This is a guest post by my blogger friend , Chris Salvato at US CNA Classes Online who help people become a CNA every day! If you are interested in becoming a CNA, then you may be interested in the loads of information they provide about CNA classes online, on their website.
When looking into the nursing bubble from the outside, it looks like its really hard to start a career. After all, you need to take nursing classes, go through clinical training, get your degree, and do what seems like a million other things.
Then, at the end of it all, what if the drawbacks (grumpy patients, long hours, etc.) DON'T outweigh the benefits for you? That's where a job as a Certified Nursing Aid, also known as a CNA, can be really awesome.
When people normally think of nurses, they think of Registered Nurses (RNs) or Licensed Practical Nurses (LPNs). But these are only two nursing jobs on a healthcare team. Being an RN/LPN carries a lot of responsibility.
But a CNA is different. A job as a CNA doesn't have responsibilities that are as crucial, but it also requires much less training. The tasks performed by a CNA (like cleaning and feeding patients) are usually very important, but not vital to keep a patient alive.
For a lot of people, CNA jobs allow you to test the waters in healthcare BEFORE committing years of time and effort to a nursing degree program.
So if that sounds like a good fit for you, you are probably wondering how you become a CNA. Well, here's the step-by-step process!
BEFORE YOU START - Understand the Requirements
First you need to satisfy some basic requirements. Being a CNA is an entry level position, so the requirements aren't too hard to meet.
But the requirements vary from state to state. For example, in some states you only need to be 16 years old, in others states you need to be 18. Luckily, you can check out the exact requirements for each state on this website, US CNA Classes Online.
In general, the requirements are usually along these lines:
- Be at least 18 years old
- Have proper immunizations and can pass a drug test
- Test negative for diseases such as TB, hepatitis, etc.
- Pass a criminal background check
- Have a high school diploma or GED
If you satisfy these requirements, then you have two options: research CNA classes online or try to get a job without training.
STEP 2: Try To Find a Job WITHOUT Training (OPTIONAL)
One great thing about a CNA job is that many people can get started with absolutely no training. Since its rare that someone's life will be solely in the hands of a CNA, you don't need to be fully trained to start working.
If you have a CNA job before you get certified, you usually have a few weeks or months to finish your training so that you can continue working. If you want to just feel out the job, it's entirely possible to start working without any training.
The fastest way to find CNA jobs in your area is to look on an online job board, like indeed.com. This link will show you ONLY CNA jobs in your area. Unfortunately, most of the job postings on a job board will expect you to have your CNA training completed already.
A more effective way to find a CNA job without training is to visit US CNA Classes Online and click on your state. While this website is usually used to help people find their CNA classes online, it also provides a list nursing homes in each state, too. Nursing homes will often have jobs available that are NOT posted on job sites like indeed.com. Just use US CNA Classes Online to find nursing homes in your area, call them up and see if they offer jobs to people without training.
Even though it is a bit harder to find a job without training, its worth looking into. Firstly, because you can see if you actually like the job first. Secondly, because nursing homes will often pay for your training if you are currently employed by them as an untrained nursing aide.
Whether or not you find a job before you are trained, you will need to ultimately get trained. Thus, the next step is to find more information about CNA classes online, then enroll in a training program.
STEP 3: Research CNA Classes Online
There are no states that will let you work as a CNA without any training. Even if you get a job without training, you will ultimately need to complete a training program and get certified to keep your job.
There is no way around it. You need to take classes and get certified.
The good news is that these classes only take a short time to complete. The exact duration depends on the state, but your CNA classes should take somewhere between 4 and 24 weeks. You can get through the whole process within weeks.
Compare this to becoming a Registered Nurse (RN). As an RN, it can take years just to finish your training!
In general, training programs include some amount of time in classroom lectures and some amount of time in hands-on clinical training. The best way to find out more about classes for your state is to look up information about CNA classes online. First, start by finding nursing homes/training areas that perform training in your state. This used to be very difficult to do. You had to look through the yellow pages and make a lot of phone calls. But now there is a directory to help you find in-person CNA classes online.
One common pitfall here is that people think that they can actually TAKE their CNA classes online. Taking CNA classes online isn't possible though, because a lot of your training needs to be done in person. This is worth mentioning since a lot of people are interested in attending online classes. If you want to get trained to become a CNA, then you can't take CNA classes online! You will need to take your CNA classes on-site and in-person!
With that said, once you have a list of training centers in your area, give them a call to get more details about the exact class structure, and the total costs. Most times, CNA classes cost about $500 to $1000, including books and learning materials.
Once you found a CNA training program that's for you, you just need to complete the program and then you're ready to earn your certification.
Step 4: Apply for the Certification Exam
Once you have completed your courses, you need to apply for the exam. Again, each state is different, but the place where you have taken your training will be able to tell you exactly where to apply.
In most states, the test is typically broken down into two parts.
- Theory Test - A written or oral test that includes questions on topics like safety, the role of a CNA and why certain CNA tasks are performed.
- Practical/Skills Test - A hands-on test that will test the required skills of a CNA, including the proper procedures on things like handwashing, feeding, bathing and dressing.
When you have completed your program, and you're ready to take your test, you submit your application form with testing fees (usually about $100 to $200, depending on the state).
After the exam, you will receive your grade out of 100%. If you pass, you will be issued your certification immediately. That means that your name will appear in the Nurse Aid Registry for your state. This registry is what employers will use to verify that you are certified so that you can legally work as a CNA.
If, for some reason, you are not listed after passing the exam, contact the testing agency and ask how to fix the problem.
STEP 5: Find a CNA Job
If you don't already have a job as a CNA, then you should have a much easier time finding work now that you're certified. Once you have your certification, you will qualify for a lot of jobs on indeed.com. You can also call nursing homes in your area (again, state by state list can be found on US CNA Classes Online).
Being a CNA also qualifies you for many home healthcare jobs. So, if you're still having trouble, you can also place flyers in your local church or community center. For some people, this can lead to a private job where you will be taking care of someone in their own home.
STEP 6: You've Done It!
Learning how to become a CNA takes some time and work, but in the end you will have accomplished something great.