In California, a license for certified nursing assistants is crucial so that they can work as CNAs anywhere they like.
A CNA license in California can only be given to those who have cleared the CNA licensing exam.
A CNA has to pass the nursing skill evaluation test and the written exam as well to get their license.
A CNA must go through different background checks in order to be certified.
If you are someone who is planning to get their CNA license then you are in the right place as I am here to guide you through the licensing process.
What is CNA?
CNA or certified nursing assistant is an entry-level member of the healthcare system, this does not require a full degree program, instead, you can be a part of the healthcare system after completing a nursing assistant study program.
The nursing assistant works under the supervision of nursing staff, a licensed practical nurse, or a registered nurse.
CNAs is not a nurse, instead, they are nursing assistants who aid nurses with their daily patient care and procedures.
CNAs are also referred to as nurse’s aid, patient care assistants (PCA), and nursing assistant.
How to become a CNA in California?
Being a CNA is your shortcut to stepping into the nursing world without having to study hours and earning a degree for four years.
By choosing to become a CNA you can become a part of nursing care and help with nursing procedures by just earning a nursing assistant certificate.
One can even become a nurse after they have completed their nursing assistant program.
As compared to other nursing and medical professions, becoming a nursing assistant can be really simple and quick!
If you want to become a part of the healthcare system and have a limited budget for education with less time, then becoming a CNA is the right thing to do. You can become a nursing assistant easily within a few months.
If you don’t know how to become a CNA then I am here to guide you. The only thing you need to do is follow through with the steps that I am mentioning below.
- Get a high school diploma or GED
- Look for a CNA training institution
- Enroll in a state-approved CNA training program
- Complete the in-person clinical training
- Clear the state-approved CNA certification exam
STEP 01: Get a high school diploma or GED
The main prerequisite to being a part of the CNA program is getting a high school diploma or GED. You can only enroll in a nursing assistant program if you have completed your high school and have a high school diploma.
If one does not have a high school diploma then they need to clear an equivalency General educational development test to get a GED.
STEP 02: Look for a CNA training institution
Search for the best CNA training institute in your surroundings that fulfills all your preferences. Also, ensure that the institute is approved by the nursing board of California so you will not face any issues with the other procedures of the licensing.
STEP 03: Enroll in a state-approved CNA training program
After completing your high school or getting a GED you can b be accepted to a state-approved CNA training program. The time required to complete a CNA program is four to six months.
The CNA program requires at least 75 hours of classroom study and practical or experimental work under the supervision of an instructor, this can vary from one state to another state.
In the CNA training program, you will be assessed for your theoretical knowledge and practical skills as well.
Along with this, you will be required to demonstrate what you have learned in the class as well.
The courses you need to study in a CNA program are medical terminology, infection control, anatomy, physiology, rehabilitation, patient dealing, patient communication, and patient ethics.
The CNA training will instruct you on how to interact with doctors, nurses, fellow Hospital staff, and patient attendants.
The program is also beneficial to teach you regarding how you can respond to emergency and life-threatening situations for your patient.
STEP 04: Complete in-person clinical training
Once you have completed your CNA schooling then you have to get training at a hospital, nursing home, or healthcare center to learn patient dealing and handling. One must complete them in person clinical training sessions to be able to sit in the certification exam and become certified.
The training sessions are designed to evaluate if you are physically fit for the job and if you have enough knowledge regarding nursing work and standards. These sessions are also called clinical work, where you work under the supervision and guidance of a CNA, a licensed practical nurse, or a registered nurse who will instruct you while performing nursing duties.
They will also mentor you through performing everyday tasks. The clinical sessions are very beneficial for learning basic patient skills including patient care, administration of medicines, observing vital signs, and many other important skills.
STEP 05: Clear the state-approved CNA certification exam
Now that you have completed your CNA training program and clinical training, you have to apply for CNA certification.
To get your CNA certificate, you must appear in the CNA certification exam. For the exam, National Nurse Aide Assessment Program (NNAAP) is used to determine your eligibility in 20 states for certification.
Some other states might have their own CNA certification exam criteria that you need to pass.
The exam is specially designed to evaluate your nursing knowledge and clinical skills, the test also determines if you are eligible to deliver appropriate nursing care to the patient.
