(found 61 top rated schools, updated in January 2017)
The first step to becoming a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) in Florida is deciding if you need formal training to take the CNA certification exam. If the answer is yes, you need to find an accredited or a state-approved Certified Nursing Assistant program, complete the top rated training, take the exam approved by the Florida Department of Health (DOH), and get registered on the Florida Nurse Aide Registry. Following is an in-depth description of each step to becoming a CNA in Florida.
Step 1: Choose a Path
There are multiple paths to becoming a CNA, and you should understand all of them so you can select the one that is right for you.
Five Certification Routes by Examination
There are five routes for becoming eligible to take the CNA examination in Florida. The exam is administered by Prometric, a vendor approved by the Florida Department of Health (DOH).
1. E-1 – You have never been a nursing assistant in another state and have completed a state-approved training program.
2. E-2 – You are enrolled in, but have not completed, a state-approved training program and have never been a nursing assistant in another state. You must indicate the day the training program will be completed and the training program code. After the training is completed, the program coordinator will submit an electronic notification to the Florida Board of Nursing that you successfully completed the program.
3. E-3 – You can take the exam as a challenger if you have no formal training in any state as a nursing assistant and have no CNA experience, but believe you can pass the test anyway. If you fail any exam section three times within a two-year period, you will have to complete a Florida state-approved CNA training program that is at least 120 hours long and then retake the exam. Even if you pass, the lack of formal training may still prove to be an employment barrier.
4. E-4 – You have some training and hands-on nursing experience, but have not completed a Florida state-approved training program. This route also includes people who followed the E-1 route, but only passed one of the CNA certification tests and have not passed the second exam section in two years.
5. E-5 – This route is for people who were once a CNA, in any state, but their certification expired.
The Florida Board of Nursing (Board or FBON) has specific requirements you must meet in order to take the CNA certification exam. The requirements are found in Florida Statute Section 464.203:
- Possess a high school diploma, a state recognized equivalency degree, or be 18 years old or older
- Complete the Enterprise Florida Jobs and Education Partnership Grant curriculum (a state-approved Nursing Assistant Training Program) and achieve the designated minimum score, established by the Board of Nursing, on the nursing assistant competency examination
- Submit electronic fingerprints to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE); fingerprints must be made by a Livescan service provider that has been approved by the FDLE
- Not be convicted or plead guilty to a felony concerning social and economic assistance, fraudulent practices, drug abuse prevention and control, actions relating to controlled substances, Medicare and Medicaid issues, and/or public health and/or welfare
Certification Route by Reciprocity
Sometimes nursing assistants move from one state to another and want reciprocity. This means Florida would recognize their out-of-state certificate and training. Florida Statute Section 464.203 sets the following rules for eligibility:
- The person must be certified as a CNA in a different state
- The person’s name should be current in the other state’s CNA registry
- The person must not been found to have committed certain crimes like neglect or abuse in the originating state nor been convicted of, or pled guilty to, any of the felonies mentioned in the preceding section on CNA by examination
Step 2: Go to CNA Schools in Florida
There are numerous CNA training programs in Florida, but to get into any of them you must meet the minimum entrance requirements. The most important thing to know up front is that you should ONLY attend a CNA program approved by the Florida Board of Nursing.
Selecting a Training Program
The Florida Board of Nursing is a division of the Florida Department of Health (DOH). Per Florida Statute 464.202, the Board is responsible for maintaining (or approving another organization to maintain) a registry of Certified Nursing Assistants. According to Florida Administrative Code 64B9-15.005, the Board also sets the standards for CNA training programs and verifies that each program is in compliance with the required examination rates.
A school wanting to implement a Nursing Assistant Training program must submit an application to the Florida Board of Nursing. Schools offering CNA classes obtain licensure from the Department of Education and develop a curriculum that meets the Florida Department of Education’s requirements.
