Assistant in Nursing (AIN) Requirements, Duties and Skills

Updated 11 August 2023

If you want to work in the healthcare industry, you could enter the nursing field. One career path to pursue is that of an assistant in nursing (AIN), which is a lower-level nursing employee who helps enrolled nurses and registered nurses complete their everyday duties. Understanding the requirements that this career demands can help you decide whether it's suitable for you.

In this article, we outline 4 AIN requirements and provide skills that are essential for an assistant in nursing to have.

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4 AIN requirements

Here are 4 AIN requirements to fulfil so that you can start a career in nursing:

1. Have basic literacy and numeracy skills

Most AIN requirements don't have any specific entry requirements, but it's essential to have basic literacy and numeracy skills. These skills are helpful for completing the coursework of the relevant certificate program, and they can help you excel in your future career. For example, basic numeracy skills are essential for recording patients' vital signs. You may record a patient's pulse manually if you don't have access to a heart rate monitor, so having the ability to perform simple maths quickly is beneficial.

Recording a patient's pulse involves counting the number of beats that you feel on their wrist within a 10-second period and multiplying this count by six to get the number of beats per minute. Literacy skills are also important to your career as an AIN, as you might read medication instructions, interpret past documentation and update patient records. Depending on the institution through which you take your AIN certification, you may need to pass a basic numeracy and literacy test prior to entry into the program, so it's important to possess these skills in advance.

Related: Nursing Skills (Definition and Examples)

2. Prepare for a pre-admissions interview

While some programs don't have specific entry requirements, others may involve the completion of a pre-admissions interview. During this interview, the interviewer may ask you questions to better understand your career goals, which can help them assess your level of commitment. They may also ask about your ability to handle the workload of the certificate program. An interviewer can use the results of your interview to determine how suitable the course is for you and whether you need any additional assistance to complete the demands of the certificate program.

Related: Interview Question: ‘Why Be a Nurse?’ (With Example Answers)

3. Earn Certificate III in Health Services Assistance

To work as an AIN, obtain a Certificate III in Health Services Assistance from your local VET facility or TAFE. This certificate program prepares you to work as an assistant in nursing in public hospitals, private hospitals, aged care facilities, patient homes, private practices and medical centres. With the knowledge that you gain from this program, you can help enrolled nurses and registered nurses provide high-quality care to patients.

Most Certificate III in Health Services Assistance programs take about one year to complete. Some programs have expedited tracks that can help you earn your certificate in less than one year so that you can start working more quickly. Still, if you have another job that you want to work while you earn your certificate, you may be able to apply for an online program that lets you work at your own pace. These programs may allow students to work on the course content for up to 18 months.

Related: 9 Leadership Styles in Nursing (With Meanings and Benefits)

4. Consider earning Certificate III in Allied Health Assistance

This certificate is for individuals who want to pursue a career as an assistant in nursing but have a specific field in which they want to work. For example, you can work with allied health employees like speech pathologists, occupational therapists and physiotherapists with this certificate. If you're unsure of the specialty in which you want to work, you may earn the more traditional Certificate III in Health Services Assistance.

Related: How to Prepare a Resume for a Nursing Job (With Example)

Career advancement opportunities for AINs

Individuals who are interested in nursing can first pursue work as AINS to decide if they want to remain in the nursing field. While pursuing a certificate to work as an AIN is fulfilling work, it's not as intensive as the education that's necessary for other nursing careers. You can work as an AIN to decide if you want to advance your career. For example, you can pursue a Certificate III in Health Administration so that you can work in an office environment and advance toward acquiring a managerial position that comes with higher pay and more responsibilities.

You may also become an enrolled nurse by earning a Diploma of Nursing. This qualification typically takes about two years to complete. Once you become an enrolled nurse, you become responsible for other AINs. If you know that you'd like to become a registered nurse, you can find a Bachelor of Nursing program at an accredited university and apply for it. This kind of program usually takes 4 years to complete, but it helps you become a registered nurse and increases your scope of duties in a medical environment.


  • How to Write a Nursing Assistant Resume (With Examples)

  • How to Become an Enrolled Nurse (Qualifications and Skills)

Essential skills for an AIN

Here's a list of skills for an AIN to exhibit in their work:

Active listening

An AIN can benefit from having strong active listening skills. They can listen to patients' concerns and symptoms and relay them to the appropriate authority figure, whether that is a higher-level nurse or a physician. An AIN can also implement active listening by listening to the duties that enrolled nurses and registered nurses give to them so that they can complete essential tasks and promote productivity in a healthcare environment.

Related: Active Listening Skills: Definition and Examples


Empathy is another important skill for AINs to exhibit in their work. AINs may see patients who are experiencing health conditions that affect their mental and physical health, so it's essential for AINs to show compassion and respect when they're interacting with patients. AINs can also show empathy to family members of the patients as they're explaining treatment plans or discussing their progress.

Related: What Are Empathic Skills? (With Benefits and Steps)

Strong work ethic

AINs can benefit from adopting a strong work ethic. They can complete all the tasks for which they're responsible before leaving their shift or communicating incomplete tasks to their appropriate supervisor. This initiative can ensure that all patients receive timely care and attention.

Related: Nurse Responsibilities for 5 Common Types of Nurses


An AIN can benefit from being able to collaborate with various team members. They may have regular interactions with other nursing assistants, as they may relay treatment plans and techniques to one another. They may also collaborate with enrolled nurses and registered nurses to complete procedures together.

Written and verbal communication

A professional AIN has strong written and verbal communication skills. They can voice any concerns they have during patient care to their supervisor with professionalism and without causing stress to the patient. They can also record notes accurately for other healthcare employees to review in the future.

Related: 10 Graduate Nurse Interview Questions and How to Answer Them

AIN duties

Here are some duties for which an AIN is responsible.

  • changing patients' bedding

  • helping patients with personal care tasks like showering or using the restroom

  • updating patient documentation and completing paperwork

  • noting patient concerns and relaying them to a registered nurse or doctor

  • serving meals to patients and assisting with drinking and eating

  • helping patients with exercises that physical therapists and other healthcare employees recommend

  • transporting and repositioning patients as necessary

  • recording patients' vital signs like temperature and blood pressure.

Please note that none of the companies, institutions or organisations mentioned in this article are affiliated with Indeed.

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