Certified Nursing Assistants, or CNAs, are paraprofessionals who assist and provide bedside care to hospitalized individuals due to various reasons such as physical disability, mental impairment, advanced age, or injury. These nursing assistants work under the direct supervision of Licensed Practical Nurses or Registered Nurses. Their primary role is to meet the patient’s psychological and physical needs. It involves performing duties such as feeding, bathing, dressing, taking vital signs, and ensuring overall hygiene, comfort, and safety.

Due to the aging population in the U.S., employment opportunities for CNAs are increasing. They typically work in long-term residential facilities, such as nursing homes, rehabilitation centers, adult care centers, inpatient hospital settings, or patients’ homes.

CNA License Requirements in Florida

You must meet the Florida Board of Nursing requirements To become a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) in Florida. These requirements include being at least 18 years old or having a high school diploma, completing an accredited nursing assistant program with 56 instructional hours, passing a background screening, and taking the state exam administered by Prometric.

The nursing assistant program must include 16 hours of classroom instruction and 40 hours of clinical training, with at least 20 of those clinical hours in a licensed nursing home or long-term care facility. The program can be completed in 4-15 weeks, and accelerated programs are also available.

Applicants with criminal convictions or felonies may still be eligible to become CNAs but may need to provide additional documentation or letters of recommendation. The nursing board will not license those convicted of healthcare fraud or public health felonies.

To complete the Level II background screening, first-time CNAs must submit their fingerprints electronically through an FDLE-approved Livescan service provider. Results are typically received within 3-5 business days; the fee is usually around $25-$35.

Finally, recent veterans or military spouses of active duty service members may be eligible to have the licensing fees waived through the VALOR program. For more information and eligibility requirements, visit the VALOR program website.

CNA Training in Florida

Completing a qualified training program to pass the nursing assistant competency examination is recommended to become a CNA in Florida. Although not required in Florida, completing a training program increases the likelihood of passing the exam on the first attempt. Different program lengths are available, from one-day intensive to week-long classes. Clinical and lecture coursework is included in these programs. The cost of these programs varies, with on-campus accelerated courses costing around $350 and free programs available through organizations such as the Red Cross and Job Corps Center.

CNA training programs in Florida need approval from the Florida Board of Nursing. It is important to attend an approved program because non-approved or probationary programs may not provide adequate preparation for the exam. While online coursework may be available for the theory portion of the program, completing clinical in an on-site setting is necessary to be fully prepared for the exam.

CNA Exam in Florida

The Florida CNA Exam is administered by Prometric, a nationwide company certifying medical professionals in other states. To apply for the exam, you can either submit an online application on Prometric’s Florida CNA Exam website or mail in an application. The exam consists of a written exam with 60 multiple-choice questions that you must complete in 90 minutes and a clinical skills evaluation that will take 31-40 minutes, depending on which skill you are tested on. You must pass both exam portions to become a certified nursing assistant (CNA).

You can search with your zip code to find a testing center near you. If you require testing accommodations, such as extended time or a separate testing room, you can request them as part of your application. It’s important to contact Prometric five business days before your scheduled exam if you need to reschedule to avoid fees.

If you don’t pass the exam after attempting it three times, you must complete an approved training program before you can take the exam again. Once you pass the exam, you can be added to the Florida Registry, regulated by the Florida Department of Health’s Board of Nursing. Adding to the nursing registry can take 3-5 weeks.

CNA License Renewal in Florida

To work as a CNA in Florida, one must have a valid license, which needs to be renewed every 2 years by the Florida Department of Health. To be eligible for renewal, you must have worked as a CNA continuously for at least 24 months. If your license expires, you must apply for a new one. The renewal cost is $55 if renewed before the expiry date and $105 90 days after the expiry date. The renewal process should be started 120 days before the license expiry date.

To renew your CNA license, you must complete 24 hours of CNA training in infection control, domestic violence, CPR, medical record documentation, communication with cognitively-impaired patients, resident rights, and medical safety. If you change your name or address, you must update your CNA license for free. However, if you want a new certificate reflecting the name change, you must pay $25.

