Certified nursing assistants (CNAs) play an important role in the healthcare system. They support both registered nurses and practical nurses by performing duties such as dressing, bathing, and transporting patients. Anyone considering a career as a CNA has a wide range of education and training options available. This page outlines these options, as well as the various ways current CNAs can boost their salaries and advance their careers. See what it takes to become a CNA.
Should You Become a CNA? A Checklist
CNAs help patients and impact the workplace every day, which makes it a satisfying way for people who are interested in the health care field to contribute to their communities. However, despite its rewards, this career may not be a good fit for everyone. Answer the following questions to see if working as a CNA makes sense for you:
If you answered “yes” to these questions, a career as a certified nursing assistant may be the right choice for you. Now that you have made this determination, it’s time to consider the education path that you want to take in order to get your CNA training.
Explore CNA Course Options
Prospective CNA students need training programs that will prepare them to perform the job successfully. In addition, each state has its own requirements for CNAs, making it imperative that future professionals get the training they need to meet these standards and earn a state certification. For example, licensing requirements may mandate that students take coursework in nutrition, communication skills, rehabilitation, and vital signs. States may also have specific requirements for the number of classroom hours students must complete, as well as the amount of clinical training they should receive.
Where to Get Your Training
People interested in becoming a CNA have several options for where they can obtain the training they need. Read each option carefully to see which one fits your educational style, career goals, and financial needs.
Online or On-Campus
Depending on their needs, students may choose to enroll in CNA programs that are completely conducted on campus, or programs that are partially online. Since students are required to get hands-on training in addition to classroom work, entirely online programs are not available. However, partially online CNA programs give students the flexibility to attend classes around their schedule.
Research Eligibility Requirements
In order to be admitted to a CNA training program, prospective students must fulfill certain prerequisites. Every state has different requirements that people need to meet before they are able to enroll in a program, so it’s imperative that they educate themselves on the specific requirements in their location. Although the standards are different from one state to the next, the following are generally what is required for admission into a CNA program.
Enroll in Your Accredited CNA Program
Making the choice to become a CNA is a big step toward building a rewarding new career. After making this huge decision, it’s time for future CNAs to research schools and start submitting applications. This section is designed to help prospective students navigate their way through the application and enrollment process.
- State Requirements & Accreditation
When choosing a school, it’s important for students to find one that has been accredited in order to ensure that they’re getting the quality education they need to meet state guidelines. There are several key areas where states may have different standards, including the following:
- How many classroom hours are required
- How much clinical time is necessary
- Cost of training
- Certification fees
- Tuition & Associated Costs
In addition to factors like the number of clinical and classroom hours that students are expected to complete, those who want to enroll in a CNA program are also concerned about how much they will pay to get the training they need. Although the amount that individual schools may charge differs, the following is a general idea of what CNA students can expect to pay.
- Application fees: When applying for CNA programs, prospective students are required to pay the school’s specific application fee. Generally, applicants can expect to pay around the $50 range in order to be considered for these programs.
- Program tuition: Schools may charge by the credit or by the semester. Per credit, students may be charged between $70 and $260, depending on if they are an in-state or out-of-state student. Schools that charge by the semester may cost around $4,500 for residents and $27,000 for non-residents.
- Tuberculosis test and physical examination: Among the fees that students in CNA programs are expected to pay are the tests that determine if they meet the health standards expected of them. These exams can cost around $20.
Finish Classes & Clinicals
CNA programs are a combination of classroom instruction and clinical work to give students the fundamental knowledge they need to practice, as well as the hands-on experience required to apply these theories to real-world patient care. During the classroom portion of the program, which can often be completed online, students learn about medical terminology, anatomy and physiology, vital signs, mobility, and cognitive impairments. In addition, students are taught the professional communication skills CNAs are expected to have in order to interact with patients and members of their team.
During the clinical portion of CNA programs, students build on the coursework they completed in order to gain practical skills such as taking people’s vital signs, applying heat and cold to different parts of the body when appropriate, and bathing patients. In addition, students become familiar with the physical demands of the job during this time, as they get experience lifting and transferring patients.
Pass Your CNA Competency Exam
Through the clinical and classroom portions of a CNA program, students learn about the realities of the profession and get the competencies they need to take the examination required by their state. In order to gain a license, every state has different standards for what is expected of CNA graduates. In general, these future professionals should not have chemical dependencies, criminal convictions, and mental illness. For more information about the licensing procedure, continue reading this section.
Consider Career Advancement Options
After working as a CNA for a while, professionals may elect to open up opportunities by going back to school to pursue similar careers in the health care field. The following are some examples of the education that CNAs may obtain in order to advance in their career and command higher salaries.
Prepare Your Resume & Apply for Jobs
After completing a training program and passing the state licensing exam, it’s time for new CNAs to start looking for a job. In order to be successful, job seekers should craft resumes and cover letters that highlight their education, certification, and the skills they learned during the hands-on part of their training program. The following are some sites job hunters can use to help them create cover letters and resumes.
- Nursing Aide and Assistant Resume Samples
- CNA Resume Examples: Skills for CNAs
- Certified Nursing Assistant Resume Objectives Resume Sample
- CNA Resume: Sample & Complete Guide
- Nursing Assistant Cover Letter Sample
- CNA Cover Letter
No matter how much experience CNAs may have, they need to be able to impress hiring managers in order to land a job. Interviews can be a stressful part of the job hunting process, but by preparing for the types of questions employers are likely to ask, CNAs can put their minds at ease. The following are examples of the questions that CNAs may be asked during job interviews.
- Describe a time where you had to deal with a demanding or difficult patient.
- How would you handle seeing a coworker mistreating a patient?
- What would you do if a patient refuses care?
- What do you do upon entering a patient’s room?
- Why did you choose to pursue the health care field?
- In what ways are you different from other CNAs?
- What would you do if you weren’t getting along with a nurse you’re working with?
- Describe your strengths and weaknesses.
- How do you feel about working in a team?
- Where do you see yourself in five years?