To qualify for jobs as a certified nursing assistant, or CNA, you must obtain your CNA certification. Find out what is involved in the CNA certification process beforehand to achieve your objective as quickly and easily as possible.
1. Find Out if You Meet CNA Certification Requirements
Avoid potentially wasting time and being disappointed by confirming that you meet the requirements for CNA certification first. Most CNA training programs have similar requirements, including:
- Age - You must be at least 16 years old.
- Education - Ideally, you should have a high school diploma or GED.
- Background - To be accepted into a CNA training program, you must have a clean criminal history. A background check will be performed.
2. Complete a State-Approved CNA Training Program
Contact your state’s relevant department for information about state-approved CNA training programs in your area. It is crucial to ensure that the program that you select meets your state's requirements, or you will not be allowed to sit for the certification exam.
CNA training programs are offered by community colleges, trade schools, vocational schools and even some high schools and hospitals. Choose one that is nearby to ensure that you can easily attend classes.
Keep in mind that you must apply for your certification within a certain period of time after completing your training. It varies by state, so check beforehand. You must also remain steadily employed to maintain your certification, so don't enroll in a program if you don't plan to become and remain employed.
3. Submit Your CNA Certification Application
Complete and submit the application for your CNA certification or license. You must do this before you can sit for your certification exam. Applications are usually one to two pages in length. You must provide an array of information, including your full legal name, your mailing address, your phone number, your social security number and your driver's license or state ID number.
You will also likely be asked to provide your height, weight, eye color, and hair color, and you must disclose whether or not you have any sort of criminal background. Be honest because a background check will be performed.
The application may also ask you to disclose whether you've ever had any adverse action taken against you by a healthcare-related certification, licensing or disciplinary authority. Again, be honest, as they can check this information.
Along with your application, you must submit a document that shows that you completed your CNA training program. Your program may send it directly for you as well.
4. Undergo a Background Check
You will be asked to provide a fingerprint so that a background check can be performed. In most cases, you must submit it along with your application, although you may be asked to provide it beforehand. Either way, the background check will reveal any criminal convictions that you have received, including those that have been sealed or expunged. In general, traffic violations and minor citations pose no problem. Most felonies will result in your application being rejected.
5. Pay Your Fees
Along with your application, you will most likely be asked to remit payment for a variety of fees. You will have to pay an application fee, which varies by state. Similarly, you must pay for your background check. Again, fees vary by location. Finally, most states require you to pay your exam fee at this point. Check with your relevant state authority for current information regarding exam fees and other costs.
6. Take and Pass Your CNA Certification Exam
You have three chances to take and pass both portions of the CNA certification exam. If you are unable to pass it after three tries, you will have to complete CNA training again. Similarly, if you don't take your exam within two years of completing your training, you must undergo training again.
The CNA certification exam includes a written/oral section that is typically made up of 60 multiple-choice questions. You will have 90 minutes to complete it.
You must also take and pass a clinical skills section. Over the course of 30 to 40 minutes, you will be asked to demonstrate proficiency with five out of a possible 22 skills plus indirect care and handwashing.
If you pass, you will be certified immediately. Your certification should arrive within a few weeks. At that point, you will be eligible to apply for CNA jobs at nursing homes, hospitals, assisted care facilities and a number of other places.