CNA Training and Certification Information

What is a Certified Nursing Assistant?

Certified Nursing Assistants work on the frontline of patient care. They work under the supervision of qualified nurses and provide daily living care to the patients. They perform a vital role in patient care and management. To become a CNA one must undergo CNA Training at a state approved education provider and pass the CNA certification test.

When you become a nursing assistant you will perform tasks such as checking of vital signs, bathing the patients, patient grooming and feeding patients. CNA’s also provide a lot of social and emotional support to patients during the course of their duties. To read in depth about what kind of a career to expect you can read further on Introduction to CNA Training and Duties of a CNA

CNA Training Classes

These are classes that prepare you to take the CNA Certification Exam. Usually, you will be expected to undergo around 100 to 180 hours of training depending on the requirements in your state. There are a variety of skills that are taught during these classes. The training course includes classroom learning, the practicing of skills as well as hands on clinical experience. The theory part includes basic biology and anatomy studies as well as an introduction to patient care. During the hands on training you will learn exactly how to perform all the duties that will be expected of you as a CNA.

CNA Classes are available through a number of different places as outlines in our CNA Classes Guide. In short you can get CNA training from Hospitals, Nursing homes, Vocational colleges, Community colleges and training centres provided they are accredited by the state board.

How to Become A Certified Nursing Assistant

There are a significant number of CNA Training options available these days:

CNA Training in Nursing Homes

This is the second most popular option after community college for getting trained. Nursing homes usually offer free training to combat nursing staff shortages. They offer training with the condition that you continue to work for them for a number of months after getting certified. Many nursing homes also offer paid for courses and are a better alternative to college training since it is more hands on.

Red Cross CNA Training

The Red Cross offers one of the best training options available in the United States. Through its chapters located throughout the country, it offers one of the most thorough and properly recognized CNA course available today. To see if there is a training-centre near your area see our list of Red Cross CNA Training chapters

CNA Training Online

A few colleges offer the theoretical part of nurse aide training online. There is no way you can learn the full course online as you would have no hands on experience. If you find a website offering full training online, be wary, since it is very likely that it isn’t accredited by your state. For a detailed look at this check out our post on Online CNA Training

CNA Certification Exam

After completing the CNA Training course, you will be eligible for the state CNA certification exam. The certification exam is divided into two parts. The first part is the written exam. This is usually in multiple choice formats and will cover the theoretical part of your CNA training studies.

The second part of the exam is the skills portion. You will be expected to perform patient care skills on a test patient while the exam invigilator will judge you based on how well you do.

Benefits of CNA Training

One of the most important benefits of CNA training is the fact that it sets you up for a very rewarding career. The CNA Salary structure isn’t too bad and you can even choose to become a nursing assistant as a full time career

Becoming a CNA allows you to break into the medical field. There are a lot of vertical career upgrades you could make down the line. You could undertake LPN Training and become a licensed practical nurse or even end up becoming a physician’s assistant.

If you’ve already set your mind to becoming a nurse, becoming a CNA provides you with a short test to see if you’re up for it. Some colleges also require you to be a CNA before they admit you into their nursing program.

Getting a Job as a Certified Nursing Assistant

In most states these days there is a distinct shortage of nursing staff in medical facilities.(based on this CNA Report) Getting a job as a CNA should be relatively easy if you apply to the right places and prepare well for your interviews. We have a section on preparing for your job interview.

If you’ve taken the option of getting trained at a nursing home, it should be easy to continue working at the same facility.

You could work either on contract or as a part time nurse whereby you are called by various facilities during nursing shortages.

The Nurse Aide Salary Structure

In general nurse aides can expect to make $11 to $15 an hour at any medical facility they work in. If you end up working in private facilities the pay may be relatively higher.

The salary depends on the state you are in and may be higher for states like Washington and New York. We will be publishing a salary structure for all states soon.

42 Responses to CNA Training and Certification Information

  1. alice wilson June 6, 2010 at 1:49 pm #

    i need to try and take the cna class cant afford to pay for it i work as a direct care staff working with disable mental retard not going no where working there i been there for six years still making less. i need to no where to take the cna class some where there they are for free.

