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Certified Nursing Assistant Certification

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Becoming a certified nursing assistant can be a straightforward and effective way to enter the healthcare ecosystem, get familiar with the environment, and decide whether or not you wish to pursue an advanced career in the field.

Naturally, you can only become a certified nursing assistant after first becoming certified. However, as with most fields in healthcare, there are more than a few options to consider regarding training and certification for prospective CNAs.

If you want to become a CNA and get familiar with the alternatives, the article below should serve as a valuable starting point.

Below, we have provided in-depth information regarding everything you need to know about training and certification for nursing assistants.

Before Certification

The first step to becoming a certified nursing assistant is to become a trained nursing assistant. And you can become a domestic nursing assistant by graduating from a state-approved program. There are plenty of quality programs all over the country. Still, you have to ensure they are approved and offer exhaustive coursework, including the job’s theoretical and laboratory aspects.

The American Red Cross remains one of the foremost institutions offering such a curriculum. Another thing you’ll need is to supplement your theoretical and laboratory knowledge with actual clinical hands-on training. Again, the Red Cross provides this aspect as well.

You may take the certification exam once you’re done with clinical training.

What Exactly is CNA Certification, and Why is it Necessary?

Certification is how trained nursing assistants apply for and take special oral and written exams to prove their proficiency. Each state requires nursing assistants to be certified because certification proves that individuals are qualified to carry out their activities to the highest level.

Certified nursing assistants perform such a crucial role in a healthcare environment that only those most capable must be allowed to practice, which is what certification ensures.

Most certification exams also involve criminal background checks to ensure that candidates are who they say they are and have no criminal history.

How to Become Certified

After completing your CNA training program, you may take the CNA exam to become certified. The most popular examination in this regard is the national nurse aide assessment program aimed at determining the competency of nursing assistants.

Currently, there are about 14 states that require airlines to take this examination, including Alabama, Colorado, Mississippi, DC, Alaska, Maryland, South Carolina, North Carolina, Rhode Island, and Washington.

National Nurse Aide Assessment Exam

The NNAAP exam consists of two sections, the oral and written sections. The verbal section lasts 90 minutes and texts based on topics including physical care skills, psychosocial stages, and other crucial roles and responsibilities of a nurse aide.

Candidates must also complete a 30-minute test before a proctor to display their skills as a nursing assistant. Those who wish to learn more about the NNAAP exam may peruse the program’s official page.

There, you’ll find resources to prepare for the tests and a guide on locating the examination centers in your state of preference.

Certification Requirements by State

Not all states use the NNAAP as their certification examination of choice. Below are some specific requirements and official websites for certification in a few select states:

Alabama CNA Certification Requirements

Alaska Certification Requirements

  • Complete an approved CNA program
  • Complete at least 140 training hours, including 60 classroom hours and 80 lab/clinical practice hours.
  • Submit an application for Alaska’s Nurse Aide Certification by Examination

Arizona Certification Requirements

  • Graduate from a board-approved CNA program
  • Complete 120 training hours
  • Take the state’s written and manual skills examination.
  • Submit proof of legal residency
  • Website: Arizona State Board of Nursing

California CNA Certification Requirements

  • Must be 16 years old or above.
  • Must complete an approved CNA training program.
  • Get a criminal record clearance.
  • Pass the Competency Evaluation Examination
  • Website:California Department of Public Health

Florida CNA Certification Requirements

  • Complete an approved CNA training program.
  • Pass the nursing assistant competency examination.
  • Website: Florida Board of Nursing

Maryland Certification Requirements

  • Finish 100 hours of CNA instruction from an approved CNA program.
  • Take the CNA competency exam.
  • Website: Maryland Board of Nursing

New York CNA Certification Requirements

Rhode Island Certification Requirements

  • Graduate from a state-approved CNA training program with 120 hours of training
  • Apply for a nursing assistant license.
  • Take and pass the CNA competency examination.
  • Website: State of Rhode Island Department of Health

Texas Certification Requirements

  1. Graduate from a state-approved nurse aide training
  2. Sit for and pass the competency evaluation examination.
  3. Alternatively, you may qualify to be put on the Texas Nurse Aide Registry through waiver or reciprocity.
  4. Website: Texas Health and Human Services Nurse Aide Registry

Washington Certification Requirements


Once candidates pass the state certification examination, they still need to be certified. They are only officially licensed once they submit their application to the state department, complete a background check, and pay the required fee.

Certification issuance may take as much as 30 days after application. Another important aspect of certification to take note of is recertification.

You can’t just get certified once and think it’s all over. You must continue to apply for recertification as specified by your particular state. Some states require certification every other year. CNAs in California, for instance, must earn 48 continuing education units every two years to keep their certificate.