California Nursing Assistant / Nurse Aide Guide

CNA - Certified Nursing Assistant - Aide Practice Exam

Is a License or Certification needed: To get certified and work as a nursing assistant or nurse aide in California, you need to complete a state-certified nursing assistant program and pass the National Nurse Aide Assessment Program (NNAAP) exam.

Who Grants Certification: The California Department of Health grants certification to California nursing assistants and nurse aides.

The Qualifications to become Certified: Detailed qualifications for becoming a Nurse Aide in California can be found here.  They include:

  • Proof of successfully completing a state-certified In-Service Training Program; or
  • A current unencumbered (no violations) license from another state
  • Successful completion of the competency evaluation

How to Apply for Certification: Use the following application to apply for certification in California.

How to Apply to take the NNAAP Exam: The NNAAP exam can be taken in California if you have successfully completed a state-approved nurse aide program within the past two years.  For California-Northern region, this is the initial application. For California-Southern Region, this is the initial application. You may test at one of the these regional California test sites for California-North here, for California-South, here.

Test Content: The NNAAP test has two parts, a Skills Evaluation and a Written (or oral) part. Both parts must be passed to be listed on the California Nurse Aide Registry. The written section is 70 questions in length, 60 are multiple-choice and 10 are reading comprehension questions. Take two pencils with you. You will have two full hours to complete the exam. (The oral exam if given in place of the written exam is 160 questions in length.) The Skills Evaluation will be a 25 minute time period given to complete 5 randomly selected nurse aide skills. Content topics include:

  • Activities of Daily Living – Hygiene, Dressing and Grooming, Nutrition and Hydration, Elimination, Rest/Comfort/Sleep
  • Basic Nursing Skills - Infection Control, Safety/Emergency, Therapeutic/Technical Procedures, Data Collection and Reporting
  • Restorative Skills – Prevention, Self-care/Independence
  • Psychosocial Care Skills – Emotional and Mental Health Needs
  • Spiritual and Cultural Needs
  • Communication
  • Client Rights
  • Legal and Ethical Behavior
  • Member of the Health Care Team

See the California-North Candidate Handbook for more details. California-South Candidate Handbook.

Certification Renewal and Continuing Education Requirements: In order to keep your certification up to date, you need to work at least 48 hours, paid, not volunteer hours in a home health agency, hospital, hospice agency, nursing home or mental health facility within a two year period. In order to recertify by examination, you must not allow your certification to lapse.

Recertification can only be accomplished after a lapse by being retrained and retested. This information and more can be found here.


CNA Licensing in California
CA Nurse Aide Registry
CNA/HHA/CHT Certification Unit
Licensing and Certification Division
1615 Capitol Avenue, MS 3301
P.O. Box 997416
Sacramento, CA 95899-7416
Phone: 916-327-2445
Fax: 916-552-8785


To prepare for your nursing assistant or nurse aide exam, use’s Certified Nursing Assistant Exam Practice Test Kit with 300 multiple choice questions, written by nursing experts and educators.

For more information on licensing and exam prep, go to's CNA Test Guide.

And take's free CNA Practice Test.

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