As baby boomers continue to age, demand for trained health professionals such as Certified Nursing Assistants continues to rise. CNAs may start with fewer responsibilities than Registered Nurses, but the emotional rewards and job stability offered are equally satisfying. In fact, most individuals planning a career shift consider the CNA the best stepping stone towards a more rewarding, fruitful healthcare career. But what does it take to become a CNA?
Apart from basic professional traits such as compassion, teamwork and excellent communication skills, aspiring CNAs are also required to complete a series of training requirements in order to become certified.
Below is a breakdown of the steps a CNA trainee will typically pursue:
Step 1: Attend CNA Training
A high school diploma, or equivalent GED, is one of the basic requirements needed to enter the CNA training program. In some cases, high school students have direct access to nursing assistant certification as long as their school is fully accredited for a vocational CNA training program.
After graduating from high school, an aspiring CNA has the option of enrolling either online or at physical participating institutions. Several health care facilities like nursing homes and adult care centers offer free CNA classes under a return service agreement.
CNA training syllabuses usually includes basic lessons in medical equipment, body mechanics, patient care, legal issues and responsibilities, human anatomy and disease/infection control.
Step 2: Sit for the State Exam
After the training program, aspiring CNAs are required to pass a written test in order to be certified. They should be ready to undergo drug testing and criminal background checks, as they are basic components of pre-certification requirements.
The fee to site for the CNA certification exam varies by state but is usually not more than $100.
Final Step: Become Certified
Passing the State exam means graduates can officially be designated as CNAs. At this point, graduates should be conducting research on the facilities in their area that are currently hiring for CNAs. This should include hospitals, nursing homes and even private residences. Applying to as many jobs as are available will ensure the quickest transition from student to employee.
NOTE: Not every state requires the same amount of time for training and testing. To find out the guidelines that apply to you, make sure to contact your State’s Nursing Aide Registry/Board for full details.
How much does it cost to become a CNA?
Average CNA training costs vary, ranging anywhere from $100 to as much as $2800. However, depending on your location, some occupational training institutions can offer comprehensive programs for less than $100.
You can also access free training from local nursing homes but students under this program will be typically required to work on a return-service agreement right after graduation.
How long does it take to become a CNA?
Depending on the type of program you will be enrolled in, most CNA training takes between 3 to 4 weeks to complete. There are also online accelerated courses that you can take if you want to become certified within 3 weeks or less. More comprehensive courses are also offered and can run from 4 to 9 months in duration.