You love to help people, especially in a medical setting. You are bright, caring and you make people feel better. Then suddenly it hits you: you would make a great certified nurse’s aide/assistant or CNA.

More people are actually expected to pick the profession as well, with numbers expected to soar by 20 percent by the year 2020. The annual median wage is $24,010 and you can earn as much as $34,580 a year.

So now what? Let’s look what you can do to make your path toward your new career a success, especially if you want to stay ahead of the pack.

Research where you can find work

The demand for CNAs is reportedly growing as the population ages. But are there places where populations are aging more? Definitely.

If you are open to relocation, consider a city or town where nursing and residential care facilities are plentiful. California, Texas, Florida, Pennsylvania and Ohio are the among the states the offer the most jobs.

Check out the state’s certification program

Once you decide where you will pursue your certification, research the requirements. Programs to become a CNA vary by state but the general guidelines include training that lasts approximately eight weeks. You will learn anatomy, patient rights, medical ethics, medical terminology, etc. You also have to pass a comprehensive exam and finish 75 hours of nursing aide training.

Prepare yourself in advance by becoming familiar with the coursework your state’s program is offering, the rubric for evaluating tests and so on because you will need to know these details.

Study

When you do get into a program, don’t assume that you can just breeze through. Take your schooling seriously.

Talk to others who are already doing the job

Nothing is more valuable than real world experience. Speak to other people who are already CNAs. What advice do they have for passing the test? Which programs do they believe prepared the best for the position? What companies are good to work for? What tips would they have to always give patients the best care?

Choosing a mentor in the field will help you maximize your experience and your potential for greatness.

Be realistic about the people skills

In the medical world, it’s not only about if you can perform the job, but how you are performing it. You will be interacting with real people, some of whom are painfully. Be realistic about the patience, compassion and observational skills that you will need to do this job effectively, experts advise.

Don’t give up

Maybe you don’t find the perfect program or even pass the CNA exam right away, but keep trying if being a CNA is really something you want to do. You will need to work hard to make that happen but when you are living your dream, it’s all worth it.