Become a CNA in California

Certified nursing assistants (CNAs), also known as patient care technicians or nurse aides, work under the supervision of registered nurses in hospitals, clinics and long-term care settings. Interested individuals must complete certified nursing assistant training program approved by the state. This training can last six to 15 weeks. Upon completion of the certified nursing assistant program, graduates must register with the state of California to earn the CNA title. In California, CNA certification is granted on a national level, which requires that student nurse assistants take and pass the National Nurse Aide Assessment Program (NNAAP) examination.


As the largest nurse aide certification examination program in the U.S., the NNAAP has been administered to more than one million candidates and is the leading nurse aide assessment instrument in the U.S. The nurse aide exam consists of two components; a written or oral portion and a skills-demonstration portion. The oral portion is offered in English and Spanish. Each candidate must successfully complete both components of the exam before the candidate’s name can be added to the California nurse aide registry. The California registry is used to assure employers that the candidate has met the federal and state requirements for employment.

How to become a Certified Nurse Assistant in California

Aspiring certified nurse assistants in California must have a high school diploma or GED. With that in hand, aspirants can take a two- to six-month course through a local trade school, community college, or local hospital. Training programs must be approved by the California Department of Public Health. Classes include basic health care, personal care skills, anatomy, body mechanics, nutrition, and communication skills. CNA students also have some work in a clinical setting. Most CNA coursework is designed to help students pass the mandatory nursing assistant exam administered by the Aide and Technician Certification section of the California Department of Public Health. This exam includes both a written portion and skills portion. The skills portion requires a physical demonstration of skills learned in the clinical portion of CNA training.


Candidates may get both the National Nurse Aide Assessment Program (NNAAP) examination application and an application for Nurse Assistant Certification in California from the training program or by contacting the appropriate Regional Center or by downloading each from the Pearson VUE web site. Both applications must be completed and submitted with required documentation and fees at least 10 business days before the examination date.

Once the candidate achieves passing scores on both exams, he or she is eligible to become part of the California Nurse Aide Registry and to seek employment in the state. Opportunities abound for nursing aide and assistant occupations in California with 27% growth in the number of positions available anticipated through 2014, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

CNA Schools

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            Patient Care Technician

            Why Brightwood?

            Real-World Training

            We keep education relevant by employing instructors with real-world experience in the field, who bring their career backgrounds to the classroom. Our programs are continually assessed by faculty, staff and members of the business and education communities to help ensure your studies align with your career goals. Programs offered by Brightwood College focus on local employment needs, in areas such as allied health, nursing and technical and professional programs.

            Certified Nurse Assistant
            Platt College , Alhambra
            • A Los Angeles-based private college offering programs in medical sciences, legal studies, and graphic design since 1985.
            • Has weekend programs, including certified  veterinary technology, nurse assistant, and hemodialysis technician.
            • Showcases visual communication students’ artwork and design through campus magazine.
            • 3 campuses in Southern California.
            • Accredited by the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges (ACCSC).
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            • Accredited
            • Flexible Scheduling
            • Accelerated Programs
            • Financial Aid
            • Transferable Credits
            Medical Assistant (10-Month Diploma Program)
            UEI College , Stockton
            • Dedicated to providing  career training since 1975.
            • Has 13 campus locations in Southern California and a campus in Morrow, GA.
            • Provides flexible class times including weekends.
            • Offers curriculum that ranges from 8 month diploma programs to 16-month Associate of Applied Science degree programs.
            • Has admissions professionals available to help students decide which diploma or degree program they should pursue.
            • Gives job placement assistance strengthened by relationships with local employers.
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            • Accredited
            • Flexible Scheduling
            • Financial Aid
            Medical Assistant
            • Morning, afternoon, evening and weekend classes are available.
            • Offers lifetime career assistance services to graduates, including resume and cover letter assistance, employer networking, and one-on-one employment counseling.
            • Accredited by the Accrediting Council for Continuing Education and Training (ACCET).
            • 8 campuses located across California, with 3 additional campuses in New Hampshire and Maine and online options.
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            • Flexible Scheduling
            • Financial Aid
            Certificate - Medical Assistant
            • Offers a program that translates work and military experience into college credit, transfers in credit from other college programs, and offers the flexibility of day, evening and online coursework.
            • Provides in-person tutoring, IT support, access to library resources, and job placement assistant for graduates.
            • Features a new blended-learning curriculum, which involves a mix of campus and online courses.
            • Has 11 campuses across Southern California, Washington, and Alaska, and online courses with campus support. 
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            • Accredited
            • Flexible Scheduling
            • Accelerated Programs
            • Financial Aid
            • Transferable Credits