Becoming a CNA
There are 1.5 million people working as Certified Nursing Assistants. It is one of the most highly-demanded jobs in the United States, with more employment opportunities than employees. This trend is expected to continue and even accelerate over the next decade as new positions continue to open. Becoming a CNA is a great way to start a career in a stable job market and get access to comfortable wages and extensive employment benefits. The training period is short and the skills learned are invaluable. The rewards of being a nurse aide are greater than material gain, and CNAs make a positive difference in the lives of those they serve on a daily basis. We can help you find CNA classes that fit your schedule.
There are very few prerequisites required to enroll in a CNA class. For most, the bare minimum is a high school diploma or GED. In some states however, this is not even necessary and training can begin as early as the age of 16. The ability to read and write is extremely important to efficiently master the new knowledge and nursing skills covered in class. After the CNA course is complete, trainees must challenge the certification test. This test is timed, so being comfortable reading with time limits is necessary to succeed and complete your certification.
CNA Training Options
There are many different types of facilities that offer CNA training. Every state publishes a yearly list of state-approved nurse aide training programs, and for the most part, all nurse aides must complete one of these programs to qualify to take the certification test. The most popular of these programs are at nursing homes, community colleges, and vocational nursing schools. There are also options at community centers like the American Red Cross, but these options are fewer and far between.
Training at a nursing home is a very popular route to certification because there is the possibility of receiving an offer of employment during instruction, reducing the time between training and employment. Community colleges are the most convenient option because they are located in accessible areas throughout every state, but their nurse aide training programs can be more expensive than others. Vocational nursing programs are the most efficient type of training because these facilities are operated with the specific intention of training new nurses, but they are usually smaller operations and sometimes lack quality instructors or necessary resources.
Online nurse assistant classes are a very attractive option for many people, but they are not always the most efficient route to certification. For many people, training as a nurse aide is a secondary pursuit, and they are already fully-employed. You can find CNA classes that offer a flexible course schedule and can have the convenience of learning from home. There are many states that do not permit online classes to qualify for credit to challenge the certification test. This means that it may be possible to enroll in an online class, but completing the final step of passing the certification test will not be possible. Because the job of a nurse aide requires many practical skills and clinical techniques, it requires training that can only be completed in person. Hands-on experience is required to master many nursing skills.
CNA Certification Process
The certification process is generally the same throughout the entire country. Each state has distinct requirements for training programs and many have differing qualifications for challenging the certification test. In most states, it is mandatory to enroll in a state-approved nurse aide training course, though there are exceptions like Florida or North Carolina. All CNA courses must provide at least 75 hours of instruction separated into sections for classroom teaching and supervised clinical rotations. Again, each state has different policies; some only require 75 hours but others can require up to 180 hours. Once a course has been adequately completed, it is time to challenge the certification test. Every test has two parts to evaluate both sections of training: a written portion of multiple-choice questions and a practical portion for demonstrating clinical skills. Passing both parts of the test results in certification. Certification lasts for two years and must be renewed, or else training and testing have to be repeated.
CNA Job Options
Part of the reason nurse aides are so highly-demanded is because of the wide variety of settings in which their skills are valuable. The main employers of CNAs are nursing homes. They offer many entry-level positions for nurse aides and need to staff several different shifts throughout the day and night. Hospitals are another big source of employment for nurse aides. They pay slightly better wages, but have fewer openings for new nursing assistants. Other options are more unique, such as working in a college campus health center or community center like the YMCA. Wherever on-site medical supervision is needed, a CNA can be a valuable employee.