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Nursing Assistants in Iowa

The 3.1 million Iowa residents have come to love the state’s miles of soybean and cornfields. However, this Midwestern state also has some larger cities that celebrate the state’s history as well as its ties to the modern world. The city of Des Moines celebrates modern art and sculptures while the Cedar Rapids Museum of Art focuses on the state’s beloved artist, Grant Wood. While Iowa is known for being flat, the natural beauty of both the Missouri and Mississippi Rivers borders it. Within these borders, CNAs have wonderful opportunities to use their skills to care for the 491,000 residents over the age of 65 at the state’s 118 hospitals and 32,000 nursing homes.

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More about Iowa

– Capital: Des Moines
– Minimum Wage: $7.25
– Number of Hospitals: 118
– Number of Nursing Homes: 32,183


– Total Population: 3,107,126
– Population (ages 45-64): 813,873
– Population (ages 65+): 491,349
– Population (ages 85+): 78,702

Top Colleges & Unversities

– Grinnell College
– Drake University
– University of Iowa

Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) in IA

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CNA Training Requirements

Taking the Test (Procedure)

Out-of-State Applicants

Renewing & Expired Certification

Contacts & Additional Resources

The Iowa Division of Health Facilities is over the CNA training courses and testing in the state. Some individuals who have received equivalent health care training, such as in the military, as a foreign nurse or in nursing school, may be able to waive training altogether. Others may need to take only a refresher course, which is offered at numerous vocational schools and community colleges across the state. However, most people who wish to be placed on the Iowa Nurse Aide Registry will need to take a state-approved training program, followed by a competency examination. Students must have perfect attendance.

The state requires training programs to provide the federal minimum number of hours, which is 75. Of these hours, 30 must be spent practicing skills in a local health care environment. The other 45 hours are split between the classroom and laboratory typically with 30 hours in the classroom and 15 hours in the laboratory. Most training programs in the state take only two to four weeks to complete.

There is no age or educational requirement for CNA students in Iowa. However, students may wish to have a high school diploma or GED to make it easier to find a job in the future. Students will need to have both state and federal criminal background checks come back clean; these are completed with two sets of fingerprints. In addition, students must have up-to-date immunizations, including influenza shots, as well as recent negative two-step tuberculosis tests.

The state of Iowa does not have an actual CNA competency test that students are required to take at regional testing sites. Instead, state-approved programs administer a two-part final test as approved by the Iowa Direct Care Worker Registry that counts for the competency examination at the end of the training program. Students must pass both parts to have their names submitted to the state’s registry for inclusion.

The first part of the examination tests CNA theory with a written test. This test may also be taken orally by students who struggle with reading English. The test has 100 questions and must be passed by at least a 70 percent score.

The second part of the examination is the skills test, during which students demonstrate hands-on skills in front of a Registered Nurse Evaluator. The Evaluator will randomly select seven skills for each student from a list of 32 skills. Each skill has critical elements that must be performed perfectly for the student to pass the test.

The cost for the written examination is $45, and the cost for the skills test is $75. Each part of the examination can be taken up to three times before the student will be required to retrain. Those who pass both parts of the test will have their names submitted to the Direct Care Worker Registry and can expect to be added to the Registry within 14 business days. The registry does not distribute certificates.

Many out-of-state CNAs can easily transfer their certifications to Iowa should they move here. This is known as reciprocity, and it does not require fee payment to Iowa. To begin the process, CNAs should fill out the first section of the Direct Care Workers Registry application as well as the second section if they have already been hired by a long-term skilled health care facility in Iowa. They will also need to include a copy of their certifications from their prior states. After the CNA send the application to the Registry, the Registry will verify status with the prior state. CNAs will need to be listed as active and in good standing with the prior state and must have a clean criminal background check.

Iowa CNAs must work for at least eight hours for pay every 24 months. However, not all health care-related work counts. Continuing education hours and volunteer work do not count. In addition, only work in long-term care facilities, such as nursing homes and hospital swing bed units, counts towards the eight hours. Employers must keep the Direct Care Worker Registry updated on employment changes to ensure that renewal goes smoothly. CNAs must also complete at least 12 hours of in-service continuing education every year to be eligible to renew. CNAs who do not work the required hours will be required to challenge both parts of the competency examination but will not need to retrain. Renewal fees are covered by employers here.

Iowa Department of Public Health
Iowa Board of Nursing
Iowa Nurse Aide Registry

Division of Health Facilities
Lucas State Office Building – 3rd Floor
321 East 12th Street
Des Moines, IA 50319

Phone: 515.281.4077
Fax: 515.281.6259
E-mail: [email protected]
Website: www.dia-hfd.state.ia.us

Employment Information for IA

Average Salary for CNAs in Iowa

Iowa CNAs have a surprisingly good average yearly salary of $25,270 when compared to other Midwestern states. This is only $2,000 less per year when compared with the state’s income per capita of $27,027. CNAs can expect to make an average of $12.15 per hour and can expect even more as they gain experience.

Job Outlook in IA

Currently, Iowa boasts well over 23,000 CNA jobs. This number is expected to grow throughout the next decade as the 16 percent of the population over the age of 65 needs increased health care. Another 813,000 residents are between the ages of 45 and 65. In addition, nearly 30 percent of CNAs go on to higher education, such as LPN education, leaving many openings for beginning CNAs.

Employment Opportunities

Top Hospitals in IA
Hospital NameAddressCityStateZipPhoneWebsite
University Of Iowa Hospitals And Clinics200 Hawkins DriveIowa CityIA52242319-356-1616Website
Chi Health Mercy Council Bluffs800 Mercy DriveCouncil BluffsIA51503712-328-5000Website
Genesis Medical Center1227 East Rusholme StreetDavenportIA52803563-421-1000Website
Iowa Lutheran Hospital700 East University AvenueDes MoinesIA50316515-263-5612Website
Unitypoint Health-St. Luke'S Hospital1026 A Avenue NECedar RapidsIA52402319-369-7211Website
Adair County Memorial Hospital609 SE Kent StreetGreenfieldIA50849641-743-2123Website
Audubon County Memorial Hospital515 Pacific StreetAudubonIA50025712-563-2611Website
Avera Holy Family Hospital826 North Eighth StreetEsthervilleIA51334712-362-2631Website
Baum Harmon Mercy Hospital255 North Welch AvenuePrimgharIA51245712-957-2300Website
Boone County Hospital1015 Union StreetBooneIA50036515-432-3140Website
Broadlawns Medical Center1801 Hickman RoadDes MoinesIA50314515-282-2200Website
Buchanan County Health Center1600 First Street EastIndependenceIA50644319-332-0999Website
Buena Vista Regional Medical Center1525 West Fifth StreetStorm LakeIA50588712-732-4030Website
Burgess Health Center1600 Diamond StreetOnawaIA51040712-423-2311Website
Cass County Memorial Hospital1501 East Tenth StreetAtlanticIA50022712-243-3250Website
Central Community Hospital901 Davidson Street NWElkaderIA52043563-245-7000Website
Cherokee Regional Medical Center300 Sioux Valley DriveCherokeeIA51012712-225-5101Website
Chi Health Mercy Corning603 Rosary DriveCorningIA50841641-322-3121Website
Chi Health Missouri Valley631 North Eighth StreetMissouri ValleyIA51555712-642-2784Website
Clarinda Regional Health Center220 Essie Davison DriveClarindaIA51632712-542-2176Website

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