Nursing Assistant Certification and Diploma Programs

Students in a nursing assistant certificate or diploma program gain the knowledge and skills needed to perform as certified nursing assistants and acquire hands-on experience helping patients with daily living activities.

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Essential Information

Nursing assistants, who are supervised by registered nurses and licensed practical nurses, care for patients in private residences, hospitals, nursing homes and assisted-living facilities. They may also be responsible for changing linens, taking blood pressure and handling medical equipment.

Receiving a certificate or diploma from a nursing assistant program allows for several employment opportunities in the medical field and can serve as a starting point for those interested in medicine. The curriculum combines laboratory, clinical and classroom work; students must purchase laboratory supplies and uniforms and provide their own transportation to see patients. Prospective certified nursing assistants (CNAs) learn how to work under pressure, be patient, establish good communication skills and practice safe patient care.

Admission into these programs requires a high school diploma or GED, a criminal background check, recent immunizations and TB test results. To become certified, candidates must be at least 16 years of age and have obtained a passing score on the state examination.

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Nursing Assistant Certificate and Diploma Programs

Prospective certified nursing assistants learn the basic skills needed to care for patients. The following courses may be included in the nursing assistant program:

  • Psychology
  • Nursing care skills
  • CPR and first aid
  • Patient safety
  • Human anatomy

Popular Career Options

After receiving a diploma or certificate from a nursing assistant program, students must take the state certification examination to enter the work force as certified nursing assistants. The test is a written and practical examination covering areas such patient care, CPR, nutrition, safety and the taking of vital signs. Upon passage, graduates may apply for entry-level positions even while furthering his or her nursing education, if desired. Some options include orderly, home health aide, patient care technician and private home care companion.

Job Outlook and Salary Information

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics (BLS), nursing assistants have a faster-than-average projected job growth of 18% for 2014-2024. As of May 2015, the BLS also reported that nursing assistants had a median annual salary of $25,710.

With hands-on and in-class training, nursing assistant certificate and diploma programs prepare and qualify students for the state certification exams necessary to work as CNAs. These programs can also serve as starting points for those interested in careers in medicine.

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