How to Become a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA)?

As a Certified Nursing Assistant (CAN), you’ll have the opportunity to help patients be as comfortable as possible and contribute to their overall healthcare. According to, there is a brief step-by-step process of what it takes to have a career as a CNA.

Step 1 – Get Your High School Diploma Or GED
All states require a high school diploma or GED prior to beginning your CNA training program. If you’re still in high school, try to take some extra science classes to help you possibly get a leg up in your future CNA program. Once you have your diploma/GED, you’ll need to look up your state’s approved education programs.

Step 2 – Pick A State-Approved Education Program
Any CNA program you pick must be accredited and meet your state’s requirements. All of the programs found on our site are accredited. An accredited program lets you know that it’s designed to qualify and prepare you to take the CNA licensure exam. Regardless of where you live, these programs include classes and supervised clinical hours. The amount of supervised clinical hours needed may vary from state-to-state. The entire length of a CNA program will vary by state and organization, but they can take up to nine months to complete.

Step 3 – Pass Your State’s CNA Licensure Exam
Some states allow you to work under the supervision of a licensed nurse as an orderly before you take your CNA exam. However, it’s important that you don’t waste time, and take the CNA exam sooner rather than later. Remember you can (and should) take practice tests to prepare you for the real thing. The CNA exam is a competency test, comprised of different sections designed to test you on what you have learned both in a classroom and in a clinical setting.

Step 4 – Complete On-The-Job Training
Once you have passed the exam and are an official CNA, you’ll likely have some on-the-job training you’ll need to go through too. The length of the training and skills taught will vary depending on where you work. CNAs often work in nursing homes, hospitals, assisted living facilities, and for home healthcare services and government organizations.

Step 5 – Continue Your Education
To keep up with healthcare practices and regulations, most states require CNAs to complete a set number of continuing education credits. You might have to take classes every year, or every few years, depending on what is required by your state. If, for whatever reason, you cannot take the continuing education classes, your CNA license will then be inactive. It’s possible to reactivate your license once you have fulfilled your state’s requirements.