Caregiver vs CNA [Differences Explained by Experts]

Caregiver vs CNA [Differences Explained by Experts]

Two of the most popular assistance options you will come across for senior support are certified nurse assistants (CNAs) and caregivers. While both play a crucial role in delivering care and assistance to seniors in need, studying the key differences in the functions is crucial for making the best choice for the needs of your loved ones. This Caregiver vs CNA guide will help you learn more on the topic.   

What is a CNA?

A CNA or a Nurse aide is a trained medical professional who provides basic care to patients along with assisting with daily activities. They are supervised by registered or advanced care nurses and are a part of the healthcare team. The majority work for hospitals, nursing care facilities, assisted living facilities, or retirement communities. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, about 6 percent of the CNA population works in home health.        

What does a CNA do in home care?

A CNA in home care assists with daily living just like a caregiver. However, they have a formal certification that allows them to deliver certain medical services such as

  • Noting patient histories
  • Measuring and recording vital signs
  • Recording health concerns of patients
  • Dressing wounds
  • Preparing medical equipment to be used in examinations
  • Dispensing medications
  • Cleaning and disinfecting rooms and setting up medical equipment

A nurse assistant who works with elderly individuals is more helpful and effective in dealing with caretakers who need more help than day-to-day activities.

What is a caregiver?

A person who works as a caregiver can provide non-medical care to seniors, people with disabilities, or anybody who requires companionship or assistance with day-to-day activities. They help people live an independent life or in an assisted-living facility. Caregivers can provide care but are not allowed to give medications. As a caregiver isn’t a certified position, it doesn’t require you to undergo any formal training. This doesn’t imply that they do not provide any essential care.

What does a caregiver do?

What does a caregiver do?

A caregiver can be a valuable companion. They can

  • Assist with everyday activities
  • Do laundry and light housekeeping
  • Monitor food intake
  • Help the patient move around in the home
  • Prepare meals and assist with eating
  • Run errands
  • Provide companionship
  • Help pay bills
  • Take the patient to appointments
  • Provide other non-clinical care 

Here is an in-depth guide on caregiver daily checklist.

Caregiver vs CNA: Nursing Aide qualifications

Is a caregiver the same as a CNA? Below is an insightful guide on the difference between their qualifications.


You don’t require any degree to become a professional caregiver. A high school diploma or GED equivalent is enough to help you clear the certification course before performing job duties. Specialized training is offered while managing people with specific illnesses and disabilities. This helps caregivers in acquiring new skills and provide a better service to patients. Apart from this, caregiver needs to have good communication skills to do their job better.  


Certified nursing assistants need to go through more training when compared to caregivers. Those who aspire to register for the CNA program need to have a high school diploma or a GED equivalent. From there, they need to complete a minimum of 75 hours of training and at least 16 hours of clinical training. This course will prepare them to help care for the infants and the elderly.  Upon completing the training program, the participants have to clear the CNA competency exam depending on the state they are attempting the exam from.  

Certified Caregiver vs CNA pay

What’s the difference between CNA and Caregiver. If you are keen on learning CNA caregiver salary, then here is some interesting information for you. The salaries of CAN and caregiver varies depending on the location and experience. Non-professional caregivers make less money than trained CNAs. CNA pay ranges from $8.55 per hour to $16.62. The salary of a caregiver ranges from about $7.89-$14.20.

Is a caregiver a CNA

Can a CNA be a caregiver?

Yes. A Certified Nursing Assistant can also fulfill the role of a caregiver. Although they have the professional training to provide basic healthcare services to a patient, they can also offer emotional support and assist the patients with their daily activities. As no former training is needed to become a caregiver, a CNA can also work as a caregiver. If you have understood caregiver vs CNA differences, you will know the answer better. For more info, you can read our discussion on who qualifies as a caregiver.

Final words on Caregiver vs CNA

Caregivers and CNAs differ greatly from one another. While caregivers assist patients in their homes with non-medical duties, Certified Nursing Assistants (CNAs) offer nursing care to patients in medical institutions.

Becoming a caregiver is a rewarding career opportunity for someone who loves to provide companionship, especially to the elderly. Whichever path you choose, make sure that you make a difference in the lives of the patients in need.  


Here are answers to some common questions relating to CNA vs Caregiver.

1. What is the difference between Caregiver and CNA?

In a multitude of settings, including hospitals, urgent care centers, skilled nursing facilities, assisted living communities, hospice centers, mental health centers, and more, nurses provide expert treatment as healthcare professionals.

After receiving their license, nurses can carry out the everyday responsibilities of caretakers in addition to additional medical responsibilities. However, a caregiver cannot fulfill the roles of a nurse as they do not have the professional training that a nurse has. 

2. Should you become a caregiver or a CNA?

Both caregivers and CAN help patients improve their quality of life by assisting them to go about their daily activities. Whether you wish to become a CNA or a caregiver is all dependent on the level of interest you have in the medical component.

Many prefer becoming a CNA because of the clinical role they get to fulfill. Those who have plans to become a nurse or a doctor in the future also opt for becoming a CNA. No matter which role you choose, make sure to follow where lies your passion. This will help you serve the role better and enjoy a fulfilling career.

3. Is a caregiver the same as a CNA?

Although they seem to be working in the same domain, they are not the same. A CNA receives formal training and certification to offer basic healthcare services. Once they have received the training, they can help monitor vital signs and assist with medical tasks under the supervision of a nurse.

Caregivers focus more on offering non-medical assistance to patients such as emotional support, daily activities, and companionship. They do not have any formal healthcare training that the CNAs undergo. However, they play a crucial role in enhancing the overall well-being in-home care settings.    

4. How to choose the right caregiver support system?

Whether a CNA or a caregiver is the better option for your loved one’s care depends on their needs. An elderly person with dementia or Alzheimer’s disease could be cared for at home by a caregiver, but they cannot take care of an individual who also has medical conditions that necessitate doing daily medical duties, such as changing an insulin pump’s infusion site or a wound dressing.

To assist you in deciding what is most suited, you need to speak to a healthcare professional. To find out what kind and degree of care your loved one requires, think about having a conversation with the doctor supervising the patient’s condition.  

5. What is a CNA caregiver?

A CNA caregiver is a Certified Nursing Assistant who provides direct care and support to patients or individuals in need of assistance with daily activities. They have formal training and certification to offer basic healthcare services and may also provide emotional support and companionship to those under their care.

6. Is a caregiver a nurse?

Is a caregiver considered a nurse? No, a caregiver is not a nurse. While both roles involve caring for individuals, caregivers primarily provide non-medical assistance with daily activities, companionship, and emotional support. Nurses, on the other hand, have formal medical training and can perform a wide range of medical tasks and treatments under the supervision of a healthcare provider.

7. Is a nurse assistant the same as a CNA?

Yes, a nurse assistant is the same as a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA). These terms are often used interchangeably to refer to individuals who have completed training and certification programs to assist nurses in providing basic patient care in various healthcare settings.

8. Where can a CNA work besides a nursing home?

A Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) can work in various healthcare settings besides nursing homes, including hospitals, assisted living facilities, rehabilitation centers, clinics, home health agencies, and hospices. They provide direct patient care and support under the supervision of registered nurses or licensed practical nurses.

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