Becoming a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) is an excellent career choice because there is a growing demand in Arkansas for trained personnel. The Arkansas Department of Human Services’ Office of Long Term Care (OLTC) oversees the CNA training programs and the certification process. CNAs work in a variety of facilities, including hospitals, adult day care facilities, assisted living facilities and nursing homes. The CNA performs tasks that are crucial to the well-being of patients or residents.
6 Steps to Becoming a CNA in Arkansas
Step 1: Find and Choose a Program That Best Meets Needs
Anyone interested in CNA programs in Arkansas will find over 100 choices at community colleges, Arkansas State University, academies, technical centers, high schools, colleges, rehabilitation centers and training centers. A good way to narrow the selection is to first consider the CNA classes in Arkansas offered in the student’s local area. Then evaluate the programs on an individual basis in relationship to personal needs and preferences.
Find Best Local CNA Classes in Arkansas
The following schools offer state approved Certified Nursing Assistant training programs in 2017.
|Arkansas||Dewitt||Phillips Community College of the U of A|
|Arkansas||Stuttgart||M & M Education, Inc||(870) 673-1657|
|Baxter||Mountain Home||Arkansas State University|
|Baxter||Mountain Home||Pine Lane Therapy and Living||(870) 425-6316|
|Benton||Bentonville||Northwest Arkansas Community College|
|Benton||Fort Smith||AR Career Training of the Ozarks||(479) 831-2221|
|Benton||Pea Ridge||Pea Ridge Manufacturing and Business Academy||(479) 451-8182|
|Boone||Harrison||AHEC - Northwest||(870) 391-3140|
|Bradley||Warren||Chapel Woods Health & Rehab||(870) 226-6766|
|Clark||Arkadelphia||Clark County CNA School||(870) 245-6693|
|Clay||RSB NATP - Northeast||(870) 926-9496|
|Conway||Morrilton||River Chase Rehabilitation and Care Center||(501) 354-4647|
|Conway||Morrilton||UACCM Nursing Assistant Training Program|
|Craighead||Jonesboro||Arkansas State University Newport|
|Craighead||Jonesboro||Northeast Arkansas Career & Tech Center|
|Craighead||Jonesboro||RSB Nursing Assistant Training Program||(870) 926-9496|
|Crittenden||West Memphis||Arkansas State University Mid-South|
|Desha||McGehee||UAM College of Technology|
|Desha||McGehee||New Educational Beginnings||(870) 222-6442|
|Deshay||Renaissance Healthcare||(870) 536-2300|
|Drew||Monticello||Monticello Occupational Education Center||(870) 367-4060|
|Faulkner||Conway||Conway High School|
|Franklin||Ozark||Arkansas Tech University|
|Fulton||Mammoth Springs||Ozarka College|
|Fulton||Salem||Southfork River Therapy and Living|
|Garland||Hot Springs||PHCTA||(501) 304-1909|
|Garland||Hot Springs||Petra Allied Health|
|Greene||Paragould||Arkansas Northeastern College|
|Hempstead||Hope||UA Hope Texarkana|
|Hot Spring||Malvern||PHCTA||(501) 304-1909|
|Hot Spring||Malvern||College of the Ouachitas|
|Independence||Batesville||UAMS - North Central|
|Independence||Batesville||University of Arkansas Community College|
|Izard||Melbourne||Ozarka Technical College|
|Jackson||Newport||Arkansas State University|
|Jackson||Newport||Lindley Healthcare & Rehab Center|
|Jackson||Newport||Newport High School NATP|
|Jackson||Tuckerman||Tuckerman High School||(870) 349-2657|
|Jefferson||Pine Bluff||Renaissance Healthcare|
|Jefferson||Pine Bluff||Southeast Arkansas College|
|Lincoln||Central Arkansas NA Training||(501) 940-1914|
|Logan||PRN Medical Services|
|Lonoke||Arkansas Career Training Ozarks||(479) 616-6138|
|Lonoke||Central Arkansas NA Training||(501) 940-1914|
|Miller||Texarkana||Texarkana Nursing Academy|
|Miller||Texarkana||Texarkana Arkansas Career & Tech Center||(870) 772-3662|
|Mississippi||Blytheville||Arkansas Northeastern College|
|Mississippi||Burdette||Arkansas Northeastern College|
|Monroe||Clarendon||M & M Education, Inc||(870) 673-1657|
|Ouachita||Camden||Southern Arkansas University Tech|
|Ouachita||SAU Tech Career Academy|
|Ouachita||RSB NATP - Central||(870) 926-9496|
|Perry||Perryville||Perry County CNA Training Center||(501) 889-2400|
|Poinsett||Marked Tree||Arkansas State University Newport|
|Polk||Mena||Rich Mountain Community College|
|Pope||Russellville||River Valley NATP||(479) 858-2290|
|Pope||Arkansas Career Training Ozarks||(479) 616-6138|
|Prairie||Central Arkansas NA Training||(501) 940-1914|
|Pulaski||Little Rock||PHCTA||(501) 304-1909|
|Pulaski||Little Rock||Dr. Emma Kelly Rhodes Education Center|
|Pulaski||Little Rock||AR Nursing Assistant Academy LLC|
|Pulaski||Little Rock||Medlinc, Inc|
|Pulaski||Maumelle||Capstone Elite Medical Training||(501) 954-0322|
|Pulaski||North Little Rock||North Little Rock High School-West NATP|
|Pulaski||Central Arkansas NA Training||(501) 940-1914|
|Randolph||Pocahontas||Black River Technical College|
|Saline||Benton||PAL CNA Training Academy|
|Saline||Benton||Arkansas State Hospital||(501) 860-0675|
|Scott||Waldron||University of Arkansas Fort Smith - Waldron High School||(479) 788-7715|
|Sebastian||Fort Smith||Petra Allied Health|
|Sebastian||Fort Smith||University of Arkansas|
