Geriatric Nursing Assistant: Educational Requirements

Learn about the education and preparation needed to become a geriatric nursing assistant. Get a quick view of the requirements as well as details about training, job duties and certification to find out if this is the career for you.

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In order to become a geriatric nursing assistant, you need to complete a state-approved nursing assistant program. These short programs offer classroom and practical learning in the basics of caring for elderly patients. A geriatric nursing assistant certification is available, which requires passing a certification exam and periodic license renewal.

Essential Information

Geriatric nursing assistants serve meals, make beds and help elderly patients to dress and bathe, among other duties, usually in nursing homes and other types of residential healthcare facilities. They must complete a state-sanctioned nursing assistant training program, offered at many 2-year colleges and at some high schools. These programs feature both classes and hands-on supervised practice.

Those who meet the qualifications are placed on a state registry of nursing assistants, which is required to work in a nursing home. Some states require nursing assistants working in comprehensive care facilities to earn additional certification as geriatric nursing assistants.

Required Education State-approved nursing assistant training program
Other Requirements State certification
Projected Job Growth (2014-2024)* 18% for all nursing assistants
Median Salary (2015)* $25,710 for all nursing assistants

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

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Educational Requirements

Geriatric nursing assistants are also referred to as nursing aides. In most cases, a high school diploma or its equivalent is sufficient education to earn this title and obtain an entry-level position. Depending on initial patient requirements, training can be completed in a few days or last for a period of several weeks.


Training is generally completed by registered nurses in classroom and clinical settings. Workshops and lectures may be a part of these training programs, which are commonly offered by vocational schools, high schools and community colleges. Nursing aide educational programs include training in areas such as:

  • Basic nursing skills
  • Personal care skills
  • Home care skills
  • Nutrition
  • Disease precautions
  • Anatomy
  • Communication skills

Certification and Licensing Requirements

The BLS notes that geriatric nursing care facilities may hire inexperienced workers, who must then complete a minimum of 75 hours of training as specified by the U.S. Federal Government. Some states may have additional training requirements. Training may cover areas from infection control to Alzheimer's disease. Those who complete the training program may become certified nursing assistants (CNAs).

CNAs who pass a competency test, as part of a state-approved program, may become certified as geriatric nursing assistants (GNAs). Licensing renewal requirements vary by state. For instance, Maryland requires their GNAs to have their credentials renewed every two years.

Career Information

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment opportunities for nursing assistants were expected to increase by 18% between 2014 and 2024 ( Despite this expected increase, the BLS notes that growth may be hindered by a dependency on government funding. Additionally, this occupation is characterized by strenuous physical and emotional demands, as well as a lack of career advancement opportunities. The BLS notes that nursing assistants earned a median income of $25,710 annually as of May 2015.

Aspiring geriatric nursing assistants must complete 75 hours of training and meet other expectations set forth by their state in order to work at a nursing home. Some states offer certification through a geriatric nursing assistant program, which requires passing an exam. Jobs for nursing assistants are expected to grow at a faster than average rate, but the work is stressful and physically demanding, with little chance for advancement.

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