CNA vs PCA: Differences


The job responsibilities of a certified nursing assistant and a patient care assistant (PCA) seems to be the same, but there is a difference in both the professions. Both differ in terms of training, certification and salary. This article discusses the difference between a CNA and a PCA.

CNA Vs PCA: A Quick Comparison Table

Parameter CNA PCA
Alternative names Certified nursing assistants and nurse aides. Personal support worker, personal care attendant and home care aide.
Training In most of the states, the duration of CNA training program is 75 hours.

In these programs, students acquire knowledge  about how to operate medical equipments, patient communication, how to measure vital signs, nutrition, administering medication, feeding and grooming the patients, anatomy, infection control, etc.

The duration of PCA training program is 120 hours. It is mandatory to complete a clinical practice of 40 hours. In these programs, students learn to assist patients, medical terms, nutrition fundamentals, etc.
Certification/ License Students may obtain CNA certification, after completing the training of a specific time period (75 hours) and qualifying nurse aide certification examination, conducted by the concerned state. There is no requirement of a license or a certification, for working as a patient care assistant. However, some states require the candidates to qualify CNA certification exam.
Working Alternatives These professionals have more working alternatives, as compared to PCAs. These professionals may work in day care centers, nursing homes, clinics rehabilitation centers, hospitals, assisted living centers, etc. These professionals may work in doctor’s offices, nursing homes and hospitals.
Salary In the year 2010, as stated by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) of U.S, certified nursing aides earned an average hourly wages of $11.54. Patient care assistants may earn hourly wages up to $15.

CNA Guide by States

CNA eBook