How do I Become a Certified Nursing Assistant?

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  • Written By: Malcolm Tatum
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 16 November 2019
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Certified nursing assistants are healthcare professionals who function under the direction of a registered nurse or licensed practical nurse. While the scope of function for a certified nursing assistant is not as broad as that of the RN or LPN, nursing assistants do provide a wide range of basic patient care services. If you are interested in becoming a certified nursing assistant, the process will require some training as well as meeting qualifications put in place by local jurisdictions.

While there are different titles for a certified nursing assistant in different countries around the world, there is always some type of formal training necessary before obtaining certification. Often, the candidate must have completed at least a basic amount of formal education. However, college experience is rarely necessary. Along with the rudimentary education requirements, most jurisdictions also require an approved course of study related to the duties and responsibilities of a nursing assistant.

In the United States, individual states set the standards for approved training courses. Most training programs require at least seventy-five hours of classroom experience along with sixteen to twenty hours of clinical training under the supervision of an LPN or RN. Once the requirements of the training program are met, the nursing assistant candidate can begin the process of obtaining certification.


Before employment as a certified nursing assistant can take place, the candidate must comply with the certification process that is mandated for the jurisdiction. This may involve a written exam alone, or be combined with additional supervised training in a healthcare facility. In some countries, the exact process for the certification depends on the environment where the nursing assistant plans on applying for employment. For example, the assistant may follow one certification track in order to be certified for a job in a nursing home, while the assistant who plans on making a career working in a hospital will follow a different track.

Even after certification, many jurisdictions require that the certified nursing assistant complete a minimum number of hours of training on an annual basis. This additional training helps to ensure that the certified nursing assistant remains well-versed in procedures and techniques that will make it possible to provide the highest level of efficient care to patients. Providing proof of this continuing education is sometimes necessary to renew certification.

In order to learn the specific combination of courses and requirements in place for your area, contact the local nurses association. The association will be able to put you in touch with agencies that oversee the formal training and can also help you enroll in the next scheduled set of classes. In many cases, these agencies can also assist you in setting up the on-site clinical training required to complete the training and help you apply for certification.


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