CNA training programs approved by the Board are vocational programs offered in the Health Sciences discipline in technical schools, academies, high schools, institutes, centers, and colleges (a list of best approved CNA schools/classes throughout Florida). To narrow down the list of potential training programs, consider the following:
- Graduation rates
- Tenure of course instructors
- Reputation of the institution
- Certification exam pass rates
- Percent of graduates employed
- School location
CNA Classes Entrance Requirements
Each certified nursing assistant school in Florida sets its own entrance requirements, but most require:
- Completing a school application
- Taking an assessment test in math, reading, and language
- Interviewing with a guidance counselor or program faculty member
- Possessing a high school diploma or equivalent, like a GED
- Passing a criminal background check
- Having a current immunization record
- Passing a drug test
Training Program Content
FBON approved CNA programs have core curriculum credits in English, math, science, social studies, fine arts, and physical education, plus eight additional credits in career and technical education courses and electives. The nursing student also completes clinical training. In total, there must be a minimum of 80 hours of classroom and laboratory courses, and 40 hours of clinical training in subjects relevant to the Certified Nursing Position. The core curriculum can take 6-10 weeks to complete, if attending full-time.
The curriculum for a CNA training program is divided into two sections. There are 90 hours of training as a basic healthcare worker. The second set of CNA courses includes a minimum of 30 hours of nursing assistant training. However, some programs lead to a certificate that goes beyond CNA certification, so those include additional courses and require more than the 120 hours to complete. For example, the Florida Panhandle Technical College takes 600 hours or 20 weeks to complete, and students earn a Patient Care Technician designation. Besides Basic Healthcare Worker and Patient Care Assistant, courses include Nurse Aide and Orderly, Advanced Home Health Aide, Allied Health Assistant, Advanced Allied Health Assistant, and Patient Care Technician.
An FBON approved program meets 22 rigorous standards that are designed to ensure students can pass the CNA test in Florida. After completing the standardized curriculum of CNA classes, the student will be able to manage a variety of responsibilities, including practicing infection control procedures, using verbal and written communications specific to the CNA, providing personal patient care, providing care for geriatric patients, and much more. Within each general standard there are detailed performance standards.
The Cost of Training
The cost of training varies significantly, but all programs are affordable. Determinants of the cost of the program include the number of hours required to complete the program and residency status. There are programs that cost as little as $500 and as much as $1,600 or more for resident tuition.
There are additional fees over the tuition amount as well. These include a registration fee, liability insurance, uniform fees for clinical training, books, and supplies. Students will also have to pay a fee for background checks, fingerprinting, and health tests like the TB skin test.
Top Rated CNA Classes near You
You can find the best local CNA classes in the following cities:
Step 3: Pass the Florida Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) Exam
The CNA exam in Florida consists of two sections: the Clinical Skills Test and the Written Test. Both are designed to ensure you have mastered the knowledge and skills necessary to care for patients and long-term care residents.
The Florida Department of Health (DOH) has contracted with Prometric to develop and administer the Florida Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) Exam. The process for the CNA test in Florida is as follows:
- Complete Prometric’s Florida Certified Nursing Assistant Application (Application Form)
- Pay the appropriate fees
- Submit to an FBI fingerprint background check and be deemed eligible to test by the Florida Department of Health
- Take the exam
- Pass both parts of the exam
Permission to Test
Prometric will email you after receiving your application and payment. The application is tracked from that point on via email. During this process is when you are notified as to whether you must submit to an FBI fingerprint background check. You can check the status of your application at any time on the Prometric website.
Once Prometric receives approval from the DOH, you will get an admission letter with the test’s time, date, and location. There are multiple test sites throughout Florida, but your admission letter will most likely show the preferred test location you mentioned on your application.
Fees and Payment Methods
The CNA testing fees sent with the application depend on the circumstances. There are different fees for taking:
- Both the clinical skills and written tests: $140
- The written test only: $35
- The written test as audio: $35
- The clinical skills test only: $105
There is another fee of $30 for rescheduling your test. You only pay a partial fee if you reschedule at least five days before your test date or the full fee if rescheduling on shorter notice. Additionally, you pay the fingerprint vendor directly for the FBI background check.
