CNA - Certified Nurse Assistant: Educational Requirements
Learn about the education and preparation needed to become a certified nurse assistant. Get a quick view of the requirements as well as details about degree programs, job duties and certification to find out if this is the career for you.
Certified nurse assistants (CNAs) perform basic healthcare duties in hospitals and care facilities under the supervision of a registered nurse or licensed vocational nurse. In most states, aspiring CNAs must complete an approved training program and a competency test.
|Required Education||Completion of a short training program|
|Other Requirements||State CNA registration or licensure|
|Projected Job Growth (2012-2022)||21% for all nursing assistants*|
|Median Salary (May 2013)||$24,890 for all nursing assistants*|
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
Federal and state laws require any aspiring certified nurse assistant (CNA) to complete an approved postsecondary training program. Vocational schools and community colleges offer programs that include classroom education and a clinical rotation. Coursework taken as part of a registered nurse (RN) or licensed vocational nurse (LVN) degree program may also satisfy CNA training requirements.
Training institutions generally require applicants who have earned their high school diploma or received qualifying scores on reading and math competency tests. Most also require students to acquire CPR certification before or during the program. Additionally, students must meet health requirements, which may include a tuberculosis screening and submission of proof of vaccinations.
CNA training programs lasts approximately eight weeks. Relevant coursework includes anatomy, patient rights, medical ethics, medical terminology, infection guidelines and knowledge of diseases. Additional knowledge and skills include pre- and post-operative care procedures, patient hygiene, patient communication and administrative duties.
Requirements vary by state. Generally, applicants must apply to register as a nurse assistant with their state health department and pass a written competency examination upon completion of an approved training program. Students in the process of completing RN or LVN degree programs may also be able to test for and work as CNAs.
Some states may allow nurse assistants to work for a limited time while going through the application and testing process. A nurse assistant can only be designated a CNA after completing the registration process.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projected that employment of nursing assistants will increase 21% from 2012-2022, which is notably faster than the average for all occupations. In May 2013, the BLS stated that nursing assistants earned $24,890 as a median annual wage.