Get the Inside Scoop on CNA Certification
Throughout the United States, Certified Nursing Assistants are typically required to undergo a specific amount of training. While the training requirements can vary, there’s one element that’s universal: your schooling is the most important part of this professional journey. While traditional training modules perfumed in classroom settings remain the gold standard in terms of overall quality, there’s a new trend popping up around the country: online CNA programs.
As technology progresses, the role of online training is becoming greater for all disciplines. With a promise of convenience and quality, it’s no surprise the number of aspiring CNAs seeking accredited online training programs is greater than ever before. If you’re interested in taking an online CNA training program, you won’t want to miss the following advice. After all, the quality of your education forms the foundation of your budding career.
Online CNA Program Framework
Regardless of where you live, there’s bound to be at least one online CNA program catered to your state requirements. Although the exact layout and style of this digital training platform can vary, here’s what you should look for in this distance learning option:
- Active Discussion Boards – The best online CNA training programs heavily rely on discussion boards to relay assignments, discuss specific topics and communicate among students. While you won’t have the effortless communication style of a standard classroom environment, discussion boards are a close second.
- Online Examinations – Some online training programs require students to visit the local community college or official training facility to take examinations. This is most commonly seen when a standard training program offers an online option. While this may work for some students, if you’re looking for a 100% online experience due to work or life restrictions, make sure that the tests are provided via a secure digital exam layout.
- Video Conferencing – Although some of the courses you’ll be required to learn can be handled completely via txt-based learning, there are many more that require visual demonstrations. The best online CNA training programs utilize video conferencing to visually demonstrate the skills needed to succeed in this career.
- Local Clinical Training – In many states, you’re required to undergo a specific number of hours in a clinical setting, Known as practical training, these hands-on courses put you in a real medical facility so you may practice what you’ve learned. If the training program doesn’t offer a hands-on clinical option at a medical facility near you, then you should keep looking elsewhere for your education.
Online CNA Training Accreditation
The most important element to confirm when searching for the best online CNA training program is accreditation. If you graduate from a non-accredited institution, you may not be allowed to take the CNA state license examination, which means you’ve essentially wasted your time and money. Before starting your search, reach out to your state board of licensing or state nurse aide registry to obtain a list of all currently accredited online training options. You may be surprised that this list is much shorter than what an online search may yield. While you may have limited options, it’s imperative that your online training institution be fully accredited by both your state and by a national accrediting organization, such as The Higher Learning Commission.
One of the most common misconceptions about working as a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) is the legalities of this entry-level nursing profession. While the job duties and functions of this important nursing role are less than LPNs or RNs, states throughout the country regulate this career via certification. Unlike other certified professions, which allow professionals to work anywhere in the United States, Certified Nursing Assistants are limited to the state in which they earned this coveted designation. So, how does CNA reciprocity work?
If you’re planning a move to another state, you must go through what’s known as reciprocity, which essentially is the official term for transferring an active license, or in your case, certification from the issuing state to another. Transferring your CNA certification to another state may seem like a complex process, but as long as you follow the quick and straightforward tips in this guide, you’ll soon have a crisp new certification in your new home state.
Step One: Researching CNA Reciprocity Regulations
Before moving forward, check with your state board of nursing or your State Nurse Aide Registry to uncover current regulations and requirements when it comes to transferring your CNA certification. While the majority of regions throughout the United States features similar requirements, these statutes are subject to change at any time. Be sure to contact the state you’re transferring to regarding current regulations and acceptable applications/forms. Don’t worry, the State Nurse Aide Registry is prepared to answer these questions without a problem.
Step Two: Complete Correct Application
Generally, if you’re looking to transfer your CNA license to another state, you’ll be required to complete a specific form. While the name of this form may vary, it’s typically known as the “Application for Enrollment by Reciprocity.” Make sure that you fill out this form for your current state, or the state in which your CNA license is active in, and be sure to receive a list of active rules and regulations. If you’re unsure how to go about this process, the State Nurse Aide Registry often has an extensive online help desk/FAQ section.
Step Three: Provide Documentation
After filling out the enrollment application for your new employment state, be prepared to provide a variety of documentation to prove your identity and current certification status. While these required documents can vary based upon state requirements, most states require the following:
- Current CNA State License/Certification #
- Proof of CNA Training (Certificate from Training Institution)
- Driver’s License or Active State Identification Card
- Social Security Number
- Previous Employment Records
- Completed Background Check
Step Four: Pay Applicable Fees
Upon submitting your information, you’ll likely be required to pay fees to the state in which you’re seeking to transfer your certification to. Not all states require a fee, but it’s not uncommon to be charged for the background check and official transfer. This information will be made clear to you as you file your paperwork.
Step Five: Waiting Period
In general, this entire process can take anywhere from four to six weeks from start-to-finish. While you may be a CNA in good standing, you cannot legally work in a state where a CNA is required to hold a license until your CNA reciprocity process is complete or certification/license is officially transferred.
When it comes to finding the best Certified Nursing Assistant or CNA training program, there are literally dozens of variables you must consider. Because every state features thousands of programs ranging from self-paced distance learning to structured community college courses, understanding what to look for isn’t just smart, it’s necessary.
