What Are The Prerequisites For CNA Training?

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You’ve decided that you want to be a certified nursing assistant, or CNA, but you wonder if you meet the requirements to pursue training.  Fortunately, CNA work is entry-level, so you can have little-to-no experience and still take a class.  Some states even allow those who have worked as a CNA without formal training to take the test for certification.

Determining course prerequisites is often challenging because each state has different requirements.  To make matters more confusing, different facilities that offer classes sometimes have prerequisites of their own for allowing you to train.

Prerequisites For Different Types Of CNA Training Programs

CNA Training Online

CNA Training Online

CNA training online is offered through many educational institutions.  You will likely have more luck finding online training through a trade school or junior college.  Even some local Red Cross affiliates are offering online training.  You are less likely to find the online training offered free through a nursing home or facility.  Be aware that when you take classes online, it is only the lecture portion that can be conducted over the internet.  You will still have to attend classes to learn the hands-on training that is so vital to becoming a CNA.

The requirements for online training are very similar to training in other forms.  Your criminal background, age, and physical fitness are still very important components of becoming a CNA.  With online schooling, you should have a few characteristics to help you get through.  For instance, you will need an up-to-date computer to handle the documents and teaching over the internet.  You will likely also need a high speed internet connection to ensure that you can receive large files.  For success in online schooling, you also need a self-starting personality, and the ability to manage your life while still maintaining your educational goals.

Free CNA Training

Free CNA training courses are usually provided by the facility that you will eventually work for.  Many nursing homes offer these programs, and they will actually pay you to go through the training.  They choose to offer CNA programs to fill out their ranks with viable candidates, but they also benefit from training you exactly how they want you to function on the job.  Although you become state certified, you will be an expert at caring for patients in the way that facility works.  Be careful, though: most free training programs require that you sign a contract to work for a specific period of time – usually 1-to-2 years – as repayment for the free class.

Requirements for free training programs vary widely.  In fact, each state has different requirements for who is eligible to sit for the certification exam.  Mostly, you must be over 18 years of age and test negative for tuberculosis.  Many programs and states require that you do not have a criminal record to work in the facility.  Some indicate that it should be over 20 years in the past, and some accept misdemeanors but not felonies.  It depends on what your state has determined as its base requirements to initiate training.

Red Cross CNA Training

The American Red Cross is a great place to take CNA training, but it also differs from state to state.  However, most states do have the training, so if you want to get certified, this is a viable option for your career.  The program costs a few thousand dollars, but if you work in a nursing home, you may be able to get compensated for the training.  In addition, you can attempt to get financial aid to put you through the program.

Although the requirements vary from one Red Cross to another, you can count on a few constants in what is expected of you prior to entering the class.  First, you do not always have to have a high school education, though it certainly helps.  Many outlets, including the Red Cross, do require a basic reading test to ensure that you can work as a CNA.  You will likely have to pass a physical and possibly a drug test, as well.  You must be physically capable of the lifting, standing, and walking that are required from a CNA.  Drug testing may be required by facilities that hire you, but they are not always required before you enter into training.

Determining State and Facility Requirements

CNA Requirements by State

You may be wondering how to determine what the requirements are for your specific state.  With the internet, finding out should be easy, but it is often complicated by so many sites vying for your attention.  You also cannot be sure of the information found on some sites, so it is best to go to the source to know for sure.  You should look up your state’s board of nursing on the internet and search the site for information on CNAs.  There will be differences in what your scope of practice is in each state, what is required of you, and how you should go about pursuing this career track.

Once you know what is required in your state, you should find out what institutions in the area offer CNA training.  You can call local nursing homes and hospitals to find out if they offer classes.  You should ask what requirements you need to fulfill to attend one of their classes.  You should also find out what type of contract you would have to sign.  If you don’t have a medical facility that offers classes, your next step would be to search for trade schools in the area.  Junior colleges are another great source of classes.  When all else fails, you can search for CNAs and your city to find out what opportunities are in your region and what requirements those institutions insist upon.