How to Become a C.N.A. (Certified Nursing Assistant)

Senior caregiving has become an industry segment, with professional in-home senior care service companies growing by more than 40% since 2008.  This comes as no surprise because the number of seniors continues to grow with the post-World War II Baby Boomers aging and living longer than any generation before them.  This leads to one job description within the senior care industry which has exceptional career growth and high demand for more workers: C.N.A. or Certified Nursing Assistant.

What is a C.N.A.?

A Certified Nursing Assistant has professional training to provide hands-on assistance with the Activities of Daily Living (ADL's) and to monitor and record health care issues, such as vital signs and meals eaten.  A C.N.A. may also be called a nursing aide.  Many people consider them nurses and just use the term nurse to also mean a C.N.A.  This is an important reminder that C.N.A.'s works as part of the care team.  All Registered Nurses actually receive C.N.A. training during nursing school and many R.N.'s work as C.N.A.'s while they are in nursing school or during summer and winter breaks from nursing school.

What are the C.N.A. School Admission Requirements?

High-School Diploma or G.E.D.

C.N.A. Training:  The First Step in Becoming a C.N.A.

Certified Nursing Assistant training was created more than 35 years ago when Genevieve Gipson, a Registered Nurse working in Ohio, decided care would be better of nursing assistants had consistent training.  As patient care needs can vary in a hospital and nursing home, she found it extra difficult to not know what type of training a nursing assistant already had when care began.  She pulled together a team and eventually Congress passed legislation for C.N.A. training to be required in every state nationwide.  In addition, each state would need to manage the certification process by having nursing assistants pass a state exam to be certified as a nursing assistant after attending a state-approved C.N.A. training program.  Many states require a minimum of 120 hours of training but some states, such as California, require 150 hours of training to become a C.N.A.

Find a C.N.A. school in your state and review their costs and requirements in Caregiverlist's C.N.A. School Directory.

Here are some examples of C.N.A. School costs, length of programs to give you a quick snapshot:

       Name of C.N.A. School                           Cost        Length

Malcolm-X College in Chicago, IL:                                        $900.00        8 Weeks   

Florida Educational Institute in Miami, FL:                           $500              8 Weeks

Premier Choice Health Service in Columbus, OH:               $400              2 Weeks

Sterling Health Careers in Houston, TX:                              $800              4 Weeks

Phoenix College in Phoenix, AZ:                                          $1,069           10 Weeks

Healthcare Academy of California, San Diego, CA:          $1,700          3 Weeks

Pasadena College of Health, Pasadena, CA:                       $1,200             4 Weeks

SacMed Training, Sacramento, CA:                                     $1,000             4 Weeks

Apollo, Portland, OR:                                                           $1,000             4 Weeks

Blackhawk Technical College, Janesville, WI:                   $947                4 Weeks

As you can see, most C.N.A. Schools cost around $1,000 and provide training for one month, with additional 'In-service" training which means you'll work side-by-side another experienced C.N.A. at a hospital or nursing home.  Financial aide in the form of scholarships and grants are often available and sometimes employers will also pay for the nursing aide training.  Remember, the length of the nursing aide training program depends on if classes are offered part-time or full-time and the costs will vary slightly, too, depending on if the school is public or private.  Community college programs usually cost less if they receive state funding to offer the nursing assistant training program.  Always talk to a school admissions counselor for guidance and assistance with financial aide options.

Learn more about the certified nursing aide job description, take a practice C.N.A. test and apply for a companion caregiving job to gain experience working in the senior care industry - an industry predicted to be the top industry for jobs in the next decade.  Caregiverlist's job application allows you to reach multiple employers in your area, as hiring continues to be on-going since seniors may need immediate care upon hospital discharge after a stroke or hip-replacement or diagnosis with memory loss.  You may also obtain professional caregiver training through an online training course to learn basic caregiving skills before you start your C.N.A. training program.



Become a C.N.A. (Certified Nursing Aide) by attending a C.N.A. School

Caregiver Training: Online Training for Professional Senior Caregivers

Caregiver training requirements vary in each state in the U.S.A. but look for more states to pass legislation requiring specific training and mandating training programs to be passed before working as a professional senior caregiver.  This is because senior care truly does require many skills and this includes understanding how to safely monitor medications, manage nutrition and physical and mental exercise.  As elder abuse can also be an issue, professional caregivers are trained to monitor for signs of abuse (remember, the #1 type of elder abuse is financial).

Illinois caregivers must now complete a training program to learn the basic senior care skills and this training can now be obtained online through a 10-hour training course.  More than 33 states require some type of training with Florida and New Jersey leading the way for home health aide certification training.

