How to Earn a CNA Certification Licensing & Credentials for a Certified Nursing Assistant Career

CNAs are responsible for duties such as taking vital signs, changing catheters, and feeding and cleaning patients. In order to perform these tasks effectively, CNAs are required to undergo rigorous training and then receive a stamp of approval from the state they want to work in. This page provides information on CNA certifications, including how to get a new license, transfer a certification to another state, find practice certification exam questions and recertify credentials.

Steps to Earning CNA Certification

Certified nursing assistants have a demanding, fast-paced job, so employers want to know that the professionals they hire are up to the challenge. As a result, the process of receiving a CNA certification is rigorous and designed to prepare students to thrive in an often stressful work environment. The table below outlines the steps that are usually involved when becoming CNA certified.

The CNA Certification Exam

The last step to entering the CNA field is to obtain certification, which requires passing an exam. The CNA certification test is the culmination of everything students learn during their training programs, and represents a wide range of skills students should know by the time they’ve completed their degrees. As a result of this holistic focus, it is designed to measure both theoretical concepts and practical skills.

MULTIPLE CHOICE TEST

This portion of the test is made up of 70 to 75 questions. Students have around 90 minutes to two hours to complete the exam. Topics tested include catheters, mobility aids, mental illness, and the symptoms of disease.

MANUAL SKILLS TEST

This part of the certification exam is where prospective CNAs demonstrate their hands-on skills. Students are required to perform five tasks from a list of various skills, which may include hand washing, bedpan handling, denture care, patient bathing and grooming, and interacting with patients suffering from serious mental illnesses.

After completing a CNA program, graduates are expected to prove their understanding of several areas related to the profession. The following are some of the subjects that can be found on the certification exam.

  • The role of CNAs
  • Safety
  • Infection control
  • Personal care
  • Data collection
  • Patients’ rights
  • Communication skills
  • Mental health
  • Disease processes
  • Patients’ environmental needs

CNA Exam Sample Questions

By the time students finish their CNA training programs, they should already have extensive knowledge of the subjects covered on the certification exam. However, it’s still helpful to understand how the test is structured. The following are samples of the types of questions that appear on the test.

Find CNA Practice Exams

Preparation is key to doing well on the CNA exam, and there are many resources around the web that students can use for free. The following are examples of these invaluable resources.

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Transferring CNA Certification to Another State

CNAs have transferrable skills that can easily be applied to new settings—even if professionals are interested in working in another geographic location. However, before packing their bags, CNAs must officially transfer their certification to the new state. This process is outlined below.

Completely fill out paperwork

CNAs that plan to practice in a new state must fill out an application to begin the certification transfer process. In addition, professionals may be required to fill out paperwork in their current state to alert the nursing board that they intend to move.

Submit supporting materials

The materials professionals must submit may vary, but generally, applicants are asked for proof of their education and employment history, and copies of their current CNA license, social security card, and driver’s license.

Provide fingerprint card

CNAs are expected to undergo a criminal background check in order to transfer their license, so it’s necessary to complete a fingerprint card and submit it to the board of nursing.

FAQ: Renewing Your CNA Certification

The health care field is constantly evolving, so all professionals must keep their skills current to provide the best patient care. To that end, every state requires CNAs to renew their certifications periodically. The questions below describe this process.

CNA certifications should be renewed every one to two years, depending on the state. Each license has an expiration date on it.
Requirements may include working a certain number of hours, completing continuing education courses, and passing another background check. In some cases, CNAs may be required to retake their certification test.
Nursing assistants can find continuing education providers through their state board. Courses may be taken through two- or four-year colleges, as well as private companies.
The cost for continuing education depends on the provider offering the courses.
The cost to recertify can be up to around $200. Fees vary by state.

Additional Resources for Aspiring CNAs