The certification exam will include theoretical questions regarding human physiology, personal care, hygiene, anatomy, emergency care, first aid, CPR, patient’s rights, legal responsibilities, and pharmacology.
The theoretical exam also contains questions regarding which patient needs promotion, restoration, and maintenance of health during their stay at the hospital.
It also has a clinical skills exam that evaluates your practical nursing abilities and skills. This exam includes physical care skills, the role of a nursing aide, and psychosocial care skills.
Requirements to Become a CNA in California
Following is the list of requirements that needs to be fulfilled before you become a CNA in California.
- You should meet the minimum age of 18 years to be eligible for this program i.e. you should be no younger than 18 years of age.
- You must have a high school diploma or an equivalent to it such as a GED
- You have to go through the background screening by the nursing board
- You have to submit your fingerprints electronically to the nursing board
- Your current immunization record is also an important requirement for entering the CNA training course program classes.
- You should not be involved in drugs
- You must have a valid state ID or SSN.
- You should have graduated from a certified nursing assistant school in California verified by the nursing board.
- You must possess a school completion certificate
- You must clear the exam conducted by the state with a good score
- You need to complete the modules developed under the Enterprise California Jobs and education partnership grand
- Finally, you have to register yourself as a certified CNA.
CNA training program in California
In order to become a CNA, you must get enrolled in a CNA training program where you will be given basic knowledge about nursing care and procedures.
The institute that you are choosing must offer you accredited CNA classes in California. You can easily get into one of the state-approved training programs.
The CNA training program includes 56 instructional hours that are divided into 16 hours of theoretical classes in a classroom and 40 hours of nursing training at the hospital or nursing home.
At least half of the nursing training should be practiced in a licensed nursing home or long-term care facility.
The CNA training course program usually takes 4 to 15 weeks to complete while there are some accelerated CNA training programs as well which take around 4 weeks or a month to complete as well.
As soon as your CNA training course program is completed, you can apply for a CNA license in your desired state and take the test.
The CNA training is divided into two parts:
- Theoretical classes
- Clinical training
Before taking you to the hospital for patient care, the CNA training program includes 16 hours of theoretical classes.
The theory part of the CNA training is essential as you get to learn about human physiology, psychological support, nutrition and diet for patients, legal responsibilities, pathology, and anatomy.
These classes are usually conducted on campus where you get knowledge regarding patient ethics, nursing services, and nursing rules.
The clinical training part of the CNA program is conducted at a hospital or a nursing home where you are given a chance to interact with patients and their attendants.
In the introductory sessions of clinical training, the CNA students are taught about safety procedures, patient communication, CPR, infection control, patient rights, rehabilitation, personal care and hygiene, geriatric practices, etc.
Clinical training is very essential for a CNA as you will get hands-on skills and experience working in a hospital.
Once you are completed with the clinical training you will be able to handle a patient independently and take care of them.
The training for CNA can be conducted in two ways according to your preference:
- Online CNA training
- In-person CNA training
Online CNA training
In online CNA training, the coursework is taught to the nursing students. One can learn different nursing courses at home without actually going to the college physically.
The online training for CNAs is scheduled according to your availability.
The classes can be conducted live or you can ask your instructor to post pre-recorded classes for you or if you want to take a live class and get a recorded version of it as well, then you can get them both as well by coordinating with your instructor.
In the online CNA training, most of the nursing curriculum is taught online but your instructor might ask you to join a live meeting to demonstrate some of the skills as well.
In-person CNA training
The in-person CNA training is basically physical classes in which the students are encouraged to get hands-on nursing skills and get to know how to deal with a patient.
The CNA students can observe their surroundings and get to know how things are done in the real nursing world.
The in-person CNA training also promotes the students to take better care of their patients. The in-person training ensures a good relationship is developed between the students and the instructors in this way a better learning environment is produced.
CNA training cost and other charges
Once you have decided that you want to go to a Nursing assistant school then look for an organization providing excellent services of CNA training classes.
The CNA training course program can cost around $500 to $1600, this fee may differ if you choose a different Nursing assistant school. The prices may also vary depending on the number of hours you want to invest in your CNA training.
