Fact Checked

How Do I Become a Nurse's Assistant?

Lainie Petersen
Lainie Petersen

The process to become a nurse's assistant, also known as a nurse's aide in the United States and an auxiliary nurse in the United Kingdom, varies by jurisdiction, but often involves the completion of a training program offered through a school or a residential health care setting and may also require that you pass an exam. Prior to enrolling in a formal training program, you may be required to hold a high school diploma or its equivalent. Many employers and, in some cases, government agencies may also require you to agree to a background check. In some places, you may not be required to complete any sort of formal training or qualification process.

If you do live and work in an area that requires education to become a nurse's assistant, you may have several options for obtaining this education. Vocational schools, including vocational high schools, community colleges, and post-secondary trade schools may offer a nurse's assistant training program that may take a few months to complete. On the other hand, some hospitals, nursing facilities, and home health providers may also offer training programs. To become a nurse's assistant through one of these programs, you may actually need to be hired by the hospital or health care organization and then be apprenticed by the organization's staff nurses while also completing classroom work either on site or through a partner school.

A nurse's assistant checking the blood pressure of a patient.
A nurse's assistant checking the blood pressure of a patient.

In your training, you will study a variety of basic health care courses, which may include anatomy and physiology, nutrition, as well as information about the legal aspects of providing health care services. A good nurse's assistant program will also train you in the proper way to care for patients with mobility issues so that you can ensure patient safety while also protecting your own body from injury. Once you have completed your formal training program, you may be able to take a licensing or certifying exam offered by either a trade organization or a government agency.

In some areas, formal training or licensing to become a nurse's assistant is not required in order to legally work as one. Some insurance companies, however, including government health care services, may only reimburse patients for care received from a nurse's aide who holds a recognized credential. In addition, some employers may insist on hiring only nurse's assistants who have completed a training program and passed a credentialing exam.

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Discussion Comments


@anon258917 - I don't think so; you might be able to enroll in a community college program on a student visa. But getting permission to work in this country would be a whole different ball game! You should research if there are special programs if, for instance, you agreed to work in an underserved area.

Something to keep in mind for people who are already US residents is that high schools sometimes offer nursing assistant classes. A nephew of mine was able to graduate from high school with his CNA credential as well as his high school diploma! Now he can work for a year to see if he likes the environment before deciding if he wants to get further education in the health care field.


I'm from Indonesia, and considering going to the USA to become a nurse assistant.

Is it essential to be first accepted in a hospital before I can apply for the nursing aide education?

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    • A nurse's assistant checking the blood pressure of a patient.
      By: Izaokas Sapiro
      A nurse's assistant checking the blood pressure of a patient.