Is It Hard to Get a CNA Certification California?

A certified nursing assistant (CNA) provides supportive care for individuals in a healthcare setting under the supervision of a licensed nurse or other qualified healthcare provider. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment for certified nurse assistants throughout the United States is predicted to increase by 20 percent from 2010 through 2020. As of 2011, CNAs earned an annual median wage of $29,300.

California is one of the leading employers of certified nurse assistants with predicted employment demands and annual median salaries higher than national averages. In 2011, California-based CNAs earned over $4000 more than the national average with an annual median wage of $33,400. The bottom 10 percent in California earned $20,000 with the top 10 percent earning nearly $40,000 with an annual median income of $39,100. California job prospects for CNAs is also brighter than the national average with employment growth predicted at 21 percent with 3,350 new jobs added through 2018.

Is it hard to get a CNA certification in California?

Obtaining CNA certification in California requires a diligent effort on the part of the potential candidate but with preparation and follow-through, acquiring certification is manageable with numerous resources available throughout the state. The California Department of Health Services (CDHS) regulates certification for healthcare workers, ensures education standards for CNA training programs and maintains the state registry for licensed and certified healthcare workers.


Before sitting for the certification exam, California requires .potential candidates to complete 150 hours of CDHS-approved CNA courses and training that includes 100 hours of clinical rotation in addition to 50 classroom hours. Typical modules included in approved programs cover Patients’ Rights, Interpersonal Skills, Body Mechanics, Patient Care Procedures, Nutrition, Vital Signs, Emergency Procedures, Rehabilitative Nursing and Death and Dying.

Additional requirements for CNA certification include a high school diploma or GED, criminal background check and a physical examination. CNAs must also be at least 16 to work in California. Parental consent to sit for the certification exam is required for minors.

Certification Exam 

After meeting all pre-qualifications and upon successful completion of all required modules, applicants may sit for the state certification examination. The exam comprises two sections that include a written evaluation and a manual skills evaluation. Students who successfully pass the written segment that includes approximately 100 multiple-choice questions, may continue on to the manual skills assessment. Students that fail to pass the written portion may retest up to two times per 12-month period.

California’s reciprocity agreement permits nurses aides certified in other states, who remain in good standing, and who pass a background check and provide the proper paperwork to transfer certification and become eligible for employment. The California Department of Health maintains a database of information for CNAs and CNA candidates that provides details concerning the details of the reciprocity agreement as well as a directory of approved training programs and schools, a list of approved testing vendors and a comprehensive Q&A report that addresses many facets of California CNA certification.

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Jakie S

I have been a CNA in the state of California since 1995. One of my passions in life is to help people and help others who want to expand their careers and become CNAs.

1 Response

  1. January 16, 2017

    […] length of the certified nursing courses varies from state to state and the certification takes place offsite. Many programs are available, usually lasting about six weeks through Red […]

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