    • Bobbie August 26, 2012 at 6:37 pm #

      You can go to your Local Labor office. They may have a program called W.I.A. It stands for the Workforce Investment Act. It is a program that helps people who need financial assistance, but you must have some proof that you have done some research to be able to obtain work if they were to invest their grant on your schooling. Which is very easy, if you are serious. You will have an interview and will be contacted if you are chosen. It is a wonderful program, They will pay for the class, books, and the tests at the end. It also really is important to take the time to type correctly, Capitalising, and using punctuation if you are to be taken seriously. I know this is an old question, but I am sure readers will benefit from this answer, should they have the same question. Good Luck!

      • Admin August 26, 2012 at 9:42 pm #

        Thank you so much Bobbie :)

      • leslie December 16, 2012 at 2:53 pm #

        where do you go to signup for this w.i.a. workforce investment act? i have asked several facilities about it an nobody knows what im talking about. so could you please tell me how to get signed up. i wanna be a cna so bad but cannot afford to the classes or the charge for the exam. and you had mentioned that they pay for the classes as well as the exam. that would be a dream for me please help me with this if you can. thank you

        • elizabeth February 12, 2013 at 5:14 pm #

          you go to your local labor force building that helps unemployed people find jobs, or department of human resources (DHHR). but what few know is if you fill out your fasfa and qualify for help, Mercer Tech in Princeton, wv (and other vocational colleges) has a heaps program that can pay for you CNA classes. That is what i am doing now…lot easier than the WIA because they have lost a lot of funding and they have very few of those to give out now…hope this helps

  2. Grace June 24, 2010 at 6:53 pm #

    Hi my name is Grace Gilliam and I am currently enrolled in a CNA course in Durham, NC. Although I am taking classes and doing my clinicals here in NC, I go to college in SC and would want to register and work there. Will my certification apply in SC if i take the state exam in NC? Can I complete the class and clinical portion in NC and take the actual certification exam in another state? Should I take the exam in both NC and SC upon completion of the CNA course in aug? I just need help deciding the best way to begin my future as a nursing assistant! thanks!

    • Admin July 3, 2010 at 10:58 pm #

      I would suggest doing the state exam in SC so you won’t have to go through the hassle of getting your license transferred. If at any point in the future you wish to move to another state you’d just need to get your license transferred instead of doing the test again.

      • Silver November 26, 2013 at 5:34 am #

        My instructor at a SC class informed me that since I lived so close to the state line I should take the exam in SC and my license would apply to both states. Ive not seen this information anywhere else…I certainly hope I was not mislead by my instructor.

    • Safrah October 19, 2010 at 1:48 pm #

      Alice, I went to my local Vocational/Technical School to enroll for the CNA course. I found out I can apply for financial aid. I did it (online) and due to my household income level (my husband is the only breadwinner in the family) and we have 2 kids, I qualified and my tuition (only) was covered. Depending on your particular situation, you may qualify for financial aid and if you do, the only costs you would have to absorb on your own would be to do the drug screen, immunizations, purchase your scrubs for class, book fees, etc. (It’s worth a try). Good luck!

  3. Rebecca Harvey July 28, 2010 at 4:24 am #

    Hello there! I currently work in the United Kingdom as a Healthcare Assistant (English CNA) and wondered how I would get a CNA qualification so I could get a job in America. Is this possible? Many thanks!

    • Admin August 8, 2010 at 10:19 pm #

      Hi Rebecca,
      Congratulations on making the decision to move to the US
      You will need to take the training and certification test again. DOn’t worry though as the training is for 100-120 hours and its similar to what you’re doing in the UK

  4. Cathy Glenn June 27, 2011 at 9:55 pm #

    Hi, I would like to take my CNA training course here in Florida as I’m here taking care of my sick sister. I live in Michigan and will be going back shortly. After training and taking the certification test, can I transer my license to Michigan? If so, how would I go about doing it?

    Thank you for your help!

