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What Training Do I Need to Be a Certified Nurse Assistant?

A certified nurse assistant (CNA) provides direct care to medical patients and follows instructions set by doctors and nurses. CNA certificate programs generally include classroom instruction and clinical field experience. The following article explains the training needed to be a certified nurse assistant.

Program Overview

In most states, certified nurse assistants must pass a training program and competency exam before they can legally work. While the specifics of each individual certificate program vary, there are some general guidelines that apply to most of them. Aspects common to most certified nurse assistant programs are as listed:

  • Program entry requirements
  • Classroom component
  • Clinical experience
  • Time needed for completion

Important Facts About This Occupation

Median Pay (2018)*$28,540 (nursing assistants)
Job Outlook (2016-2026)*11% increase in employment (nursing assistants)
Entry-Level Education High school diploma or GED
Similar Occupations Home health aides, licensed practical nurses, medical assistants, occupational therapy assistants, registered nurses

Source: *US Bureau of Labor Statistics

Classroom Component

All certified nurse assistant training programs include a classroom portion. Instructors explain and demonstrate relevant skills such as basic nursing skills, infection control, emergency procedures, and more. Because of the clinical component, this training often cannot be completed entirely online.

Clinical Experience

Students begin the clinical experience component of their certified nursing assistant training after they complete the classroom instruction portion. Students apply the skills and techniques they learned in class to real-world situations with medical patients. Under supervision, students may take patients' vital signs and complete other job duties.

Completion Time

The time needed to complete certified nurse assistant training can vary by state and program. Generally, 100 hours total of classroom instruction and clinical experience is the minimum, but programs can take up to 250 hours to complete.