Nurse's Aide Certificate and Certification Programs

Learn about training to become a nurse's aide. Find out about program requirements, courses and clinical practice, as well as employment prospects, certification and further education in nursing.

Essential Information

A nurse's aide, often called a nursing assistant, provides basic daily care for patients in hospitals, nursing homes or long-term care facilities. Although a high school diploma may be sufficient for a job in this field, a certificate program can help prospective nurse aides gain real-world experience and prepare for state certification. Nurse aides may be required to earn certification before finding employment in some professional settings, such as nursing care facilities.

Training programs are typically designed to teach students the skills needed to assist with a variety of basic healthcare procedures under the direction of a nursing staff, including patient care, vital-sign measurement and medication administration. Upon completion of the program requirements, students are prepared to take their state certification exam, which usually consists of both practical and written tests.

Educational Prerequisites

Depending on the state or school, a high school diploma or equivalent may be required for admission into the program. Candidates may also be required to submit to criminal background checks, physical examinations and drug screenings.

Course Topics

The curriculum for this program consists of lectures, lab work and supervised clinical rotations. Students develop basic nursing skills, while learning about both the medical and legal aspects of being a nurse aide. Topics of study can include:

  • Patient rights
  • Anatomy
  • Infection control
  • Physiology
  • Phlebotomy
  • Electrocardiography

Employment Outlook and Salary Info

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), nurse aides were expected to see an employment growth of 19% from 2008-2018 ( The BLS also stated that nurse aides, along with attendants and orderlies, earned a median annual salary of $24,010 in 2010.

Certification and Continuing Education Information

After completing the certificate program, nurse aides must pass the certification exam before they can work as certified nurse assistants (CNA). The BLS reports that the federal government requires that training programs for these professionals be at least 75 hours. When nurse aides pass the examination, their names are added to the state registry of nurse aides, and they're permitted to work in nursing care facilities.

Certified nurse aides may also advance their education and become licensed practical nurses (LPNs) or registered nurses (RNs). Candidates can become LPNs by completing diploma or certificate programs, while becoming an RN requires at least a diploma in nursing. Both must meet their state's licensure requirements before they can practice. Bachelor's degree programs in nursing are also available. These prepare students to become RNS, as well as making them eligible for graduate studies in nursing.

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