A certified nursing assistant (CNA) plays an important role in the delivery of basic care at a variety of health care settings. Working on the frontlines of patient care,nursing assistants provide crucial support to nurses and other caregivers.

Nursing Assistant Education Requirements

Prerequisites for a nursing assistant program include a high school diploma or GED. You can fulfill nursing assistant education requirements at vocational schools, technical schools, nursing care facilities, and community colleges. Programs generally lead to a certificate or diploma as a certified nursing assistant.

Certified nursing assistant program requirements include:

  • Classroom Instruction: Formal education for nursing aides and assistants offers a broad foundation of knowledge to help you function effectively as a caregiver. Courses include anatomy, nutrition, body mechanics, physiology, and infection control.
  • Applied CNA Program Training: Formal training may include personal care skills; clinical procedures such as checking vital signs and updating patient records; and facility procedures such as maintaining proper medical hygiene.
  • On-the-Job Training: Most CNAs transition from formal education to clinical practice by training on the job with a licensed nurse or experienced aide.

The final step to becoming a certified nursing assistant is state certification. To become certified as a nursing assistant, you must complete a minimum of 75 hours of state-approved training and pass a test. Each state mandates its own certification requirements, so check with your state board for exact training and testing standards.

Nursing Assistant Training

The exact nature of your nursing assistant training depends on your career goals. For example, nursing aides at a long-term care facility develop skills in assisting patients with the activities of daily living, such as bathing, eating, and grooming. Psychiatric nursing aides learn specific procedures for dealing with mentally ill patients, such as monitoring patients for behavioral changes, organizing activities, and handling emergencies.

Most nursing assistants undergo training at a vocational school or community college that provides them with the general skills necessary to assist in a variety of health care settings. Then, during an informal apprenticeship, new nursing assistants are given the opportunity to learn the ropes of a particular facility or care specialty. These programs may last a few days or a few months, depending on the institution.

Though certification requirements vary by state, all nursing assistants must pass state certification. This usually includes a combination of formal training and the successful completion of a certification exam.

Nursing Assistant Programs

Certified nursing assistant schools provide students with basic clinical care skills that qualify them to serve the needs of elderly, ill, and disabled patients struggling to overcome life challenges. The following schools and organizations offer formal certificate or diploma training programs for nursing assistants:

  • The American Red Cross: This humanitarian organization offers classes that teach the skills necessary for passing most certification exams. Classes are taught by nursing professionals and use hands-on techniques.
  • Pensacola State College: This state college in Florida offers a vocational certificate for nursing assistants that prepares students for the technical and interpersonal aspects of the job.
  • City College of San Francisco: This community college offers an 18-week full-time program that qualifies students to sit for the Nurse Assistant Competency Examination to obtain state certification in California.
  • Midwestern Career College: This allied health college in Illinois offers a state-approved CNA program that prepares students for the basic skills necessary to be effective members of a health care team.
  • Madison Area Technical College: This Wisconsin-based technical college offers nursing assistant training programs at several of its campuses across the state, and portions of the program can also be completed online. It prepares students to to pass certification testing for nursing assistants.

Nursing Assistant Resources


  1. The Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Certified Nursing Assistants, http://www.bls.gov/OOH/healthcare/nursing-assistants.htm
  2. The American Red Cross, http://www.redcross.org/take-a-class/cna-training
  3. City College of San Francisco, https://www.ccsf.edu/en/educational-programs/career-and-technical-education/student-resources/ProgramFAQs/home_health_aide-nurse_assistant_cna.html
  4. Madison Area Technical College, http://madisoncollege.edu/program-info/nursing-assistant
  5. Midwestern Career College, http://mccollege.edu/healthcare-certificate-programs/basic-nursing-assistant-program-cna/
  6. Pensacola State College, http://www.pensacolastate.edu/program_page.asp?DeptID=6745&ProgID=804

Metro Areas Sorted by Total Employment for:
Certified Nursing Assistants

Listed below are metro areas sorted by the total number of people employed in Certified Nursing Assistants jobs , as of 2016

2016 Occupational Employment Statistics and 2014-24 Employment Projections, Bureau of Labor Statistics, BLS.gov; 2014-24 State Occupational Projections, Projections Central, projectionscentral.com

Metro Area Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Los Angeles 37700 $29,360
Long Beach 37700 $29,360
Anaheim 37700 $29,360
Miami 23920 $23,840
Fort Lauderdale 23920 $23,840
West Palm Beach 23920 $23,840
Warren 21470 $28,850
Dearborn 21470 $28,850
Detroit 21470 $28,850
Arlington 21110 $24,390
Total Employment for Certified Nursing Assistants Can - Top 5 Cities Nationwide
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Salaries for Certified Nursing Assistants Can - Top 5 Cities Nationwide
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