How to Become a Nursing Assistant?

Are you thinking of becoming a Nursing Assistant or already started your career and planning the next step? Learn how to become a Nursing Assistant, what skills you need to succeed, how to advance your career and get promoted, and what levels of pay to expect at each step on your career path. Explore new Nursing Assistant job openings and options for career transitions into related roles.
"Certified Nursing Assistant" was the nearest match for you query "Nursing Assistant".

Steps to Become a Certified Nursing Assistant

Certified nursing assistants (CNA) work anywhere individuals need care, generally in a clinic or other health care facility, providing medical care and assistance to patients. A CNA provides various patient treatments and care during a visit under the direction of a licensed vocational nurse, registered nurse, or licensed practitioner. If you enjoy helping others and want to start working in the health care field, you might be interested in pursuing this role. In this article, we provide five steps to help you become a certified nursing assistant.

Pursue your education.

To become a certified nursing assistant, you'll first need to complete your high school education and get your diploma. You can also complete an equivalent program and gain your GED. You'll also be required to complete a certified nursing assistant program, which usually takes between six and 12 weeks. The National Association for Home Care and Hospice offers the nursing assistant national certification. You'll learn the following:

  • Medical ethics.
  • Basic nursing skills, like wound care.
  • Human anatomy and physiology.
  • Infection control.
  • Health assessment.
  • Nutrition.

What type of degree should you pursue to become a Certified Nursing Assistant?

80% of people working as a Certified Nursing Assistant earned a Bachelor's Degree

Based on resume data from Glassdoor users who reported working as a Certified Nursing Assistant in the United States.

Get your certified nursing assistant license.

You're required to obtain a CNA license to begin working. In order to get your license, you'll need to pass an exam with questions about patients' daily needs, patients' rights, communication skills, working as a team, and ethical behavior. You must also pass a practical test where you have to demonstrate the skills you've learned about caring for patients.


Complete certifications.

There are various certifications that you'll need to achieve as a certified nursing assistant. These include:

  • Certified Wound Care Associate. If you're working in an area where wound care must be provided, you may be required to obtain this certification.
  • Cardiopulmonary resuscitation. CPR certification is accredited by the American Heart Association and is offered by a wide range of providers. You'll learn to resuscitate patients who have had a cardiac episode.

Apply for jobs.

Once you've learned the skills necessary to become a certified nursing assistant, you're ready to apply for CNA jobs. You should tailor your cover letter and resume for each job application you submit. Be sure to highlight any special skills, training, and relevant experience to help you stand apart from other applicants in this popular field. As a certified nursing assistant, your role will include the following:

  • Providing patient care, including daily care and personal hygiene.
  • Ensuring patients are receiving appropriate nutrition.
  • Turning and repositioning bedridden patients.
  • Taking and recording vital signs and reporting any changes.
  • Helping patients take their medications.
  • Observing and reporting patient behavior.

Complete training.

Once you've been hired, your job will likely provide you with an orientation program to help you prepare for your new role as a certified nursing assistant. You'll probably be working with a registered nurse (RN) as well as an experienced nursing assistant. They should teach you how to maintain paperwork properly and complete any necessary procedures, and they may offer classes on risk management, health and safety, and other aspects of your job.

Nursing Assistant Career Path

Certified Nursing Assistant

8+Years of Experience
$36K - $52K /yrMost Likely Range
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Certified Nursing Assistant III

5 - 7Years of Experience
$42K - $61K /yrMost Likely Range
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Adjunct Certified Nursing Assistant

No Years of Experience Reports
$72K - $110K /yrMost Likely Range
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Total Pay Trajectory

Nursing Assistant Career Path

New Grad Certified Nursing Assistant
Certified Nursing Assistant
Certified Nursing Assistant III
Adjunct Certified Nursing Assistant
Certified Nursing Assistant V
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Related Careers in the Healthcare Industry

Interested in other Healthcare careers? Below are occupations that have high affinity with Nursing Assistant skills. Discover some of the most common Nursing Assistant career transitions, along with skills overlap.

Emergency Medical Technician
No skills overlap
12% transitioned to Emergency Medical Technician