|Sebastian||Fort Smith||PRN Medical Services|
|Sharp||Ash Flat||Ash Flat Healthcare and Rehabilitation Center|
|Sharp||Ash Flat||Ozarka College|
|St. Francis||Forrest City||Crowley's Ridge Technical Institute|
|St. Francis||Forrest City||Golden Years Training Program||(870) 633-4260|
|St. Francis||St. Cross Health Care Education LLC||(870) 588-5772|
|Stone||Mountain View||Ozarka Tech College|
|Stone||Paragould||RSB NATP - North Central||(870) 926-9496|
|Van Buren||Clinton||OZARK CNA||(501) 745-5322|
|Van Buren||Central Arkansas NA Training||(501) 940-1914|
|Washington||Springdale||Petra Allied Health|
|Washington||Springdale||NWACC Early College Experience|
|Washington||Springdale||Northwest Technical Institute CNAP|
|Washington||Springdale||PRN Medical Services|
|White||Searcy||Arkansas State University|
The CNA training programs are not identical, so it is important to consider factors like the length of the program and the required schedule. For example, the Arkansas Nursing Assistant Academy in Little Rock, Arkansas CNA program is a 90-hour training program and new classes start every month. The CNA training program at the University of Arkansas in Fort Smith is quite different. It is a one year program for high school seniors who also earn 16 college credit hours. Ozarka College in Ash Flat offers a 4-month, 7-credit CNA program.
The programs which award college credits are a good choice for students who are considering becoming a Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN), Registered Nurse (RN) or other Allied Health professional in the future. The CNA program credits may be transferrable to a different degree program.
Step 2: Evaluate the Costs of Program Attendance
The costs of training can vary significantly from program to program. For example, at Crowley’s Ridge Technical Institute the total program cost is approximately $673 which includes tuition and fees, books and supplies, insurance, TB skin test and the state certification examination fees. The cost at Southeast Arkansas College in Pine Bluff for a 7-credit CNA program is approximately $1,130 for tuition, books and supplies, Malpractice Insurance, uniforms, shoes, socks, hose, state examination fees, criminal background check, drug screen and immunization tracking.
Program costs can change from year to year, and many of the programs do not have their fees posted online. Students seeking admission can call the program to get current rates. It is also important to check with the school’s financial aid office because there may be financial aid available in the form of grants, loans and/or scholarships.
Possible Free Training
There are two potential avenues for getting free training. One is to train in a Medicare/Medicaid funded facility while also performing allowed tasks. The employer pays the tuition and fees. Employers also cover the tuition and fees for CNAs who are employed in Medicare/Medicaid facilities within 12 months of passing the CNA certification exam. A second way to get free training is for eligible applicants to apply for funding through the Arkansas Workforce Investment Board (WIA).
Step 3: Determine the CNA Program’s Prerequisites
The minimum Arkansas CNA program prerequisites include the following:
- Earn minimum scores on assessment test for reading and math, as set by the CNA program
- Submit a copy of a high school transcript or GED scores
- Pass a drug screening test
- Pass a health screening test
- Pass a criminal background check
- Show proof CPR training was completed if it is not part of the CNA training program
High School Student
Some of the CNA programs allow concurrent enrollment for high school students. A senior in high school can enroll in a CNA program at a college, university or technical center while still working towards a high school degree.
Step 4: Attend a State-approved CNA Training Program
As a minimum, the CNA program must consist of 30 hours of classroom and laboratory training, 45 hours of clinical training and 15 hours of Alzheimer and dementia training, for a total of 90 training hours. Some programs in Arkansas may require more than 90 hours, especially the ones offering college credit.
The training teaches the knowledge and skills a CNA needs to master in order to provide high quality patient care. A typical program includes training in the following areas:
- Communication and interpersonal skills
- Safety and emergency procedures
- Infection prevention and control
- Resident care, including meal service, caring for the resident’s environment and bed making
- Promoting independence and respecting patient rights
- Delivering personal care skills like bathing, grooming, feeding, skin care and body positioning in the bed
- Basic nursing skills like taking vital signs, and recognizing and reporting changes in the patient’s condition
- Working with people who have different cognitive, behavioral and/or social issues
- Basic restorative services
- Alzheimer and dementia training
Students get the information and learn the skills they need to master in order to pass the Arkansas CNA certification exam and to perform well once employed as a CNA in the state.