Prometric accepts payment via:
- American Express
- Money Order
- Company check
- Cashier’s check
When you arrive for the Florida Nurse Aide Exam, it is important to have your admission letter and two valid pieces of identification with you. One form should be a current government-issued ID that has a photo and a signature. You are also required to wear flat, close-toed, nonskid shoes to the Clinical Skills Test. Prometric advises wearing scrubs or a uniform to the test and a watch with a second hand.
Prometric offers practice exams for a fee. There are three CNA practice exams. You can do one, two, or all three. Each Written Nurse Aide Practice Exam has 50 questions that are similar to the questions on the real exam. The practice exam gives you immediate feedback when responding to the questions.
There is also a Clinical Skills Readiness Test that helps you prepare for the Clinical Skills test. There are six CNA practice tests available for a fee. Each test covers three to four skills. The questions test your knowledge of the clinical skills that you will need to know on the day of the CNA test.
The CNA Tests
The Written test is computerized. It consists of 60 multiple-choice questions designed to evaluate your knowledge and skills concerning nursing assistance. The Written test covers five major topic areas:
- Role of the nurse aide
- Safety promotion
- Promotion of function and health of residents
- Basic nursing care provided by the nurse aide
- Specialized care for people with changes in health
The Clinical Skills test is a timed test that scores five CNA skills. The skills you must demonstrate are assigned by the computer when you are scheduled for testing. While you are demonstrating three skills, you will also be scored on Handwashing and Indirect Care. You have to demonstrate competency in all five skills.
Candidates are required to play a role as a patient/resident on which another candidate can perform skills. These skills include things like helping the role-playing resident walk, caring for nails, moving an arm or leg with simple exercises, turning a person on the side, and more.
CNA exam scores are valid for two years. If you pass one exam section but have to retake the second section, the retake must be completed within two years of the original exam date. Otherwise, you must retake both sections.
If you fail either part of the exam three times, you need to take two steps:
- Complete a Florida Board approved CNA training program
- Retake both exam parts
After the CNA Exam
Once you pass both sections of the exam, there are several things to keep in mind:
- Before seeking employment, you must obtain certification from the DOH
- Within 120 days of employment, your name must appear on the Florida Nursing Assistant Registry
- Once officially licensed, the license must be renewed every two years
- CNAs must perform their duties as paid employees within the two-year (24 months) period
- CNAs must complete at least 12 hours of in-service training each calendar year; the CNA CEUs in Florida are required to ensure you maintain current skills (find CNA CEUS through here)
Ranked CNA Classes in Florida
Analyzed Schools: 298
Ranked Schools: 61
The ranked schools meet the following requirements:
- A CNA school with at least 25 students who took the exam (both the Written Test and the Clinical Test) for the first time in 2016.
- The combined pass rate for the first-time takers from the same school was at least 60%.
|City||Training Provider||Pass Rate||First Time
|West Palm Beach||Academy for Nursing and Health Occupations|
|Crystal River||Academy of Health Careers - Crystal River High||72||25|
|Tampa||Aguilas International Medical Institute Inc|
|St Petersburg||American Red Cross|
|Jacksonville||American Red Cross|
|Rockledge||American Red Cross|
|Sarasota||American Red Cross|
|Hialeah||American Senior High School|
|Glen St Mary||Baker County High School|
|Bell||Bell High School Academy of Health Related Professions||64||25|
|Gulfport||Boca Ciega High School|
|Starke||Bradford - Union Area Career Tech Center||75.6||45|
|Altamonte Springs||Cambridge Institute of Allied Health and Tech||74.4||43|
|Cape Coral||Cape Coral Institute of Technology||86.3||80|
|Ocala||Community Technical & Adult Education (CTAE)|
|Daytona Beach||Daytona State College|
|Arcadia||DeSoto High School Health Science Academy||66.7||27|
|Lehigh Acres||East Lee County High School||91.1||45|
|Titusville||Eastern Florida State College|
|Ft Myers||Ft Myers Tech College|
|Miami||Genesis Vocational School|
