CNA Requirements

A Certified Nursing Assistant's responsibility is to provide basic care to the patients and to help them with their daily living activities. To become a Nursing Assistant, the applicant must have a GED or a high school diploma. However, it is a misconception that all CNA programs require GED or high school diploma. Check for the local requirements with the state health department.

As per the federal and state laws one has to enroll in a Nursing Assistant Training Program at a community college, vocational school or opt for online courses. Most schools require applicants to get a CPR certification before or during the training program.

Course structure

Every student is obliged to have at least 75 hours of training, 51 theoretical instructions and 24 hours of practical course; classes for which generally last for eight weeks. The course trains students on anatomy, patient rights, medical principles, medical terms, infection guidelines and knowledge of diseases. Apart from these topics students gain skills on pre- and post-operative care procedures, patient hygiene, patient communication and administrative duties.

After finishing the course, the student must take a CNA Certification Test. This test will evaluate the theoretical and practical skills gained by the student during the Training Program.

The CNA Certification Test has two parts:

  1. The theoretical test evaluates the theoretical knowledge of students regarding basic medical care procedures
  2. The practical test examines the student's proficiency in his hand washing procedures, patient care and other basic nursing procedures


Before taking this test, the student is required to fill an application form at the Nursing Aide Registry; the licensing authority under the state health department. This application form is required to be signed, notarized and then sent to the local division of the State Licensing Office. The CNA student is obliged to fill a Verification of Training to ensure that the student's Training Program is part of a credited program.

Background and medical check

The Certified Nursing Assistant Certification procedures also require the student to get a background check. He has to fill a fingerprint card at the Department of Public Safety to pass the local and national background check. The applicant should not have any sentence for the past seven years. The applicant must obtain a medical fitness certificate which should clearly state that he/ she does not suffer from any transmissible disease.

The license is then processed in a few weeks and the student receives the response via e-mail or letter. If the student passes both exams, he obtains a CNA License and he can work in health care facilities, in hospitals or at the patient's home. Re-appearing laws for students who fail differ from state to state; you need to check for the same.

The CNA Skills Requirements

  • Helping and assisting the patient with his daily living procedures: bathing, nail care, oral care and hair care
  • Taking and recording the patient's vital signs: blood-pressure, respiration, pulse and measure and record the patient's weight
  • Collecting specimens: stool/ sputum and urine
  • First aid procedures and cardiopulmonary resuscitation
  • Techniques of moving and positioning ambulating patients
  • Feeding techniques
  • Assisting patients during motion exercises
  • Changing linens and cleaning the patient's room and maintain hygiene
  • Helping patients to use the bathroom or the urinal
  • Preventing and controlling infection and spread of disease for a CNA and the patient

Importance of CNA

Nursing assistants are alternative health care professionals who help in reducing the medical care cost, something that medical insurance agencies, Medicare and Medicaid advocate for. Per hour service charges of CNAs are less than that of registered nurses (RN) when it comes to non-medical care of patients and the RNs can focus on the core medical tasks.

Career Opportunities

According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) there will be an 18% rise in the requirement of CNAs for the decade between 2008 and 2018. BLS also claims that the average salary drawn by CNAs is around $ 25000 and may rise further citing the shortage of Certified Medical Assistant. It has been reported that even in the economic down times, medical and healthcare related professions are very much in demand. So becoming a Certified Nursing Assistant can be a good career option.

These are some of the important CNA requirements one must be aware of before becoming a nursing aide. You have to fulfill these requirements as they are mandatory as per the laws existing in all the states.

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