Step 5: Take and Pass the CNA Certification Exam
To become a new Certified Nursing Assistant in Arkansas, the applicant must have completed a state-approved nursing assistant training program within the prior 12 months. A new CNA is someone who has never been certified as a CNA in Arkansas. OLTC contracted with Prometric to develop and administer the Nursing Assistant Competency Exam.
The state requires applicants to pass the exam within one year of completing CNA training and within three attempts. Failing to meet this requirement means the applicant will have to go through the CNA training program again and retake the test.
Besides going through training and passing the competency exam, there are other pathways to certification that apply in certain cases.
Nursing students in a LPN or RN program, who have completed a course in Basic Nursing, may not have to complete CNA training. However, it is necessary to take the certification exam within 12 months of getting approval from the OLTC to use this pathway and to pass both sections within three attempts.
From Other States
Out of state CNAs can request the OLTC to add their names to the Arkansas Nursing Assistant Registry. It is up to the OLTC in Arkansas to determine whether the applicant will need to take and pass the certification exam.
If someone was trained as a geriatric nursing assistant in another state, but did not take and pass a competency exam and was not listed in the state’s CNA registry, the OLTC must review the training completed before the applicant can apply for testing in Arkansas.
In addition, there is an “other” pathway which enables applicants such as those who obtained medical or nursing training in the military to apply to the OLTC for certification.
CNA Certification Exams
The Arkansas Nursing Assistant Competency Exam has two parts: the Written Test and the Clinical Skills Test. The Written Test has 60 multiple-choice questions that test the knowledge gained during the CNA training. The Clinical Skills Test scores five skills which are also learned during CNA training. The Clinical Skills Test consists of three randomly selected skills, one Handwashing skill and one Indirect Care skill. Exam results are released to the candidate if testing at a regional test site or are emailed if testing at a facility. Prometric offers a nurse aide certification sample written test on its website which exam candidates are encouraged to take.
There are two types of testing sites: Regional testing centers and in-facility test sites. To schedule an exam at a regional testing center, send the application to Prometric. If scheduling an exam at an in-facility test site, the application is given to the school or facility program director.
The State of Arkansas will pay the testing fees if the candidate has not previously tested in the State of Arkansas and is currently employed in a state nursing home or has been offered employment from a state nursing home.
Step 6: Get Certified in Arkansas
The Office of Long Term Care (OLTC) maintains the Arkansas Nursing Assistant Registry. Exam results are sent to OLTC and to the sponsoring long term care facility or training program. Once the OLTC determines the applicant has met all certification requirements, his or her name is added to the CNA Registry. At that point, the applicant can use the Certified Nursing Assistant designation.
How to Keep CNA Certification Active After Becoming a CNA in Arkansas
A certification is valid for two years (24 months) at which time it is necessary to renew CNA certification to remain in active status in the Arkansas Nursing Assistant registry. To maintain certification, the CNA must work for pay as a CNA for at least eight hours during the 24 months preceding the certification period. Otherwise, the certification expires and the applicant must retake the CNA exam. The recertification is good for another 24 months.
If employed at the time of application, the recertification begins the day after the expiration date of the current certification period. If not employed, recertification for 24 months begins with the last day of employment.
Salary and Job Outlook for CNAs in Arkansas
The Bureau of Labor Statistics report the average annual CNA salary in Arkansas as of May 2016 was $22,760 or $10.94 per hour. The top 10 percent earn an average of $28,670 annually or $13.79 per hour. The entry level CNAs, or the bottom 10 percent, earned an average of $18,030 annually or $8.67 per hour. For the period 2014 to 2014, there is a projected 15.3 percent growth in the number of CNA jobs in Arkansas.
CNA Salaries by City and Area
|AR CNA Salary||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|
|East Arkansas nonmetropolitan area||1460||10.88||22630||4.2||8.41||10.17||14.66||17500||21150||30490|
|Fort Smith, AR-OK||1570||10.75||22360||1.8||8.68||10.69||13.08||18050||22240||27200|
|Hot Springs, AR||520||10.87||22610||2.1||8.91||10.79||13.12||18530||22440||27290|
|Little Rock-North Little Rock-Conway, AR||4460||11.86||24660||2.3||9.71||11.43||14.92||20200||23780||31030|
|North Arkansas nonmetropolitan area||2510||10.77||22410||1.3||8.89||10.72||12.83||18490||22290||26690|
|Pine Bluff, AR||720||10.41||21650||3.2||8.49||10.3||12.31||17660||21410||25600|
|South Arkansas nonmetropolitan area||1860||10.19||21200||1.8||8.37||10.07||12.2||17410||20950||25370|
|West Arkansas nonmetropolitan area||1540||10.16||21130||1.8||8.36||9.78||12.4||17380||20340||25790|