Caregiver training courses include the following skills, for basic professional caregiving job duties:

  • Duties of a Caregiver
  • Communication with Others
  • Observation, Reporting and Recording
  • Providing Personal Care
  • Promoting and Maintaining Good Mobility
  • Elimination and Toileting
  • Infection Control
  • Environmental Hazards and Safety
  • Basic First Aid
  • Understanding Elder Abuse

Certified caregiver training can be purchased through an online caregiver training course which caregivers may take at their own pace.  Once caregivers pass the course at 80%, they will be certified and may explore additional training programs for memory loss and consider becoming a Certified Nursing Aide.  C.N.A. programs are administered in all states of the U.S.A. and require working in the field and passing the state C.N.A. exam.  Take a sample C.N.A. test to learn more about certified nursing assistant training in the Caregiverlist C.N.A. School Directory.




Senior Caregiver Training Programs

Senior caregivers must perform a wide variety of job duties, making it difficult to hire just anyone for the trusted job of senior caregiver.  Because of this, many states now require senior caregivers who work as a professional caregiver to complete specific state-mandated caregiver training.

Caregiverlist's Certified Caregiver training, powered by aQuire, meets the training standards created by senior care industry executives and passed into law in the state of Illinois.  Members of the Illinois National Private Duty Association, which included the founder of Caregiverlist, were instrumental in establishing this training to set a basic standard for caregiver skills in illinois.  The Illinois Home Health Home Services & Home Nursing Agency Licensing Act requires health care workers to be part of a Health Care Worker Registry and to complete a minimum of 8 hours of senior caregiver training.

Many states do not yet have training requirements as part of a state law, but the states of Washington, Oklahoma, New Jersey, Nebraska and Delaware require 75 hours of training which is almost as much training as is required for Certified Nursing Aides or C.N.A.'s.

Senior care companies in states that do not require training usually do provide at least 10 hours of training along with on-going training for the senior caregivers to keep up with the latest skills for assisting seniors with age-related illnesses.

A recent Northwestern University study by Dr. Lee Lindquist noted that there is often a lack of consistency for training in caregivers who are not working for professional senior care companies.  Lack of training can result in inability to effectively communicate with seniors with memory loss and provide proper care for age-related illnesses.  Because of this, more states are beginning to pass legislation requiring training as the Baby Boomer population ages and will result in more than 77 million seniors.

C.N.A. training varies slightly in each state but consistently is provided by schools approved to implement the C.N.A. training and then the students must pass the state C.N.A. exam.  Caregiverlist provides a free sample C.N.A. test and a C.N.A. practice test.

Caregiver Certification for 10-hours can also be purchased online and taken at the caregiver's own pace - once passed at the 80% level, the caregiver will receive a certificate to print out.  Senior caregivers with personal or professional caregiving experience may apply for a senior caregiver job in their area.


Amy Poehler Champions California Domestic Worker's Rights

Amy Poehler, comedian, actress, writer, producer, mother, and possibly the coolest chick on earth, stars in a recent PSA supporting the California Domestic Workers Bill of Rights (AB889) which seeks to “end generations of exclusion from basic labor protections”. It includes caregivers, childcare providers and housekeepers, and provides overtime pay, meal & rest breaks and safer conditions for live-in workers. The PSA was created in collaboration with with the National Domestic Workers Alliance.

“Many people ask me how I balance it all and the truth is it wouldn’t be possible for me to do all those things without the help I get in my home every day,” says Poehler. “Every day, so many working women get to do what they do because there are wonderful people in their home, helping them. These workers, who inspire and influence our children, who take care of our loved ones and our homes, have been excluded from basic labor protections for generations. Please help us right that wrong and pass the California Domestic Workers Bill of Rights this year. It’s time these workers were treated with dignity and respect.”

As Labor Day draws near, I am reminded of the blog post I wrote last year and Congress is no closer to passing the Direct Care Job Quality Improvement Act. It seems that President Obama’s directives are languishing in the Labor Department. If action on a federal level is proving so difficult, then perhaps action has to be taken on a state-wide basis. Maybe more impassioned pleas like the one from Ms. Poehler can help get the ball rolling.

We at Caregiverlist also believe that the better trained you are, the easier it will be for you to request more equitable treatment. Consider Caregiverlist’s 10-hour online certification training. Upon completion you receive a certificate and your name is added to the database registry of training certified caregivers.

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National Nursing Assistants Week Celebrates CNAs

We at recognize the important role that Certified Nursing Assistants play in the care of our elderly, frail and challenged population. We’ve made the advocacy and appreciation of CNAs one of the cornerstones of our mission.

We celebrate the 35th annual National Nursing Assistants Week from June 14-21. As our nation matures and more people choose to age in place, CNAs are a vital component to our health and well-being. We also recognize that Certified Nursing Aides provide as much as 80% of the direct care in nursing facilities.

CNAs are on the front-line of caring. They provide most of the hands-on interaction with their patients. They can be found in nursing homes, assisted living facilities, hospices and private homes. Certified Nursing Assistants’ duties and responsibilities include, but are not limited to:

  • Dietary care and nutrition
  • Assistance with daily excercise
  • Aiding with personal hygiene
  • Administering medication and treatment per doctor’s recommendation
  • Providing emotional support
It’s a noble and challenging profession, and an employment sector that is guaranteed to grow in the coming years. If you are a family caregiver looking for a career, we can help answer your questions. If you are a companion or personal caregiver, consider CNA training to enhance your skill set and make you a more attractive employment candidate. And of course, if there is a Certified Nursing Assistant somewhere in your life providing care for you or a loved one, now is the perfect time to voice your appreciation for all they do.

