Prospective CNAs (certified nurse assistants), must first earn a post-secondary certificate or award, in which they learn the basic principles of nursing and complete supervised clinical work.   CNA certificate programs generally run 6 to 12 weeks and include hands on training.    Exact duration varies to meet individual state requirements.

A high school diploma or equivalent is generally required as a prerequisite.  You may also be required to pass a physical, tuberculosis test, drug test and a criminal background test. The background checks are for the safety and protection of patients. A CNA school may also express a preference for students that have certain skills or traits. These traits might include such things as caring for people, communication skills and dependability.  For a more complete list of these see the CNA Skills page on this site.


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CNA training schools exist  in a number of educational venues. These include high schools, vocational-technical centers and community colleges. CNA training programs are offered at some hospitals, nursing care facilities, hospice centers ,the American Red Cross and the military.  If you enroll in a nursing home CNA school, you will be expected to work there after completion of your training.

CNA schools offer both day programs and weekend/night programs. Usually the day CNA programs are on the shorter end of the time scale (6-8 weeks) and the night/weekend programs are longer (10-12 or more).  CNA schools  provide lectures, workshops, and in-service training.

Online CNA schools also exist and are an option to complete the educational portion of training. The clinical or practical hands-on training must still be done in a health facility such as a nursing home or hospital.  CNA online training has the advantage of letting the student take courses on their own schedule. Online CNA programs may also save commuting time and expense.  See the CNA Online Classes page on this site for more detail on courses and training.


Information on this page summarized from:       
(1)  Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook,  Nursing Assistants and Orderlies,
(2) Wikipedia contributors, "Unlicensed assistive personnel," Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia,
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