

Acquire additional certifications

CNAs can acquire numerous different additional certifications from community colleges, vocational schools, universities, hospitals and even the Red Cross. They can obtain certifications in Certified Medical Assistant, Monitor Technician, Qualified Medication Aide, Emergency Room Technician and more. This can allow you to take on responsibilities most CNAs cannot handle, which can make you a far more in-demand HCP in the eyes of various healthcare facilities. EMTs, for example, are equipped with the knowledge to assist and stabilize patients that are facing severe medical emergencies.

Even if a CNA role does not “require” additional certifications, your compensation may still increase. It shows that you not only have skills and credentials that your peers may not have, but that you are motivated to your continuous improvement and growth in the healthcare field. This displays a level of professionalism and ambition that hospitals want from their CNA hires.

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