Becoming a CNA (Certified Nursing Assistant) is a simple process, with slight differences depending on which state you live in. This guide will show you the exact steps to quickly become a licensed and certified nursing assistant.

First Step – Find a Qualified CNA Training Program

Many community colleges and some trade/vocational schools offer CNA training programs. You can view a complete list of schools that offer accredited CNA training at and find a state-approved program near you.

The typical cost of a CNA training program is about $300-$600. If you are taking CNA training classes at a community college you can apply for financial assistance to attempt to reduce or eliminate the fees. Many nursing homes and assisted living centers will offer to pay for your CNA training program in exchange for a commitment that you will become an employee at their facility upon completion of the program. These opportunities have to be sought-out on a case-by-case basis. Some nursing facilities have on-site CNA training programs that they offer to their employees at no cost.

Most CNA programs can be completed in 6-12 weeks and include classroom learning and hands-on practice. The program is required to have a minimum of 75 hours of classroom instruction according to federal guidelines.

Second Step – Take the CNA Certification Exam

After completing a CNA training program the next step is to sign up to take your CNA certification exam. The CNA license requirements and competency standards are governed by the National Council of State Boards of Nursing, but the exam is administered by a different organization in each state. To find out which organization administers the CNA certification exam in your state with the local State Board of Nursing.

The cost of registering to take the CNA exam is usually $100 or less, but varies by state. If you fail the first time you can usually re-take the exam up to 3 times within a period of 2 years.

The CNA certification exam consists of two parts: written multiple choice questions and hands-on performance of tasks. The written portion usually has about 70 questions and the number of questions required to pass the exam varies by state. The hands-on portion requires you to perform 5 basic tasks that will be chosen randomly by the test administrator from a list of 25 basic CNA duties. All 5 tasks must be performed proficiently in order to pass the test.

Third Step – Apply For State Nurse Aide Registry

After passing the CNA certification exam you are ready to join your state Nurse Aide Registry list. Each state maintains a list of all certified nurse aides so that employers and citizens know who is licensed to work as a nursing assistant. Your initial CNA certification is usually valid for two years at which point you will receive a form in the mail to renew your license for the newt two years. It is important to maintain an active license if you wish to continue working as a CNA.