CNA Training in California

CNA, also known as Certified Nursing Assistant, can be considered your first step into the nursing profession. It is an excellent choice since the training period is not long, offers hands-on experience, excellent employment opportunities. This course is also known as “certified nurse aide” or “certified nurse assistants.” Each of the fifty states in the United States of America has its own guidelines to qualify as a certified nursing assistant, and the nursing license is granted accordingly. In this article, we will see the regulations and procedures to be followed in the state of California.


Who can become a certified nursing assistant? There are certain criteria to be met to be able to even apply for the course to obtain a certificate in California. They are,

  1. Most of the schools demand the applicant to be at least 16 years old.
  2. A high school degree is mandatory for facility training.
  3. Before coming in touch with the patients, it is necessary to get a health examination done and to produce the medical history, tuberculosis test, and the results of the examination. This report must be signed by a physician or a practicing nurse. In some cases, the applicant might also be asked to undergo a drug test.
  4. In order to facilitate the background check process, the fingerprint must be registered with the California Department of justice.
  5. The eligibility to take up the Competency evaluation exam is the completion of the state-approved training program.

Application process:

In this case, we are solely talking about the initial application only. Once you fulfill the criteria required to be eligible like being sixteen years of age, completion of a state-approved training program, production of the medical records or reports, and ostentation of criminal clearance record, then you can make the initial application to the California Department of Physical Health. On completion of the training, you can appear for the examination to evaluate your competency. After the examination, in around a month, the California Department of Public Health will receive your test results.

Methods to become a CAN in California:

In the state of California, there are three options or methods to become a certified nursing assistant. These methods are referred to as paths.

  1. The first option is direct. One must enroll for the training and then take up the competency evaluation examination to become a certified nurse aide.
  2. The second option is to provide enough proof of having undergone training equivalent to CNA training. Under such a circumstance, one just has to take up the examination after proving that they have enough training.
  3. The applicant has undergone relevant training while in the Military.
  4. The applicant is a certified nursing assistant or a certified Nurse in another state in the US or another country.
  5. The applicant has completed or is currently undergoing training to become a registered nurse, vocational nurse (Licensed), or Psychiatric technician (Licensed).

Under any case, the applicant has to take up the examination and provide sufficient proof of training and working providing nursing or its related services. In case the applicant has obtained a certificate within the last two years or is currently enrolled in a course, then the clause “working for two years in nursing or its related activities while being paid” can be waived off.

  1. When the applicant possesses an active certification from another state and has been rendering paid service during the past two years, then the state of California may approve certification without further examination or training. In this case, too, the need to have worked during the past two years is waived off if the applicant is currently enrolled in a certification or has obtained a certificate within the past two years.


To complete the prescribed training, the applicant must enroll in one of the schools prescribed by the California Department of Public health. The training is available in different forms, such as day programs, evening programs, weekend programs, etc. These training programs are offered at various institutions, such as agencies, nursing facilities, and public educational institutions. Normally, anyone who has undergone the training is fully qualified to take up the examination.

The training providers can be grouped into two categories. One can be grouped under the School nurse assistant certification training program, and the other one is the skilled nurse assistant certification training program. Schools can choose from a list of schools approved by the state. It is imperative they choose from this list only to be qualified.

The course fee includes books, supplies, certification, tuition, and examination fees. They also have to pay a registration fee, PPD test fee, and physical examination fee in addition to uniforms and shoes. The total cost is estimated at 1800 dollars. Sometimes, there have also been instances of free tuition fees. In any case, the students would be required to pay fees like organization fees, parking fees, etc.

The length of the training is normally a hundred hours of clinical training and fifty hours of theory classes. But in the case of certain programs or certain schools, the duration is longer than this. In the state of California, some schools offer longer programs with more number of hours towards theory and clinical sessions and towards general enhancements. But in general, the programs do not take place for longer than nine months.

When it comes to training, choosing a school is very important since that plays a vital role in making your career. Make sure the school you are choosing is approved by the California Department of Public health. Look into aspects like instructors, the staff, etc. Certain other important aspects are the completion rate of the school, the cost of the program, the duration of the program, if the location is convenient, reviews of the students, percentage of employment, etc. These factors will help you decide on a good school that will help you start or continue your nursing career.


As far as the examination is concerned, there are two methods or paths. The first one is to take up the National nurse aide assistant program. This is administered by Pearson VUE. The other method or path is to take the California Nurse assistant competency examination. This is administered by the Red Cross (American).

National Nurse Aide Assistant Program:

This examination is conducted in two parts. The first part is either written or oral, and the second part is skill evaluation. In order to qualify for the certification, one has to clear both the parts. Normally the written examination has seventy multiple-choice questions. In case you have difficulty reading the English language, then you can take up the oral examination, which contains sixty multiple-choice questions and 10 multiple-choice comprehension questions for reading.

In the second part, the evaluation of skills, the students are required to perform five skills of a nursing assistant. This will be evaluated by a Nursing assistant evaluator.

Passing both exams, along with a fingerprint background check, is required to qualify for the certificate. On completion of all these, the California Department of Public health will mail you the certificate. It is also important to remember that one must take up the examination within two years of completion of the training.

California Nurse assistant competency examination:

This examination is conducted in two parts. The first one being the written part, and the second part is “skill evaluation” test. The written part consists of sixty multiple-choice questions. Under the skills part, the candidate is supposed to demonstrate four skills and six principles of care. The six principles of care are safety, infection control, privacy, independence, communication, and dignity. Both the parts of the test, along with the fingerprint background check, need to be completed to be certified. The certificate, in this case too, will be mailed by the California Department of Public health.

In order to help the candidates, online mock tests are organized. It is always advisable to take up and practice with the mock exams before appearing for the real exam.

There are two regional centers, one in Santa Barbara and the other in Huntington Beach. The candidate has to send in the registration application along with the application money.

To the exam hall, the candidate is required to bring the original social security card without lamination, a government-issued photo identification card, two sharpened pencils, eraser, non-skid shoes, and Nursing Assistant Certification Completed Application (HS 283B) enclosed with the original RN signature dated after the training period or an original copy of CDPH Approval Letter enclosed with an embossed CDPH stamp.

Electronic devices are not allowed into the examination hall except those used for translation.

The training followed by the examination along with the fingerprint and background verification is the necessity to obtain the certificate, which will be mailed to the candidate by the California Department of Public health within thirty days. The process is not considered complete without a criminal background check. However, the candidate can work while the process is in progress as long as the evaluation has been done.