CNA Certification guide

Where does a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) work?

Aaron Jalalon
May 5, 2023
A CNA working at a computer to help with documentation

Whether you’re seeking a new workplace as a CNA or considering taking CNA as a medical career in the future, it pays to learn about these different workplaces along with the general tasks you’re expected to do if you decide to become a CNA. Or if you’re already one, this list will help you decide which workplace works best for you.

1. Hospitals

A question we often get is do hospitals hire CNAs and absolutely - one of the most common workplaces for CNAs is a hospital. It provides you with a fast-paced environment where you’ll encounter different types of patients. You’ll be under the supervision of a Registered Nurse (RN). Because of the nature of work in hospitals, they usually require full-time CNAs, which means you’ll end up receiving benefits, job security, and access to different types of medical professionals. Common tasks CNAs perform in hospitals include:

  • Taking charts and monitor patient’s vital signs, temperature, or blood pressure
  • Transferring patients from beds to wheelchairs and vice versa
  • Turning or moving patients 
  • Attending to patient calls and needs

Many students ask if hospitals hire new CNAs. It varies per hospital but generally, hospitals like to see at least 6 months of work experience before hiring. Almost all hospital require you pass the state exam. However, some Dreambound alumni have gone on to work out of a hospital immediately after passing their exams. Ask us or your school if we/they have any connections to hospitals.

2. Nursing homes

Nursing homes are the most popular facilities for CNAs. Nursing homes are long-term care facilities and must provide care 24/7 to patients, shifts for CNAs may vary as well as their tasks. CNAs are principal caregivers in nursing homes and their jobs could be difficult mainly because CNAs are typically responsible for manual lifting and turning of residents. CNAs are also at the forefront of any types of infections or diseases and, sometimes, even patient aggression. Common tasks CNAs perform in nursing homes include:

  • Feeding, bathing, dressing, and grooming patients as needed
  • Serving meals, keeping the patient’s room clean and tidy, making bed
  • Monitoring and observing changes in a patient’s condition or behavior
  • Documenting patient’s food or liquid intake

3. Assisted Living Facilities

Assisted living facilities are housing facilities for patients who have disabilities or older adults who still prefer to live independently. These places provide medical and personal assistance while prioritizing a patient’s sense of independence, with minimal focus on providing assistance with activities of daily living (ADL). Unlike nursing homes, these types of facilities provide some level of care, promoting a home-like environment and focusing less on nursing and more on supporting residents in maintaining a safe environment that will help them live autonomously. Common tasks CNAs perform in this type of facility include:

  • Making daily rounds to ill residents
  • Taking vital signs as needed
  • Changing bed linens, giving showers or baths or assisting with dressing as needed
  • Assisting with escorts to beauty shops, physical therapy, dining room and other activities

4. Home Healthcare

In home healthcare, CNAs work with patients who choose to remain and receive care in their own homes instead of staying in hospitals or assisted living facilities. Home healthcare provides CNAs with an opportunity to work directly with a patient one at a time. As a CNA, you might encounter patients with similar difficulties as those found in hospitals or nursing homes. Home health service agencies prefer hiring experienced CNAs than first-time CNAs since this type of work environment has no direct supervision from RNs. Common tasks CNAs perform in home healthcare:

  • Monitoring and maintaining a patient’s hygiene 
  • Tracking patient condition, documenting patient care procedures, reporting to a supervising nurse
  • Helping with meal preparation, transportation, light housekeeping or laundry
  • Administering or preparing medication

5. Hospice

Hospices are healthcare facilities that provide palliative care for terminally-ill patients. The primary focus of hospices is to provide comfort and quality life by reducing the pain and suffering patients experience while living in the facility as well as attending to their individual wishes. Common tasks for a CNA in hospices include:

  • Feeding the patient
  • Assisting the patient with bathing, toileting, and grooming
  • Maintaining a clean space for the patient
  • Moving and turning bed-bound patients

6. Schools

Schools hire CNAs to accomplish administrative and simple medical responsibilities under the supervision of a licensed school nurse. As you might expect, you’ll be working mostly with students in this work setting. Common tasks for a CNA in a school:

  • Providing first aid to students
  • Keeping student file of any health-related records or visits to the school clinic
  • Contacting parents when the student gets sick in school
  • Assisting the school nurse with health-related presentations or trainings

7. Clinic

Clinics hire CNAs to assist a physician in treating patients with the supervision of a lead nurse. Sometimes you may also work directly under the supervision of the physician. This is a less demanding job for a CNA compared to a nursing home or a hospital. Common tasks include:

  • Preparing the examination room
  • Checking patient vital signs
  • Providing basic medical care
  • Recording a patient’s medical information

8. Travel CNA

Not surprisingly, a traveling CNA is one of the most sought after jobs for aspiring nursing assistants, especially if you’re someone who likes to travel. We've written a guide on how to become a travel CNA. A traveling CNA typically goes to a patient’s house to visit and monitor the patient’s health, assess their health conditions, and assist with their daily tasks as needed. This is similar to a home health care agency except in this case you may be asked to travel out of your home base. Common tasks include:

  • Helping patients with bathing, feeding, or grooming
  • Monitoring and administering medicine
  • Recording important changes in a patient's condition
  • Taking preventive measures to control infection

9. Government

This one surprises most people but the government is one of the largest employers of CNAs. Federal, state or local agencies employ CNAs that provide stable and unique career opportunities. Below are some government agencies that hire CNAs:

  • Department of Defense (DOD)
  • Bureau of Prisons (BOP) within the Department of Justice (DOJ)
  • Health & Human Services (HHS)
  • Veterans Administration (VA)

Fact: The Veterans Administration employs CNAs and other healthcare professionals to staff their 135 nursing homes, Veterans centers at 232 locations, 153 medical centers, 47 counseling centers, over 900 ambulatory and community-based outpatient clinics, and 108 home-care programs!

Because jobs in the government are highly coveted jobs, they hire CNAs with experience in the field. Landing a government job as a CNA requires not only a lot of experience but also excellent skills, and the right attitude. In the end, your decision to work in any of these job settings will vary depending on your experience, the location of the facility and where you live, and your personal interests. 

If you’re interested in becoming a CNA and starting a rewarding and fulfilling career in healthcare, look for classes on Dreambound. We partner with multiple training providers across the country and match you with the right employers who hire only highly vetted CNAs. 

Find top-rated phlebotomy training programs near you.
Get started today
Find top-rated CNA training programs near you.
Get started today
Written by
Aaron Jalalon
Easiest way to get certified.
Today is the day to get that certification you've always wanted. Enroll in a top-rated, state-approved training program in just a few minutes.
Get started now