How to Become a Nursing Assistant

Certified nursing assistants (CNAs) are the backbone of healthcare. Also called nursing assistants or nursing aides, CNAs provide most of the direct, hands-on basic care in many healthcare settings. The CNA job is so many things: challenging, emotional and, perhaps most of all, irreplaceable. 

The work you’ll do as a nursing assistant will be appreciated and remembered by patients and their families forever. If you are interested in becoming a CNA, it starts with education, and you can complete your studies at Cambridge in just five weeks.

What Does a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) Do?

CNAs are on the frontlines in hospitals, nursing homes, long-term care facilities and in patients’ homes when homecare is needed. A typical day for a nursing assistant may include:

  • Assisting patients with eating, bathing, and dressing
  • Taking vital signs
  • Helping patients go to the bathroom
  • Moving or helping patients move from bed to chair
  • Monitoring patient food intake
  • Providing updates to the rest of the care team regarding the patient’s condition and behavior

Because CNAs have such close, frequent contact with patients, they are often the first to notice changes in a patient. An observant CNA can report possible red flags, like sudden weight loss or a red spot on the patient’s skin that others might not notice. 

CNA Pay and Job Outlook

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median salary for CNAs in 2020 was $30,850. The employment of nursing assistants is expected to rise 8% by 2030. That’s almost 193,000 job openings a year.

If you work full-time as a CNA, you’ll likely receive additional benefits like paid vacation and holidays, health insurance and a 401(k) plan. 

Steps to Becoming a Certified Nursing Assistant

Unlike some healthcare jobs, becoming a CNA doesn’t require years of expensive schooling. For this reason, it’s a good way for people interested in other healthcare jobs to test the waters before making a bigger education commitment. And, if you love being a CNA, it is a job you can choose as a permanent career, too.

Here are the basic steps you’ll need to take to become a certified nursing assistant:

  1. High school or GED: Enrolling in a CNA education and training program requires that you complete your high school education first.
  2. Complete a nursing assistant program: Cambridge’s nursing assistant diploma program is five weeks long and includes classroom study and practical experience, such as clinical rotations and externships in long-term care facilities.
  3. Pass your state’s approved CNA exam: After completing your 5-week Cambridge CNA program, you’ll need to pass the nursing assistant certification exam in the state where you want to work. Passing the exam places you on the state’s registry of CNAs, nursing assistants, nursing aides or another title that your state uses to refer to this type of job. Cambridge’s diploma program prepares you for the exam.
  4. Find work and stay certified: Consider your career goals and life circumstances to determine where you’d like to work. Cambridge’s career advisors are here to help you find jobs and prepare for interviews. After you start working, don’t forget to find out your state’s requirements for maintaining your CNA certification; most states require recertification every year or two.

Explore Cambridge’s 5-Week Nursing Assistant Diploma Program

You can earn your CNA diploma in only five weeks at Cambridge. Your new career can happen that fast. Call 877-206-4279 or send us a message to talk to a Cambridge advisor about the program and your personal goals.