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CNA Training Programs in California

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It’s amazing just to think about how many people contribute to the makeup of our healthcare system. There seem at times to be endless layers of support personnel. Consider, if you will, the radiology department. The radiologist is assisted by a radiology technician, and both of them are indispensable—though it seems, at times, that technicians do not receive nearly the credit they should.

The same goes with medical coding specialists; these folks ensure that your bill is accurate and that your insurance is processed efficiently, but their work tends to go unsung. The basic message here is that, for anyone seeking employment in the medical world, the options are almost endless.

For example, one position that you may not know much about is that of the Certified Nursing Assistant, or CNA. This is very different from a nurse; the job description is different, and so is the training. Basically, the CNA works in either a hospital or nursing home to ensure that quality care is given to patients, and to the elderly in particular.

Their work is vital, and it can also be quite rewarding; if you enjoy helping and serving others, it’s a career you might think very seriously about. You should know, however, that you cannot become a CNA without first receiving some formal training.

Thankfully, training facilities are in abundance. For further information about this field, simply contact any one of the excellent California CNA training schools located in your area. This could be the rewarding, people-oriented job you’ve been searching for!

CNA Certification Requirements for Initial Licensing in California

The NNAAP (National Nurse Assistant Assessment Program) is the exam individuals will have to pass in order to get CNA certification in California. The exam has two components a written (or oral) and evaluation skills and both have to be passed. Prior to taking the NNAAP exam students must have successfully completed a California Department of Public Health (CDPH) approved nurses aide training program.

Before enrolling in a training program, students should note that the minimum accepted training by CDPH in order to apply for an initial CNA license is 150 hours consisting of:

  • 100 Hours of Clinical Training
  • Min. 50 hours of classroom instructions.

Clinical training is done under the supervision of an approved instructor in an approved facility and covers basic patient care skills taught in a training program.

Program Contents, Requirement & Pre-Requisites

CNA Class

An Nursing Assistant (NA) training program contains a mix of theory, lab and clinical training is provided. Theory is done in a classroom setting and generally takes 50 hours to complete and includes lectures and hands-on demonstrations. Lab work involves practicing the various skills taught in the classroom, so individuals practice skills such as: handling oxygen safety, transferring/positioning techniques in bed, feeding assistance etc.

Finally, clinical training consisting of 100 hours takes place in a nursing care or hospital facility. This is the most beneficial part of the program as students work alongside with other aides, nurses and medical professionals so individuals can experience the real day-to-day role of a qualified CNA. A look at a sample of the various classes taught in a nursing aide program include:

  • Emergency Procedures: Choking precautions and the Heimlich manoeuvre are covered. Clinical training of 2 hours is also required for this module.

  • NutritionFeeding, assisting and use of feeding devices are covered. Clinical training of 6 hours is also required for this topic.

  • CatastropheFire and disaster procedures are covered along with postural support and call light positioning. Clinical training of 2 hours is required.

  • Rehab: Range of motion and rehab devices are covered with 4 hours of clinical training being required.

Upon completion graduates receive Certificate of Completion of the Nursing Assistant Program and are now ready to sit the NNAAP examination (Competency Evaluation Program Testing).


Some of the basic admission requirements are: be a min. age of 16, proof of ID, GED/HS Diploma or an ATB (Ability to Benefit) with a score of 97. In addition all students are also required to pass a physical exam, test for TB and complete electronic fingerprinting within 90 days prior to attending clinical training. Other requirements include taking a CPR course.

Be prepared for additional costs on top of the tuition fees to cover costs such uniform, examination and administration fees, textbooks, physical exam, TB test, CPR test and the live scan (electronic fingerprinting). These additional costs vary but can range between $300-$400.

Course Duration

Depending on the provider, the course takes anywhere from one month to a couple of months to complete. Classes can be taken during the day, night or weekend. Class sizes are generally small as this is a requirement, thus having a small lecturer to student ratio is another great reason to enroll in a NA training program.

Upon completion of the State Competency Examination graduates can apply for their licence through CPHD and become Certified Nursing Assistants and enjoy entry-level positions at various medical and nursing facilities such as: Home Health-Care Services, Long Term Care facility, Acute Hospital, Agency Work or at a Skilled Nursing Facility.

CNA Training Schools in California

Quest Nursing Education Centre, 2135 Broadway Street, Oakland, 94612. Phone: 510- 452-1444

American College of Nursing, 1855 Gateway Bldvd., Tower 2, Suite 180, Concord, 94520. Phone: 925- 689-9900

American Red Cross, 6800 Owensmouth, Ste 140, Canoga Park, 91303. Phone: 800- 627-7000

Curam College of Nursing, 6520 44th Street Ste. #312, Sacramento, 95823. Phone: 916- 427-4400

Salary for CNAs in California and Job Growth

The Bureau of Labor Statistics purports that certified nursing assistants earn an average of about $14.43 an hour, which equates to $30,020 annually. In terms of vacation time, CNAs receive about one week of vacation.Job growth for CNAs is the highest projected growth rate of any health care profession and that is positive news for those who wish to embark on a brand new career in the medical field.

Another potential benefit to enrolling in a NA training program is that some colleges consider this a pre-requisite for their LPN or RN training programs. In fact many nurses have started their careers by a being certified nurses aide!

References and Related Resources:

Bureau of Labor Statistics
NNAAP Publication