How Long Does it Take to Become a CNA?

How Long Does it Take to Become a CNA?

CNA jobs are sought-after, entry-level positions in the healthcare occupation. Thousands of aspirants apply each year to become Certified Nursing Assistants. While they come from various walks of life, all have one question: ‘How long does it take to get CNA certification?’ If you’re working hard towards a CNA job, you might also be looking for the answer.

The time to get your CNA certification depends on the CNA certification program you enroll in. And it can take somewhere between 4 and 12 weeks or even more to get certified. So, it depends largely on the course you select.

In this article, we will explain how to calculate the length of the CNA certification process.

CNA Education Requirements

How long it takes to become something depends directly on the educational requirements. Becoming a certified nurse assistant is less strenuous and demanding than other medical professions like a nurse. That’s partly because CNAs work on basic tasks that can be learned fairly quickly.

Unlike nurses, doctors, and optometrists, you don’t need a college degree to become CNA. All you need to do is complete a high school diploma or GED and a state-approved assistant nursing course. While the duration of high school is the same across all states, the programs vary.

Many institutions, like community colleges and private medical facilities, offer CNA certification programs. These are designed to equip you with all the knowledge needed to get started in the healthcare industry.

Besides education, there’s a mandatory training period that you need to complete. This, again, varies from state to state.

When all of this is considered, you end up with a 4- to 12-week time frame.

How to Select a CNA Certification Program?


As mentioned, the certification program largely determines the time it takes to become a certified nurse assistant. Some programs last longer than others.

When selecting a CNA program, there are two things to check:

State approval

The first and most critical criterion is state approval. Every state has departments that authorize the certification programs. In Alabama, it is the Alabama Department of Public Health, while Colorado has the Colorado Board of Nursing. They review and approve the programs that are fit for aspiring assistant nurses.

Before signing up for a CNA certification program, you need to check whether the state approves the program. Look up the respective department’s registry to verify.


Along with state approval, you should check the program duration. Opting for a shorter program will help you become certified sooner than others.

The CNA program offered by American Red Cross lasts 4-8 weeks. So, you can complete the program in as little as 4 weeks. Delivered via a hybrid model, you must complete the program online and take up hands-on practical work at one of their facilities. There’s also a third part, which is clinical.

Likewise, the nursing assistant certification program offered by Cochise College in Arizona is a 12-week program. It’s a campus-based program, exposing you to even more theoretical and practical work.

The programs may sometimes run for more than 36 weeks, but the average time frame is 10-12 weeks. So, select the program you’re comfortable with.

CNA Certification Requirement by State

The certification programs for certified nursing assistants also vary by state. Each state has its own set of requirements. And one of them is the training duration, which ranges from 70 hours to 180 hours. Some states have more training hour requirements than others.

The thing to note is the training hour is already factored into the program duration. So you don’t need to spend additional hours to get your certificate. But you should know the exact training hours required by each state.

Tips to Complete the Program Faster

Healthcare.,A,Group,Of,Nurs,Medical,Students,Communicates,In,FrontThe certified nurse assistant is a dream job for many entry-level healthcare aspirants. It’s an opportunity to serve the community and make people healthier. So you must be longing to obtain the certification sooner rather than later.

The good news is there are a few ways to complete the certification program faster. Here are a few tips:

  • Choose the right program

The best way to get the certification as early as possible is to choose the right program. The right program with a balance between coursework and duration is considered ideal. Some programs may extend well beyond 16 weeks when including clinical requirements. If that’s not necessary in your case, it’s better to give such programs a skip. So, select the right program based on your needs.

  • Start and apply early

Most of the CNA certification programs have limited intake capacity. Thus, they accept only a certain number of applications. To ensure you make it through, be an early applicant. Keep an eye on the registration date and apply when the program opens. Furthermore, you should start the application process before you’ve completed high school. Some programs accept such applicants while others don’t. Starting the process while you’re in high school will help you become a certified nurse assistant faster.

  • Double-check details when applying

One silly and avoidable mistake applicants make is submitting applications with typos. The authorities will cross-check and verify the information you’ve provided. And when they see the application as erroneous, they may reject it. This will delay the certification process for you. So, be more vigilant while you apply and ensure there’s no error.

  • Complete clinical requirements simultaneously with the coursework

Some programs allow students to take up clinical work simultaneously with the coursework. If that’s an option, take it up. This will help you complete the coursework faster and get certified early. Contact your program coordinator for more details.

  • Take the certification exam immediately after program completion

After program completion, you’re required to take up the certification exam. Only those candidates passing the exam will get certified. To get certified early, consider taking the exam soon after program completion. Some students wait for a few days or weeks before they attend the exam. If you don’t need additional time, taking the certification test early is better.

Once you’ve passed the program, the hands-on practical work, the clinical requirements, and the certification tests, you’ll be placed on the state’s registry of approved CNAs. Then you can apply for CNA jobs in your preferred hospitals and healthcare settings.

Those who fail can always retake the test and get certified.

So, How Long Does it Take to Get a CNA Certification?

With careful planning and execution, the entire process of getting a CNA certification should take no more than 4 weeks. But take 10-12 weeks as the average duration to get a CNA certification. To learn more and become a certified nurse assistant, enroll yourself in CNA classes McAllen Tx today.

Whether you are looking forward to becoming a patient care technician, network support specialist, or clinical medical assistant, or want to yourself in a hybrid phlebotomy course, Careers Unlimited has got you covered. Talk with us today.

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