How Long Does it Take to Become a CNA?

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Reviewed by Nick Gypsy

CNAs or certified nursing assistants are often seen as the backbone of nursing. They play an important role in overall patient care, offering friendship and care necessary for healing. The steps for becoming a CNA are dependent on the state but the basic necessities are all the same. Keep reading to learn more about how to become a CNA!

What is a Certified Nursing Assistant?

Certified nursing assistants help patients with a variety of tasks. These tasks include, but are not limited to:

  • Personal hygiene 
  • Transporting patients
  • Feeding patients
  • Cleaning patient rooms
  • Documenting vitals

All of these tasks are completed under the supervision of a licensed practical nurse and nursing supervisor. Because the two work so closely, many confuse the responsibilities of an LPN vs CNA, however, they have very different roles. It is a team effort when it comes to patient care. 

As a CNA, you can work in every specialty, with every age level. Oftentimes a CNA acts as the primary caregiver and companion to patients, whether they are in a hospital, nursing home, or even in their home. CNAs spend the most time with patients, and because of this, they become the most effective in communicating with the patients and their loved ones. 

The skillset that is required for becoming a CNA, goes far beyond just clinical skills and nursing protocols taught in training. To be a successful CNA, you will need to consider these 5 Tips and Tricks:

  1. Learn to read body language
  2. Listen with intent
  3. Over-communicate while remaining concise
  4. Write things down
  5. Consider your audience 

What are the requirements to become a CNA?

To become a CNA, you will require a high school diploma or GED and the completion of nursing assistant training. Training programs are offered at a community college, trade school, or medical facility in your state. Before enrolling in a training program, you should ensure that the program has approval from the nursing board and the National League for Nursing Accredited Commission (NLNAC). 

Beyond this, the requirements for becoming a CNA can vary by state. For example, in New Hampshire, you must complete the state-approved training program and pass the state-specific CNA certification exam. In Arizona, you must complete the training and pass the CNA certification exam in addition to completing 120 hours of CNA training and providing proof of legal residency.

Check out this resource to find your state-specific requirements!

How long does it take to become a CNA?

The length of time it takes to become a CNA, again, varies by state and by the CNA certification programs. Training programs can range from 1 month up to 4 months to complete. The individual state will determine the number of training hours that must be completed in order to take the CNA certification exam. In recent years, the minimum number of training hours required has jumped from 75 to 120 hours of hands-on training. 

The total cost of becoming a CNA will depend on the program you choose and your state. On average, a program could cost $1300, in addition to the fee associated with taking the state exam and registering for your CNA license. 

As of May 2020, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics outlined the median pay for a nursing assistant is around $14.82 per hour and $30,830 per year. 

The above outlines the process of becoming an entry-level CNA. There are opportunities for advancement within the CNA career path. This could include a CNA II or a Patient Care Technician. Training for advanced positions like these will increase the amount of time spent in school and the total cost of your training program. However, advancements in your nursing assistant training can prove to be very beneficial for your career outlook.  

Choosing Your Career Path

Certified nursing assistants have a very important role in the care and well-being of their patients. Creating a bridge between the patient and their family and the clinical team is not easy! However, becoming a CNA might be one of the most beneficial things to jump-start your career in the healthcare industry. 

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, job growth for CNAs is expected to grow tremendously throughout the upcoming years. The CNA field is claimed to be the fastest growing in the country due to factors such as the aging population, growing rates of chronic illnesses, and high turnover rates. If you’re looking to kickstart your career within the healthcare industry, CNA is the perfect stepping stone. Once you have completed your CNA training program, be sure to give MAS Medical Staffing a call. We would love to help find you the perfect healthcare job to launch your career!

Reviewed By:

Nick Gypsy, Travel Nurse Recruiter: Nick was a former traveler turned nurse recruiter, having completed 32 assignments in 46 states. While traveling, he was able to finish nursing school and further his career debt-free. Nick was able to do all of this for a career of his passion. He began blogging about his experience and providing advice through the social media platform TikTok under the username NickGypsy. Nick has gained a mass following of almost 100,000 travel nurses. He started with MAS in early August and has enjoyed sharing his insight with his travel nurses. Nick lives in coastal Florida, and in his spare time, he enjoys going to the beach and jet skiing.




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