What Is a CNA License?
Certified nursing assistants, or CNAs, need to be licensed in order to work with patients. A CNA license is earned by completing an approved training program and passing a state competency exam. You will want to take a detailed look at the CNA certification test before signing up to make sure you know what to expect. A CNA license also proves to future employers that you have the practical skills and knowledge to work as a CNA and provide quality care to your patients.
How to Get a CNA License
In order to get a CNA license and become a nursing assistant, you will need to meet several requirements. They include:
- Enroll in a CNA training program: Admission requirements vary by school, but you will often need to show proof of vaccinations, have a current CPR certification and pass a background check.
- Satisfy CNA education requirements: You must complete a state-approved program that prepares you to work as a CNA. You might choose a program offered at a high school, a vocational school, hospital, non-profit organization, or even a 4-year university.
- Fulfill clinical experience requirements: Often offered as part of a CNA training program, clinical experience allows you to get hands-on experience in a medical facility. During the clinical experience, you will have an RN supervise your work as you practice skills like taking patient vital signs, transferring patients, and CPR techniques.
Once these requirements have been met, you will take your state's certification exam and complete any additional requirements, like drug testing. After passing the exam, you will receive your CNA license.
Cost of CNA Certification
The overall cost of CNA certification depends the type of training program you enroll in and the area where you live. For instance, the Red Cross offers CNA training courses for around $1300, and programs offered by schools can range from free to $2200. You may also have to purchase uniforms and textbooks as well as pay for vaccinations and a background check.
In addition to paying for the training program, you will also have to pay to take the CNA certification exam. Testing fees vary by state, so it is important to check with your state to get an accurate cost. For example, California offers exams for $105, while the cost to take the Minnesota exam is $64.
How Long Does It Take to Get a CNA License?
The time frames of CNA training programs can vary, but they often take around seven to ten weeks to complete. Once the training program is complete, you will need to take the required test. Once you pass the test, you will be certified in your state. You typically receive your certificate three to six weeks after successfully completing the exam.
Where Can I Take the CNA Certification Exam?
After you have completed an approved CNA certification program, you can sign up to take the CNA certification exam. You can find testing sites in your state by looking on your state's CNA website, as well as by checking with the Red Cross or your training provider. The tests are typically offered at multiple locations across the state.
Online CNA Certification
While you can't fully earn your certification completely online, you can complete some of your CNA education online. Many community colleges offer online CNA classes, though you'll need to complete the clinical requirement in person.
How Long Does a CNA Certification Last?
While exact time frames can vary by state, your CNA certification usually lasts about two years. After that time, CNAs will need to apply for renewal. Many states require that you work as a CNA for a certain number of hours over the two years leading up to your renewal. Otherwise, you may need to complete some continuing education courses to prove competency.
How to Renew a CNA License
As mentioned, you will need to renew your CNA certification, though the process and timeline for this will vary depending on your state's requirements. Typically, the renewal needs to be done every two years and includes professional development courses or workshops. You'll also likely need to maintain CPR certification, medical documentation training, and/or disease control training. Any of these training programs can usually be counted as professional development training.
You can check your state's nursing website to determine what requirements you'll have to meet when it comes time to renew your license. Take a look at the requirements of the states below for a general idea of what to expect.
|Texas||CNAs need to complete 24 hours of education every 2 years|
|Florida||CNAs must have worked within the last 2 years and need to pay a fee online|
|Michigan||CNAs must have worked within the last 2 years, pay a fee, and complete the appropriate form|