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Become a CNA in Illinois

How to Become a Certified Nurse Assistant (CNA) in Illinois

In order to legally practice in Illinois, CNAs must fulfill the following steps:

Graduate from high school, or earn an equivalent education thereof (GED).

Enroll and complete a nursing assistant training program. In Illinois, there are a few ways to accomplish this step. One way, is to complete an Illinois state approved CNA program. Another way is to enroll in and pass a nursing arts class AND complete forty hours of clinical education instruction. These hours must be supervised within an accredited CNA program. The third option is to receive CNA training through an Armed Forces program that also must contain forty hours of clinical experience. Lastly, a CNA can show professional competency by showing proof of membership on another state’s registry.


All Illinois CNA certification programs must include a written competency examination as part of its curriculum.

Nursing Assistants employed in skilled nursing facilities, intermediate care facilities or home health agencies must be certified to legally practice in Illinois. However, even nurse assistants that do not work in these health care centers are wise to get certified, as it promotes professional integrity, increases marketability, heightens hiring and salary potentials, and creates job stability.

Register with the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH). To become registered, first obtain a “Nursing Student Application to Become an Illinois Certified Nurse Aide” application through the IDPH website. The application will request the following information:

  • Personal identification data
  • Any certifications granted in other states
  • Proof of legal permission to work in the United States
  • Documentation provided by a nursing school official verifying the successful completion of a nurse training program
  • Criminal background history

After submitting the application, a written competency exam will be issued to the applicant. If the applicant passes examination, their name will appear on the Health Care Worker Registry, and will therefore be eligible to perform as a CNA in Illinois.


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