What Are the Requirements for CNA Certification?

A certified nursing assistant (CNA) works in environments such as hospitals and nursing homes to help patients with day-to-day tasks. In addition to completing a specialized training program, aspiring CNAs must earn state certification. Schools offering Nursing degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Job Duties of a Certified Nursing Assistant

A certified nursing assistant may work in a variety of healthcare settings, including hospitals, extended care facilities, nursing homes and clinics. As a CNA, you assist registered nurses (RNs) with compassionate, quality care giving; you may also directly help patients with bathing and eating, as well as make their bed or pick up their room.

Important Facts About This Occupation

Job Outlook (2012-2022) 21%
Similar Occupations home health aide, psychiatric aide, personal care aide, orderly
Work Environment hospitals, residential and nursing care facilities
Key Skills physical stamina, patience, compassion, effective communication, pain management, judgement

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics


Nursing assistants are required to be state certified. To earn certification, you must complete an approved training program and pass a state regulated written examination. Competency evaluations ensure that you have achieved a minimum basic skills set. In addition, a physical examination for such things as tuberculosis may be required. CNAs who work in nursing care facilities are regulated by the federal government and must have a minimum of 75 hours of state-approved training. Specific requirements vary by state, so you should be sure to check with your state board for specific information.

Training Programs

CNA training programs are available from many community colleges and vocational schools and can prepare you to sit for certification examinations. These programs consist of traditional coursework, clinical experiences and laboratory studies. CNA training typically lasts from 2-8 months and requires 200-230 coursework hours. Typical CNA certification courses cover:

  • Anatomy and physiology
  • Nutrition
  • Body mechanics
  • Infection control
  • Client rights
  • Medical terminology
  • Dementia
  • Blood testing

Employment Outlook and Salary Information

According to a report by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), job opportunities for nursing assistants were projected to grow by 21% from 2012-2022, due primarily to the increasing number of senior citizens who are part of the baby boomer generation (www.bls.gov). As of 2014, the median annual salary for nursing assistants was $25,100, the BLS noted.

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