The State Board of Nursing recognizes that certified nurses assistants are a vital and integral part of an important healthcare team. The caring of medically challenged patients is a huge responsibility, and those who pass the exam for certification are considered by the board to be prepared for the safe and effective care of patients in hospitals, skilled nursing centers, urgent care facilities, hospices, physician offices and home healthcare. Your certification may secure a higher rate of pay than those who are not certified and other opportunities in management or specialized areas of nursing may be more readily available. For example, most states will not permit a non-certified nursing assistant to work in the attractive area of home health care. According to your state of origin, the CNA is required to keep their certification current and take certain courses on a yearly or bi-yearly basis. Learn more about the CNA certification requirements and how to become certified below.
- What is a CNA certification?
- Where can I find CNA certification classes?
- Where can I obtain CNA certification training?
- How can I earn a CNA certification?
- When can I take the CNA certification exam?
- What are the benefits of having a CNA certification?
- How long does it take to complete a CNA certification?
- Where can you work with a CNA certification?
- When does a CNA certification expire?
- How can I renew my CNA certification?
- Who issues CNA certification?
- How hard is it to get a CNA certification?
Depending on your location, the State Board of Nursing or the State Department of Health requires those who assist patients to show proof that they have the knowledge and skills to safely and effectively provide care. CNA programs are designed to prepare aspiring nursing assistants to take the clinical performance exam and the written test portion to become certified. Once successfully completed, the student becomes a certified nursing assistant and can legally practice in certain healthcare areas of employment.
Visit your State Board of Nursing website or call for approved nursing assistant programs in your area. Often, the State Department of Health will list officially sponsored CNA programs to be held in community colleges or vocational schools. In addition, check with hospitals or nursing homes near your location that may have accredited programs available. Online nursing assistant courses may be approved for certain programs and can be completed at your own pace.
State accredited CNA programs can be taken in most places that nursing assistants are needed for patient care. Check your state nursing board or department of health for a school or program in your area. Check local healthcare facilities, such as:
- Nursing homes
- Medical centers
- Private institutions
- Rehabilitation centers
- Skilled nursing centers
- Vocational or trade schools
- Technical schools
- Community colleges
- CNA Classes Online
- The Red Cross
Although some CNA programs require a high school diploma or GED to enroll, many will accept healthcare experience or do not require a high school diploma. For both the classroom exams and the technical skill test, the passing grade required is usually 75 percent. After successful completion of the program, the graduate may apply to take the state exam for certification. Once the graduate has passed the state test, they become a certified nursing assistant.
At the completion of your program, your instructor will assist you with the state application for the test. Your instructor will grade you on the technical skills portion of the exam and mail the passing grade to the board of nursing. Depending on the state of origin, your test appointment will be mailed to your address in approximately four to six weeks. The state test may be administered as a paper test or given in computerized format in a college, private institution or a local testing center. Most often, results of your grade are mailed to your home or emailed in two to six weeks.
Being a certified nursing assistant shows your dedication to hard work and proves your commitment to optimal patient care. Higher paying positions and an increase in job choices is available for the certified nursing assistant. In addition, many lucrative and specialized areas of care prefer certification, such as:
- Home health agency positions
- Management and supervisory positions
- Skilled nursing facilities
- Rehabilitation centers
- Hospital units and specialty areas
For those who plan to further their education, a certification may increase the chance for a student’s acceptance to a nursing or medical college.
Depending on your location, state approved CNA programs may take four to thirteen weeks to finish. After successful completion, it may take another two to six weeks to sit for the certification exam and up to six weeks for the test results. However, after graduating from the program, you may work while waiting to take the certification test on a grace period granted by most boards of nursing.
Most facilities that perform patient care require the vital role of the CNA as part of the healthcare team. Common positions can be secured at:
- Medical centers
- Urgent care centers
- Most hospital units and specialties
- Emergency rooms
- Labor and delivery units
- Medical-Surgical units
- Home health agencies
- Outpatient surgery clinics
- Mental health clinics
According to most state regulations, the certification will remain active as long as you work at least eight hours for pay and do not stop working for a period of two consecutive years. If you do not work for five years, your certification will expire and you may be required to retake the CNA course.
Most states require a certification renewal every two to three years. A specific fee is required and the renewal may be accomplished online through the nursing board or by traditional mail. Some states also require CNAs to take required information classes by their employer to update their knowledge and document their skills and completion.
Depending on your state of origin, most CNAs are issued an approved certification by the State Board of Nursing. However, some cities issue certifications and renewals through the State Department of Health.
CNA course material is usually presented on a high school level. Information and assignments are given in high volume and studying is necessary to pass the courses. People who are compassionate and caring tend to do well in the patient care portion of the program. Learning the technical skills necessary to take blood pressure, temperature and measure heart rate may require more practice for some than others. Fortunately, the majority of students pass the CNA program.