|Plant City||Hillsborough Community College|
|Cape Coral||Ida S Baker High School Medical Academy||92||25|
|Miami||International Training Careers|
|Miami||John A Ferguson Senior High School|
|Ft Lauderdale||Keiser University|
|Keystone Heights||Keystone Heights High School|
|Eustis||Lake Technical Center|
|Leesburg||Leesburg High School|
|Bradenton||Manatee Technical Institute||81.1||37|
|New Port Richey||Marchman Technical Education Center|
|Stuart||Martin County High School|
|Miami Lakes||Miami Lakes Educational Center High School||65.1||43|
|Middleburg||Middleburg High School||76||25|
|Okeechobee||Okeechobee High School||63||27|
|Orange Park||Orange Park High School|
|Orlando||Orlando Tech Center||76.7||73|
|Kissimmee||Osceola High School|
|Lake Worth||Palm Beach State College|
|Palm Harbor||Palm Harbor University High School|
|Lake Worth||Park Vista High School||73.1||26|
|Dade City||Pasco High School|
|New Port Richey||Pasco-Hernando Community College||65.6||32|
|Miami||Robert Morgan Educational Center High School|
|West Palm Beach||Royal Palm Beach Community High School|
|Gainesville||Santa Fe College|
|Sebastian||Sebastian River High School|
|Stuart||South Fork High School|
|Groveland||South Lake High School|
|Port St Lucie||Treasure Coast High School|
|Clearwater||Ultimate Medical Academy|
|Tampa||Ultimate Medical Academy|
|Vero Beach||Vero Beach High School|
|Crawfordville||Wakulla High School|
|Callahan||West Nassau High School|
|Miami||William H Turner Tech||84.6||26|
|Winter Park||Winter Park Tech|
|Wesley Chapel||Wiregrass Ranch High School|
|Inverness||Withlacoochee Technical Institute|
Step 4: Get Certified as a Nursing Assistant
Getting certified after passing the CNA certification exam is probably the easiest step in the process, as long as you can pass the background check. Once certified, your name is entered into the CNA registry in Florida. You stay certified by working and completing in-service training.
Most CNA programs require background checks on potential students to determine if there are arrests or convictions. There are two main reasons for doing background checks. One is that many employers will not hire people to work in medical facilities if they have certain kinds of offenses on their criminal record. The disqualifying offenses are found in the Florida Statute Chapter 434, Section 408.809. The schools do not want to let someone take a spot in their CNA classes knowing that person will not be able to find employment.
Second, when applying to Prometric to take the exam or when applying for reciprocity, a Florida Department of Law Enforcement background check must be conducted before certification. The background check is valid for six months.
When applying for certification, the Florida Board of Nursing will screen the background check. The Board may ask you to submit more information about items that appear on the report. The Board can either approve the certification based on the additional information or you send your file to the Board of Nursing for further review.
The Board will then either approve or deny the application. If approved, your name and information is entered into the Florida CNA registry. If denied, the Board will send out an “Intent to Deny” order. You can then appeal that order.
There are two main requirements for a CNA renewal in Florida:
1. Perform nursing related services for compensation within the last 24 months.
2. Complete in-service hours – Completing at least 12 hours of in-service training each calendar year is required. This requirement ensures the CNA maintains currency in the following areas:
- Bloodborne pathogens, infection control
- Domestic violence
- Documentation and legal aspects for CNAs
- CPR skills
- Resident rights
- Communication with impaired clients
- Medical Error Prevention/Safety
However, the ones listed are the minimum that must be completed in order to renew your CNA certification in Florida. The CNA’s employer has the right to require employees to complete additional in-service hours in other areas.
It is not free to renew your CNA license in Florida. The fee you must pay depends on whether you are renewing before or after your license expires. It is much cheaper to keep your license active ($55) than it is to renew your license after it expires ($105) or you receive a 120 Notified Delinquent notice ($170).
The Florida Board of Nursing now has the MQA Online Services Portal where you can manage your license. Create an account, and then you can manage CNA license renewal requirements and pay fees.
