Many healthcare workers begin their careers as Certified Nursing Assistants/Aides (CNAs), assisting nurses, doctors, and other team members with direct patient care. CNAs are a vital part of the medical workforce, and those who aim to get there must follow the proper educational and licensing channels. Each state has its own guidelines and requirements, but in general, students will need to fulfill the following in order to become a fully certified CNA.

How To Get Certified As a CNA

While requirements differ by state, prospective CNAs should be prepared to complete a state-approved CNA program at an accredited institution before going through the process of becoming certified. Approved programs meet the standards set forth by the state and other governing bodies, ensuring that a student receives the proper knowledge and skills to become licensed and provide patient care. Upon program completion, students will need to check their state's certification requirements to make sure they have fulfilled them all; these requirements will include a minimum number of CNA training/clinical hours, which the student should have completed in their program. They will also need to submit a CNA certification application, pay any applicable fees, and complete fingerprinting/background checks. It's important to note that CNA program grads will usually need to submit their certification application within a set timeframe once training has been completed.

Find out more about the CNA training process.

CNA Certification Exam

Once students have successfully completed their CNA training and submitted the proper paperwork, they will need to sit for their state's CNA certification examination. The exam consists of two parts: the written or oral portion (delivered in a group format) and the clinical skills portion (delivered one-on-one). The written exam is typically administered through a third-party test proctor, and contains multiple-choice questions covering topics such as medical terminology, CNA roles and responsibilities, anatomy and physiology, and more. The clinical skills exam is usually proctored by a nurse or other practitioner, who will ask the test-taker to demonstrate a handful of skills such as hand-washing, measuring and recording a pulse, and other tasks (the proctor will choose from a list of over 20).

CNA License & Certification Renewals

CNA certification typically lasts for 2 years. The certification is renewable upon submission of a renewal form and fee as long as the CNA has maintained employment during this time (exact number of employment hours to be eligible will differ by state). If the CNA does not meet the renewal criteria, and their certification has not been expired for longer than 2 years, some states will allow a renewal via a competency exam. If the CNA's certification has been expired for many years, or they are otherwise ineligible for renewal, they will need to enroll in a CNA program and apply for a new license.

State by State CNA Certification Links

To find out more information on your state's specific CNA certification and licensing guidelines, please follow the links below:

Alabama CNA Certification Requirements

  • Graduate of an approved CNA program
  • Completion of at least 75 clock hours of training, including 16 hours of clinical training and 16 hours of labs
  • Take and pass the Nurse Aide Competency Exam, administered by Pearson VUE or Prometric

Link: Alabama Department of Public Health Certified Nurse Aide Registry

Alaska CNA Certification Requirements

  • Completion of an approved CNA program
  • Completion of a minimum of 140 training hours, including at least 60 classroom hours and 80 hours of lab/clinical practice
  • Submit application for Alaska's Nurse Aide Certification by Examination
  • Sit for the Nurse Aide Examination through Pearson VUE

Link: Alaska Nurse Aide Registry

Arizona CNA Certification Requirements

  • Attend and complete a board-approved CNA program
  • Complete at least 120 CNA training hours
  • Pass the state's written and manual skills exam
  • Submit proof of legal residency

Link: Arizona State Board of Nursing

Arkansas CNA Certification Requirements

  • Complete a state-approved program
  • At least 90 hours of education/training required
  • Pass the Nursing Assistant Competency Exam

Link: Arkansas Department of Human Services Office of Long Term Care

California CNA Certification Requirements

  • Be at least 16 years old
  • Successfully complete an approved CNA training program
  • Obtain a criminal record clearance
  • Successfully pass the Competency Evaluation Examination

Link: California Department of Public Health

Colorado CNA Certification Requirements

  • Complete a state-approved CNA training program
  • Take and pass the NNAAP examination administered through Pearson VUE

Link: Colorado Board of Nursing

Connecticut CNA Certification Requirements

  • Completion of a board-approved CNA program (within 24 months of the date of application for certification)
  • Must take and pass the Connecticut Nurse Aide examination administered by Prometric

Link: Connecticut State Department of Public Health

Delaware CNA Certification Requirements

  • Completion of a state-approved CNA training program
  • Must take and pass the CNA Competency Exam through Prometric

Link: Delaware Division of Health Care Quality

Florida CNA Certification Requirements

  • Successful completion of an approved CNA training program (unless the student plans to apply for certification by exam only)
  • Achieve a minimum score on the nursing assistant competency examination

Link: Florida Board of Nursing

Georgia CNA Certification Requirements

  • Successful completion of a board-approved CNA program
  • Pass the NNAAP exam, administered via Pearson VUE