Be prepared to pay extra for your textbooks, insurance liability, registration fee, clinical training uniforms, classroom materials, background information check, and health tests as they are not added to the cost of the CNA training course program.
If by chance the student fails to complete their CNA training course program, then they must pay charges to retake the course.
How to get your CNA license or how to apply for a CNA license
After completing your CNA training, one can apply for the CNA license by visiting the California board of nursing website or mailing it to the California board of nursing.
After opening the website, click on the “apply for a license” option given on the right side of the page, and a window will open asking you to sign in to your account (if you do not have an account then create one).
After opening your account, click on the certification option and select the application for the initial certification option. After selecting the initial certification option, enter your basic information and select your nursing category. After filling out the form, submit it on the website and wait for the verification.
Once you have applied for CNA certification then you are allowed to give the certification exam for up to 2 years with 3 attempts.
You will have to get yourself enrolled in the CNA training course program again if you fail to clear the license test in all of the three attempts in the given time period of two years as you will not be considered eligible for the exam if you do not complete the CNA training program again.
CNA certification exam cost
After taking the necessary theoretical classes and clinical training, you must appear in a CNA certification exam to become a nursing assistant. This exam is designed to evaluate your knowledge and clinical abilities.
To be able to give a CNA certification exam, one must get registered and pay an examination fee. One must pay a fee of $155 for both tests i.e. written exam along with a clinical skill evaluation.
In case you were not able to clear one of the above exams and want to retake it then you will have to pay for the respective exam only instead of the whole examination fee.
If you need to retake the written exam then you will have to pay $35 only. If you are planning to retake the clinical skill evaluation exam only then you will have to pay $120.
The CNA license exam cost can be broken down as follows:
- For the complete written and clinical exam, you must pay $155
- $35 is the fee for the written exam only
- For clinical exams only, you have to pay $120
- $35 is charged as a rescheduling fee (in case you want to postpone or prepone your CNA exam
- $25 is the charge for a CNA exam review
Requirements for CNA license or CNA certification
The California Board of Nursing has set some standards for CNA certification or CNA license. The main requirement to get a CNA license or CNA certification is completing a CNA training course program from a reputable organization approved by the board of nursing.
One must possess the minimum passing score in the nursing assistant competency exam. This exam contains a written test and a nursing skill test as well which are approved by the nursing board, and immediately taken on the spot by the personnel approved for taking the exam.
Another requirement for CNA licensing or CNA certification is that you must complete the curriculum developed under the Enterprise California Jobs and Education Partnership Grant. Along with this, you must achieve a minimum passing score in the examination.
CNA license or certification test or exam
To appear in the CNA license examinations you first need to have complete knowledge about the nursing procedures and courses, so it is good to prepare well for the exam before appearing in it.
To get your CNA license and practice as a CNA, you must clear two exams that are mentioned below:
- Prometric exam
- Competency certification exam
A nationwide company, Prometric administers a certified nurse aide exam in California. This testing company is also used by many states for the certification of medical professionals.
If you want to apply for the license then you can either mail the application or visit their website to submit an application for the CNA exam in California.
The Prometric exam is the main CNA exam and after clearing this exam you will be able to appear in the competency certification exam. After clearing both the exams, you will receive your license.
The Prometric exam consists of two parts that are mentioned below, both of them are conducted on the same day:
- Theoretical or written exam
- Clinical skill test or practical exam
Theoretical or written exam
The written exam has 60 multiple choice questions that you must complete within 90 minutes to complete the written portion of the exam.
This part of the certification exam is referred to as the CNA quiz. The questions in this part of the exam might be regarding patient communication, personal hygiene, psychological support, infection control, nursing duties, patient rights, and patient ethics.
Some of the demo questions are mentioned below:
- How will you handle the behavioral changes of a patient?
- How will you control a certain infection?
- What are the health hazards which may arise due to wrinkled bed sheets?
- When you need to report about a patient’s condition to the nurse in charge
- Ethics of patient care and their rules
- How you can handle visitors from the patient’s family
Clinical skill test or practical exam
The clinical skill evaluation can take around 30 – 40 minutes depending on the skills you are being tested and the duty appointed to you by the examiner.
