CNA vs CMA: What is the Difference?

Many students wonder,
“What is the difference between a CNA and a CMA?”


These two courses are part of our cornerstone curriculum, so it is very common for people to questions what is different between the two.

First, the job descriptions. While each employer will require a variation of skills, the following is a common description of a person holding each title:

Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA)

A certified nursing assistant, or CNA, helps patients or clients with healthcare needs under the supervision of a Registered Nurse (RN) or a Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN). The individual who carries this title needs a strong work ethic and a passion to care for others.

Certified Medication Aide (CMA)

A certified medication aide, or CMA, administers routine oral medications and is responsible for monitoring a patient’s vitals and behavior while on medication. 

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So CNA vs CMA: What is the Difference?

The first difference comes with time requirements to get your certification. A Certified Nursing Assistant Certification requires 76 hours of curriculum and training, while it only takes 40 hours to get a CMA Certification.

Both of these training programs will prepare the student for work in a health care facility (e.g. Assisted Living, nursing facility, hospital) or in a residential setting (e.g. in-home care), but CNAs also have the opportunity to work within doctor offices and hospitals.

The last area that differs between these two titles are the salary levels. In general, CNAs make more because they have more training. But that is not always the case. While we cannot predict salary levels, you can check projections at with the US Bureau of Labor Statistics HERE.

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So which will win for you in the battle of CNA vs CMA?

It may be scary to make this decision, but know that you are the only one that can decide. If you need additional information about the similarities and differences in the various certifications, read this article: 5 Questions to Ask When Selected a Certification

Regardless the career path you choose, know that you will be making a big impact on those around you.

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