How to Become a CNA

How to Become a CNA - US CNA Classes Online Becoming a CNA can be a rewarding career move.  Maybe you want to become a CNA because you think it’s a good fit

for your cheerful and outgoing personality.  Maybe you’re kind, and like to help others.  Or maybe the pay and hours are what you need.

No matter the reason, you need to know how to become a CNA right now.  The process isn’t too difficult once you have all of the information you need.

The good news is that the requirements to become a CNA are pretty easy to meet, and you can enroll in CNA online classes or traditional CNA classes in your area pretty easily.

You just need to attend the classes and pass your exam. Then you are ready to work as a CNA – a true healthcare professional.

Here’s the whole process, broken down, step by step.

STEP 1: Know the Requirements

In order to work as a CNA you need to satisfy some basic requirements.  Don’t worry. Certified Nurses Aides are entry level positions, so the requirements are relatively easy to meet.

The actual requirements differ from state to state but they usually include:

  • You are 18 years old (in some states, you can be 16)
  • You pass a background check, including fingerprinting.
  • You have a high school diploma or GED
  • You pass a drug test
  • You pass a test for diseases such as TB, hepatitis, etc.
  • You have proper immunizations

For the exact requirements for your area, you need to contact your state’s office of professions, public health or nurse licensing.

So do you satisfy the requirements?  If so, you learned a little bit more about how to become a CNA.

Now you just need to get certified so that you can become a CNA and start working.

STEP 2: Take Certification Classes – CNA Classes Online or Traditional Classes

The next step in learning how to become a CNA is to learn the necessary skills.  Each state requires you to qualify for an exam.  That means taking theory courses, performing lab work and performing supervised clinical training.

This is a requirement if you want to become a CNA.

There is no way around it.  You need to take classes and get certified if you want to become a CNA. This is the most important lesson you can learn when you are learning how to become a CNA.

The good news is that these classes only take 4 to 24 weeks. You can get through the whole process and become a CNA, with a job and income, within weeks.

Think about how this compares to becoming a Registered Nurse (RN).  As an RN, it can take years just to get done with your training!

In the past, most  people learning how to become a CNA have taken their certification classes in-person.  Recently, online classes are becoming much more popular.

In the past, there were only a few schools that offered online classes to people looking to become a CNA. Now, several organizations offer online classes, including:

Before you enroll make sure that the school you choose is accredited and approved for CNA certification classes in your state.

For example, one set of online classes may be accepted in California, but may not be accepted in New York.  The best way to get to the bottom of this is to call the school directly before enrolling.  The call takes 5 minutes, and will save you a lot of time.

Online classes can be great if you need to attend the classes on your own time.  In other words, you aren’t committed to a fixed class schedule.  This is great for busy people, or if you don’t like to go to school.

But you will need to go to a school to perform your lab training. And you will need to go to a hospital, nursing home or an approved location for supervised clinical training.

Keep that in mind as you are selecting your CNA classes online.  Also, make sure that you are close to locations where you can perform your in-person training before enrolling.

If online courses aren’t for you, you can still take in-person classes to teach you how to become a CNA.  Call the office of professions, nursing licensing or public health in your state. They can provide a list of local, accredited schools that you can attend in your area.

Step 3: Apply for the Certification Exam

Once you have completed your courses, you need to apply for the exam.  You can do this by finding the testing agency that runs the CNA exams in your state.  This varies from state to state, but there are two big companies that cover most states.

The first is the NNAAP which covers the following 23 states:

  • Alabama
  • Alaska
  • California
  • Colorado
  • Washington, DC
  • Georgia
  • Louisiana
  • Maryland
  • Minnesota
  • Mississippi
  • New Hampshire
  • North Carolina
  • North Dakota
  • Pennsylvania
  • Rhode Island
  • South Carolina
  • Texas
  • Vermont
  • Virginia
  • Virgin Islands
  • Washington
  • Wisconsin
  • Wyoming

The second is Prometric, which covers the following 12 states:

  • Arkansas
  • Connecticut
  • Delaware
  • Florida
  • Hawaii
  • Idaho
  • Michigan
  • Nevada
  • New Mexico
  • New York
  • Oklahoma

If your state is not listed, then you need to check with your state’s office of professions, nursing licensing or public health to find out which testing agency administers the exam for you to become a CNA.

When you are ready to take your exam, go to the website for the testing agency and print out the application form.  

Once you fill out the form you must send it off with payment to cover your testing fees.  After that, you will be registered for your test to become a CNA.

STEP 4: Pass the CNA Certification Exam

You put in the work in learning how to become a CNA.  You took your CNA online courses, or in-person classes.  You’ve registered for the test, and test day is here!

Your training and classes have prepared you for this moment, so now you just need to pass.

Once you take the test, the organization that administers the test (like Prometric or NNAAP) will grade your results and give you a score out of 100%.  If you pass, they will issue your certification and list your name and certification on the Nurse Aid Registry for your state.

If you get a passing grade, check that you are listed in the Nurse Aid Registry for yourself. New employers will use this registry to verify that you are certified, and have all of the necessary requirements to work as a CNA.

If, for some reason, you are not listed after passing the exam, contact the testing agency and ask how to fix the problem.

STEP 5: Find a CNA Job

Finding a job means that you have actually become a CNA.  It can be a rewarding experience.  In the past few years, thousands of new CNA jobs have been created in the US.  Even better, experts project that up to 300,000 new CNA jobs will be created by the year 2020!

It’s certainly an exciting time to learn how to become a CNA.

Once you have your certification, you can check online job sites like indeed.com that can show you Certified Nursing Assistant jobs in your area.  Just click that link, and put in your location.

If you can’t find anything on the web, then you can call local hospitals or nursing homes in your area to see if there are any positions available.

Being a CNA also qualifies you for many home healthcare jobs.  You can also place flyers in your local church or community center that may lead to a private job for private clients.  That means you will be taking care of someone in their own home.

STEP 6: Celebrate your journey learning how to become a CNA

Learning how to become a CNA takes some time and work, but in the end you will have accomplished something great.

By learning how to become a CNA, you qualify for a whole new set of jobs.  You can start making more money by actually helping people.

Congratulate yourself!

If you want to become a CNA, head over to our state-by-state directory, that will outline all of the requirements to become a CNA in your state, including information about CNA classes online.

Article by: Chris Salvato

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