Featured Schools

    Notre Dame College
    Rivier University
    Walden University
    King University

Signup for email updates!

Email signup

Nursing Aides, Orderlies, And Attendants Career

Career Description

Nursing Aides,  Orderlies, and Attendants provide basic patient care under direction of nursing staff. Perform duties, such as feed, bathe, dress, groom,  or move patients, or change linens.

Common Work Tasks

  • Help patients to eat, dress, and bathe
  • Answer calls for help, deliver messages, serve meals, make beds, and tidy up rooms
  • Take a patient’s temperature, pulse rate,  respiration rate, or blood pressure
  • Provide care to patients by helping them get into and out of bed and walk, escorting them to operating and examining rooms,  or providing skin care
  • Help other medical staff by setting up equipment, storing and moving supplies, and assisting with some procedures
  • Observe patients’ physical, mental, and emotional conditions and report any change to the nursing or medical staff
  • Turn and reposition bedridden patients, alone or with assistance, to prevent bedsores
  • Answer patients’ call signals
  • Transport patients to treatment units, using a wheelchair or stretcher
  • Answer phones and direct visitors

Other Job Titles

Nursing Aides, Orderlies, and Attendants are also known by other titles, including:

  • Certified Nursing Assistants
  • Home Health Aides
  • Nursing Assistants
  • Geriatric Aides

Education,  Training, and Experience

Education and Training
Nursing and psychiatric aide training is offered in high schools, vocational-technical centers, some nursing care facilities, and some community colleges. Courses cover body mechanics, nutrition, anatomy and physiology, infection control,  communication skills, and resident rights. Personal care skills, such as how to help patients to bathe, eat, and groom themselves, also are taught. Hospitals may require previous experience as a nursing aide or home health aide. Some States also require psychiatric aides to complete a formal training program.  However, most psychiatric aides learn their skills on the job from experienced workers. Some employers provide classroom instruction for newly hired aides,  while others rely exclusively on informal on-the-job instruction by a licensed nurse or an experienced aide. Such training may last from several days to a few months. Aides also may attend lectures, workshops, and in-service training.

  Aides must be in good health. A physical examination, including State-regulated tests such as those for tuberculosis, may be required. A criminal background check also is usually required for employment.

Applicants should be tactful,  patient, understanding, emotionally stable, and dependable and should have a desire to help people. They also should be able to work as part of a team, have good communication skills, and be willing to perform repetitive, routine tasks.


The median annual salary for a Nursing Aide, Orderly, or Attendant is $23,000. The top 10 percent earn more than $32,000, and the lowest 10 percent earn less than $17,000.  Median earnings in the industries employing the largest number of nursing aide,  orderly, and attendants are:

  • Nursing Care Facilities - $22,990
  • General Medical and Surgical Hospitals- $25,210
  • Community Care Facilities for the Elderly - $22,300
  • Employment Services - $25,150
  • Local Government - $25,990

Job Outlook

  • 2006-2016 Employment growth:  18%
  • Number of new jobs created 2006-2016: 264,000
  • Employment 2006 : 1,447,000
  • Employment 2016:  1,711,000
Ask An Expert: Real Questions, Expert Answers

Ask your Question