Link: Georgia Nurse Aide System

Hawaii CNA Certification Requirements

  • Completion of an approved CNA training program
  • Successfully pass the Hawaii Nurse Aide Competency Exam administered via Prometric

Link: Hawaii Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs Professional & Vocational Licensing

Idaho CNA Certification Requirements

  • Complete an approved CNA program that includes a minimum of 120 training hours
  • Take and pass the Idaho Nurse Aide Exam via Prometric

Link: Idaho Department of Health and Welfare

Illinois CNA Certification Requirements

  • Successful completion of an Illinois-approved CNA training course
  • Pass the written competency test

Link: Illinois Department of Public Health

Indiana CNA Certification Requirements

  • Complete a state-approved 105-hour Nurse Aide Training Program
  • Successfully pass both the written and skills evaluation exam

Link: Indiana State Department of Health

Iowa CNA Certification Requirements

  • Successful completion of a 75-hour state-approved CNA training program
  • Take and pass the written and skills components of the CNA exam

Link: Iowa Department of Inspections & Appeals

Kansas CNA Certification Requirements

  • Complete a 90-hour approved CNA training program
  • Earn a score of 75% or higher on the state CNA examination

Link: Kansas Department for Aging and Disability Services

Kentucky CNA Certification Requirements

  • Complete an approved CNA course consisting of a minimum of 75 hours (with 16 hours of supervised clinical training)
  • Pass the final examination (written/oral and skills demonstration)
  • Complete a competency evaluation

Link: Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services

Louisiana CNA Certification Requirements

  • Complete a state-approved CNA training program
  • Pass the CNA certification exam

Link: Louisiana Department of Health

Maine CNA Certification Requirements

  • Complete 180 hours of training from a state-approved CNA program
  • Pass the Maine CNA competency test
  • Pass a criminal background check

Link: Maine Registry of Certified Nursing Assistants & Direct Care Workers

Maryland CNA Certification Requirements

  • Complete 100 hours of CNA instruction through a board-approved CNA program
  • Pass the CNA competency examination (written and manual skills)

Link: Maryland Board of Nursing

Massachusetts CNA Certifiation Requirements

  • Attend and complete a department-approved Nurse Aide Training Program
  • Pass the Nurse Aide Competency Evaluation (knowledge portion can be taken up to 4 times; clinical portion can be taken up to 3 times)

Link: Massachusetts Nurse Aide Registry Program

Michigan CNA Certification Requirements

  • Complete an approved Michigan training course
  • Pass the evaluation test through Prometric to be issued a 2-year certificate

Link: Michigan Nurse Aide Registry

Minnesota CNA Certification Requirements

  • Successfully complete an approved nursing assistant program in Minnesota
  • Successfully pass the competency evaluation exam
  • Or, be in good standing on the nursing assistant registry in another state with a minimum of 8 hours of CNA work within the state in the last 24 months

Link: Minnesota Nursing Assistant Registry

Mississippi CNA Certification Requirements

  • Complete an approved CNA training program
  • Pass the NNAAP examination administered through Pearson VUE

Link: Mississippi State Department of Health

Missouri CNA Certification Requirements

  • Completion of a state-approved CNA course comprised of 75 hours of classroom training and 100 hours of on-the-job training
  • Pass the two-part (written/oral and practicum) final examination

Link: Missouri Department of Health & Senior Services

Montana CNA Certification Requirements

  • Enroll in and complete a state-approved CNA training program
  • Take and pass the CNA certification examination

Link: Montana Nurse Aide Registry

Nebraska CNA Certification Requirements

  • Must be at least 16 years old
  • Successfully complete a minimum of 75 hours of state-approved training or a 21-hour basic resident-care course for intermediate care facilities for the developmentally disabled
  • Successfully complete a one-hour Nebraska-specific abuse/neglect/misappropriation training
  • Successfully pass the Nebraska-approved written/oral exam and skills competency exam

Link: Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services

Nevada CNA Certification Requirements

  • Complete a Nevada-approved CNA training program
  • Pass the state's CNA certification exam

Link: Nevada State Board of Nursing

New Hampshire CNA Certification Requirements

  • Complete a state-approved training program
  • Pass the appropriate CNA competency evaluation examination

Link: New Hampshire Board of Nursing

New Jersey CNA Certification Requirements

  • Enroll in and complete a state-approved nurse assistant training program to include classroom learning and clinical instruction
  • Pass the state's CNA certification examination

Link: New Jersey Department of Health

New Mexico CNA Certification Requirements

  • Complete a state-approved CNA training program
  • Successfully pass the competency exam administered by Prometric

