Best CNA Certification

Nursing assistants are medical professionals who are very much in demand and are expected to see an excellent growth in employment, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Certified nursing assistants or aides are often referred to as CNAs. Learn how you can become a CNA and some important information about this career.

Directory of CNA Certification Schools by state:

Directory of CNA Certification Schools by city:

Certification/Licensing Details & Education Costs

Becoming a CNA involves two steps: completing a formal training program and passing a certification exam to obtain licensure. To work as a certified nursing assistant, the individual must complete a training program that’s approved by his or her state board of health. This is a requirement in all states. In most cases, the program is approved if it’s accredited by the National League for Nursing Accredited Commission (NLNAC).

Although the requirements may vary from state to state, the programs must typically consist of from 75 to 150 hours of training. The student must complete a designated number of hours in the classroom and complete clinical education in a nursing home, long-term care facility or a similar healthcare facility. Once the training is completed the student must pass a nursing assistant competency exam. When the individual passes the exam, his or her name is added to the state nursing assistant registry and the individual has earned the credential of Certified Nursing Assistant or Certified Nursing Aide (CNA).

Nursing assistant programs can last from two weeks to six months or more, depending on where the training is obtained. It’s fairly inexpensive to become a CNA. Some schools may charge a per-credit fee while others charge a flat rate. Included in these fees are books, tuition, nursing supplies, criminal background check, TB test and drug screening. Organizations like the Red Cross may charge a flat fee that ranges from $1,250 to $2,000. The student must also pay to take the competency exam, which may cost from $100 to $200.

Important Responsibilities, Skills & Traits for a Certificate Nursing Assistant

Certified nursing assistants must be able to exhibit patience and compassion because they spend the majority of their days around sick, injured and/or elderly people. A large part of each day involves helping patients move freely, bathe and get in and out of bed so CNAs must also have physical strength and stamina to be able to perform their duties. CNAs often act as liaisons between the patients and the nursing staff so it’s also important that CNAs have good communication skills.

In addition to helping elderly patients go about their daily routine such as eating, bathing and grooming, certified nursing assistants also utilize their basic nursing skills. It’s safe to say that CNAs have a very busy workday that consists of not only basic nursing but also documentation and being a companion of sorts to the patients. CNAs may find work right in hospitals, nursing homes and long-term care facilities or may choose to work for home health care agencies and travel to patients’ homes and provide the care right in the home.

Registered Nursing Assistant

A registered nursing assistant (RNA) is another name for a certified nursing assistant. The credential of RNA signifies that the individual is registered with the nursing assistant registry in his or her state. This can only be accomplished by passing the approved nursing assistant program and the nursing assistant competency exam. The nursing assistant may choose to go by the title of RNA, CNA, Licensed Nursing Assistant (LNA) or State-Tested and Approved Nursing Assistant (STNA).

With additional training, nursing assistants may also become a Certified Medication Assistants (CMA), which entitles them to dispense medication to patients. RNAs or CNAs can also specialize in certain areas such as geriatrics. Although nursing assistants may find work without being certified, this is rare and may be reflected in the wage. Nursing assistants are required to be certified and licensed if they want to work in nursing homes.

Online Nursing Assistant Programs

Nursing assistant programs can be found in technical or vocational schools, community colleges, in hospitals or through organizations such as the Red Cross. There are also several online nursing assistant programs available today. These programs allow the student to complete the required classes online and continue to work without having to attend classes in the classroom. However, once the student has completed the book portion of the training, he or she must complete the clinical portion in an actual healthcare facility.

Online nursing assistant programs are often used to obtain continuing education credits, which can be important for CNAs who have not worked in the previous one to two years. It allows them to keep their credential without having to retake the training program. CE credits can also make it easier for the individual to renew his or her license. Whether the nursing assistant programs are on campus or online is not near as important as if they’re NLNAC-accredited.

Additional Resources

Most nursing assistant programs have some prerequisites. These may include passing a drug screening, criminal background check and a physical examination. Depending on the state, the student may also be required to be a high school graduate at least 18 years old. In some states, however, a student can take CNA training at the age of 16.

The National Network of Career Nursing Assistants (NNCNA) and the National Association of Health Care Assistants (NAHCA) both offer valuable information for aspiring nursing assistants as well as those already in this profession. The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) is also a site that aspiring CNAs can visit to learn about nursing assistant schools in their area. The NCES provides a listing of CNA schools based on state and city location.

The wages for CNAs can vary from state to state and also by the place of employment. The BLS reports that CNAs earned annual wages from $18,000 to more than $36,000 with the average annual wage at $24,890 as of May 2013. The states where CNAs earned the highest wages were Alaska, New York, Nevada, Connecticut and Massachusetts.