CNA Training Overview

The training time for CNAs varies from state to state, but the average training requirement is 120 hours. In these 120 hours, the CNA learns critical skills of care and communication. There are also opportunities for advanced training. Actual hours and approved programs are available through one’s State Board of Nursing. Links to school sites are also available through this website.

Basic CNA training is divided into classroom learning and clinicals, followed by taking the State Board Examination.


Classroom learning: In the classroom one learns the principles of patient care including but not limited to: patient rights and privacy, documentation and reporting, infection control, anatomy, healthcare team responsibilities, scope of practice, procedures and protocols, and least restrictive environments (LRE).


Clinicals: In the clinical portion of the training, the trainee will learn body mechanics; patient movement, including transfer, transportation, and range of motion; comfort and care procedures such as peritoneal care, changing an occupied bed; safety and preventive care, such as preventing skin breakdown, fall prevention, hazard avoidance; personal protective equipment; handling laboratory specimens within the CNAs scope of practice; activities of daily living (ADL) assistance, and other procedures as necessary.


State Board Examination: The exam consists of a written portion which tests your knowledge of principles, and a clinical portion which tests your ability to actually perform procedures. A list of what is required for the test is available from the State Board. The exam is not given through the school or facility where one is trained, but in a controlled environment, usually at the State Board office.


Continuing Education: When working for a facility, especially in acute care, there will always be continuing education opportunities, some which may be mandatory if the CNA is moving among various departments. These opportunities may include telemetry, behavioral health, advanced infection control, critical care, rehabilitation, Alzheimer’s and Hospice care, etc.

There are professional organizations that the CNA can join, such as the National Network for Career Nursing Assistants,, which will also offer many opportunities for continuing education.

If the CNA wishes to advance in training and career, there are always opportunities to learn specialty skills such as telemetry monitoring, phlebotomy, Health Unit Coordination, or medical terminology among other skills.

Phlebotomy skills are generally beyond the scope of practice of the CNA; however, they can be extremely useful if the CNA wishes to advance into such positions as Medical Assistant or Nursing.

CNA certification and training is also a valuable step toward a nursing career. Many hospitals offer the CNA free schooling as an RN in return for a specified term of future employment as a nurse.