How to Become an Orderly: Career Advice & Information

Overview & Salaries


The work of an orderly in a healthcare setting begins when a patient comes in. They help patients through the admissions process, and show them to their rooms. They do much of the care associated with personal hygiene, including bathing, showering, cleaning teeth, and changing clothes, and assist patients who have difficulty eating or drinking by themselves. They prepare patients for surgical procedures, tests, and scans. And they also obtain supplies for nurses and doctors, and sterilize equipment. A hospital couldn’t run without orderlies, and thousands of patients depend on them every day: their job requires excellent patient care skills, thoroughness, and reliability.


Annual salaries for orderlies will vary depending on your experience, education level, and expertise. In 2013, the average annual salary for orderlies working in the U.S. was $26,340 per year.

For more information on what parts of the country have the most opportunity for orderlies, click through to our Best Places to Work tab for information on the number of people employed and the average salary in each state.

Discover the Best Cities and States to Work as an Orderly

California leads the nation in employment for orderlies, with 5,040 earning a mean annual wage of $35,940. Texas is second in the United States, where 5,030 orderlies earn an average salary of $22,650.

The metro areas employing the most orderlies are:

  • New York-White Plains (2,450)
  • Houston-Sugar Land (1,900)
  • Los Angeles-Long Beach (1,340)

The metro areas employing the highest concentration of orderlies are:

  • Sumter, SC (6.37 jobs per thousand)
  • Florence, SC (2.11 jobs per thousand)

The metro areas employing the best-paid orderlies are:

  • San Jose-Sunnyvale, CA (average annual salary $45,230)
  • Santa Rosa, CA (average annual salary $43,600)

Employment and Salary Information for Orderlies

Use our interactive map below to find out which areas of the United States are currently experiencing the greatest amount of growth and job availability for graduates looking for a career as an orderly. The associated information has been gathered from Bureau of Labor statistics, representing data collected in 2012.

Employment and Information Data for Orderly

Why Become An Orderly?

Orderlies are vital to the healthcare system, but beyond that, there are other advantages to choosing a career as an orderly:

  • Help people. The orderly role is very focused on patients—making sure they’re comfortable and having their needs met in a stressful environment. If you’re a people person, that could be fulfilling.
  • The field is growing. The number of nursing assistants—a field which includes orderlies—is projected to increase by 21% between 2012 and 2022—well above the average for all U.S. jobs.
  • Accessible way to enter the healthcare profession. Orderlies need a certificate or diploma, and sometimes certification from their state (see the Degree Options page) but not as much training as many other healthcare professionals. So it’s a good job if you want to start making a difference quickly.
  • Specialize. There are opportunities to be certified as a specialist orderly in certain fields of healthcare, such as working with psychiatric or geriatric patients.

Orderlies: What You Need To Know

Orderlies need to be great with patients, and understand the workings of the hospital or facility where they work. A working knowledge of these skill sets will help to set you apart from other candidates.

  • Understanding of Hospitals and Healthcare
  • Patient Care
  • Communication
  • Sterilization and Cleaning Skills

Feel like you’ve got a lot to learn? Get more information about careers, degrees, and applicable courses for orderlies from one of the schools below.

Degree Options for Orderly Careers

Certification / Diploma

Orderlies need a certification or diploma from an orderly care or nurse assisting program. These programs are offered by a number of community colleges, trade, technical and vocational schools across the United States, often giving students the opportunity to obtain hands-on experience.

Orderlies are also often required to become certified in the state where they practice. This certification usually requires passing an exam. Some orderlies may need to renew their certification by attending continuing education. Specialist orderlies in geriatrics or psychiatry may also need additional certification in those areas.