Lapsed CNA Certification
If the certificate is not renewed with the Florida Board of Nursing by midnight on the date it expires, you are considered delinquent and cannot work until it is renewed. Licenses expire on May 31 each year, on a two-year cycle.
There are additional requirements for CNA renewal if it is after the expiration date:
- Must meet work requirements
- Must meet in-service training requirements
- Pay the original renewal fee
- Pay a delinquency fee
If you do not renew the CNA certificate within two years after it expires, the certification is no longer valid. In that case, you will have to retake the CNA examination. If you believe you may want to return to work within the two-year period, it is better to renew the certificate rather than let it expire.
Waiting for Official Certification
Though CNA certification is required, Florida will allow you to work for no more than 120 days while waiting for the official certification. One of the following conditions must be met:
- You have completed a state approved program or are enrolled in one in Florida.
- There is verification you are actively certified in another state.
- You passed the CNA Florida state exam but have not received the certificate.
The employer must also agree to let you work based on the verification that you met one of the conditions. It is up to the employer to decide if you can work during the four month grace period when you have appealed a denial of certification.
Step 5: Work as a CNA
CNA work is rewarding, but it is also difficult because it involves moving and lifting patients and residents. However, the employment outlook for certified nursing assistants in Florida is excellent. This profession offers great long-term opportunities no matter where you decide to live.
Where CNAs Work
Certified nursing assistants work in a variety of patient care facilities. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, nursing assistants work mainly at:
- Skilled nursing facilities/nursing care facilities
- Assisted living facilities for the elderly
- Continuing care retirement communities
- Providing home healthcare services
- Schools and government facilities
By far, the top industry employing CNAs is the hospital industry, followed by nursing care facilities.
What CNAs Do
The job duties of a CNA are designed to help patients and long-term care residents with daily living. The Florida Administrative Code 64B9-15.002 approved the duties the CNAs can legally do. There are broad categories which include specific tasks. Following is a list of the categories with a sample of activities within each:
- Personal care services – includes tasks like bathing, shaving, dressing, shampooing hair, bed making, and oral hygiene and denture care
- Maintaining mobility – assisting with activities like walking, transporting, positioning, lifting, turning, doing motion exercises, maintaining body alignment
- Maintaining nutrition and hydration – feeding and assisting with drinking fluids
- Elimination activities – toileting, use of bedpans and urinals, catheter care, collecting specimens, caring for ostomy bags
- Helping with assistive devices – wheelchairs, crutches, walkers, braces, prosthetics, and instructing residents on using self-help devices
- Maintaining the environment and resident’s safety – handling all types of body fluids
- Data gathering – measuring temperature, pulse, blood pressure, weight, oral intake, urinary output, and much more
- Recognizing and reporting abnormal resident symptoms, signs, and findings
- Post-mortem care
- End of life care
The CNA also performs tasks associated with resident socialization, compliance with patient or resident rights, and documentation of tasks performed. Certified Nursing Assistants always work under the supervision of a registered nurse or practical nurse. The responsibilities of the CNA are critical because they work so closely with patients and residents and have an enormous influence on the quality of life of those in their care.
According the U.S. Bureau of Labor statistics, Florida has one of the highest employment levels for the nursing assistant occupation. Florida only ranks behind California and New York for the number of CNA jobs. According to Occupation Code 31-1014, there are 90,890 Nursing Assistants employed in Florida as of May 2016. The number of CNA jobs in Florida is expected to grow to 108,035 by the year 2023. That is a 20.7% growth rate.
Comparing that to the current projection at the national level for the period 2014-2024 of 14%, per O*NET, a U.S. government sponsored site, the employment growth rate is faster in Florida. However, both Florida and nationally, the job outlook for Certified Nursing Assistants is must better than the average growth for all occupations. If you plan on completing training in Florida and finding employment elsewhere, the outlook is bright in all parts of the country.
What CNAs Earn
In Florida, the average hourly CNA salary as of May 2016 was $12.13. That equates to an annual pay of $25,230. Nationally, it was $13.29 per hour which is $27,650 annually. Wages vary significantly, depending on the region in Florida.
