As the healthcare industry continues to expand all across the United States, the demand for nurses increases. There are currently over 2.5 million nurses employed in the healthcare sector. Certified nursing assistants are among the many professionals who play an important role in the field. Due to the complexity of the healthcare delivery system, and high demand of services, the role of registered nurses has become more complex. Certified nursing assistants are responsible for providing basic services in assisting patients. Many students are opting for careers as CNAs. Certified nursing assistants help patients on a daily basis with different services.

How to become a CNA

To become a CNA, individuals must complete the basic certification and training requirements in their state. Authorized health departments and boards in each state regulate the occupation and make sure all CNAs are skilled and capable of meeting the requirements. There are certain steps that must be completed in order to become a CNA. Although the minimum training and certification requirements may vary slightly from state to state, individuals must complete the following major steps to prepare for the career:

  1. Complete a high school diploma
  2. Enroll in a CNA training program
  3. Clear the certification examination

All individuals are required to first of complete their high school diploma. It is recommended that individuals pursue general science subjects. These subjects will help them develop a strong understanding of biology, anatomy and chemistry. Having a strong understanding of biological sciences can be useful for CNA classes ahead.

CNA Training Program

There are many colleges and schools offering nursing assistant programs. These are designed to prepare students for the certification examination and a career as a certified nursing assistant ahead. The focus of CNA training is the development of written, verbal, communication, and clinical skills. Students must cover the curriculum components successfully.

CNA classes will provide students with an overview of healthcare settings and the role of assistants. It is important to have an understanding of the healthcare delivery system and legal regulations. Although the curriculum of CNA training programs may vary slightly from college to college, and will also depend upon the state, students will cover general topics such as the following:

  • Role and responsibility of nursing assistants

In this course, students will develop a strong vocabulary and will learn how to differentiate between various healthcare settings. The course will cover a broad range of topics such as elder abuse, patient’s rights, and incident reporting.

  • Safety and infection control

This course will cover the general rules of safety and precaution. Students will learn how to follow safety guidelines and perform basic life-saving techniques. The main topics covered are infection control, standard precaution techniques, methods to relieve obstruction, and CPR.

  • Anatomy and Physiology

This course is designed to help students learn about the functions of the human body, types of fractures, muscle types, and the ageing process. Students will also develop a strong vocabulary and will gain an insight into physiology.

  • The respiratory system

In this course, students will gain an in-depth understanding of the respiratory system and various respiratory problems. The course will highlight important areas such as air flow, measuring respiratory problems, diaphragm, and more.

  • Growth and Development

This course will focus upon the basic principles of growth and development. Students will learn how to identify the various stages of growth and age ranges for each stage.

  • Personal care procedures

This course will cover the various procedures used for hygiene management and personal care. Students will learn about skin problems, provide care and dressing, help patients with dressing and bathing, and more.

  • Vital signs

In this course, students will develop skills needed to measure vital signs of patients. The course will cover topics such as the following: blood pressure and pulse. The course will enable students to learn how to use disposable and electronic thermometers, identify factors that affect vital signs and more.

  • Nutritional Requirements

Students will learn about the dietary practices used in healthcare. The course will allow students to learn about the various medical conditions that require special diets. Topics covered in the course include: intravenous fluids, tube feedings, and more.

Skill Development

CNA training programs will also include practical training sessions. Students will be given the opportunity to gain practical experience and develop skills necessary for the career. Training may take place in laboratories or healthcare settings. This will depend upon the school offering the CNA program. To qualify for the certification, a minimum number of training hours must be completed. The training hour requirement may vary from state to state.


After completing the training program, students can appear in the competency exam administered by the state board. It is mandatory to clear the exam to become a CNA. Students must demonstrate skill and proficiency in nursing knowledge. Typically, the certification exam is divided up into written, verbal, and clinical sections. In the clinical section, students will be asked to perform basic tasks related to nursing.

How long does it take to become a CNA?

It can take you 2 to 12 months to become a certified nursing assistant. The exact duration varies and depends upon the school you enroll in. Some schools may offer shorter training programs as compared to others.

Admission Requirements

To enroll in a CNA training program, individuals must fulfill the general requirements:

  • Official high school transcript
  • Letter of recommendation
  • Minimum 2.0 CGPA

Online CNA training

It is also possible to now enroll in an online CNA program. Many schools are offering flexible online CNA programs. The coursework is covered online through videos, online lectures, slideshows, and conferencing. However, it is important to remember that the practical portion of the program may require students to be physically present in campus-based classes.

Career Opportunities

A Certified nurse assistant can find work in old homes, nursing homes, hospitals, and clinics. The main tasks performed by nursing assistants include:

  • Helping patients with eating and dressing
  • Measuring vital signs
  • Reporting information to nurses
  • Assisting RN’s and Doctors

A majority of CNAs work in nursing care facilities across the nation. The income level may vary from state to state and will be dependent upon a number of factors such as employer, organization and previous work experience. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual income of certified nursing assistants was $24,400 in 2012.

States with the highest employment level in this occupation:



Employment per thousand jobs

Location quotient

Hourly mean wage

Annual mean wage

California 1660 0.11 1.26 18.13 37720
Florida 1130 0.14 1.68 17.97 37370
Illinois 960 0.16 1.92 17.9 37240
Texas 760 0.07 0.78 16.62 34570
New York 650 0.07 0.85 20.12 41840


How to become a CNA in Texas?

Nurse Aides in Texas need to pass the National Nurse Assistant Assessment Program (NNAAP) to become certified. There are multiple routes you can take to the CNA exam in Texas – the Nurse Aide Training and Competency Evaluation Program (NATCEP) under the Texas Department of Aging and Disability Services (DADS), military service, LVN or RN programs. There are nearly 800 Nurse Aide Training and Competency Evaluation Programs that meet the state requirements for CNA training. You may choose one from those.

How to become a CNA in California?

California has three different paths to getting a Nurse Assistant Certification in the state. The three paths are designed to accommodate residents and non-residents of the state, in keeping with the training requirements, CNA certification status and/or work experience. The first step would be to take a California Department of Public Health-approved CNA program and appear for the Competency Evaluation Program. If you want to take the second path, you will have to provide an equivalent to CNA training. The third path involves getting a reciprocity approval for those already working as a CNA in another state. You will have to complete the training requirement by enrolling in a CNA training program.