Are you looking for a fulfilling new career in healthcare? Have you considered becoming a certified nursing assistant? 

When you become a certified nursing assistant, you know that your career isn’t just a job: it’s helping people. If you’re a compassionate person who loves to help, it might be the right career track for you. 

If this sounds appealing, we want to give you a brief guide on how to become a certified nursing assistant. It isn’t easy, but once you’re done with your training you’ll have a fulfilling job with a steady income and career mobility. It’s also a great way to get a feel for the medical field if you’re considering more advanced paths.

Keep reading to learn all about certified nursing assistants and how you can start your path towards becoming one. 

What is a Certified Nursing Assistant?

Before we discuss how you should go about becoming a certified nursing assistant, it’s important that you know what a nursing assistant is. 

Nursing assistants work to help nurses and doctors with their tasks. They work on the front lines with patients and perform some hands-on tasks as well as minor administrative work. 

A nursing assistant is supervised by a nurse. They’re also referred to as patient care technicians, nursing aides, and orderlies. 

What Does a Certified Nursing Assistant Do? 

Nursing assistants have many roles in their workplaces. The specific jobs will vary depending on where the nursing assistant works (and we’ll talk more about workplace options later on). 

In most situations, a certified nursing assistant will help patients directly. They may provide patient support, change bedsheets, record patient information, relay patient information, and help patients with their daily necessities and tasks.

While they work alongside nurses, they don’t provide direct medical care to patients.

How to Become a Certified Nursing Assistant

If this sounds like something you’d like to get into, you need to know the right steps. Nursing assistants have a quicker path to their career than registered nurses and doctors, but there’s still work involved. You need to meet the proper education requirements, get the right certifications, and find the right workplace.

There’s a lot of career growth and a need for nursing assistants right now, so you know that you’ll be able to find a job. This is a great career for anyone who wants to be able to work anywhere.


Anyone who wants to be a certified nursing assistant needs to have either a high school diploma or a GED. After this, you’ll need to start a nursing assistant program. These programs are shorter than a bachelor’s degree. They typically last anywhere between six and twelve weeks. 

The nursing assistant programs are available at medical facilities, community colleges, and trade schools. You want to make sure that you’re going to an accredited program such as the UMA nursing training program. 

Your education will include an anatomy and physiology course, a course on nutrition, a course of overall nursing skills, bedside manner, and more. You’ll also get hands-on clinical experience before you get a job in the field. This should prepare you for the job at hand. 

If you want to advance your career after getting a feel for it, you can continue on to an associate’s degree or a bachelor’s degree. You may be able to utilize a bridge program to make your journey to registered nursing faster and easier.


Your CNA program will lead to your certification. It will prepare you for your certification exam. 

After you’re done with your program, the exam should be easy as long as you’ve been paying attention. Questions have to do with general patient care.

There are plenty of resources online that can help you with your CNA certification exam. If you’re worried about your knowledge, it’s advisable to take an online CNA practice test before the big day so you can go into the testing room with confidence. 


After you have your CNA certification you’ll need to become a licensed CNA before you can start your career. Alongside an exam, you’ll perform certain hands-on tasks. This is so the board knows that you’ll be competent in the field. 

You need to renew your license every two years if you want to keep working (though different states have different guidelines for renewal). That renewal will include updated continued education so you can refresh your knowledge and keep up with current best practices.  

The Job Hunt

After you’ve finished all of the certifications, you’ll need to start looking for a job. You have options. 

Certified nursing assistants can work in hospitals or doctors’ offices, but they can also work in retirement homes, mental health facilities, home care, and any other long-term care facilities. Your tasks will vary depending on what you choose.

Qualities of a Good Certified Nursing Assistant 

Being a good nursing assistant isn’t all about your education. You need certain qualities to succeed in the field. 

A nursing assistant needs to be organized. It’s up to you to record patient information and relay it to nurses and to the person who takes over after your shift. Not keeping track of this information makes other people’s jobs more difficult.

You also need to be compassionate. Part of your job is providing comfort and care for your patients. These patients are often elderly and they need empathy from their caregivers. 

That said, you also need to be resilient. You’ll lose patients on the job, but it’s your responsibility to bear that loss so you can continue to provide care for the rest of your patients. 

Are You Ready to Become a Certified Nursing Assistant? 

Has this guide on how to become a certified nursing assistant sparked an interest in the field? Start looking into nursing assistant programs near you so you can start the path towards your fulfilling new career. It won’t be easy, but it will be worth it. 

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