If you’re thinking about starting a career in what’s become one of the most in-demand nursing careers, or are actively looking for a reputable and accredited training program, then you’ll want to continue reading.
CNA Training Program – What to Look for
We’ve outlined the most important qualities to look for in a CNA training program to ensure your learning experience is as productive and efficient as possible.
#1 – Topic Coverage and Variety
The most important element to look for, besides accreditation status, is curriculum coverage. You should thoroughly investigate the program syllabus to ensure it covers a broad range of nursing topics. At the conclusion of your training program, you should graduate with a solid understanding of fundamental nursing concepts, along with relative familiarity with general health and anatomy topics. Make sure the curriculum is officially accredited and monitored by your state board of licensing.
#2 – Faculty-to-Student Ratio
You should never enroll in a CNA certification course with a high student-to-instructor ratio. It’s beyond important that you receive personalized attention from your instructor throughout your training program. If you choose a school that has an imbalanced ratio, then it’s impossible to guarantee a solid training experience. When interviewing schools, ask about the quality of one-on-one instructor training. Read reviews from previous students and inquire about the program max capacity.
#3 – Research Student Pass Rate
Every school should have a detailed breakdown of the student pass rate for specific programs. This information is vital when making your decision as it’s among the clearest indicators of training quality. While it’s rare to find a school with a pass rate over 95%, you should look for schools that offer an average student pass rate of at least 80-90% to ensure a quality education. Take a moment and review the previous five years worth of reports. Anything below 60-70% should be viewed as unacceptable.
#4 – Job Placement Success Rate
While learning about the percentage of students who successfully pass the CNA training program is important, the percentage of graduates who land a job is equally as important. The majority of CNA training programs offer a job placement solution. In fact, this is one of the most important qualities to look for. When identifying your potential school, ask about their job placement rates. If they don’t have a job placement program or have low placement success rates, it’s recommended to continue your search.
#5 – Clinical Training Modules
One of the most important elements to look for when identifying a solid CNA training program is practical training modules. These hands-on clinical sessions allow you the opportunity to put what you’ve learned in the classroom into practice. Without a hands-on clinical segment, it’s impossible to be thoroughly prepared for the workforce. If you’re choosing an online CNA training program, make sure the program partners with local institutions, medical facilities or hospitals to provide you with this imperative experience.
If you’re interested in becoming a Certified Nursing Assistant, or CNA, then you’re in good company. As one of the fastest growing nursing careers, it’s no surprise that many are diving into this dynamic, challenging and rewarding career. While there are many elements that must be considered before choosing this as your next job, one of the most commonly asked questions isn’t about job duties and responsibilities, but rather, about pay.
In order to gain an accurate picture of how CNAs are paid, it’s important to take a few minutes and understand the various factors that determine your annual salary. While this is classified as an entry-level nursing position, let’s explore some facts as they relate to CNA salary and work environment.
CNA Salary & Work Facts
The following are some of the tops facts about the certified nursing profession in regards to CNA salary, job opportunities, work place options and more:
• As of the beginning of 2018, there were over 1.5 million Certified Nursing Assistants and orderlies serving over 1.4 million nursing home residents throughout the United States.
• By the year 2024, the Bureau of Labor Statistics forecasts nearly 60,000 new CNA jobs throughout the country, which is a much faster growth rate than most other industries.
• The average annual income for a Certified Nursing Assistant is just over $27,000
• The average hourly wage for this position comes in just below $12.50 per hour
• 9 out of 10 Certified Nursing Assistants are women and the median age for this position is 36 years old
• Nearly 50% of all Certified Nursing Assistants haven’t completed a degree program beyond a high school diploma or GED
• Certified Nursing Assistants are at a roughly three times greater risk of on-the-job injuries when compared to the average worker
• The average annual salary and hourly wage has remained relatively the same over the past 10 years
• The highest paid CNAs, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, earn just over $40,000 per year
• The lowest paid CNAs, on the other hand, earn just over $20,000 per year
• Based on data derived from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, government-based employers offered the highest median annual salary at just under $33,000 per year
• According to this same data set, continuing care retirement communities, which are also known as assisted living facilities, pay the least at $25,800 per year
Wages Based on Industries
According to data derived from 2017, here is a list of the most popular industries served by certified nursing assistants and the average CNA salary respectively:
• Government – $29,000 per year
• Ambulance Services – $28,000 per year
• Hospitals – $27,600 per year
• Skilled Nursing Facilities – $23,000 per year
• Assisted Living Facilities – $23,000 per year
Highest Annual CNA Salaries
The following data offered by the Bureau of Labor Statistics outlines the top five states for annual income or salary of CNA:
• Alaska – $37,950 per year
• New York State – $35,080 per year
• Nevada – $34,480 per year
• District of Columbia – $34,170 per year
• California – $33,560 per year
Highest Employment Options
The following states are recognized for having the most jobs based upon population and industry:
• California – 98,570 jobs
• New York State – 94,980 jobs
• Florida – 92,190 jobs
• Texas – 88,500 jobs
• Pennsylvania – 75,020 jobs