A CNA license proves that you are a Certified Nursing Assistant. This certification is earned by taking a training course and then passing a state exam.

The CNA license prepares you for an entry level position in the medical field.

A CNA assists patients with many basic, everyday situations including:

  • Taking vital signs such as temperature, blood pressure and heart rate
  • Changing urinary bags
  • Moving patients from side to side to prevent bed sores
  • Helping patients with dressing and eating
  • Assisting patients with using a bed pan or walking to the bathroom
  • Making beds and clean rooms
  • Helping with bathing
  • Setting up medical equipment for Registered Nurses
  • Assisting with medical procedures as instructed

To be a good CNA the following skills and attributes are needed:

  • Good communication skills with people of all ages. You will be dealing with patients as well as their families.
  • Compassion – patients can tell if you truly care about them.
  • Good physical health – duties often include lifting or moving patients.
  • Attention to detail – you’ll need to follow directions giving by RN’s and LPN’s carefully.


There are many ways to get the needed training for your CNA license. Junior colleges and private trade schools offer courses you can take to gain certification. Some training courses are offered online and work with local facilities for the clinical part of the training.

Before you choose a program make sure it meets your state requirements.

Courses usually take four to twelve weeks to complete. Half of the training is in the classroom and the other half is hands-on training in a facility.

The American Red Cross offers CNA training, sometimes at no cost. You’ll need to check with a local agency to see if you qualify.

Transferring to Another State

If you move to another state your certification will no longer be valid. However, most states have a reciprocity agreement where you can have your license transferred without having to retest. You’ll need to contact your State Nurse Aide Registry and ask for an application form to transfer your license. They’ll ask for paperwork such as your ID and a copy of your current state license.

A few states do not have a reciprocity plan. In that case you’ll have to take the licensing exam for your new state.

Employment Outlook

After you complete your training, pass the state exam and receive your license you can apply for jobs at hospitals, care centers and home health agencies.

The job expansion for CNAs is expected to grow by 17% from 2014 to 2024 according to the Occupation Outlook Handbook. This is far greater than the general job market. The median pay in 2015 was $25,716. Pay varies greatly by location and type of facility.

Advancement Potential

If you decide you enjoy your work in the medical field you’ll have many options to advance your career. You can move forward with becoming a LPN or Licensed Practical Nurse by taking a two year program. A Registered Nurse requires a four year degree. Each advancement offers better pay and job opportunities. Some employers will help pay for your education.