CNA Salary in Florida

The amount of money a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) can earn in Florida depends on several factors, including location, work experience, and place of employment. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, CNAs in Florida made an average hourly wage of $13.78, or $28,660 annually, in 2020. However, the top 10% of earners made $37,830 or more, while the bottom 10% earned $21,530 or less. In cities such as Bradenton and Sarasota, which offer some of the highest salaries for CNAs in Florida, the top 10% earned more than $40,000 annually.

Career Advancement

A Certified Nurse Assistant (CNA) position is a starting point in the medical field, but it offers various opportunities for job advancement. CNAs work closely with Licensed Practical Nurses (LPNs) and Registered Nurses (RNs), so they can witness the possibilities of career growth firsthand. To become an LPN, a CNA can enroll in a bridge course offered by community colleges or vocational schools, either online or on-campus. The Florida Board of Nursing lists schools that offer this training. This course usually takes 6-24 weeks and includes 75 hours of training, and many CNAs can use their work hours to attend training. This makes it convenient for them to get promoted to LPN quickly. Due to the high demand for healthcare professionals in Florida, many CNA jobs are expected to open annually, providing numerous opportunities for job advancement.

Top 3 Schools Providing CNA Programs in Florida

Choosing a CNA program in Florida is crucial in ensuring you receive adequate preparation to pass the certification exam. Therefore, choosing a high-quality program that the Florida State Board of Nursing approves is necessary. The most reliable method to ensure a program’s quality is to confirm its approval by the Florida State Board of Nursing. According to our research at EDUMED (https://www.edumed.org/), the following schools are identified as the top three quality CNA training programs approved by the state to assist with your program search. Further details on each program can be found below:

1.    Indian River State College

The Nursing Assistant program offered by Indian River State College, located in Fort Pierce, Florida, is designed to train students for CNA licensure in the state of Florida, as well as prepare them for employment in various medical settings, including hospitals, nursing homes, hospice centers, private residences, and doctor’s offices.

The certificate program is highly recommended for students pursuing further studies in Practical Nursing or Associate Degree in Nursing programs at IRSC. The program comprises 165 hours of modular study, with on-campus classes and labs held from Monday to Thursday and in-person clinical hours completed at local healthcare facilities. The program is offered at multiple IRSC campuses; a high school diploma or GED is optional for admission.

Website: https://irsc.edu/

2.    Santa Fe College

Santa Fe College in Gainesville offers a one-semester Nursing Assistant (CNA) Certificate program, which is a 165-hour course that prepares students for employment as nursing assistants in both acute-care and long-term care settings, as well as for the CNA exam. The program includes the following:

  • Didactic coursework.
  • Labs at the SFC main campus.
  • Clinical hours at approved local nursing homes and care facilities.

Candidates must complete the PERT test with minimum reading, math, and English scores. They also need BLS/CPR certification from the American Heart Association. The program accepts students on a first come, first served basis, and the estimated cost for Florida residents is $2,071, including tuition, books, uniforms, exam fees, and other expenses. Financial aid is not available, but scholarships are available to eligible students.

Website: https://www.sfcollege.edu/

3.    Tallahassee Community College

Tallahassee Community College offers a Nurse Assistant PSAV Certificate program that prepares students for the CNA certification exam and employment as nursing assistants in long-term care settings. The program consists of 120 clock hours, 80 hours of classroom/lab instruction at TCC’s campus, and a 40-hour clinical internship at program-approved healthcare facilities. The coursework completed in the program does not count toward an A.A. degree. Admission requirements include:

  • A standard high school diploma or GED diploma.
  • Passing a Level 1 criminal background check and drug screening.
  • Submitting a personal health form.
  • CPR certification on the healthcare provider level.

Students must be 18 or older to sit for the CNA exam in Florida. This program has limited access, which means it has specific admissions requirements and a special application, and only a limited number of students are accepted each term.

Website: https://www.tcc.fl.edu/