Certified Nursing Assistant Education and Career Pathway

By | April 8, 2024
Certified Nursing Assistant Education
To become a certified nursing assistant, you will be expected to fulfill certain educational requirements.

This post provides detailed information on the certified nursing assistant education and career pathway, including the educational requirements you will need to meet to become a certified nursing assistant, CNA.

Why Choose Certified Nursing Assistant Career?

There are different reasons to choose the certified nursing assistant career, including:

  1. You want to be part of the healthcare industry.
  2. You have an interest in helping others.
  3. You enjoy working with people.
  4. You like being around other people.
  5. You like caring for others.
  6. You want to work long hours.
  7. You want to work flexible hours.
  8. You want to travel.
  9. You want to make money.
  10. You want to earn your own living.

Certified Nursing Assistant Education Requirements

The following requirements must be met before you can become a certified nursing assistant:

  1. High school diploma or GED.
  2. A minimum score of 70% on the ACT/SAT exam.
  3. Passing the NCLEX-RN licensure exam.
  4. An Associate’s degree or certificate program in nursing.
  5. Completion of a minimum of 1 year of paid clinical experience as a registered nurse.

 Certified Nursing Assistant Continuing Education

You may need to take additional courses to keep up with changes in the healthcare industry. These courses could include:

  1. Infection Control
  2. Geriatrics
  3. Pain Management
  4. Trauma Care
  5. Hospital Administration.

Certified Nursing Assistant Certification/License

To obtain a license, you will need to pass the NCLEX-PN test, which consists of two parts: Part I and Part II.

Both parts consist of multiple-choice questions that cover topics, such as anatomy, physiology, pharmacology, microbiology, and chemistry.

If you do not pass both parts of the test, you will need to retake it within 6 months.

After passing the NCLEX-PNC test, you will receive your certification card. To maintain your status as a certified nursing assistant, you will need to complete continuing education every 2 years.

This can be done by taking online classes, attending workshops, or completing a practicum.

Certified Nursing Assistant Career Opportunities

Here are some of the various career opportunities available to a certified nursing assistant:

  1. Licensed Practical Nurse

The Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) is responsible for administering medications, performing wound care, giving injections, and performing physical assessments.

They work under the supervision of a Registered Nurse to provide direct patient care. LPNs typically work in a variety of settings, including hospitals, clinics, assisted living facilities, and nursing homes.

2. Home Health Aide

Home health aides perform tasks related to personal care, such as dressing wounds, cleaning house, and preparing meals.

They also help patients get out of bed and move from one place to another. The home health aide works closely with the family members of the patient.

3. Personal Care Attendant

Personal care attendants assist elderly individuals with activities of daily living. They help them bathe, dress, eat, use the toilet, and walk around the house. They also give medication if needed.

4. Medical Surgical Tech

Medical surgical techs prepare medical equipment and instruments used during surgery.

They also sterilize surgical tools and bandages. They must have good communication skills and be able to read x-rays.

5. Clinical Laboratory Technician

Clinical laboratory technicians perform tests on blood samples to determine things like glucose levels, cholesterol levels, and liver function.

They also count cells and look at tissue slides under a microscope.

Others include:

How to Advance your Certified Nursing Assistant Career

Here are some ideas to help you advance your CNA career:

  1. Get more experience

You can start working as an RN’s aide while you finish your high school diploma. You can also take courses at community colleges to earn your Associate degree.

After earning your Associate degree, you can apply to transfer to a 4 year college/university to pursue your Bachelor’s degree.

2. Take advantage of free training programs offered by your local hospital

You can enroll in their training program to gain hands-on experience. Hospitals offer free training programs that teach basic procedures and techniques.

These programs are usually taught by experienced nurses who have been practicing for many years.

3. Be ready to work hard

Working as a CNA requires constant attention to detail. Your job involves providing excellent customer service to patients and families.

It takes patience, compassion, and dedication to do well in this field.

4. Consider becoming a nurse

If you want to become a registered nurse, then you should consider pursuing a Bachelor’s Degree first.

This will increase your chances of getting hired by hospitals or other healthcare organizations.

5. Become certified

There are several certifications available for CNAs. Becoming certified will make you stand out among other applicants. Some of these certifications include:

6. National Healthcareer Association (NHA)

This provides certification for those who wish to specialize in geriatric care.