The top 5 paying regions in FL are:
- Naples-Immokalee-Marco Island: $13.42 per hour
- North Port-Sarasota-Bradenton: $13.37 per hour
- Cape Coral-Fort Myers: $13.13 per hour
- Homosassa Springs: $12.77 per hour
- Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater: $12.35 per hour
CNA Salaries in Florida
|FL CNA Salaries||Empl.||Hourly mean wage||Annual mean wage||Wage percent relative std. error||Hourly 10th % wage||Hourly median wage||Hourly 90th % wage||Annual 10th % wage||Annual median wage||Annual 90th % wage|
|Cape Coral-Fort Myers, FL||3400||13.13||27300||1.2||10.12||12.95||17.14||21060||26940||35650|
|Crestview-Fort Walton Beach-Destin, FL||-||11.79||24520||3.5||9.18||11.18||15.18||19090||23260||31570|
|Deltona-Daytona Beach-Ormond Beach, FL||2780||11.97||24890||1.0||9.85||11.80||14.61||20490||24530||30380|
|Fort Lauderdale-Pompano Beach-Deerfield Beach, FL Metropolitan Division||5310||12.21||25390||1.8||9.25||11.86||15.75||19240||24670||32760|
|Homosassa Springs, FL||790||12.77||26560||2.3||10.07||12.50||16.01||20940||26000||33310|
|Lakeland-Winter Haven, FL||2860||11.78||24510||2.8||9.11||11.51||14.89||18950||23950||30980|
|Miami-Fort Lauderdale-West Palm Beach, FL||23920||11.83||24610||0.9||9.34||11.46||14.92||19420||23840||31030|
|Miami-Miami Beach-Kendall, FL Metropolitan Division||10990||11.73||24390||1.5||9.09||11.43||14.79||18910||23780||30770|
|Naples-Immokalee-Marco Island, FL||1420||13.42||27910||1.8||10.17||13.27||17.57||21150||27610||36550|
|North Port-Sarasota-Bradenton, FL||4960||13.37||27820||1.8||10.31||13.21||17.42||21440||27480||36230|
|Northeast Florida nonmetropolitan area||1610||12.00||24950||3.1||8.98||11.53||16.05||18680||23980||33390|
|Northwest Florida nonmetropolitan area||700||11.48||23870||2.0||9.13||11.20||14.53||18990||23300||30220|
|Palm Bay-Melbourne-Titusville, FL||2490||12.13||25230||1.4||9.91||11.89||14.78||20620||24720||30740|
|Panama City, FL||1000||11.84||24630||1.5||9.51||11.45||15.04||19780||23820||31280|
|Pensacola-Ferry Pass-Brent, FL||2090||11.63||24190||3.2||8.97||11.25||14.90||18660||23410||30990|
|Port St. Lucie, FL||2160||12.30||25570||2.6||9.29||12.14||15.68||19330||25250||32620|
|Punta Gorda, FL||950||12.21||25390||2.8||9.71||11.93||15.00||20190||24820||31190|
|Sebastian-Vero Beach, FL||610||12.05||25050||3.3||9.99||11.63||15.02||20790||24190||31250|
|South Florida nonmetropolitan area||720||11.37||23640||2.7||9.26||11.00||14.53||19260||22880||30210|
|Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater, FL||15950||12.35||25690||1.2||9.91||12.02||15.18||20610||25010||31570|
|The Villages, FL||370||11.72||24380||2.8||9.68||11.32||14.55||20130||23550||30260|
|West Palm Beach-Boca Raton-Delray Beach, FL Metropolitan Division||7620||11.73||24390||1.7||9.71||11.33||14.69||20190||23560||30550|
It is important to remember that once you have completed your CNA training and got certification, you will have excellent job security. You can also consider getting additional training at a later date to earn a Nursing degree to become a Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) or a Registered Nurse (RN). As the population ages, more people are requiring medical and residential care. At the same time, CNAs will begin to retire in greater numbers, creating new openings for the next generation. Today’s Certified Nursing Assistant can expect to enjoy an interesting, secure career for many years to come.