CNA Training Programs and Schooling Requirements

CNAs, or certified nursing assistants, work under the supervision of licensed practical nurses (LPNs) and registered nurses (RNs) and are involved with everyday patient monitoring and assisting patients with personal care needs. Learn about certificate training programs for these occupations and the prerequisites, courses, and requirements involved.

Essential Information

CNA training and schooling programs are available through junior colleges, technical schools, and healthcare facilities, though some programs may be offered online. Most employers prefer or require their CNAs to possess a high school diploma or GED, and CNA applicants should be able to read, write, and speak English. However, in certain regions, bilingual CNA candidates may be preferred. Generally, individuals applying for a CNA position must already have their state certification or must be able to earn it within a specified time frame. CNA applicants should have stamina and be physically fit because they stand throughout most of their shift and often lift and move patients. Previous experience as a nursing assistant may be required by some employers.

CNA Certificate Program

CNA certificate programs require approximately 100 hours of combined lecture, lab work and supervised clinical training. During this time, future CNAs prepare for the day-to-day aspects of long-term patient care. While CNA training is sufficient for career entry, some individuals may begin working as a CNA to gain a foundation for a more advanced nursing career as an LPN or RN. Nursing assistant students take courses in healthcare, anatomy and patient rights. They learn to check vital signs and document patient conditions. They also learn techniques for feeding, bathing, grooming, dressing and moving patients. Some common coursework in a certificate program might include:

  • Basic nursing care
  • Emergency procedures
  • Long-term care
  • Infection control

Employment Outlook and Salary Information

According to the BLS, nursing assistants made a mean annual wage of $26,820 in 2015. It is projected that from 2014-2024, the job outlook for these assistants will grow 17%. This is much faster than the average for all other occupations.

Continuing Education

In order to earn the title CNA, nursing assistants must apply to their individual state for certification. To be considered for certification, applicants must generally have completed at least 75 hours of state-approved training and passed a knowledge-and-skills exam. Some employers may also require CNA applicants to be certified in CPR. Voluntary certification as a home health aide is also available through the National Association for Home Care and Hospice (

Industry conferences are often available and last 1-4 days. Attendees can take part in educational workshops, listen to guest speakers and learn about topics such as women's health, home healthcare and addiction issues. Participation in such events often meets continuing education requirements for recertification. Often, nursing assistant organizations provide websites with helpful resources, including links to news articles as well as discussion forums. Additionally, CNAs can look to local community colleges or vocational schools for specific training or refresher courses.

CNA training programs are essential for developing the nursing skills necessary to helping patients with their personal care needs and monitoring their health. Certificate programs in this field prove that students can handle these tasks and assist LPNs and RNs with their duties at hospitals and care centers.

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