CNA Certification guide

What comes after CNA?

Athena Kan
Mar 21, 2023


Congratulations! You're a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA), and you've just completed your training. Whether you're interested in working in a hospital or clinic setting, or you want to go further in your career with more education and certification, there are many options out there for you. Here are some options as to what you can do next:

You can continue working as a CNA

You can either move to another facility or take on additional responsibilities at your existing workplace. Most Dreambound students start their careers off in senior living or assisted living facilities. After 6 months to a year, they may move to a hospital or staffing agency. Hospitals look for at least 6 months of experience and are generally faster-paced, so hospitals are a great way to advance your skillset. Or, you might want to try to become a travel CNA. Other Dreambound alumni were promoted to roles where they had the opportunity to mentor new CNAs in their facility. This can give you an opportunity to gain new skills and fulfillment outside of hands-on caregiving.

Other licenses

  • Qualified Medication Aides (QMAs, also called QMAPs in some states) are CNAs with additional certifications that allow them to adminster medication to patients and ensure that all prescriptions are filled correctly. Medication Aides must also be able to communicate with doctors and nurses about any concerns about patients’ symptoms or reactions to medication. You must have your CNA license before your QMA, and CNAs typically need to work at least 6 months before beginning their medication aide class, and the QMA certificate typically brings a small pay bump of $1-2/hr. You can find QMA training on Dreambound.
  • Phlebotomists draw blood from patients for medical testing, such as in a hospital or doctor's office. They are trained to collect blood in a safe and timely manner with proper protection against cross-contamination, as well as all other safety procedures. There is no CNA requirement to become a phlebotomist, but many CNAs pursue phlebotomy after their CNA. The phlebotomy certificate typically brings another small pay bump of $3-4/hr above CNA. You can find Phlebotomy training on Dreambound. You can view Phlebotomy classes near you here.
  • Medical Assistants (MA) are expected to do a variety of duties including taking blood pressure readings, administering medication and assisting in procedures like the administration of injections. They may also be responsible for preparing patients to see a physician by gathering information such as past medical history and current medications taken. MA also don't require a CNA certificate. MA programs usually take a few months but pay is even higher than that of phlebotomists. You can view Medical Assistant classes near you here.
  • Patient Care Technician (PCT) requires CNA, Phlebotomy, and Medical Assistant certifications. They therefore do the work of all three at once! PCTs are generally found at hospitals but also work at nursing homes or outpatient clinics. This certification may be best for you if you're looking to work at a hospital. You can view Patient Care Technician classes here.
  • Other licenses don't require CNA as a prerequisite, but some common ones Dreambound alumni go on to do include Medical Billing & Coding, EKG Technician, and more. You can view a full list of programs available on Dreambound.


Many former Dreambound students took their CNA classes while or right before they were in nursing school. CNA work opens the door for you to become a nurse:

  • Licensed vocational nurses (LVNs) are also called licensed practical nurses (LPNs). LVNs are qualified to perform many of the same tasks as registered nurses, but not all. LPN programs typically take around a year of education. After graduation, LPNs must pass a state-administered licensing exam. Pay is much higher as an LPN vs a CNA because of the longer schooling.
  • Registered nurse (RN) have successfully completed an accredited program in nursing, passed the national licensing exam and obtained a license. An RN can either be completed in 2 years via an Associate's degree or 4 years in a Bachelor's degree. Pay is higher as an RN vs LVN/LPN, but the education is longer.

Administrative Positions

While continuing on to become a registered nurse or pursuing another degree in healthcare is a great option for many people, it's not for everyone. Fortunately, there are many other options available to those who have completed their CNA training!

Adminstrative positions include: Administrator, staffing coordinators, health & wellness coordinators, and more. These roles may offer more money than what's offered by direct care positions, or at least a path to making more in the near future via management-level positions. Administrators require additional licensure, but most other administrative roles are entry-level roles where having experience as a CNA can be very helpful. You can talk to your CNA manager and let them know you are interested in learning more about other roles.

These types of jobs tend to be stressful because there is mobility into management-level responsibilities. However, CNA and other direct care roles can be similarly stressful!

Something else...?

CNAs gain so much experience from working directly with patients, and this experience can be invaluable for many other roles. We've seen many Dreambound alumni and other former CNAs go to on to many different career paths. Here are some:

  • Starting a CNA training program. It may seem daunting at first, but starting a CNA training program can be very fulfilling. You get to train the next generation of healthcare workers while also growing a business from the ground up. Read our guide on how to start a CNA program. Note starting a CNA training program requires you to work as a nurse first for a couple of years.
  • Writer/Influencer. Many healthcare companies are looking to grow their content base, and they are looking for content producers who have had direct experience in healthcare. If you want to work from home and love to write or be on video, this might be for you!


We hope that this list has given you some ideas about what to do after CNA training. CNAs have many skills across forming relationships with people, caring for others, and healthcare knowledge. These skillsets are useful in any healthcare role. Whether you dive deeper into the medical, administrative, or business side of healthcare, there's a job for every CNA.

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Written by
Athena Kan

Athena is Co-founder and CEO of Dreambound.

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