CNA stands for Certified Nursing Assistant. It is referred to both as a certification and a license. A CNA is an entry level position in the medical field. With this certification you can perform basic medical care for patients under the supervision of a RN – registered nurse, or LPN – licensed practical nurse.

A CNA certificate is issued by each state and the requirements vary from state to state. You will need to check with your state board to see what is needed where you live. However, they are fairly general in nature and won’t vary too much.

Before you apply to gain a CNA certification you must meet the following basis requirements:

Be at least eighteen years old

Have a high school diploma or a G.E.D.

Have a state issued driver’s license or social security number

If you meet the above requirements you can apply to take a training course. This is offered at many community colleges, private institutions, vocational schools and even online. Confirm that the course you take is approved by your state.

Be sure to shop around before you sign-up for a training program. Costs can vary greatly from a few hundred dollars to thousands of dollars. Find out exactly what you’re getting for your investment.

Also, ask if they have a placement office to help you find a job after you receive your license.

Training can be as short as four weeks or as much as twelve weeks.

After completing your training you can apply for your license. This must be done within a certain time frame so take care of this step as quickly as possible. It is usually a two page application that will asked where you took your training and ask about your background. Some states require fingerprints to be sent with your application.

You will need to pay the fees required.

You will then need to take a certification exam. In most states this is a two part test. The first is written questions. The second is a hands-on clinical test that requires you to perform specific tasks such as helping patients with a bed pan, assisting a patient change clothes, emptying a urinary bag, and other basic tasks.

If you pass, you can then apply for your license.

You are required to renew your license periodically. This varies from state to state but is often every two years. This will also require paying a fee and taking continuing education courses.

If you can’t afford to pay for your training don’t give up hope. Some Care Centers will pay for your training if you agree to work for them for a set amount of time. They do this because they have trouble keeping a consistent work force. Do a search in your area and see if you can find an employer willing to make this offer. Some of them will also pay for your schooling if you decide to continue your training and obtain a LPN license.

Also, check with your local American Red Cross. They offer low cost training for CNA certification. You can apply and see if you qualify.

The medical profession rarely goes through a recession since no matter the economy people always need medical care. Though being a CNA is not a high paying position, it is usually not hard to find a job and is a good way to gain entrance into the medical field.