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How to Become a CNA

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Wondering how to become a CNA? As a CNA you will be providing health care services to patients and residents, but there are a few requirements you will have to meet first. In order to become a certified nursing assistant you must obtain CNA certification by completing anywhere from a state mandatory 75 hours up to 180 hours of state approved nursing assistant training AS WELL AS completing a state approved comprehensive exam. Requirements can vary from state to state however–such as how many hours of training you must complete–so make sure you know what your state demands from you. After receiving state certification you will be able to apply for a job at any of the following settings:

  • Nursing homes
  • Home health aide agencies
  • Assisted living homes
  • Retirement facilities
  • Urgent Care Centers
  • Hospitals
  • Hospices
  • Pediatric offices
  • Physician/Doctor offices
  • Medical Clinics

How to Become a CNA

In order to qualify for state approved nursing assistant training and earn state certification, you must meet the following requirements:

  • Be at least 16-18 years old (depending on state)
  • Have a high school diploma or equivalent (i.e. GED)
  • Be fluent in English
  • Be physically fit
  • Have what it takes to be a great CNA

Once you are enrolled in a CNA certification program, you will be required to complete a certain amount of hours split between didactic teaching and clinical training (laboratory training and hands on instruction). A mandatory minimum of 75 hours is required on how to become a CNA. Didactic training can be completed online from a state approved program or at various on campus sites such as community colleges, vocational schools, technical colleges, hospitals, or other institutions that offer state approved CNA training. For clinical training you will have to complete the required hours on campus. Online CNA certification programs will require on campus laboratory training and hands on instruction, and these programs are often referred to as blended programs. Free CNA classes can often be found from places such as nursing homes or the Red Cross, but it will have to be state approved if you want to receive state recognized certification.

A CNA class may or may not cover the following topics and can last anywhere from 6-12 weeks up to 6 months:

Didactic instruction:

  • Patient privacy and rights
  • Basic human anatomy, physiology, and nutrition
  • Medical terms
  • Mental health care
  • Roles and responsibilities
  • Legal issues


  • Basic patient care – bathing, moving, feeding, oral care, dressing, and grooming
  • Special needs care
  • Restorative care
  • Communication skills or social skills
  • Stress management
  • How to measure vital signs
  • CPR skills
  • Documentation skills
  • Infection control
  • Dealing with emergencies

how to become a cnaCNA classes will focus primarily on making you a successful certified nursing assistant, but can vary depending on what setting you are choosing to work in as well as where you choose to obtain training. You can expect to do a good amount of reading, so attendance is extremely important. This is pretty obvious if you want to know how to become a CNA. There will also be a certain amount of clinical hours you will have to complete as we’ve explained earlier, so remember that practice makes perfect. You will be expected to apply newly learned skills on patients where you will be supervised by an instructor (most often a registered nurse). There is also a state competency exam you must complete in order to obtain CNA state certification. It will cover both your knowledge and skills, and is taken in two parts: the written portion and the clinical portion. The written portion will cover your nurse assisting knowledge and will consist of anywhere from 55 – 70 multiple choice questions. On the other hand, the clinical portion will test your competency of skills–usually between 3 to 5 skills.

After completing the exam you will be told whether you have passed or failed. If you were nervous during the clinical portion of the exam and made a mistake, you can ask to re-demonstrate your competency. If you happen to fail don’t worry! You can always re-schedule to take the test again while you study and practice your skills in the meantime, but remember that some states have a limit of how many times you can re-test.

How Much do CNA Classes Cost?

This can really depend but most state approved CNA classes are generally cheaper from community colleges while trade and vocational schools are more expensive. Online CNA certification is also an option that is generally cheaper. CNA classes generally cost anywhere from $200 to $2000 and can vary in length. CNA classes can last anywhere from 6-12 weeks all the way up to 6 months. The length can also differ depending on if you choose to attend part time or full time. It can be assumed that longer CNA training programs offer a more comprehensive education. Just remember, make sure that the CNA class you sign up for is recognized by the state you live in or else you could risk not receiving state certification.

That’s basically how to become a CNA, we’ve covered the most important areas you need to know but it’s up to you to decided whether this is the right career for you.

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