How to become a CNA in Pennsylvania


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If you have a passion for helping others and are seeking a rewarding career in healthcare, you've come to the perfect place. This blog post will guide you through every step of your CNA journey in Pennsylvania, from the necessary training and certification processes to finding the best CNA jobs near you in the Keystone State. Let's get started!

In Pennsylvania, expect to pay an average of $1,300 for a CNA class, which typically takes 4-12 weeks to complete. The Pennsylvania Nurse Aide Competency Exam fee is $135, and CNAs in the state can anticipate earning around $14-20/hour as a starting salary.

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What are the requirements for becoming a CNA in Pennsylvania?

  • Be at least 16 or older. This is the requirement for taking a CNA training program in Pennsylvania. However, some employers may only hire 18-year-olds. We’ve heard from some graduates that they were able to find roles because of nursing home staffing shortages, but your experience may vary.

  • Pass a criminal background check. You must be able to pass a criminal background check from the PA State Police during the year before you start your training. Your training provider will run one before you start class to make sure you’re eligible. Here’s a list of disqualifying offenses—this is stricter than most background checks because of nurse aides’ work with the elderly and other vulnerable individuals. If you’ve lived in PA for fewer than 2 years, you’ll also need an FBI report.

  • Pass a physical exam. In Pennsylvania you must be able to pass a TB test as well. Your physical may also have to check that you are able to lift 40 pounds. Your CNA training provider will also provide you with more information about this.

  • Complete a state-approved CNA training program. Pennsylvania CNA training programs are required to be at least 80 hours long, slightly above the federal minimum of 75 hours. There is a theory component, which may be online, and an 37.5 hour in-person clinicals component conducted at a nursing home. No CNA training programs in Pennsylvania are allowed to be fully online as of May 2023. 

  • Pass the state exam. The Pennsylvania National Nurse Aide Assessment Program is offered by Credentia. You must pass within 24 months of completing your training.

Do I need a high school diploma to become a CNA in Pennsylvania?

Pennsylvania law doesn't require a high school diploma or GED for CNAs. However, some schools may require this anyway, especially any community colleges or technical colleges. If you don't have a high school diploma or GED, a small, private training program is your best bet. You can view which schools require and don't require a high school diploma on Dreambound.

However, you are still required to have basic proficiency in reading/math, so these schools will administer an 8th-grade equivalent exam testing both of these.

Where can I find CNA training programs in Pennsylvania?

Dreambound allows you to look for CNA training programs based on the zip code of your choice. You’ll be able to compare various schools at the same time and view important enrollment information such as: class schedules, payment plans, and upcoming class date information.

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How do I register for the Pennsylvania CNA exam?

Credentia, who administers the CNA exam in Pennsylvania as of May 2023, offers a comprehensive handbook for candidates. You can register for your CNA exam on Credentia, but note that if you just completed a training program, your school will likely handle this for you.

Much like the training program, the exam has two components: a theory portion, which can be taken written or orally, and the skills portion. The full exam costs $135. You have 3 chances to pass both parts of the exam. If you do not pass the first time, retaking just the written or oral section costs $50. Taking just the skills portion costs $85.

You can contact Pennsylvania NNAAP at (800) 457-6752 with any questions.

How do I get a job as a CNA in Pennsylvania?

You may work for 4 months or 120 days while participating in your CNA training. That means that you also have 4 months to pass the exam before you can’t work as a CNA anymore, although many employers require the certification.

Dreambound graduates have found success finding CNA roles using job boards, support from their training provider, or inquiring with their clinical site. Important: If you get a job offer from a nursing facility within 12 months of completing your training, the facility must reimburse the cost of your training for the period you are employed as a CNA.

Navigate the certification journey in this field with Dreambound's detailed guides, each crafted for various cities. For a deeper understanding of the process in other states, our additional guides may be able to help.

Exploring a variety of professional opportunities? Dreambound has many extensive guides to help you make informed decisions. Check out these guides:

Athena Kan
Written by
Athena Kan

Athena is Co-founder and CEO of Dreambound.

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