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Posted by: Renata Jasinski Laszuk, Content Manager

Healthcare Industry Sees Massive Job Growth

Caregiver jobs are growing and this growth will continue, as new federal data for the month of May revealed that the healthcare sector was responsible for nearly 50% of new job growth this past month.  The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics has consistently shown the healthcare industry to be a major component of the economy, maintaining 14.3 million employees as of their May reports.    

Those contemplating a career change or new job opportunity may consider becoming a CNA or caregiver for a senior homecare agency.  Homecare agencies are in constant need of qualified caregivers as their client needs are consistently changing.  Caregiverlist’s Caregiver Career Center can be used as a tool to research training schools and required qualifications, as well as a resource to build a resume and apply for a caregiving job. 

The essential job functions of a caregiver are the following:

  • Assist with walking and light exercise
  • Plan and prepare meals, followed by clean-up
  • Monitor food expiration dates, make future meals
  • Make beds and change linens, as needed
  • Light housekeeping to include dusting and vacuuming
  • Assist with bathing, dressing and grooming
  • Assist with safe transfers and bathroom visits
  • Monitor medical conditions
  • Laundry and ironing
  • Take out garbage
  • Run errands (pickup prescriptions, dry cleaning)
  • Engage in physical and mental exercises
  • Provide medication reminders
  • Escort an appointments (hair salon, physical therapy, etc.)
  • Escort to religious services and events
  • Maintain calendar and organize mail
  • Engage in activities (games, memory books)
  • Companionship

If the essential job duties of a caregiver interest you and you wish to join the ever-growing healthcare industry, you may research training schools in your area.  You can learn more about the components of C.N.A. training here, as well as a comprehensive guide to becoming a C.N.A. here.

Additionally, you may take Caregiverlist’s Caregiver Training, which is a 10-hour online course that covers caregiving skills and includes exams to ensure understanding.  Caregiverlist further offers a CNA practice test, as well as background checks.

Once you understand the essentials of caregiving and have your resume ready, you can apply for a job and begin a new career in the healthcare industry!

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Posted by:  Angela Manhart, Caregiverlist Blogger

Labor Day and the Home Caregiver

Senior care workers are on my mind as Labor Day approaches. I am reminded of the innumerable home caregivers and the protective legislation challenges they face.

2011 is known as the first year of the “age wave”, in which every eight seconds, an American will turn 65. And while an emphasis on aging well—keeping our brains and bodies fit—can help forestall the inevitable, there is no denying that that home care is one of our nation’s fastest growing industries.

Senior caregivers provide the essential care that allows seniors to age in place by providing aid and assistance in their own homes. Very broad U.S. Department of Labor regulations have ensured that home care workers are excluded from basic minimum wage and overtime protections. Exempt “companionship” services have morphed into the wholesale exclusion of workers in the home care industry.

The Direct Care Job Quality Improvement Act – a bill that would help create a “more stable, valued direct care workforce” was introduced to Congress on June 23, 2011 and would amend the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) to include basic labor protections for home care workers.

Regulation revision suggests two significant reforms: (1) it should provide that workers employed by a home care agency or other intermediary are not exempt; and (2) it should narrow the definition of “companionship” and exclude workers who perform other types of duties such as providing assistance with activities of daily living (ADLs), or instrumental activities of daily living (IADLs).

This legislation takes major steps towards ensuring the “health, autonomy and well-being of more than 13 million Americans with long-term care needs today and an estimated 27 million by 2050”.

Labor Day, the national holiday observed on the first Monday of September, was first proposed by the Central Labor Union in 1882 to celebrate "the strength and esprit de corps of the trade and labor organizations" of the community and was intended as a workingman’s holiday. At that time, the industrialized workforce demanded “Eight Hours for Work, Eight Hours for Rest, Eight Hours for Recreation.” There are agencies and alliances who are now working toward the same for a growing labor force—the home health care industry.

Learn more about these national initiatives: National Domestic Workers Alliance and their Domestic Workers Bill of Rights, Caring Across Generations: a campaign to “transform long-term care in the United States, those who rely on the support of caregivers to meet their basic daily needs, the workers who provide the support, and the families who struggle to find and afford quality care for their family members.” The National Employment Law Project (NELP): Fair Pay for Home Care Workers: Reforming the U.S. Department of Labor’s Companionship Regulations Under the Fair Labor Standards Act are a few.

If you are a home caregiver and want to increase your viability and skill set, consider Caregiverlist’s 10-hour online certification training. Upon completion you receive a certificate and your name is added to the database registry of training certified caregivers. Elevate your skills. You are invaluable. Training can be your first step to a fulfilling career and your inclusion in a growing labor movement.

And from Caregiverlist, happy end of summer!

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