How to get a CNA license in the United States?

How to get a CNA license in the United States?

CNA (Certified Nursing Assistant) course and certifications are becoming increasingly popular in today’s competitive job market.

How to Get a CNA License in the United States

Obtaining a CNA license involves several steps, each crucial to ensuring that nursing assistants are well-prepared to provide high-quality care.

1. Meet Eligibility Requirements

To enroll in a CNA training program, you generally need to:

Be at least 18 years old.
Have a high school diploma or GED.
Pass a background check.
Have up-to-date immunizations and a clean health record.

2. Complete a State-Approved CNA Training Program

CNA training programs are offered by various institutions, including:

Community colleges
Vocational and technical schools
Nursing homes
Some high schools

These programs typically last 4-12 weeks and include both classroom instruction and hands-on clinical training. The curriculum covers essential skills such as patient care, vital signs monitoring, infection control, and communication.

3. Pass the State Competency Exam

After completing the training program, you must pass a state competency exam to become certified. The exam usually consists of two parts:

A written (or oral) test covering theoretical knowledge.
A practical skills test where you demonstrate your ability to perform common CNA tasks.

The exact format and content of the exam can vary by state.

4. Apply for Certification

Once you pass the competency exam, you can apply for CNA certification through your state’s nursing board or relevant regulatory agency. This process typically involves submitting proof of your training and exam results, along with an application fee.

5. Maintain Certification

CNA certification must be renewed periodically, usually every two years. Renewal requirements often include completing continuing education courses and working a minimum number of hours in a clinical setting.

Best Free Online Nursing Courses with Certificates

For those looking to expand their nursing knowledge or prepare for CNA training, there are numerous free online nursing courses available. These courses can provide valuable insights and foundational knowledge, often accompanied by certificates upon completion.

1. Alison’s Nursing Studies Courses

Alison offers a variety of free online courses in nursing, covering topics such as:

Nursing leadership and care management
Clinical skills and patient care
Infection control and prevention

Certificates of completion are available for students who pass the course assessments.

2. Coursera’s Nursing Courses

Coursera provides free courses from top universities and institutions, including:

"Vital Signs: Understanding What the Body Is Telling Us" by the University of Pennsylvania
"COVID-19 Contact Tracing" by Johns Hopkins University

While some courses require payment for a certificate, many offer full course access for free.

3. edX’s Healthcare Courses

edX, in collaboration with leading universities, offers free courses such as:

"Introduction to Global Health" by the University of Copenhagen
"Health and Society" by Harvard University

Certificates are available for a fee, but course content is accessible for free.

4. OpenLearn’s Health, Sports & Psychology Courses

OpenLearn, a platform by The Open University, offers free courses including:

"An Introduction to Public Health"
"The Science of Nutrition and Healthy Eating"

These courses provide free statements of participation upon completion.

5. FutureLearn’s Health & Psychology Courses

FutureLearn provides free access to courses such as:

"Introduction to Nursing: The Role of Nurses Around the World" by King’s College London
"Caring for Vulnerable Children" by the University of Strathclyde

Certificates can be earned by upgrading to a paid version, but the course content remains free to access.


CNA courses and certifications are a gateway to a meaningful career in healthcare, offering numerous job opportunities in a growing field. By following the necessary steps to obtain a CNA license in the United States and taking advantage of free online nursing courses, aspiring CNAs can enhance their knowledge, skills, and career prospects. Whether you are beginning your journey in healthcare or seeking to expand your expertise, these resources provide a strong foundation for success.