CNA Licensure and Credentialing Information

Certification is a mandatory credential for nursing assistant professionals. Get some quick facts about the training and other requirements necessary to qualify as a certified nursing assistant.

To be a certified nursing assistant (CNA), it's necessary to have a high school diploma or GED, and to complete a state-approved training program. CNAs must be certified by passing a state exam and are required to renew certification every two years.

Essential Information

Certified nursing assistants (CNAs) work within hospitals, nursing homes and other healthcare facilities, helping patients with basic daily living activities. This entry-level healthcare position requires completion of a state-approved training program, passage of a state certification or licensing exam and regular renewal of credentials for continued eligibility.

Required Training State-approved training program; some programs lead to the award of a certificate
Required Skills Safe lifting and moving techniques for patients; accuracy in vital sign measurement; sanitary bathing and toileting procedures; basic nursing principles
Exam Requirements Written and practical skills tests
Projected Job Growth (2014-2024)* 18% for all nursing assistants
Median Salary (2015)* $25,710 for all nursing assistants

Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Becoming a Licensed CNA

Most CNA training programs require that candidates have a high school diploma or GED prior to entry. CNA training courses are typically offered through community colleges, trade schools or local hospital programs. These programs may last anywhere from three weeks to six months. Upon completion, CNA candidates may take their state's certification exam. The exam consists of both a written component and a practical, skills competency section. The written exam may be available in languages other than English or may be taken orally, depending on state regulations. It may include such topics as reading patient vital signs, proper chart recording and understanding emergency procedures.

Candidates may also need to pass a physical exam, drug test and criminal background check, depending on state requirements. Once all of these requirements are met, candidates are added to the state's Nurse Aide Registry and are eligible for employment.

Credentialing Information

CNA certification is typically valid for two years and CNAs are required to renew their credentials every 24 months. CNAs must submit a renewal application within 30 days of their certificate's expiration and pay any associated renewal fees. Most states also require that CNAs provide proof of having completed a specific number of continuing education units (CEU) or in-service training. They may also require that CNAs provide proof of having worked in a paid nursing position over the past 2-year period.

CNAs with certificates that have been expired for more than 30 days are usually considered to be in delinquent status and may be prohibited from continuing to work until their certificate is renewed. In cases where a CNA's certificate has been expired for more than two years, renewal candidates may need to submit proof of having received recent re-training from an approved CNA program. They may also have to once again pass a criminal background check and drug testing prior to being issued a new certificate.

Salary Information and Employment Outlook

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported in May 2015 that nursing assistants earned a median salary of $25,710 per year. Employment of these workers was expected to increase faster than average, at 18% from 2014-2024.

In addition to passing a state-approved CNA program and the certification exam, CNAs must be able to lift patients safely and pass a background check. Continuing education courses may be required to renew their certification, which is required every two years.


What is your highest level of education?

Some College
Complete your degree or find the graduate program that's right for you.
High School Diploma
Explore schools that offer bachelor and associate degrees.
Still in High School
Earn your diploma or GED. Plan your undergraduate education.

Schools you may like:

Popular Schools

The listings below may include sponsored content but are popular choices among our users.

    • Nursing (RN completion to BS) (RN req.)

    What is your highest level of education completed?

    • MSHS Medical Laboratory Sciences
    • MSHS in Immunohematology and Biotechnology
    • MSHS in Molecular Diagnostic Sciences
    • MSHS in Translational Microbiology

    What is your highest level of education?

  • What is your highest level of education?

    • MS in Nursing (from BSN) - Psychiatric & Mental Health Nursing
    • MS in Nursing (from RN) - Psychiatric & Mental Health Nursing
    • MS in Nursing (from BSN) - Adult-Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner
    • MS in Nursing (from BSN) - Adult-Gerontology Primary Care Nurse Practitioner
    • MS in Nursing (from BSN) - Family Nurse Practitioner
    • MS in Nursing - Bridge for Registered Nurses - Adult & Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner
    • BS in Nursing (BSN) - RN-BSN-MSN Track

    What is your highest level of education completed?

  • What is your highest level of education completed?

    • Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP)
    • Doctor of Nursing Practice with an Emphasis in Educational Leadership
    • EdD in Organizational Leadership - Health Care Administration
    • MBA and MS in Nursing: Nursing Leadership in Health Care Systems (dual degree)
    • MS in Nursing: Nursing Leadership in Health Care Systems
    • MBA and MS in Nursing - Leadership in Health Care Systems
    • M.S. in Nursing: Nursing Education
    • MBA: Health Systems Management
    • MS in Health Care Administration
    • BS in Nursing (Registered Nurse - R.N. to BSN)
    • BS in Health Care Administration
    • BS in Health Sciences: Professional Development & Advanced Patient Care
    • Bachelor of Science in Behavioral Health Science

    What is your highest level of education?

    • Master of Science in Nursing - Doctor of Nursing Practice Path, Executive Leader Specialization
    • Doctor of Nursing Practice
    • Master of Science in Nursing - Doctor of Nursing Practice Path
    • Accelerated BSN to MSN
    • MS in Nursing - Adult Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner
    • Master of Science in Nursing to Doctor of Nursing Practice Path, Family Nurse Practitioner Specialization
    • MS in Nursing
    • Master of Science in Nursing to Doctor of Nursing Practice Path, Adult-Gerontology Nurse Practitioner Specialization
    • Bachelors of Science in Nursing - RN to BSN

    What is your highest level of education completed?

    • RN to BSN
    • AS in Medical Assisting

    What is your highest level of education?

    • Doctor of Strategic Leadership - Healthcare Leadership
    • M.S. in Nursing (MSN) - Nurse Leadership & Management
    • Master of Arts in Organizational Leadership - Healthcare Management
    • Master of Business Administration - Healthcare Management
    • M.S. in Nursing (MSN) - Nurse Educator
    • Bachelor of Science in Nursing (RN to BSN)
    • B.S. in Professional Studies - Nursing Home Administration

    What is your highest level of education completed?

    • AS in Nursing
    • Practical Nursing
    • Vocational Nursing

    Year of High School Graduation or GED completion:

Find your perfect school

What is your highest level of education?