The College and Career
Library Presents:

Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA)

Home Reference Desk Grants and Scholarships Page About Us Contact Us

The Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) Career Page

The nursing assistant serves a valuable role in the process of caring for human beings. Usually, it is the nursing assistant that provides the basic care for some of the basic body functions that a patient needs to do in order to live.

The Work

The nursing assistant works within a team of care providers. Often, the nursing assistant is supervised by a Registered Nurse (RN). The tasks that a nursing assistant does allows other members of the team, such as the RN, to perform other functions such as administering medications to the patients. Some of the duties that nursing assistants perform are:


Working Conditions

Although being a nursing assistant can be a rewarding job, it is NOT for everyone. The nursing assistant has to really care for his/her fellow human beings. You will be working with patients who are sick, hurt, or dying. You need to have the right attitude to help people. You need to have a lot of patience. Another characteristic that many good health workers have is the ability to forgive. This can be a very stressful job. Depending on the condition of patients, health care workers have to watch out for kicks, bites, and punches.


Years ago, many medical institutions would hire just about anyone with no formal education to help take care of patients. However nowadays, many institutions will not hire nursing assistants unless they are certified.

In 1987, the United States Department of Human Services created the Omnibus Budget Reconciliation ACT (OBRA). This act required nursing assistants who work in nursing homes/long-term care facilities to attend a 75-hour course. Nursing assistant students would then have to take a test that is based on national standards, but implemented by state organizations. Each state is responsible for the training and testing, so the training and exams may vary per state. Usually, there are two parts to the examination required to become certified on the state level. One is clinical and one is a written exam (usually multiple choice). The clinical test consists of the student passing real-life situations in front of an evaluator (often, a nurse). For example, you might enter a room set up to be like a real hospital room. In this room, you may be asked to show the evaluator a few skills such as:

Hand washing. There is a proper way for the nursing assistant to wash his/her hands. One example taught by some training programs is that after you wash your hands THOROUGHLY, make sure to shut off the faucet by using a paper towel.

Changing the bed with the patient IN the bed. There is a proper procedure and you have to follow procedure. For example, privacy is an issue so some evaluators watch to see if you pull a curtain around the bed OR if there is no curtain, you may need to mention to the evaluator that if there is a curtain in the room, the curtain should be drawn around the bed to provide privacy. There are proper techniques to "rolling" the patient in order to change the bed and you need to follow proper procedure.

These are just two possible examples that might be part of the clinical part of the test.

Usually the written part of the test is multiple choice questions. Some of the subjects covered are:


There are a variety of organizations that provide training for passing the nursing assistant certification exam. There are vocational/trade schools, skill centers, community education departments, and community colleges that will provide nursing assistant classes. The length and time of the classes can vary. Some schools offer the nursing assistant classes five days a week over two weeks. Some schools offer night classes over a 15-week semester. These classes should teach you the skills needed to pass the CLINICAL and WRITTEN parts of the certification tests.


Wages and benefits vary per institution and location. However, the wage for a certified nursing assistant can range from $9.00 to $12.00 an hour. If you are full-time, usually this will include health benefits. Depending on the institution, the wage and health care package can be very good, especially taking into account that you did not have to spend a lot of time, energy, and money on a college degree. job website features a web page that allows you to type in the name of your career. will search its job postings and list an average of the salaries for that job within Indeed's job postings. This gives a more up-to-date view of what employers are paying CNA's. The website page is located at Just type in CNA or you can type certified nursing assistant.


Although nursing assistants perform some of the more menial tasks of nursing care, to a great degree, the job is just as important as any other nursing position. Probably, it is the nursing assistant that provides the most one-on-one care and spends the most time with patients developing a special, rewarding relationship with each patient.

Websites with more information about Certified Nursing Assistant CNA provides a job profile of nursing assistant at This web page offers information about schools/organizations that provide certified nursing assistant classes.

America's Career InfoNet provides a well-detailed report on different occupations. The following link takes you to the web page where you need to select the state that you would like to know about the wages and other information for "home health aides" (nursing assistant):



Home Reference Desk Grants and Scholarships Page About Us Contact Us