Certified Nursing Assistant

How to Become a CNA in California

Venice Nuyda
May 5, 2023

Are you ready to embark on an exciting career as a certified nursing assistant (CNA) in sunny California and don't know where to begin? We've got an easy-to-follow guide that will walk you through the steps you need to take to make your dreams a reality.

The average CNA class in California costs $1700, with a range of $1200 to $2565, and most programs are approximately 12 weeks long. The examination would cost $130. Extra costs may include books, classroom fees, and uniforms, depending on the school. The price might look overwhelming at first, but once you get the certification and start working, it’ll all be worth it.

CNA wages in California can start at $35,340 to $42,810 a year with an average pay of $17 per hour, which is among the top 5% of the nation. 

What Are the Requirements to Be a CNA in California?

  • Complete state-recognized training - CNA programs in California will have at least 60 hours of classroom teaching and 100 hours of hands-on training. The training can be done in a workplace as long as it satisfies the state's requirements.
  • Pass a background check - California runs criminal background checks using a Live Scan digital fingerprinting process. They run a check beforehand to ensure safety and security upon application before issuing a license. Then they run a check for criminal offenses except for minor traffic violations. Healthcare facilities will also run their own background checks before starting a new position with them.
  • Have required documents - You must either have a Social Security Card or an ITIN Number (if not a resident of the United States). To be a CNA in California, you must be 16 years or older and have a High School Diploma or equal type. Some schools don’t need a High School diploma at all. Instead, they want candidates to pass an 8th-grade math/reading test.

    Have your recent immunization records, like TB tests and COVID vaccinations, ready because they are needed to start working with real patients.
  • Pass the test - California uses the National Nurse Aide Assessment Program (NNAAP) for certification. You must pass the knowledge and skill part of the test to get your certification. Testing fees may vary, but currently, it is around $100. 

Where Can I Find CNA Classes in California? 

Dreambound has a list of schools for you already in Los Angeles, San Bernardino, San Diego, Santa Ana, Sacramento, San Jose, and San Francisco. You can also view upcoming CNA class schedules via those links by clicking on the nearby metro areas. 

Once you decide on the school and class you want to attend, you can prepare the things you need to buy for your class.

What Do I Need to Buy for My CNA Classes? 

One must remember the correct dress code when enrolling in a CNA class. Make sure to come dressed to impress with the right color of scrubs, comfy socks, and closed-toed shoes - such as Danskos – to guarantee you are ready for success!

Books and supplies used in class depend on the training providers. Ask your school if they will provide textbooks, workbooks, and equipment during the program. Some sell complete kits for candidates, like gait belts, blood pressure cuffs, stethoscopes, and more. Ask your school if they will provide the necessary equipment during class and clinicals. 

Many training providers offer other certification courses that combine a CNA certificate with certification in other exciting fields, such as Medication Tech. Ask your school if they offer such programs to advance your career further.

How Do I Register for a CNA Exam? 

To register for a CNA exam in California, the applicant must be at least 16 years of age, have completed a training program approved by the Department of California, and obtained a criminal record clearance. 

Once you have everything you need and pass the testing, you can submit your application with a copy of the Request for Live Scan Service to the California Department of Public Health. Allow at least 30 days for CDPH to receive the test results from Credentia.

The CNA exam is the most important part of becoming certified. Because we want you to ace your exam, we have prepared a brief manual on how you can prepare for your CNA examination! You might feel a sudden burst of pressure and stress before taking the exam, but always stay calm and confident with your skills and learnings.

What Can I Do After Becoming a CNA? 

One of the best things about being a CNA is that there are several possible career paths. Some CNAs go to a hospital or staffing agency after working in a nursing home for 6 months. You may also complete extra training to become a medication aide, medical assistant, phlebotomy technician, or patient care technician. A reference letter from your CNA instructor will help you get into nursing school–CNAs can also enroll in programs to become licensed vocational nurses (LVNs) or registered nurses (RNs).

The US BLS reports that California has the highest CNA employment, with over 100,000 working right now. A CNA can make $17 an hour or more, and good job opportunities are waiting for you once you get that certification, so you don’t need to worry about how to get a job as a CNA. Some Dreambound graduates are even working on starting their own CNA schools already–who knows, you might be the next one in line!

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Written by
Venice Nuyda

Venice Nuyda is a student-support representative at Dreambound. She is responsible for helping students through their training journey in the allied health space. She is passionate about helping others and writing informative articles to aid candidates in advancing their vocational careers.

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