Your Guide To Becoming A Nursing Assistant

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For almost a decade, has helped prospective CNAs to launch their education and careers. Along with our site blogger, Celeste Bokatonis, our editorial staff strives to stay abreast of new developments in the field, to bring you up-to-date news and developments.

We have listed our most frequently asked questions below, along with links to more in-depth information.

  1. How Do I Become A CNA?
  2. Is Licensure Required To Be A CNA?
  3. What Is The Career Outlook For CNAs?
  4. Can I Become A CNA Online?
  5. What CNA Classes Are Available Online?

What CNA Classes Are Available Online?

CNA classes are available online and offer the same course content that campus-based program provide. Below are sponsored accredited online CNA training programs that are recognized as approved training options by licensing agencies:

Click here to see more Nursing programs...

How Do I Become A CNA?

So you want to become a CNA? That is great! As a Certified Nursing Assistant/Aide, or CNA, you’ll have the opportunity to help patients be as comfortable as possible and contribute to their overall healthcare. Below you’ll find a brief step-by-step process of what it takes to have a career as a CNA. Check out our guide, How To Become A Certified Nursing Aide, for even more information.

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.

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Is Licensure Required To Be A CNA?

The short answer – yes, usually. While some states only ask you to finish a CNA program and complete on-the-job training, most states also require you to take the CNA exam. This exam is basically a competency test that consists of multiple choice and open-ended questions.

An accredited, state-approved CNA program is designed to prepare and qualify you for this exam, and you can also take practice tests ahead of time to increase your chances of passing the real thing the first time around.

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What Is The Career Outlook For CNAs?

The job outlook for CNAs can be summarized in one word: excellent. According to The US Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of nursing assistants is projected to grow 11 percent from 2016 to 2026, faster than the average for all occupations, as of May 2017.

The job growth for CNAs will not be slowing down any time soon. People are living even longer due to medical advancements, contributing to the growing need for more nursing assistants. Our population is also aging at a rapid rate, and with a medical workforce shortage predicted, becoming a CNA is a good idea.

A promising job outlook is strong in other medical professions, such as nursing. If you choose to advance your education and become an RN, you’ll still be highly sought after. Employment of registered nurses is projected to grow 15 percent from 2016 to 2026, MUCH faster than the average for all occupations. Becoming a CNA is a great way to break into the medical industry in a short amount of time.

Career Outlook By State

Employment levels for CNAs vary by state. The US Bureau of Labor Statistics highlights those states with the highest employment level for nursing assistants in the illustration below (source: Occupational Employment And Wages: Nursing Assistants, data for May 2017)

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Can I Become A CNA Online?

Yes, you can become a CNA online. Online accredited degree program are available and offer an enormous amount of flexibility. These programs offer the necessary classes for becoming a CNA in an online format.

The number of training hours varies by state, AND some states require a combination of classroom hours and clinical hours. Some schools offer hybrid training programs, but ultimately, verify your state’s requirements before choosing a program. Check out our guide, CNA Classes Online, to learn more about becoming a CNA online.

So if you’re interested in taking classes online, keep the following in mind:

  1. What courses are required to become a CNA in my state?
  2. Is the online program accredited?
  3. Do the faculty members have relevant professional experience?
  4. Is there support in place for examination preparation?

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Meet Celeste… & Join Our Community!

Medical assistant Celeste Botonakis explores the daily life of a CNA on our Nursing Assistant Guide blog. She will keep you up-to-date with the latest on what is happening in the field, and provides tips for those interested in becoming a medical or nursing assistant. Celeste has served in the medical field for over six years, and is passionate about helping people. She currently works at CSR Primary Care in Skokie, Illinois.

And please don’t forget to follow our Facebook page so you can connect with our community. We regularly post on topics related to nursing assistant degree programs, updates in the field, tips for students and prospective CNAs, and much more.

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