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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            Medical Assistant (10-Month Diploma Program)
            UEI College , Gardena
            • Pharmacy Technician program topics include pharmaceutical practices, taking prescription requests, and administrative duties.
            • Helps students prepare for opportunities to work as Pharmacy Technicians, Inventory Specialists, Compounding Technicians, and more.
            • Day, evening, and weekend programs are available to help students fit classes around their schedule.
            • More than 25 years of experience providing career-focused programs.
            • Accredited
            • Flexible Scheduling
            • Financial Aid
            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
            Patient Care Technician

            About Brightwood College

            Brightwood College offers accelerated programs that combine flexible schedules and professional instruction to create a rewarding learning experience for individuals focused on gaining the skills for specific careers. Brightwood College is owned and operated by Education Corporation of America.

            About Education Corporation of America

            Education Corporation of America's institutions broaden access to postsecondary educational opportunities.

            Medical Assisting
            Unitek College , Sacramento
            • Offers programs in nursing, medical assisting, pharmacy technology, dental assisting, and more.
            • Six Campuses across Northern CA: Fremont, San Jose, Sacramento, S. San Francisco, Hayward, and Concord.
            • Accredited by the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges, with programmatic approvals from the California Board of Vocational Nursing and Psychiatric Technicians and the Board of Registered Nursing.
            • Approved by the Better Business Bureau (BBB) with an A+ rating since 2010.
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            • Flexible Scheduling
            • Financial Aid
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            Clinical Medical Assistant
            US Colleges , San Diego
            • Offers health care and business programs that prepare students to enter the working field in as little as 8-16 weeks.
            • Provides morning, afternoon, and evening classes for most courses.
            • Offers career placement assistance to help students with their resumes, job-searching techniques, interview practice, and more.
            • Engages students through hands-on learning in labs, internships, and externships.  
            • Gives students the option to break up tuition costs into interest-free payments over the course of their education.  
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