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Certified Nursing Assistant Education Requirements

Certified nursing assistants require little formal education. Learn about the training, job duties and certification to see if this is the right career for you.

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Essential Information

A certified nursing assistant (CNA) is an entry-level health professional who provides patients with routine daily care while under the supervision of licensed health care professionals. They may provide assistance with dressing, bathing and eating, take vital signs and report patients' concerns to nurses and doctors. Completion of a certificate program in nursing assistance, which usually includes some clinical practice along with the coursework, is required to enter this profession. A competency exam is needed to earn the CNA designation, in addition to state registration.

Required Education Certificate program in nursing assistance
Other Requirements CNA credential and state registration
Projected Job Growth (2012-2022)*21%
Median Salary (2014)** $24,454 annually

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, **

Education Requirements for Certified Nursing Assistants

Many community colleges that offer certificate programs in nursing assistance work closely with their state to ensure that graduates have met the minimum hourly and education requirement for certification. Certified nursing assistants are commonly employed by nursing homes and hospitals.

Nursing Certificate Programs

A certificate program in nursing assistance can be completed in a short period of time. Some community colleges require that students first complete a series of prerequisite courses before formal admission into a certified nursing assistant certificate program. These prerequisite classes cover medical terminology, structure and function of the human body, computer basics, CPR and first aid. A Certificate in Nursing Assisting program may consist of only two courses: one a classroom course in basic patient care and the other a clinical externship.

Instruction in a patient care course focuses on the primary responsibilities of a certified nursing assistant. Students learn how to properly dress, bathe and feed a patient. They also learn how to take vital signs and provide catheter care. Many of these skills are practiced during a clinical externship at a local hospital or nursing home. A licensed health care professional supervises the externship and ensures that each student has the knowledge and skills required to become a certified nursing assistant.

Certification Requirements

Graduates of a certificate program in certified nursing assistance who have not completed the recommended hours for certification may have to complete additional training. Currently, the federal government requires at least 75 hours of nursing aide training for CNAs who work in nursing homes. Additionally, a certification candidate must pass a comprehensive examination. Some states have other requirements, and graduates should check with their state's government to view a full list of nursing assistant certification requirements.

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Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics