Certified nursing assistant (CNA) jobs are popular among people who hope to eventually become doctors or nurses. Depending on where you plan to work, you may need to be a certain age or learn specific healthcare and medical skills.
How Old Do You Need to Be to Become a CNA?
Each state sets its own age requirements for certified nursing assistants and state-tested nursing assistants (STNAs). In some states, you can qualify for non-medical CNA jobs at the age of 16.
Once you reach 18 years of age, you might be able to assist with certain medical procedures and perform more medical patient care tasks.
What Do CNAs Do?
Specific CNA duties may differ across states and patient care facilities. However, most nursing assistants perform the following tasks during their workdays:
- Answering patient call lights in hospitals, nursing homes, and other long-term care facilities
- Feeding, bathing, dressing, and grooming patients as needed
- Monitoring patients’ vital signs
- Transferring patients to and from beds and wheelchairs
- Periodically repositioning and turning bed-bound patients to prevent pressure sores
- Administering oral and topical medications
- Documenting patient’s health conditions and progress
Although becoming a CNA is a popular trade job for women, anyone with compassion and a friendly, professional personality can perform these duties.
Qualifications for CNAs
Hands-on training is essential for people who want to become CNAs. Some employers hire and train inexperienced applicants, while others prefer candidates who have completed a trade school or community college course.
Schools with CNA programs typically teach basic medical terminology, human anatomy and physiology, and industry-standard nursing care techniques.
If you’re planning to work in a specific area of the medical field, like pediatrics, labor and delivery, or urgent care, you might consider taking additional specialized classes.
As the name suggests, certified nursing assistants have official certifications, usually through their state’s department of health, nursing, or medicine. Like with other nursing certifications, earning this credential might require:
- Being at least 18
- Having a high school diploma, GED, or equivalent
- Completing an accredited training program or having at least one year of work experience
- Passing a competency exam
How Long Does CNA Training Take?
On-the-job training for CNAs can take a year or more. Meanwhile, you can complete a training course with both classroom and hands-on instruction in about six months or as little as four to six weeks.
Preparing for a CNA Career
Many underage hopefuls start by volunteering at their local nursing homes, hospitals, and clinics. Once you meet your state’s age requirements, you can get an entry-level job at a medical facility and begin developing the skills you need to be a CNA.