Personal Care Technician Degree and Certificate Program Overviews

CNA certificate programs teach students to assist patients with eating, bathing and grooming. Students receive classroom instruction and complete clinical rotations in order to be eligible for graduation.

Essential Information

Certified nursing assistants (CNAs) or nurse aides learn how to attend to the personal health and hygiene needs of patients while working in clinical rotations under the supervision of nurses and doctors. CNAs typically complete certificate programs offered by community colleges.

These certificate programs require a high school diploma or equivalent, minimum 18 years of age, proof of immunizations and a criminal background check.


Certified Nursing Assistant Program

A CNA certificate program typically incorporates various units that provide an overview of healthcare procedures for different settings. Most programs consist of 100-200 hours of training, split into classroom sessions and clinical rotations in various healthcare centers. Some programs may require that students either pass a basic education test or take writing and math courses before enrollment. These programs prepare graduates to earn state and professional certification as certified nursing assistants. Topics covered include:

  • Anatomy and physiology
  • Medical terminology
  • Vital measurement
  • Patient transport
  • Specimen collection
  • Patient communication

Employment Outlook and Salary Info

Personal care technicians are qualified to carry out basic healthcare duties in home health agencies, nursing homes, hospitals, clinics and long-term care centers. Due to high turnover rates and the ability of medical technology to prolong lives, an increase in certified nursing assistants will be necessary to care for the growing elderly population. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) has estimated that between 2014 and 2024 the demand for nursing assistants and orderlies will increase by 17% (www.bls.gov). Also according to the BLS, the mean annual salary for nursing assistants was $26,820 as of May 2015.

Continuing Education Information

After completing a nursing assistant program, candidates are eligible for state certification and must pass a competency examination in order to earn the CNA title. Additionally, those seeking home health aide positions, in which personal care is provided in a patient's home, may pursue voluntary certification through the National Association for Home Care & Hospice. While there are no degree programs offering further training specifically for personal care technicians, interested individuals may go on to earn an associate's or bachelor's degree in medical assisting, nursing or other advanced allied health fields.

Students who fulfill the requirements of a CNA certificate program will be prepared to work as a CNA in the medical field after studying topics such as medical terminology, patient transport, and patient communication. Students who complete the program are eligible for state exams and can earn CNA certification.

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