Certified Nursing Assistant Training in California
What kind of healthcare career are you looking for? Are you interested in working directly with patients, building your prospects for future higher education, and making healthcare better in California?
This is your chance to learn about CNA requirements in California and find out how to become a CNA.
What is a CNA?
What is a certified nursing assistant? What do they do and what role do they play in healthcare?
CNAs play an important support role in healthcare facilities across California, including clinics, hospitals, and nursing homes. As a certified nursing assistant, your job is to improve patients’ quality of life, handle routine tasks, and do other tasks as requested by registered nurses and physicians.
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How Can I Become a Nurse Aide (CNA) in California?
If you’re ready to become a nurse’s aide, this is a great time to get started. Healthcare is one of the biggest industries in California and a CNA license may put you in a position to learn more about other nursing roles while gaining experience in the healthcare industry.
Find out more about how to become a nursing assistant in California by getting in touch with CNA training programs today.
What Kind of CNA Training Do I Need in California?
Getting the right training is key to making the most of your new career in healthcare. Luckily, California is home to hundreds of schools and training programs that give aspiring CNAs the knowledge and skills they need.
With a CNA license, you can really make a difference in the lives of residents while ensuring that healthcare practitioners have more time to spend on specialized tasks. The path to CNA certification can begin right now; just contact CNA schools in California to learn more.
Getting Into a Certified Nursing Assistant Program in California
Depending on where you live in California, you may have dozens of options for completing your nurse’s aide training. One of the benefits of becoming a CNA is the fact that there are minimal barriers to entry in this field. You don’t need tons of previous education, perfect grades, or healthcare experience.
As long as you meet several key requirements and standards, you may be able to begin your training promptly in California. Since CNA training is fast-paced and short in duration, you may look forward to beginning your career very quickly. By getting your application materials in order and ensuring that you meet each program’s admission requirements, you may jumpstart your new career.
Admissions Requirements for CNA Programs
- High school diploma is recommended but not required
- Must be at least 16 years old; if you are younger than 18, you need a parent’s approval
- Criminal background check (certain crimes may disqualify you from training programs)
- Current immunizations
- Negative TB skin test
- Negative drug screen
- Physical exam
- Nurse assistant program application and fee
- Background check authorization form
- Accuplacer scores
CNA Training in California
The process of becoming a nursing aide moves fast, so be ready to put in long hours and rapidly build up your skills once you get accepted to a nurse assistant training program. Each state sets its own training requirements for nurse assistants.
In California, applicants must complete at least 160 hours of training before applying for a license. You spend 60 hours in the classroom studying theory and basic techniques before moving on to the clinical portion of your training, which makes up 100 hours of your education. Your clinical hours must be finished in a licensed medical facility.
In a full-time program, which may require 40 hours of work per week, you might be able to finish your training in as little as four weeks. Many schools also offer part-time programs for the convenience of students.
CNA Classes in California
- Communication and interpersonal skills
- Infection control
- Safety and emergency procedures
- Independence of patients
- Respecting the rights of patients
- Ethics and confidentiality
- Attitudes toward illness and healthcare
- Family interaction
- Safety rules
- Fire and disaster plans
- Body mechanics
- Transfer techniques
- Medical and surgical asepsis
- Weights and measures
- Patient care skills
- Oral hygiene
- Hair care
- Prosthetic devices
- Skin care
- Elimination needs
- Collection of patient specimens
- Help with patient tubing
- Intake and output
- Admission, transfer, and discharge
- Vital signs
- Long-term care
- Observation and charting
- Death and dying
As you see, you cover a lot over the course of 160 hours. Not only do you need a wide variety of hands-on skills that make you an asset to local healthcare facilities, you must have empathy for your patients and respect their rights and independence while working with them. In your theory training, you may learn about skills like skin care, vital signs, charting, and toileting.
At this stage, it’s important to memorize the mandatory steps for each procedure and be able to call them up at a moment’s notice. This makes it easier to practice and perfect skills once you start your clinical hours.
Some students look into online CNA training programs, particularly those who have children, full-time jobs, or other responsibilities. The fact is that certified nursing assistants spend over half of their education in clinical work, so an online program just isn’t practical. With just an online education, you don’t qualify for certification in this field. You may be able to attend a blended program that offers some of your theory training online.
CNA Certification as a Prerequisite for Nursing School in California
If you’re not interested in becoming a CNA for the duration of your career, you may be a nursing student working toward an Associate’s or Bachelor’s degree in nursing. If this is you, you should be able to answer the question “What is a CNA?” by the time you begin your nursing classes.
CNAs are a huge resource for registered nurses, often taking on a significant portion of patient care duties and letting nurses move onto more specialized tasks. CNAs and nurses often work in close quarters in healthcare settings, which is just one reason that many nursing schools require CNA certification.
The skills you develop as a student CNA are extremely useful in nurse education programs, and they give you an introduction to the physical demands of the nursing industry.
Paying for a CNA Program in California
Although you may only spend four to eight weeks completing your nursing assistant education, financial aid may be a priority for you. The good news: many nursing homes and assisted living facilities help employees with training expenses or reimburse employees for the cost of their CNA training.
