To be permanently employed as a Certified Nursing Assistant, you must pass the state certification exam. Most states require that all candidates first enroll in and complete a state-approved CNA training program. The only states that are exceptions to this rule are Florida and North Carolina, where candidates may challenge the CNA exam without training first. The process for signing up for the certification exam requires coordination with the administrators of your training program and your instructors.
First, you must enroll in the training program of your choice. You can find state-approved training programs in your state by visiting the state’s Nurse Aide Registry, Board of Nursing, Department of Health, or Department of Aging. At least one of these state departments will be able to provide the contact information of all approved training programs in your region.
As you near the conclusion of your training course, the program administrators will allow you to complete an application form to qualify for the state certification exam. They may provide the application at the beginning of your training course to collect as much of the application materials in advance of your graduation instead.
It is the program administrators’ responsibility to complete your application in almost all cases. The state requires proof of course completion, which is verified by your instructors and processed by the school staff. The state must receive the appropriate materials before you are authorized to challenge the certification test.
In some states however, you may be able to register for the test independently. The registration process requires a certificate of completion from a state-approved school. To verify your training program, make sure to obtain the school’s identification number for the state and have complete records on the date of your attendance. The application can be mailed as a physical copy or submitted online through the appropriate state agency.
There are some fees associated with the testing process. They vary by state, but the testing fees generally range between $70 and $200. You have three attempts to pass both sections of the test. If you have passed one section but not the other (say you passed the written section but not the practical skills section), you can also register to take only a single section. Challenging only one section still counts as one of your three attempts. Testing centers are based in community colleges, nursing schools, and private testing centers. Choose a test site that will be convenient for you on the testing day.