How to Become a CNA

Are you interested in helping people? Do you want to make a difference?

As a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA), you can be an important part of a healthcare team. A CNA is a healthcare professional who provides hands-on nursing care to patients, usually under the supervision of a Registered Nurse (RN) or a Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN). Licensed CNAs assist patients with bathing, dressing, eating, and other basic activities. CNAs can also perform other tasks such as taking vital signs.

Becoming a CNA is a great way to start your nursing career without spending years earning a college degree. Many people interested in other roles in the health care field took their first step on that journey as a CNA, and you can start working as CNA and begin caring for patients in less time than you might think.

The Steps to Become a CNA

You can become a CNA in less than a year! Yes, it really can be that quick. There are four steps to become a CNA.

  1. Earn Your High School Diploma or GED
  2. Complete a State-Approved CNA Training Program
  3. Complete In-Person Clinical Training
  4. Pass a State-Approved CNA Certification Exam

If you already have a high school diploma or a GED, you can enroll in a state-approved training program to learn how to become a CNA.  You can find these programs at community colleges, trade schools, and medical facilities. Before enrolling, prospective CNAs should be sure the program they’re looking into is approved by their state’s nursing board and the National League for Nursing Accredited Commission (NLNAC). Once you have completed a training program and in-person clinical, you will need to pass a certification exam. The exam verifies that you have the essential knowledge and skills required to administer appropriate nursing care.

Educational Requirements for a CNA

During the training program, you will be introduced to many topics, including anatomy, physiology, pharmacology, and medical terminology. You will also learn other important skills, that help patients have a higher quality of life. In addition to the classroom instruction, you will complete a hands-on clinical experience under the direction of a nurse.  During this in person clinical training, you will learn how to manage a CNAs daily task load, and will be provided opportunities to practice newly learned skills, like taking vital signs, communicating with other members of the health care team, and administering medications.

Once you complete your clinical training, you are eligible to take The National Nurse Aid Assessment Program (NNAAP), a state-approved examination to earn your CNA license.  This test has two parts. The first part consists of a written exam with multiple choice questions. In the second part, you have 30 min to demonstrate four randomly chosen skills.

How to Become a CNA in Colorado

If you are interested in a job where you can make a difference in the lives of others, you can begin your nursing career as a Certified Nursing Aide (CNA). CNAs are always in demand across a variety of different healthcare facilities, the work will be personally rewarding, and you can also earn more than you may think.

How to Become a CNA: CNA Requirements

You are eligible to take The National Nurse Aid Assessment Program (NNAAP), an examination to earn your CNA certification, after you complete training at a state approved program. There are many excellent programs in Colorado that offer state approved training, and these training programs are routinely offered at vocational schools, community colleges, or CNA-specific organizations. You may feel overwhelmed when trying to decide which program is right for you, so when you are thinking about training programs to apply to, consider the different aspects of each one. In addition to class size and graduation rate, other questions you can ask include: What is the program length? What is the cost? Is this a Board Approved Program? Does this program offer online courses?

Some Colorado programs offer an intense, two-week course but most are 3 to 10 weeks in length. Most programs cost about $1,500 and there may be scholarships available to you. Some nursing homes will cover the cost of tuition if you agree to work for them for a certain amount of time. You must complete a state approved program in Colorado to qualify to take the certification exam. Although The State of Colorado does not recognize online CNA courses, most programs in Colorado offer different options to include evening, weekend, and daytime classes to accommodate your schedule.

How to Become a CNA: How to get your CNA certification in Colorado

After you have met all the requirements to take the CNA certification exam, visit the Test Taker Services tab on the Colorado Nurse Aides’ Pearson Vue site to find an overview of the testing process and materials you need to apply. The initial fee for the examination is $123. Although many students receive application packets from their training program, you should ensure that you have the most up to date version of the application.

Pearson may require proof of training or other supporting documentation of your eligibility to test. On your application, you pick your preferred testing site and you’ll then be assigned the next available date at that location. If you are unable to attend at that time, you are required to contact Pearson at least five business days before the examination. You will register for both parts of the test on the same day. If you are not successful at passing both parts of the exam, you will only need to retake the portioned failedYou have 3 attempts to pass. To reschedule a retake, submit your previous score report and the re-take fee to Pearson. If you are unable to pass within 3 attempts, you will need to complete another CNA program to meet the eligibility to test again. You will have 24 months from the initial application to Pearson to pass both parts of the exam.

Are you certified in another state and wondering how to become a CNA in Colorado?

You may be eligible to receive a CNA Certification in Colorado by endorsement if you have passed a CNA certification examine another state have a CNA license that is current and in good standing. Endorsement applicants can apply online on Board of Nursing website.

When submitting your application, you should be prepared to pay any fees by credit card or electronic check. If you meet the requirements, you may be able to start working as a CNA prior to receiving official Colorado certification, however this process must be completed within four months of employment.

How to Verify your CNA Certification in Colorado

You or your employer can easily verify that your Colorado CNA certification is current and in good standing by visiting the Colorado’s Department of Regulatory Agencies website. The form for verification of CNA certification can be accessed on the “Certified Nurse Aide Applications and Forms” page.

How to Renew your CNA Certification in Colorado

In Colorado, all CNA certifications expire on January 31st of odd-numbered years. Renewing this certification can be completed online by visiting the Colorado Division of Professions and Occupations Online Services website during the renewal period. Were you a CNA whose certification expired? Worried you may have to retest?  A reinstatement application can be found on the Board of Nursing website. If you were a CNA whose certification expired less than two years ago, and you can document at least eight hours of CNA employment during the past two years, you may apply for reinstatement.

Where do CNAs Work?

CNAs work in a variety of healthcare settings. They care for and support patients and residents in assisted living facilities, nursing homes, and hospitals. CNAs can also provide nursing care to patients in their own homes. CNAs routinely help patients with bathing, dressing, eating, and other activities under the direction of a nurse.

How to choose the best CNA programs in Colorado for you

There are many excellent programs in Colorado that offer state approved training to earn your CNA license. The experience of the instructors, class size, schedule, and certification examination pass rate are program characteristics to consider when choosing the right program for you.

Are you ready to sign up for one of the best CNA programs in Colorado? Read more about NTSOC’s CNA Program here and apply for our next CNA class today!