On top of this option, you may be able to apply for federal aid or private scholarships. Through National Nurses United of California, you may apply for a variety of CNA and nursing scholarships. The Free Application for Federal Student Aid is an important first step for all students, since it figures out whether or not you qualify for need-based financial aid. You can look up each school you’re considering with their college scorecard feature, which tells you about the average cost of each school. You may also want to conduct a large scholarship search through Peterson’s, a huge scholarship database.
Working as a Certified Nursing Assistant in California
You’ve finished your nurse assistant training and you’re ready to make your mark as a CNA in a local nursing home, hospital, or clinic. With your CNA classes and training in California, you should have gotten plenty of experience in local healthcare facilities. This experience may help you decide where you’d like to work after graduation and prepare for the expectations of local healthcare employers.
CNA Requirements in California
After you complete your training at an approved CNA or nursing school, you must apply for CNA certification through the California Department of Public Health. This agency oversees the certification of nurse aides and others who work in long-term care facilities.
You may apply to take the national nurse assistant certification exam through Pearson Vue, which has dozens of testing sites all over California. The test includes multiple choice questions and a skills portion, during which you demonstrate your ability to execute common CNA tasks in a way that is appropriate and medically sound. The combined testing fee for the written and skills exam is $90.
After you pass these tests, you are added to the California Nurse Aide Registry. To continue working as a nurse aide after your initial licensure period, you must renew your license every two years. California requires 48 hours of continuing education during each renewal cycle. Furthermore, to keep your license valid, you must work at least eight hours as a CNA during each renewal cycle.
Where are the Best CNA Jobs in California?
One of the benefits of becoming a certified nursing assistant is the wide variety of work settings you may explore after graduation. Nursing homes and assisted living centers are some of the most common work environments for CNAs, since residents need around-the-clock care, supervision, and medical monitoring.
In addition, nursing homes tend to have fairly standard hiring requirements. Many do not require previous experience in healthcare, which means that new CNAs may be able to get experience, build up their CV, and learn how to navigate the healthcare industry.
Common Work Settings for CNAs
- Nursing homes and assisted living facilities
- Geriatric clinics
- VA clinics
- Group living homes for adults with disabilities
- Occupational therapy centers
- Rehabilitation centers
CNA Hiring Requirements and Expectations
- Listed as active on the California Nurse Aide Registry
- High school diploma or GED
- Training hours in a relevant or similar work environment
- References from CNA instructors and supervisors
- Available to work a variety of shifts, including nights, weekends, and holidays
- Ability to travel between patients’ homes as needed
What Does a Nursing Assistant Do in California?
By the time you finish your CNA classes in California, you should have a very good idea of what nursing assistants do and how they spend their time. Nursing aide programs in this state cover the scope of practice for a nursing aide, clearly outlining what you’re allowed to do as a nursing assistant and what falls outside the scope of your training. It’s important to always stay informed with regard to your scope of practice and avoid completing tasks that are only assigned to nurses, LPNs, and others with more specialized training.
Each day, you may have slightly different responsibilities and tasks. Typically, facilities that employ CNAs have assistants on staff 24 hours per day. When you arrive, you may relieve a CNA who is just finishing up their shift. You may update yourself on the status of your patients, read any special instructions regarding your patients, and make sure that everything is appropriately stocked for your shift. Most facilities require that CNAs complete specific duties for each patient before handling any other responsibilities that arise.
Certified Nursing Aide Duties
- Administer medications
- Communicate changes in status to doctors and nurses
- Help patients get dressed and complete daily hygiene tasks
- Help immobile patients transfer to bed, chairs, or wheelchairs
- Assist clients in the restroom as needed
- Deliver meals to clients and chart how much they consume
- Take vital signs and document them appropriately
How Much Does a CNA Make in California?
Once you complete your training as a nurse’s assistant, you may be curious about how much you can earn in this field. Since this is an entry-level role, salaries tend to be lower than they are for LPNs and RNs. On average, California CNAs earn $31,110 per year (Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2017).
Most facilities pay on an hourly basis, rather than a salary; this means that there may be opportunity for bonus and overtime pay for CNAs who work weekends, holidays, and overnight shifts.
Average salaries are higher in several parts of California, which may influence your job search. In the Mother Lode region, the average income is $35,080 per year (BLS, 2017). Those working in Napa report a mean income of $33,010 per year (BLS, 2017). In the North Coast area, CNAs earn a mean salary of $32,020 annually (BLS, 2017). Those in Oakland earn an average of $34,150 per year, while those in Sacramento report an average income of $36,980 annually (BLS, 2017).
The highest average income in this state is in the San Francisco area, where CNAs bring in an average of $39,700 per year (BLS, 2017). Between 2014 and 2024, job openings for CNAs are expected to increase 17% across the country (BLS, 2017).
Important CNA Resources in California
- American Nurses Association of California
- California Nurses Association
- National Association of Health Care Assistants
Students of CNA programs may have a number of resources available to them. These resources may help you find new job listings, meet your continuing education requirements, and provide more individualized care to patients. You may also start building up your professional network in the healthcare industry, which can be particularly helpful if you want to further your career in nursing.
Why not use this opportunity to become a certified nurse aide and make a difference in your California community? With so many nursing homes, clinics, and hospitals looking for nurse’s assistant graduates, this is the ideal time to explore your options in healthcare and choose a training program.
Make your move now by checking out our list of the best CNA programs in California and contacting schools near you.