How to become a Certified Nursing Assistant

If you are interested in becoming a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) we have outlined the main steps you will need to take to get started with your new career.

Step 1: Graduate from high school

Prospective CNA’s must have at least a high school diploma to begin their training.

Step 2: Complete an approved CNA Program

Requirements for CNA training and approved CNA Programs vary from State to State so you should always check your local State regulations before enrolling in any training. It is also worth checking with the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing for additional advice.

Typically though Nursing Assistants must have at least a certificate earned via an approved State Program. These programs are through a variety of settings and organizations including hospitals, nursing homes, vocational schools and community colleges. Typically, most CNA programs take between 4 to 16 weeks to complete. State approved programs usually require a minimum of seventy five hours of clinical training and classroom instruction.

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Nursing Assistance students are taught a relatively wide array of subjects including  long-term care, basic nursing care, taking vital signs, controlling infections, emergency procedures, personal care skills and communication skills

Step 3: Get State certified

Once students have completed a State accredited CNA program they will have to sit and pass an additional State examination to become fully certified and obtain employment in that State. This
involves completing a written exam and also demonstrating certain skills in a clinical setting.

Many States also have additional requirements of certification including passing a background check and completing a certain number of continuing education hours each year.

For specific licensing requirements click on your State below;

Step 4: Find employment

Due to an aging population and efforts to make the healthcare sector more efficient CNA’s are in high demand. As a CNA you can find employment in nursing homes, home health care agencies, assisted living facilities,  staffing agencies, hospitals, hospices, doctor offices and private practice, day care centers and schools, medical clinics, and urgent care centers

Step 5: Keep up to date with continuing professional development requirements

As already mentioned many States will require you to complete a certain number of continuing professional development training hours each year in order to maintain and keep your certification status. Examples of continuing professional development courses include course in domestic violence, patient rights, medical record documentation, and first aid.

Step 6: (Optional) Join a professional industry organization

There are many professional organizations for CNA’s but it is not necessary tha you become a member of any of them. However, becoming a member will make you stand out and demonstrate your commitment to your career.  Examples of some organizations which represent CNA’s include:

  • American Association of Homes and Services for the Aging
  • Career Nursing Assistants
  • National Association of Geriatric Nursing Assistants NAGNA
  • National Association for Practical Nurse Education and Service