Certified Nursing Assistant

How Long Does It Take To Become a CNA?

Fel Gonzaga
May 9, 2023

Certified Nursing Assistants (CNAs) are vital in providing basic patient care and support to nursing staff. Being a CNA opens up opportunities for career advancement. In this blog, we will take a closer look at the time it takes to become a CNA and the factors that affect this. 

Duration of the CNA training

To become a CNA, your first step is to complete a state-approved training program. You can choose to enroll in community colleges, vocational schools, and nursing homes.

The program can be in a traditional classroom setting, online, or through a hybrid program that combines both.

The length of the program varies by state, but the average time ranges from 4 to 12 weeks. The number of hours of training required can range from 75 to 180 hours, depending on the program.  Depending on state regulations, a typical 120-hour CNA course may involve four weeks of classroom study and two weeks of practical training in a clinical environment.

CNA training requirements

Each state has its own set of requirements for CNA training. If you want to become a CNA, here's a list of some of the requirements to enroll:

  • Age: Depending on the state, you must be at least 16-18 years old.
  • High School diploma or equivalent: Some states may require you to have a high school diploma or equivalent to enroll in a CNA program.
  • Criminal background check: Many states require CNAs to undergo a criminal background check as part of the certification process.
  • Physical Fitness: Some states require you to meet certain physical requirements to enroll in a CNA training program. 
  • Immunization: Many states require proof of immunization for certain diseases, such as measles, mumps, and rubella, to enroll in a CNA training program. 
  • State ID or Social Security Card: Some states require you to provide a state ID or social security card as proof of residency. 

CNA certification exam

After completing a state-approved CNA training program, you must pass a certification exam to become a licensed CNA. 

The exam consists of a written portion and a clinical portion. The written part is where you have to answer a series of multiple-choice questions. It is usually administered by a third-party test proctor such as Prometric, Pearson VUE, or the American Red Cross.

During the practical portion, you must prove your nursing skills by performing CNA tasks. A registered nurse (RN) usually supervises this part of the exam. You can complete both portions on the same day in most cases. Passing requirements vary by state; a minimum score on both portions of the exam is required.  

  • Waiting period before the test 
    The waiting period for you to take the state test varies on which state you’re located in. It may be available to take immediately after graduation, or you may have to wait for 2 - 6 weeks before testing. 

    Some states require you to take the state exam within two years after completing your training. It is always best to check with your state to confirm the waiting period.
  • Waiting period after the test 
    The time it takes to receive your certification or license after passing the state test can vary depending on the state you’re in. In some states, you may receive your certification immediately after passing the exam, while in others, it may take 2 weeks or longer.
  • Retaking the test 
    You should check with your state board of nursing for specific policies and procedures about retaking the exam. Rules and regulations can vary depending on the state. Some allow candidates to retake the exam as soon as 30 days after the first attempt. Others may take a longer waiting period. Extra training or education may also be a requirement before you can retake the exam. 

Factors affecting the time it takes to become a CNA

It’s worth noting certain factors that can affect the time it takes to become a CNA:

  • State requirements: Each state has its own requirements for CNA training and certification. This includes the number of training hours and the content of the training program.
  • Type of program: CNA programs are available in various institutions. Each has varying program lengths and schedules. Community colleges tend to offer longer CNA training programs than vocational schools and healthcare facilities.
  • Part-time or full-time enrollment: Enrolling as a part-time student can extend the time it takes to complete the program compared to full-time enrollment.
  • Prerequisites: Some CNA programs need prerequisites, such as a high school diploma or equivalent. This can add to the time it takes to become a CNA if you currently do not have one.
  • Clinical experience: CNA programs require clinical hours that may range from 75 - 180 hours. The length can vary depending on the program and the state requirements. 
  • Exam scheduling: CNA certification exams may only be available on certain dates or at certain locations. It can delay the time it takes to complete certification.
  • Individual pace: The time it takes to complete a CNA program and become certified can vary depending on your personal circumstances and learning pace.

Awarding of CNA certificate at Victorious Healthcare Academy

Importance of the CNA certification

Certification is your proof of expertise. Employers recognize it as a sign that you have the capability to perform your job effectively. The exam tests your knowledge and skills related to patient care and safety, communication, infection control, and more.

Final Thoughts

Becoming a CNA can be a fulfilling and rewarding career choice. It’s safe to say that the time it takes to become a CNA can vary based on several factors and individual state requirements. However, the job growth and stability, and the opportunities for career advancement, make it a promising option for those looking to enter the healthcare field. If you're interested in becoming a CNA, we encourage you to take the first step by exploring available CNA schools near you through Dreambound! 

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Written by
Fel Gonzaga

Fel is a student support representative who guides enrollees to the right program and answers their queries. She's committed to helping students and takes pride in her work. In her free time, she enjoys sightseeing and hanging out with loved ones.

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