    • Admin June 30, 2011 at 8:53 pm #

      It is very easy to transfer your certification to Michigan or any other state. You simple have to get the transfer forms from the state you’re moving to. You can go to the Michigan Nursing Board website and download their form for transferring your license.

  5. Anthoni June 30, 2011 at 10:38 pm #

    Hi, My name is Anthoni. I am actually at the end of my CNA training course and everything is already paid for through the state. I live in WA, but want to move to ND and I don’t want to wait till the near end of July to move, due to issues. I was wondering if there is any way possible to take the test in ND instead of WA. Admin, do you know if this is possible if WA state is paying for all of this?? Please contact me through this ASAP since I have to get rid of my laptop soon.

    • Admin June 30, 2011 at 10:44 pm #

      Hi Anthoni,
      Considering that the state of WA is paying for your training .. I’m not sure you’ll be able to change the location of your exam. Your best bet is to take the exam , get certified and THEN move to another state and transfer the certificate via reciprocity.

      • Anthoni June 30, 2011 at 10:52 pm #

        Thank you Admin. I really didn’t want to have to put up with everything I’m having to till then. Oh well, anyways thanks much.

  6. Daniella Mesen July 8, 2011 at 3:52 pm #

    Hey, there ! I just wanted to try to get some information about how it all works… I have a friend who told me getting your CNA training through Red Cross was a pretty good choice. Although, I am a current college student working my way up to earning a BSN. Since I’m only going on 2nd year right now, but still close to having to apply to nursing programs…you have heard how competitive they are, I’m sure. Therefore my plan was to tried to get some hands on training and hopefully get certified to start getting some clinical hours and have it look good on my application. I live in Atlanta, GA and I was just wondering if you could help me out get started with some information. If I wanted to try to get certified sponsored by a nursing home and then work for them in exchange of them paying for my classes since I already got so much to pay for when it comes to college, do I have to go in and apply or first try to talk to human resources? I’m really passionate about this field and I have a very strong work ethic, I just need some guidance. Could you please help me? I don’t know whee to start looking. Just yesterday I walked in a nursing home close to home and simply asked for an application…I applied as an “active nurse assistant for training/in training,” a receptionist and a volunteer…. Since after seeing all the nurses walking around looking like they actually knew what they were doing, it kind of petrified me. Haha I need counseling
    Thank you so much for your time and I hope to hear from you soon

    • Admin July 10, 2011 at 12:30 pm #

      Its normal to feel petrified like that. You’ll be laughing about that feeling a few days after working at the nursing home. Working at a nursing home is the most hands-on experience a nurse can get. If you’ve applied as a nursing assistant FOR training, then I think the nursing home will train you to become a nursing assistant and even make you eligible to challenge the certification exam for CNA’s. Confirm this with the nursing home. Also make sure you are aware if you’re being tied town for a contract in return for getting free training.
      Using CNA as a stepping stone definitely has its advantages. Refer:

  7. Ashley July 19, 2011 at 6:00 am #

    I recently moved to west virginia from virginia. I am still liscenced in va as a CNA and I was wondering if there was a way to just transfer my CNA or do I have to start all over and retake the classes and tests? Or do I just have to take a test? I am so lost about it and can’t find anything to tell me.

    • Admin July 19, 2011 at 2:17 pm #

      You won’t have to do your exam again. You can transfer the certification to West Virgina using the “Application by reciprocity form”. The form is available at
      Fill it out and send it to the address provided in the form together with any relevant documentation.

  8. sade September 12, 2011 at 2:20 pm #

    i am going to start the CNA classes at my community college started October it a hard course or a common sense kinda thing? I’m very curious

    • Admin September 13, 2011 at 7:48 pm #

      Its not really that hard to be honest. It might seem daunting at first, but once you start doing your clinicals it gets really easy.