Link: New Mexico Department of Health Certified Nurse Aide Registry

New York CNA Certification Requirements

  • Complete a New York state-approved training program
  • Pass the nurse aide exams administered through Prometric

Link: New York State Department of Health Nurse Aide Registry

North Carolina CNA Certification Requirements

  • Complete a state-approved nurse aide training program (75 hours or longer)
  • Pass the state-approved competency evaluation administered through Pearson VUE

Link: North Carolina Nurse Aide Registry

North Dakota CNA Certification Requirements

  • Complete a state-approved Certified Nurse Aide training program
  • Take and pass the state's CNA competency evaluation

Link: North Dakota Nurse Aide Registry

Ohio CNA Certification Requirements

  • Enroll in and complete a state-approved nurse aide training program
  • Successfully pass the state CNA examination

Link: Ohio Department of Health Nurse Aide Registry

Oklahoma CNA Certification Requirements

  • Successfully complete an approved Oklahoma Nurse Aide training program
  • Pass the state's competency examination

Link: Oklahoma Nurse Aide Registry

Oregon CNA Certification Requirements

  • Complete an Oregon State Board of Nursing-approved nursing assistant training program
  • Pass a criminal background check
  • Take and pass the CNA exam through Headmaster Testing Service

Link: Oregon State Board of Nursing

Pennsylvania CNA Certification Requirements

  • Complete a Pennsylvania-approved nurse aide training program
  • Pass the competency evaluation exam administered by Credentia within 24 months of program completion

Link: Pennsylvania Department of Health Nurse Aide Registry

Rhode Island CNA Certification Requirements

  • Complete a state-approved CNA training program that contains 120 hours of training
  • Apply for a nursing assistant license
  • Take and pass the CNA competency examination

Link: State of Rhode Island Department of Health

South Carolina CNA Certification Requirements

  • Completion of a state-approved CNA training program
  • Schedule and pass the SC Nurse Aide exam administered through Pearson VUE

Link: South Carolina Bureau of Long Term Care and Behavioral Health Services

South Dakota CNA Certification Requirements

  • Successful completion of a training program approved by the SD Board of Nursing
  • Pass the competency evaluation exam
  • Minimum age of 16

Link: South Dakota Board of Nursing

Tennessee CNA Certification Requirements

  • Complete an approved nurse aide training program
  • Successfully pass the state competency examination within 24 months of the program's completion

Link: Tennessee Department of Health

Texas CNA Certification Requirements

  • Successfully complete a state-approved a nurse aide training and competency evaluation program
  • Pass the competency evaluation examination
  • Or, qualify to be placed on the Texas Nurse Aide Registry through waiver or reciprocity

Link: Texas Health and Human Services Nurse Aide Registry

Utah CNA Certification Requirements

  • Successful completion of an approved CNA training program
  • Pass the state's CNA competency examination

Link: Utah Nursing Assistant Registry

Vermont CNA Certification Requirements

  • Verification that you have completed a state-approved nursing assistant program
  • Once your application and verification have been received, applicants must sit for and pass the NNAAP examination

Link: Vermont Secretary of State

Virginia CNA Certification Requirements

  • Successful completion of a Virginia-approved nurse aide training program
  • Take and pass the Virgnia Nurse Aide written/oral skills examination and skills evaluation

Link: Virginia Board of Nursing

Washington CNA Certification Requirements

  • Complete a minimum of 85 hours of training through a state-approved program
  • Pass the nursing assistant competency exam

Link: Washington State Department of Health

Washington DC CNA Certification Requirements

  • Complete an approved training program that consists of 45 hours classroom instruction, 30 hours of clinical labs, and 45 hours of nursing home practicums
  • Take and pass the nurse aide examination via Pearson VUE

Link: https://dchealth.dc.gov/service/certified-nurse-aides-licensing

West Virginia CNA Certification Requirements

  • Completion of a state-approved training program
  • Take and pass the nurse aide competency examination

Link: West Virginia Office of Health Facility Licensure and Certification

  • Complete an approved nurse aide training program that consists of 45 hours of classroom instruction, 30 hours of clinical labs, and 45 hours of nursing home practicums
  • Take and pass the nurse aide examination via Pearson VUE

Wisconsin CNA Certification Requirements

  • Satisfactory completion of an approved nurse aide training program
  • Sitting for and passing the competency evaluation

Link: Wisconsin Department of Health Services

Wyoming CNA Certification Requirements

  • Complete a state-approved CNA training program
  • Send application and fingerprint cards to the Wyoming State Board of Nursing
  • Sit for and pass the CNA skills exam via Prometric

Link: Wyoming State Board of Nursing