The answer to this question depends on where you live. However, you must meet certain education and training requirements in most places, which we detail here.
Education Requirements for CNAs
Most states require you to complete an approved program before you can test for CNA certification. You typically need only a high school diploma or GED to apply. Many community colleges offer CNA training programs, which usually take one academic semester or one to two quarters. You might also find programs offered at hospitals or technical schools.
During your studies, you'll cover the following topics.
Infection control and other medical workplace safety concerns
Activities of daily living
Communication in a healthcare setting, including patient interaction and confidentiality
Each program includes both classroom-based instruction and a set number of clinical experience hours in a healthcare facility. Clinical training allows you to practice your newly learned skills in an active care setting.
Licensing and Certification
Once you complete an approved education program, you can apply for CNA certification or licensure — the name of the credential varies by state. You need to pass a competency exam with a written portion, an oral component, and a live demonstration of CNA skills in a simulated medical setting.
Be sure to check your state's guidelines for earning a CNA credential. The National Council of State Boards of Nursing offers links to the relevant website or contact person for each territory. Note that the council uses the term "nurse aide" instead of CNA.
Continuing Education and Certification Renewal
To keep working as a CNA, you need to renew your certification or license every two years. Because healthcare is constantly evolving, renewal hinges on both active work as a CNA and at least 12 hours of continuing education each year.
You might take continuing education in a classroom setting or as an online training module. CNA classes might cover any subjects relevant to the working professional, including the examples below.
Best practices for preventing medical errors
Resident and patient rights
How to providing compassionate emotional support for patients
Updates to proper documentation practices in medical offices
Caring for older patients