  9. Jerrica February 14, 2012 at 11:13 pm #

    Hi, I started a CNA Training Program in Indiana. It was supposed to be a 3 week course. I completed my classroom time and then the RN/Instructor of the program called in sick the entire second week. Monday on the week after I was able to complete 1 day (5 hours) of clinical hours, Tuesday she called in again saying her vehicle broke down….! I am beyond frustrated and need to know what my options are to get my clinical hours in without anymore wasted time. I have already paid her $100 to save my spot and $568 of the $850 she charges for the program. She continues to call in with excuses but wants me to bring in payments. I don’t want to continue to pay her if I am not getting what I am required to get done! I have talked with others who say there have been other girls in her program that it took them 7weeks to complete but they still haven’t had their state exam scheduled… PLEASE HELP! Any advise would be MUCH appreciated!

    • Admin February 20, 2012 at 6:12 pm #

      Hi Jerrica,
      It seems the program you’re attending isn’t being run professionally. have you checked to make sure it is approved by your state nursing board?

  10. noreen March 5, 2012 at 5:47 pm #

    I am a certified Medical Assistant and still looking for a job. We were promised that the job is in high demand but so far I am still looking. I am considering to take a 6 week course CNA but due to my back, I may not able to work well with the new field.. is there a chance for someone like me even with a bad back to work as a CNA? I’ve heard that the work is hard and requires alot of lifting/assisting patience than MA. I really just like to start working and pays off my student loan and get a job that will pay off eventually.

  11. Bw June 16, 2012 at 6:25 am #

    I am 17, homeschooled an I was wondering where I can take the CNA class. They offer it at the high school where I’m at but like I said I’m homeschooled. I will be a senior this year, they offer the class at a tech college where I’m at, it’s a 6 weeks long class. Wonder if they’ll let me take it there since I am still in high school.

    • SZ June 20, 2012 at 8:28 pm #

      BW-I am a CNA, recently certified. There are many options for CNA training, some are offered at local high schools (just call them and ask if you could get in), community colleges, and other training programs that are privately run with an RN heading the program. What is most important is whether the CNA training offered at the high school is approved by the Board of Nursing in “your” state. You can Google the Board of Nursing for your state and look at the approved programs listed there. Then call those places listed and ask what they’re prices are and the age requirements (if any). Most classes run anywhere from 600-1200 dollars and most classes take between 5-8 weeks long to complete, and academically are pretty easy . Usually, the more expensive ones will be offered at your local community colleges. Here, in Colorado, a home schooled person can still take classes at the local community college, so it really just depends on where you live. In my opinion, It’s not really worth it to pay a lot of money for CNA classes as it is the test that you take that determines your certification status not how much money you paid for the training. However, some CNA training programs have a higher pass rate on the state test so they then charge more, and this extra cost might be worth it to you. Again, make sure whatever CNA program you choose that the training it is approved by the state you live in and you should be set. So yes, there are programs that you can take while still in high school.

  12. seimone October 14, 2012 at 9:31 pm #

    Hello, my name is Seimone, and I was certified as a CNA in IL of “07.” Previous to that I was certified in WI. I have been doing CNA work for more than five years; however it has not been consistently. In 2000 I got married to a very abusive and controlling man and had 4 children with him. I put my life and my career on hold to raise my family and try to please him. I have been separated from him now going on 4 years. In those 4 years I have become a single mother with absolutely no help from my husband financially or physically. I have not been able to get a job in the profession that i can do blindfolded all because I have not worked in the profession in the last 24 months. Right now I am on public assistance and desperately want to get off, but i don’t have time to go to school all over again! I have bills and responsibilities that just wont wait. What can I do to get a job even though its been more than 24 months since I last worked as a CNA? I know I am putting my business out there, but I am at my wits end. I desperately want to be my own boss one day, I just need to get my foot in the door. If there is anyone out there with a solution to my problem please don’t hesitate to respond. Thank You.

  13. Michelle October 18, 2012 at 7:42 pm #

    I live in south Florida and am starting the cna training next week. It’s a 6 week program and then I take the state exam. I go to Delaware for a couple months out of the year also so I was wondering if it’s possible to have a license in both states ?


