Career Prospects for Certified Nursing Assistants: Insights for Training Programs and Policymakers from the Health Profession Opportunity Grants (HPOG) Program

The Health Profession Opportunity Grants (HPOG) Program awards grants to organizations that provide education and training to Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) recipients and other low-income individuals for healthcare occupations that pay well and are expected to either experience labor shortages or be in high demand. Ninety percent of grantees in the first round of HPOG (the set of grants awarded in 2010, referred to here as HPOG 1.0) decided to offer training to become a certified nursing assistant (CNA) and it was the most frequently taken training by HPOG participants.

According to government projections, CNA is one of the fastest growing occupations that requires some postsecondary education but no degree. At the same time, CNAs earn low wages, with annual mean earnings near the poverty level. Because one of the primary purposes of HPOG is to help low-income individuals to secure healthcare employment that pays well, it is important to understand whether CNA training in HPOG can lead to better paying jobs over time and the ways programs can assist individuals who complete CNA training in moving along a career pathway. This report summarizes what was learned about CNA training and employment during HPOG 1.0 to provide insights for training programs and policymakers on the benefits and drawbacks of CNA training and career pathway advancement opportunities.

Loprest, Pamela, and Nathan Sick (2018). Career prospects for certified nursing assistants: Insights for Training Programs and Policymakers from the Health Profession Opportunity Grants (HPOG) Program. OPRE Report 2018-92, Washington, DC: Office of Planning, Research, and Evaluation, Administration for Children and Families, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Click here to view