6 Things You Really Need to Know About CNA License

  1. Meeting Basic Requirements

    Basic requirements for becoming a CNA include being 18 years of age, having a high school diploma or GED, and having a valid state ID or SSN.

  2. Taking Certification Exam

    CNA training programs will prepare you for taking the CNA certification exam, which tests your knowledge and your nursing skills.

  3. Applying for Your License

    Once you have passed your certification exam, you can apply for your license with your state's nursing board.

  4. Keeping Your License

    To keep your license in good standing, you must be continuously employed as a CNA and renew your license on time.

  5. Maintaining a Good Reputation

    In addition to steady employment and timely renewals, your record must remain free of negligence or abuse claims.

  6. Moving Out of State

    If you plan to move out of state, you will need to either transfer your license to your new state or apply for a new one.

How to Get Your CNA License

Ready to become a Certified Nursing Assistant? Here's what you will need to do to get your license.

  1. Step 1

    Make sure you meet the basic eligibility requirements for entering a CNA training program and applying for a license.

  2. Step 2

    Complete an accredited CNA training program. CNA training programs are offered at vocational schools, community colleges, and the Red Cross.

  3. Step 3

    Study for the CNA exam, which includes a theoretical exam to test your knowledge and a practical exam to test your hands-on nursing skills.

  4. Step 4

    Apply for your license after you have passed the CNA exam. This will include an application to your state’s licensing authority and paying a processing fee.

  5. Step 5

    Pass a fingerprint and criminal background check, drug screening, and physical exam to ensure you are able to handle basic nursing tasks.

  6. Step 6

    Get your license. Licensing can take up to four to eight weeks. Once you have received it, you can start applying to job opportunities.

Featured Schools

It's important to choose an accredited CNA training program in order to get your license. Here are featured schools offering CNA training.

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are answers to frequently asked questions about obtaining and maintaining a license.

  • WHAT IS MY CNA LICENSE NUMBER?
    • Your license number is the unique identifier for your license. You will need this number in order to apply for jobs and prove that your license is current. If you have recently applied for your license, you may need to wait up to four to six weeks for your state's nursing board to process your application, after which time you should receive your license number by mail. If you have lost your CNA number, you should be able to look it up using the CNA Registry Search for your state or by contacting the licensing authority in your state. If you need the information for the licensing authority in your state, you can find it using the Nurses Aide Registry online.

  • HOW CAN I CHECK MY CNA LICENSE STATUS?
    • If you have just applied for your license, you will need to wait up to four to six weeks for your application to be processed by your state's nursing board. Once you have received your license number, you can check the status of it at any time by looking up your information in the CNA Registry for your state, or you can contact the licensing authority in your state. If you need the information for the licensing authority in your state, you can find it using the Nurses Aide Registry online. You should be sure to check the status of your license if you are applying for a new job or if you have had a break in employment as Certified Nursing Assistant.

  • HOW LONG DOES MY CNA LICENSE LAST?
    • Your license expiration date depends on your state. Most states require you to renew your license every two years to maintain an active certification. Things that might affect your active certification include a break in employment as a Certified Nursing Assistant or accusations of inappropriate behavior or abuse by your employer - which could lead to suspension of your license. If you believe that your license has expired or has been suspended, you can check by looking up your information in the CNA Registry for your state to confirm whether your license is active. If you have any questions or concerns, you should contact the licensing authority in your state as soon as possible.

  • WHAT DO I DO IF MY CNA LICENSE HAS EXPIRED?
    • Your license typically expires every two years, and most states require that you renew your certification prior to your expiration date. In order to renew your license, you will need to prove that you have been working as a Certified Nursing Assistant for a specified number of hours per week for the last two years. If you have not maintained employment, you may be required to take a competency evaluation to ensure that your knowledge is current. If your registration has lapsed, you may need to register for new classes and take the CNA exam again. Once you have completed your classes and passed your exam, you will then need to apply for a new license. This is why it is essential to stay on top of your license expiration and maintain employment, otherwise renewing your license can be challenging.

  • HOW DO I CHANGE MY NAME AND/OR ADDRESS?
    • In order to change your name on your license, you will need to contact your state's nursing board or licensing authority and provide them with supporting documents for the name you want to use on your license. This can include a copy of your state-issued marriage certificate, divorce decree, or court order showing your name change. To change your address, you can use your state's CNA Registry website. States that allow you to update your information online will have sent your user ID and password along with your license when it was issued. Use this information to log in and update your new address. Otherwise, you will need to contact your state's licensing authority.

  • I LOST MY CNA LICENSE. HOW DO I GET A REPLACEMENT?
    • If you have lost your license, you can request a duplicate copy or replacement from your state's nursing board or licensing authority. To do this, you will need to fill out your state's request to reprint certificate form. Your state may have an online form you can complete when logged in to their CNA Registry website. Otherwise, you will need to print out and mail a copy of the form to a designated address. You will need to send a photocopy of your picture identification that clearly shows your birthdate and the correct spelling of your name along with your form. Some states will also require you to send multiple forms of identification, such as a copy of your birth certificate, passport, or other legal identification as well as have the form notarized. Generally, you will only be allowed one reprint per license.

  • I AM MOVING TO ANOTHER STATE. MAY I TRANSFER MY CNA LICENSE?
    • Some states have reciprocity agreements when it comes to licensure. This means that you will only need to submit your social security number and employment history and undergo a background check. This process can take four to eight weeks, during which time the state may or may not allow you to work as a Certified Nursing Assistant in your new state. If the state you are moving to does not have a reciprocity agreement, then you will have to take the state's CNA exam again, and potentially additional courses to get your license. Be sure to research your options as soon as possible prior to moving so that you can get the process underway as quickly as possible once you arrive.

  • WHAT HAPPENS IF MY CNA LICENSE IS SUSPENDED OR REVOKED?
    • If your license is suspended, you should receive information from your state's nursing board on what it will take to get it reinstated again. Depending on the situation, you may need to turn to legal counseling to discuss your options and how to make a living in the meantime while you get your license reinstated. Regardless of whether you hire legal counsel, you should always respond to your suspension to prevent it from turning into a revocation of your license. Depending on the reason for revocation of your license, it may prevent you from being able to pursue other career options within the healthcare industry.