Everything You Need to Know About The CNA Certification

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Mari Estefani Carvajal

Content Writer At Gradehacker

Where can I study to be a CNA?

If you are thinking about becoming a registered nurse and don’t know how to start your career path, you need to become a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA).

You can become one by studying in:

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Becoming a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) is an excellent career choice for those who have a passion for helping others and are interested in working in healthcare.

CNAs are vital in providing primary patient care and assisting healthcare professionals in various medical settings. To pursue this career, you must obtain the CNA certification, ensuring you have met the requirements to provide quality care to patients.

If you want to start a nursing career and need help figuring out don’t where to start, we recommend taking the CNA.

Here at Gradehacker, the number one most trusted resource for nontraditional students, we will tell you everything you need to know about this fantastic career.

Why is the CNA Certification Important?

The CNA certification is a credential issued by the board of nursing of your state or a similar regulatory body. It confirms that you have completed a state-approved training program and passed written and practical examinations.

This certification is required to work as a CNA in most healthcare settings, including:

While this certificate will not make you a registered nurse, this is a significant first step to start your path in the nursing career field quickly because the program lasts only between 4 and 12 weeks. 

So, it’s a great way to start growing in this much-needed career.

What are The CNA Certification Requirements?

First, it is essential to highlight that you don’t need a degree to become a CNA or any additional certification to become a CNA.

All you need is a high school diploma and knowledge in some healthcare areas, like:

To mention some of the basic topics.

But how do you get this experience? Most states offer CNA training programs that you can complete in four or eight weeks in places like community colleges or long-term care facilities. 

Also, depending on your state, there are some federal requirements, like having a criminal background check. Other nursing certifications have more complex education requirements, and that’s why the CNA is most recommended to start in this field.

The other requirement is to pass a written and practical exam to demonstrate your competence to become a CNA.

So, to summarize, these are the requirements for the certification process:

1. High School Diploma:

The first step to becoming a CNA is graduating high school and getting your diploma. You don’t need a college degree like mentioned before.

2. Enroll in a State-Approved CNA Training Program:

You can enroll in a state-approved CNA program. You can access these programs through places like

Community Colleges:

This lasts about 6 and 16 weeks and focuses on basic healthcare knowledge. You can choose the schedule that best suits you since it’s very flexible, and you will gain the needed experience.

Vocational or Trade Schools:

Vocational schools combine clinical rotations and classroom instruction, and you can find  certified nursing assistant programs and start your job training.


These programs last between four and eight weeks. They focus on medical skills like basic care, and the good thing is that you will start working with patients in a real healthcare setting.

You have to check your state’s agency or the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing to find out what training facilities are available in your area.

After you complete your training hours, which takes at least 75 hours, you will have the experience of working with registered nurses and interacting with patients.

3. Pass Your State CNA Exam:

When finishing the training program and clinical hours of training, the next step is to take the certification exam, and once you have approved it, you will have your CNA license. 

The exam consists of two parts: a written and knowledge section and a clinical skills section.

 Most states require CNS to pass a competency evaluation program named the National Nurse Aide Assessment Program (NNAAP), and you can find where to take it on the NCSBN website.

But what does the NNAAP consist of?

Written exam:

Prometric says the test consists of 70 multiple-choice items, and 10 are non-scored items that will only collect statistical information. You need a minimum score of 80 to pass it. 

Also, the test evaluates your knowledge in three areas:

This section is also offered as an oral exam in both English and Spanish.

Clinical Skills Exam:

This section evaluates basic nursing skills: handwashing, measuring and recording vital signs, and mobility assistance. It is composed of 60 multiple-choice items and 10 of them are comprehension questions.

You can find an NNAAP practice exam on this  NNAAP website.

What do you Learn in a CNA Program?

Every academic program can vary according to your state’s requirements, but all programs teach the essential elements of patient care and medical skills.

One of the requirements for CNAS is to complete a minimum of hours of classroom training and hands-on clinical portion experience. The program lasts from 4 to 12 weeks, and you will learn:

You must ensure that your nursing assistance training program provides quality education, so you must check if it’s approved by the  Nursing Accredited Commission and your state’s nursing board so you can get your active license.

Studying with Gradehacker

Becoming a nurse practitioner with Gradehacker takes:

You would start earning $120,000 in:

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Becoming a nurse practitioner on your own takes:

You would start earning $120,000 in:

Where Can I Study to be a CNA?

CNA programs are commonly provided by community colleges, technical schools, and healthcare facilities, but you must also check that your state approves that program.

Here are some of the best CNA programs available:

This program lasts only one semester and costs $235 per credit.

It’s a 4-credit course, and the student must apply to the college to earn credits. This program is available during all-year semesters.

You can find more information about the requirements on their website or contact them at this email address: nursing@century.edu.

Maine Medical Center has a great program because it’s free and also pays students a rate of $16 per hour plus some benefits.

The CNA program is sponsored by the hospital’s Center for Clinical and Professional Development with  Portland Adult Education.

It lasts about seven weeks (28 hours per week), and you must be a U.S. citizen or have a work authorization.

You can contact them through this email: cnaprogram@mmc.org

Pratt’s Nurse Aide Certification program costs $147 per credit hour and lasts only one semester. It’s a hybrid course of online classroom hours and on-campus clinical instruction.

You can contact them through this email: ericam@prattcc.edu or their website.

The American Red Cross program costs $1,250, and it lasts 4 to 8 weeks. It’s a nationwide organization that provides a hybrid online lessons program with in-person experience for the clinical practice sections.

You can enroll in numerous cities and states; the cost can vary depending on your location.

To find more schools and health care facilities where you can become a CNA read this Nurse. or article.

What Are The CNA Responsabilities?

As a CNA, you will provide primary care for patients under the supervision of a licensed nurse or other medical professional. Here are a few of the responsibilities that you are going to have:

Career and Academic Outlook After You Get The CNA Diploma

According to The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median salary for nursing assistants is $35.000 per year and $17.8 per hour. Still, it can vary depending on the type of organization that you are working with:

However, some CNAs have a better annual salary. According to the BLS, 10% of nursing assistants have a salary of $44.200. Also, be aware that you can transition from CNA into another nursing degree or healthcare career and increase your income to $54.000 per year, which is the average salary for a licensed nurse.

CNA positions are excellent entry-level positions in the nursing field; having this diploma will allow you to work fast and gain experience while you transition to other nursing degrees. For example, you can start preparing to become a Licensed Practical Nurse.

You can also pursue a bachelor’s career and enroll in four-week courses in community colleges to earn credits and start exploring the  Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) program.

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Start Your Path in Nursing with CNA Certification

Obtaining a CNA certification can be a great starting point for those interested in pursuing a career in nursing.

After completing the CNA program, numerous career and academic opportunities are available. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the demand for CNAs is expected to grow 8% from 2019 to 2029, much faster than the average for all occupations. 

This means there will be plenty of job opportunities for individuals with CNA certification.

We hope all this information helps you, and you can always count on Gradehacker to help you with your nursing career. Just send your request, and we will be more than happy to help!

And if you want to find more information that can be valuable when building a nursing career, check these blogs:

Picture of Mari Estefani Carvajal

Mari Estefani Carvajal

Mari Estefani Carvajal is a journalist passionate about writing, cinema, podcast, and multimedia production. She is a Content Writer at Gradehacker and helps non-traditional students life’s by creating creative content. You can find her on LinkedIn.