Certified Nursing Assistant

How to Become a CNA in Illinois

Alyssa Jane
May 5, 2023
CNA skills training at Illinois Institute of Nursing Studies, Inc.

Illinois is a state with many nicknames, many characteristics, and famous history. It’s home to famous people like Walt Disney, Abraham Lincoln, and more! However, what does Illinois have in store when it comes to CNAs? Let’s take a look at it.

Where Can I Find CNA Classes in Illinois?

Searching online is the fastest way to find CNA classes in Illinois. Dreambound has one of the largest databases of certified nursing assistant (CNA) schools online. We offer top-rated, state-approved CNA schools that are available for everyone! Enter your zip code or set your filters and look through the CNA schools in Illinois.

Keep in mind that the length of the program depends on your school or training provider. CNA programs in Illinois may take 4 months to complete. Alternatively, accelerated CNA programs may take as little as 3 weeks! Each CNA program can range from $500 to $2,000 and can have additional costs involved. 


What Do I Need to Prepare and Buy for Class?

If you plan to take a CNA class in Illinois, you may need to buy a few items. Some of these items include textbooks, which are used for theory classes. Also, stethoscopes, blood pressure cuffs, and other equipment that you need for clinical practice. 

Most schools provide these items for you, but in case they don't, make sure to buy quality materials, as they will serve you well in the long run. Read this general guideline of what you need to buy for your CNA class, and check if you have everything you need! 

In the state of Illinois, it is important to have up-to-date immunizations before signing up for class. It is one of the requirements for the CNA program to be able to work with patients or residents. Keeping up-to-date on these vaccines will help protect both clients and healthcare professionals alike.

What Are the Requirements to Become a CNA in Illinois?

With six ways to become a CNA in Illinois, becoming one has never been easier! You can be a CNA if you've completed a nursing arts course like in licensed practical nurse (LPN) or registered nurse (RN) programs. If you've completed nursing aide training in the army or are already a CNA, LPN, or RN in another state and meet the requirements, you can work as a CNA in Illinois too!

Let’s focus on the traditional path, where you will take the usual CNA course and pass the state exams. Here’s a sneak peek of what your journey can look like:

1. CNA students in Illinois are usually taking a CNA program with

  • 80 hours of lecture or theory classes
  • 40 hours of clinical experience, 
  • and 12 hours of lectures about dementia and other related mental disorders. 

2. Meet the requirements: Schools are strict in making sure that students meet some basic requirements for admission. In Illinois, you must be at least 16 years of age to become a CNA. Students should also have updated proof of immunizations and a negative TB test. 

A background check is also part of the process. Talk to your instructor if they need you to pass the background check before the training. You can also do this after you have completed your CNA training program. Students need to pass the background check to be able to take the state exams and get listed on the registry.

3. Pass the state exams: The state exams are in two parts: a manual skills evaluation and a written test. For the Manual Skills portion, you will complete the 21 Performance Skills that you've learned during class. The written test has 85 questions, and you will have 90 minutes to complete it. 

You have 12 months to pass the CNA competency exam after your graduation. Every student has three chances to pass before having to retake a CNA training program. 

4. Be on the Illinois Registry: Once you have received your official status on the state registry by following all the vital steps and requirements, then you can begin to look for job opportunities.

How Do I Register for a CNA Exam in Illinois?

The training is your chance to really hone in on the 21 manual performance skills. Make sure you pay great attention and make each skill second nature - so that you can pass this test with flying colors! The written exam is given by Southern Illinois University (SIU) and can be taken in different locations in Illinois. 

Once you pass the skills exam and graduate from the CNA program, the CNA program will submit your name to SIU for you to take the written exam. You will receive an email to process your application, and the application fee is currently $75.

How Do I Prepare for My CNA Exam? 

SIU provides sample tests and videos on its site; you are able to take as many practice exams as needed, so you feel comfortable for the real test. They also offer the 21 performance skills in videos, so you can review those before the exam as well!

Your CNA program may offer sample tests for you to take as a practice tool. Some people study by creating flashcards or viewing premade flashcards online. Enjoy your journey, take it easy, and read these helpful tips to pass your CNA exam!

CNA Registry and Certification in Illinois

Once you pass the state exams, you can expect to see your name on the healthcare worker registry (HCW) within one to two weeks. You can check the HCW site and type your name on the box to see your state exam results. Once you are listed, you will be able to start working as a CNA!

Checking the registry is the only way employers can verify your certification status. In Illinois, you can't get hired as a CNA if the employer can't verify your status on the registry! 

CNAs in Illinois are unique because they don't get a license or card like in other states. It's all based online for efficiency. Once you are a CNA, you must maintain your active certification by working at least one 8-hour shift every 24 months to stay in an active status. Working private duty does not count towards these hours, and as a CNA, you must also work under the supervision of a licensed nurse.

Your employer handles adding your work history to the registry. This will be the basis to verify if you have any gaps in employment. It is mandatory for employers to keep everyone's work history up-to-date to avoid having anyone's certification become inactive. If your certification becomes inactive, then you will need to go through a recertification process and pass the exams and background checks again.

CNA jobs in Illinois

The need for CNAs in Illinois is on the rise. With its aging population, this occupation looks more promising than ever before — with an estimated 90,140 CNA jobs expected to be available across the state by 2023! An hourly rate of $15 makes certification as a CNA well worth it: earning approximately $32k annually after completing all necessary training.

Where Does a CNA in Illinois Work and What Does a CNA Do?

CNAs in Illinois can work for federally certified long-term care facilities, licensed long-term care facilities, and other facilities. In Illinois, there are specific requirements for work that CNAs should meet. These are made to protect and ensure the public’s safety. 

If you want to work in a federally certified long-term care facility, some requirements are:

  • Completing 16 hours of training from a state-approved facility 
  • Caring for patients while supervised by an LPN or RN
  • Pass the state-approved training and evaluation to become fully employed. Those who have yet to pass this requirement may work for four months while waiting to pass the exams. 

If you want to work in a licensed long-term care facility, some requirements are:

  • Having no disqualifying convictions
  • Understanding and speaking English or the language that is used by the majority of people in the facility
  • Having qualities such as reliability, trustworthiness, honesty, and a good moral character. 

There's a wide range of workplaces where you can work as a CNA. One option is to work for rehabilitation centers. Your tasks would be to help patients recover from injuries and accidents. Another option is to work as a pediatric CNA and care for kids who are ill. Looking for other places to work? Check out these places where CNAs in Illinois can work.

How Do I Get a Job as a CNA in Illinois?

The classic way of searching for CNA jobs in Illinois is by looking at job boards online. Trusted job boards right now include Indeed, Glassdoor, SimplyHired, and more. Nursing homes, government agencies, and others use these sites to hire CNAs. 

A trusted site like the Illinois Department of Employment Security is a good option too. They provide legitimate jobs across the state, create an account now and find CNA jobs for you!

What Can I Do After Becoming a CNA?

Many CNAs choose to study and train for other health-related jobs. Popular courses to take include ones to become an LPN or RN. They have more responsibilities and earn higher salaries than CNAs.

You can also choose to have leadership roles like being a facility manager. If you are good at managing patient care and your fellow CNAs, this is one to consider as well. 

Endless opportunities are waiting for you! Take a look at what comes after you become a CNA and see a brighter future ahead of you!

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Written by
Alyssa Jane

Alyssa Jane is part of the customer success team at Dreambound. She works with students, training providers, and employers, helping them have a smooth customer journey. She is also an ESL tutor and Licensed Psychometrician. She is fond of traveling, photography, and discovering new restaurants.

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