In the United States, there are around 1.5 million nursing assistants. Considering we’ll always need help (especially in our old age), it should come as no surprise that this is such a booming career.
Maybe you find it satisfying to help out with those with medical needs. Whether you’re finding a career or want to switch, one thing’s clear: being a nursing assistant is your calling.
In that case, are you wondering how to become a certified nursing assistant? Then read on. We’ll discuss all the details you need to know.
What Does a Certified Nursing Assistant Do?
Before we get into how to become a certified nursing assistant (CNA), let’s first explore what they do. That way, you’ll know for certain if this is the right career for you or not.
A nursing assistant is also known as a nursing aide, nursing assistant, or patient care assistant (PCA). They’re responsible for a number of tasks, including:
- Taking vital signs
- Gathering supplies
- Restocking supplies
- Cleaning rooms
- Preparing rooms
- Turning/repositioning patients
- Bathing patients
- Feeding patients
- Helping patients with bathroom tasks
All of these tasks (and more) are done under the supervision of either a registered nurse (RN) or licensed practical nurse (LPN).
Where Do CNAs Work?
Because their skillsets are needed in various medical settings, certified nursing assistants can work in various places. They include:
- Home health agencies
- Assisted living centers
- Nursing homes
Wherever there are people that need medical assistance, you can bet there are CNAs present.
Wages will vary around the nation. It’ll also differ based on your training and experience. However, as of mid-2019, the median hourly wage is $14.26 and the median annual wage is $29,660.
Of course, there will always be chances to move up and get raises in any work setting you’re in. So it’s very likely that you can make over $30,000 in one year as a CNA.
This job is high in demand, as there will always be people who need medical assistance and care. This means that job security is very high for certified nursing assistants. If you want a career where you don’t have to worry about being unemployed, then this is a pretty one to choose.
How to Become a Certified Nursing Assistant
First of all, to become a certified nursing assistant, you need to have a high school diploma. If you’re already past your teenage years and don’t have a high school diploma, then this means you have to get your GED. Below, we’ll outline how to get your GED and then move onto actually becoming a CNA.
How to Get Your GED
Every state has different GED requirements, so you’ll have to look these up. In any case, you’ll have to do prep work to pass the actual exam. There are many study guides and even GED tutors, so if you need help, don’t be afraid to seek it.
The GED itself has 4 sections: math (90 minutes), science (115 minutes), social studies (70 minutes), and language arts (150 minutes; one 45-minute essay). The entire exam is a total of 425 minutes, which is a little over 7 hours. This means you need to be prepared to hunker down and test your concentration and endurance.
To pass the GED exam, you have to score over 145 on every subject. Not every state has set the passing score at 145, so you’ll want to double-check.
Get Nursing Assistant Training
If you already have your high school diploma, or you’ve gotten your GED, then the next step is to get nursing assistant training. You need to enroll in schools that have state-sanctioned training programs for CNA credentials, like Ultimate Medical. As you may have guessed, requirements will be different for each state.
It’s extremely important to check that the program is also approved by the National League for Nursing Accredited Commission (NLNAC). Otherwise, you might waste time and money just to find out that you cannot become an official CNA.
Take the CNA Certification Exam
Once you’re done with your program, then you’ll have to pass the CNA exam. This exam consists of a written and a practical part.
For the written part of the CNA exam, you’ll join others in a group setting to take it. It’s a multiple-choice test and you have 90 minutes to get through it all.
For the practical part, you’ll go in on your own to be tested by a proctor. You’ll be tested on 4 random clinical skills and you’ll get 30 minutes.
Afterward, you’ll be given your score immediately. If you don’t pass, you can retake the test up to 3 times.
For those who fail all 3 times, you have to retrain. And if you don’t work in the field for 24 months, then your current certification will expire. However, you can just retake the exam without having to go through training again.
Get Listed on the State CNA Registry
If you’ve passed the exam, then you’ll be listed on your state’s CNA registry. This means you can now apply for CNA jobs and work legally.
Know How to Become a Nursing Assistant
Now you know how to become a certified nursing assistant.
Being a CNA can be a highly rewarding job, especially if you enjoy assisting those who are in various degrees of health. Not only can you do what you’re drawn to, but you can make a decent living as well. Not to mention, job security is excellent for CNAs as well.
So if you weren’t sure if being a CNA was right for you, hopefully, this article has solidified your decision to try this career out. If so, then the next step is to get started on your GED if you don’t have one. Otherwise, get started on CNA training today!
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