7. American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC)

ANCC is a credentialing organization that provides a national standard for nursing practice.

8. American Red Cross

This provides certification for those who want to work in emergency services.

How to Find a Good Certified Nursing Assistant School

There are different ways to find good schools. These include:

  1. Search Online

The internet is a great place to search for schools offering accredited CNA education programs.

There are many websites that list all accredited schools in the U.S. However, it is important to note that not all schools listed on these websites are legitimate.

So, be sure to check each website independently before applying to any particular school.

2. Check Accreditation Status

Accredited schools must go through rigorous accreditation process to ensure quality education.

The Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) is an independent agency that oversees the accreditation process.

The CCNE evaluates nursing programs based on four criteria: curriculum, faculty, student learning outcomes, and resources.

3. Visit Campus

Visiting the campus of a potential school is another way to determine whether it is a good fit for you.

Make sure that the location is convenient for you. Also, look at the facilities provided by the school. Are they adequate? Do they meet your needs?

4. Talk to Current Students

If possible, talk to current students enrolled in the program. They have firsthand knowledge of what the program entails.

You can also ask them questions regarding the school’s admissions requirements, tuition costs, financial aid opportunities, etc.

5. Contact the Department of Health Care Services

You can contact the department of health care services (DHS) in your state to learn more about the accredited schools in your area.

DHSs usually have lists of accredited schools available online.

How to be Successful in your Certified Nursing Assistant Career

It takes hard work and dedication to become successful in this profession. Here are some pointers to help you succeed in your career:

  1. Be Patient

This job requires patience because you need to spend time with patients. This means that you may need to put aside your personal life during working hours.

But, once you complete your shift, you can relax and enjoy yourself.

2. Be Flexible

This job is highly variable. It depends on the patient’s condition, so there might be times when you need to adjust your schedule accordingly.

For example, if a patient has been admitted into the hospital, you may need to stay overnight. Or, if a patient is recovering from surgery, you may need to take extra shifts.

3. Stay Organized

Being organized helps you manage your workload efficiently. If you keep track of everything, you won’t forget anything.

And, you’ll save time and energy. Plus, being organized makes things easier for other people around you.

4. Have Good Communication Skills

Communication skills are essential in this field. You will need to communicate with patients, co-workers, family members, and managers.

Therefore, you should develop strong communication skills.

5. Develop Your Network

Networking allows you to expand your professional network. When someone asks you for advice, refer him or her to someone else who can provide additional information.

What Does a Certified Nursing Assistant Do?

Patients are given basic care by a certified nursing assistant. The duties include bathing, feeding, dressing, grooming, and administering medications.

A certified nursing assistant must be able to perform these tasks competently. In addition, he or she must be able to understand medical terminology and procedures.

Qualities of a Good Certified Nursing Assistant

Here are some qualities of a good CAN to develop:

  1. Knowledgeable

The first thing employers look at is whether an applicant has the required knowledge. So, it’s important that you know the basics of anatomy, physiology, pharmacology, and nursing theory.

2. Professional

You need to act professionally at all times. Employers want to see that you’re polite, respectful, and reliable. They also want to see that you maintain a neat appearance.

3, Dependable

Employers want to see that their employees show up for work on time. They don’t want to have to worry about whether they’ll be available to answer phone calls or respond to emails after hours.

4. Honesty

Honesty is another quality that employers seek out. Candidates should be honest about any previous criminal records. Also, candidates should disclose any substance abuse issues.

5. Patient Care

Employers want to know that you genuinely care about the well-being of patients. You should demonstrate compassion, empathy, and respect.

Certified Nursing Assistant Salary

According to Salary.com, the starting income for a certified nursing assistant ranges from $30,718 to $37,218 per year, with a median starting salary of $33,707.

Certified Nursing Assistant Job Outlook

According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, overall employment of nursing assistants and orderlies is expected to expand at a rate of 8% between 2020 and 2030.

Over the next decade, there are expected to be around 192,800 opportunities for nursing assistants and orderlies.


Being a certified nursing assistant requires patience, dedication, and hard work. It takes more than just being qualified to become a successful CNA.

There are many other factors that play into becoming a successful certified nursing assistant such as personality traits, motivation, and interpersonal skills.

This post is helpful to individuals interested in the certified nursing assistant career. It has provided exhaustive information on the educational requirements to fulfill to become a CNA, as well as other information to boost your knowledge of the career.