You have to prepare for the basic 12 nursing skills out of which the evaluator might ask you to demonstrate any 5 nursing skills.
In order to clear the clinical skill evaluation portion of the exam, you must correctly demonstrate the 5 nursing skills that have been appointed to you properly.
The evaluator might ask you to perform one of the nursing tasks mentioned below:
- To collect the data on the patient
- Administer oral medication or apply the topical medication to the patient
- Administer oxygen to the patient
- Remove indwelling or peripheral catheters
- Help the patient with personal care
You can see your exam results online within 48 hours after you have given the license exam. After clearing the Prometric exam you have to appear in a Competency certification exam to be able to become a certified nursing assistant and get registered as a CNA.
Within 1 week, your exam score is mailed to the California board of nursing, and within 4 weeks the California board of nursing will mail you your certificate. However, it can take 3 – 5 weeks to be added to the nursing registry.
After being registered as a CNA, you can now work at any hospital or nursing home and serve your patients.
What to take with you on the day of the CNA license exam
This might be your first take of the CNA license exam and you must be very nervous. You might be having confusion regarding what to take with you on the day of the CNA license exam. I am here to help you to get through this!
I am making a list of what you should bring with you to a CNA license exam.
- You should bring your admission letter from the Prometric testing company.
- Take two forms of current identification to the exam center. The first must have your current photograph and the other must have your valid signature to identify you
- Take 2 pencils and erasers for your written exam
You should look your best on the day of the exam. One should Dress up professionally to leave a good impression. Here is what you can do to look professional and appealing.
- It is preferable to wear scrubs or a nursing uniform when going for the exam (it makes you look ready for the nursing work and skill evaluation)
- Wear slip-resistant, flat, breathable, and closed-toe nursing shoes for the clinical skills evaluation (this helps you to stay comfortable)
- Do not forget to wear a watch as keeping track of time will be the best for you when you are taking the exam.
How to verify your CNA certification /license
After getting your CNA certification or CNA license you must verify it with the board of nursing website. You can verify your license easily by simply visiting the homepage of the board website and clicking on the “lookup or verify a license” option.
After doing so, a new page will open where you have to enter your information to verify your CNA certification. The information to be filled on the website includes your full name, home address, and CNA certificate number.
How to renew CNA certification /license
When you get your CNA license in California you must take care of it and apply for the renewal of the license from time to time. The renewal period of a CNA license for most of the states is two years, a CNA must renew their license in their two year renewal cycle so that they can work as a CNA anywhere.
One can renew their license easily by visiting the California board of nursing website and following the below instructions:
- Open and Access the BreEZe System by visiting the website www.breeze.ca.gov and click on the “Click Here to Access BreEZe Online Services” option.
- If you have never registered in the new BreEZe system, click on the “BreEZe Registration” link on the right
- the column under “new user” and register yourself
- Open the “Quick Start” menu under the “License Activities” section, you will see the “It is time to Renew!” option. Click on the blue “Select” button given in the right corner.
- You will now see a page labeled “Registered Nurse Renewal Introduction”. Read the information given in it and then click “Next”
- To proceed, select the “Agree” option after reading the Information Privacy Act.
- After answering the Transaction Suitability Questions and click “Next” to proceed further. If you want to make any changes to your name then you can do it here in this step, you can change your name by filing a name change form.
- Answer the application questions appropriately, then click “Next” to proceed.
- After verifying your information displayed on the screen, click the “Next” button to proceed. If the “Next” button is grey then click on the “Address of Record” option and fill out any missing or incorrect information and then click the “Next” button to proceed.
- Complete the “Continuing Education” portion of the form by clicking the “Add” button to enter a new record.
- Read and answer all of the renewal questions carefully. When you are done reading the questions, click the “Next” button.
- Click the “Add” button to start filling out the Work Location. Once done click the “Next” button.
- Fill out the Healing Art Survey and click the “Next” button at the bottom of the page to continue the process.
- On the “Attachments” portion of the form, click the “Attach” option to add conviction, CEU, or any other additional documentation. If you have no attachments, click “Next”
- On the Application Summary page, review all information to make sure it is correct, and then scroll down to Proceed to Payment. If you want to change your information then click the Previous button to back up and make corrections.
