The CNA Certification Process

In order to obtain certification or licensure as a CNA, one must attend an approved course for certification and pass a certification exam. The State Board of Nursing has lists of programs approved for certification (which you can also find here on our website.)

Why attend Approved CNA Training Program?

There are times when those seeking CNA certification already have clinical experience and knowledge, and they may find it difficult to understand why they have to undergo a basic course in something of which they already have knowledge and practice. Because State Boards require very specific procedural steps and knowledge for licensure, the Boards have found that the exam failure rate of those who are not program trained tends to be much higher than those who are trained in approved programs. Approved training not only means a higher rate of success in passing the exam, but is also an excellent indicator of who will be more successful in their work as a CNA. Greater success on the job means greater safety for the patients being served.

The Process

When one has completed (or shortly before completion of) an approved course, the trainee will then apply for certification to the State Board of Nursing. The certification process involves passing a two part test, a written and a practical examination, and also passing a background check and being fingerprinted. When all of these components are successfully completed and the State fees are paid (either by the facility training the individual, or by the individual themselves), the Board of Nursing will issue the license.

CNA Recertification and Renewal

In order to maintain one’s license from year to year, one must be employed or have been steadily employed as a CNA. This shows the Board that the CNA is practicing and keeping up with their licensed skills. If these conditions are met, the CNA must pay the renewal fee on or before the recertification date, and the Board will issue the renewed license. There are allowable periods of unemployment before the CNA must take a refresher course and/or retake the examination. These periods differ from state to state, and should be checked on the state website.

If the certification is allowed to lapse by not renewing on time, it is often necessary for the CNA to present themselves in person at the State Board in order to renew the license.

Infractions of policy or protocol, operating outside one’s scope of practice, or disciplinary action can result in suspension of the certification. In the case of suspension, the CNA must request a waiver or hearing in order to reinstate the license. There may be other penalties associated with reinstating the license, varying according to state law.