  14. Jessica October 22, 2012 at 10:26 pm #

    Hi there,

    I was wondering if I am finishing up a CNA class as we speak, and am going to move to Hawaii, then can I take the state test when I am there, or do I have to take the test in WA? Also, is there a time line from the date in which I finish the class to when i have to take the state test, or can I take it whenever? I guess another thought and question that I have is does this certification allow you to go to other states and still have the ability to work with your certification after finishing state test or must I only work in WA state?

    • elizabeth February 12, 2013 at 5:25 pm #

      i am taking my CNA…our teacher told us to always transfer our certification to the state we want to work in…but the test is done where you did your classes and clinical at…then transfer…good luck

  15. Angela February 13, 2013 at 4:50 am #

    I am about to get my cna, then work my way up. But I want to move to the UK and start my life there. I’m getting my cna here in highshool, would i have to start classes over somewhere in the UK? I have some a lot of research, but I can’t really find anything helpful.

  16. Iona Ferguson March 15, 2013 at 10:57 am #

    Hi there,

    I am a British citizen and want to do the CNA course in the US (particularly in FL). However I am unsure of the visa requirements, how to go about registering and whether the fees would change. I suppose I am looking for any advice for a UK citizen to do the CNA course over in the States. Thanks

  17. betelhem mullugeta April 13, 2013 at 7:15 pm #

    Dear all,
    I got my CNA training at Brightside institute in Plano, TX. and then I took the state skill and written test which I passed too. I am looking for a job everywhere but I couldn’t get it yet. I walked in to many assisted living, nursing homes, home care facilities, hospitals where I couldn’t even get application form paper. These days is everything is online. After I applied it, I always call to follow up my application where no one picked up phones. I always left messages, but I never got their call. I am still waiting.

  18. Anna June 5, 2013 at 12:22 am #

    I was told I need to complete the 40 question check list. I have a nurse willing to do it, but the woman in the Kansas office never seems to be working. I am about to lose a job it took me 2 months to find! Is the checklist available online anywhere?

  19. Erin July 4, 2013 at 6:31 pm #


    I’m planning to apply for CNA certification in Washington State DOH. Is that possible to obtain a license even if I did not attend CNA classes and pass the exam? I’m a Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree holder and a licensed nurse in the Philippines. Would my education level of achievement be enough to get certified here in WA as nursing assistant? Thank you so much.

  20. sibini August 10, 2013 at 8:30 pm #

    I would like to know; if you can volunteer and still keep your license?

  21. Nancy August 13, 2013 at 4:34 am #

    Hi my name is Nancy and I have some questions regarding the CNA exam. I was a CNA a few years a go, and have not worked as a CNA in quit some time. I contacted the RED Cross to see if I can retrain again. They advise me to submit my fingerprints first if there are questions about my background so I do not be pulled out of class and waste all that money for the training. I did that and three months later. I got APPROVED! to just take the exam. ..
    Now, I am not current with my CPR, n CEU”s will I have to submit that to the California public board of health before the exam? because I know they wont issue me a certificate otherwise. I tried to call and the guy told me to just take the exam. It is difficult studying and practicing on my own, but I am determined. Any help will be much appreciated.


  22. Silver November 23, 2013 at 10:32 pm #

    I was informed by my instructor that though I was taking the CNA classes in SC, that if I take the State exam in SC it would only be valid in SC, but if I take it in NC then I would be certified for both SC and NC…Is this true? or how does this work?

  23. porsche February 28, 2014 at 3:49 pm #

    Can some tell me how I can get my cna training with help paying for it. I’m in college but my school won’t provide me with any agencies that will help me pay for it. I live in fort Wayne in and can’t seem to locate any agencies to help me

  24. sammy April 12, 2014 at 10:09 pm #

    Hi i came to the usa in ausgust 2013 from the uk and ive got my social security card. I was working as a healthcare assistant (auxillary nurse) there and im wanting to do the same here. Do my qualifications work the same here for me or would i have to to do cna training ? Can anyone help please?

  25. Linda March 27, 2014 at 11:45 pm #

    I took a CNA course in Calif,graduated from the school.. Do I have 12 mths or 24 mths before I would have have to take the course again If I have not taken the state exam ?Is it 12 or 24mths in Calif?

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