- For attestation read the page and then click the “Yes” button. After this click the “proceed to payment” option.
- Now proceed to the fee and summary report.
- To complete the renewal process, you can either select the “Pay Now” or “Add to Cart” option to pay later.
- Now confirm the payment details, verify the fees and card type, and then select “Next” to continue.
- Now enter your Credit Card details, and then click the “process” button.
- After selecting “Process” you will receive a Successful Payment notification on your screen. You will have the option to print a PDF receipt for your records.
In case you face any issue during your login or the website does not accept your PII or displays “PII failed” then try using your user ID with the existing password to get your account access.
Usually, the license renewal process takes around 7-10 working days. In this time duration, you will receive your CNA license. You can not get your license before the mentioned time frame.
Even if you start confirming your license status or approval of fee receipt confirmation, this will not hasten your license renewal process.
If you do not receive your new license in the given time, then you should try contacting the board through email.
If your license is already expired and you have applied for the renewal but your license still shows active, you will have to pay a delinquency fee as a penalty along with your license renewal fee due to the fact that you have delayed your license renewal.
It will cost you $55 if you want to renew your active license before it expires. It will cost you $105 if you apply for the renewal of your license 90 days after it has expired.
I would recommend you to start applying for the renewal of your license at least 120 days or 4 months before the expiry date of your CNA license, as the process may take time to complete along with that, applying early for the renewal will save you a lot of money.
One can easily renew their license at home online by using their credit card or debit card for the renewal fee. After you have completed your money transaction, print a copy of your money order or cashier’s check and the application summary.
How to reinstate your CNA license in California
If you have your CNA license but you did not work for the past 2 years in a hospital, a nursing home, or did not perform nursing duties, then you have to reinstate your license to remain in the nursing registry.
To reinstate your license, you have to reapply for your license and follow the procedure for reinstating the license. You will also need to reinstate your CNA license if your license has expired for a long time and you have missed the deadline for CNA certification renewal.
How to transfer CNA certification/license from California to another state
If you are a working CNA and planning to move from California to another state, then you should consider transferring your CNA certification from California to another state. This can be done so by following a simple procedure and fulfilling various requirements.
If you want to transfer your CNA license from California to another state then you have to find out about the requirements of the other state and the procedure as well, you can collect the information by visiting the website of the nursing board. Many states have different requirements regarding CNA certification.
You can transfer your CNA license to another state by contacting their board of nursing, CNA regulatory agency, or nurse aide registry. In most of the states, the typical requirements for CNA certification transfer include CNA verification, transfer fee, continuing education coursework, and additional certification testing as well.
CNA Job growth in California
If you are a CNA living in California, then you have many chances of job growth and promotions. California is considered the third highest employment state for CNAs.
More than 90,000 jobs for CNA are provided all over California. The demand for CNA is increasing day by day, by 2026 it is projected that the jobs for CNA will grow by 11% in California and all over the world.
CNA salary in California
California has a great employment ratio of CNAs in the entire country. The mean hourly wage for a CNA is around $12.90 while the mean yearly wage for a CNA is around $26,900.
California has a high location quotient, which indicates that California has a higher number of jobs for CNAs than an average person
CNA job advancement in California
If you choose to become a CNA then there are many options for you to have job advancement and promotions in the future. In the medical field, a certified nursing assistant is considered as an entry-level job.
A CNA can become a licensed practical nurse or LPN and a registered nurse or RN by getting enrolled in a bridge program, the training and studies can be completed at a community college or a vocational training school.
The program is offered online or on-campus depending on your preference Different institutions are designated for the CNA to LPN bridge program and CNA to RN bridge program by the California Board of nursing which typically offers nursing training for 6 to 24 weeks with 75 hours of training.
CNAs can use their working hours as a part of their training hours for LPN or RN which is very convenient for them as they can easily manage their training and work at the same time. In this way, a CNA can get a job advancement from CNA to an LPN or RN easily.
California is the best place to become a CNA as it offers good job openings for CNAs. The California Department of economic opportunity has concluded that there are more than 7000 job openings for RNs while more than 2000 job openings for an LPN every year.