How to Become a CNA in Pennsylvania

Did you know that PA is the #5 state in the country for nursing assistant employment, acccoring to the Bureau of Labor?

Becoming a CNA in Pennsylvania offers a fulfilling career with opportunities for personal growth and advancement in the healthcare field, serving a community with a diverse and aging population.

Education and Training

Attending a PA CNA program can help you get the education you need to become a professional in the field.


    In-person classes and training give you access to experts in the field as you learn and grow in a helpful, friendly environment.

    What Do You Study?

    During the course of their studies, students will cover topics like:

    • Anatomy
    • Mental health
    • Fluids and diet
    • Emergency procedures
    • Infection control
    • Caring for the elderly
    • Dispensing medication
    • Social service

    How Much Do the Programs Cost?

    Many CNA training programs in Pennsylvania cost less than $2,000, with some programs costing under $1,000.

    Students will also likely need to cover the cost of books, classroom materials, and uniforms themselves in most instances, which will increase the final amount.

    How Long Do CNA Programs Take?

    Typically, individuals can complete a state-certified CNA program in around 6 to 15 weeks. Accelerated programs can be finished in as little as 4 weeks, so long as a person completes the hours required by the state.

    Salary Range in PA

    Below are some average salaries and hourly wages for each area of the state.

    Below are some wages for parts of the state, according to Bureau of Labor Statistics.

    Area Name Hourly Annual
    Allentown-Bethlehem-Easton-NJ $19.15 $39,830.00
    Altoona $17.89 $37,200.00
    Bloomsburg-Berwick $17.22 $35,830.00
    Chambersburg-Waynesboro $20.27 $42,170.00
    East Stroudsburg $18.66 $38,810.00
    Erie $17.76 $36,930.00
    Gettysburg $18.60 $38,690.00
    Harrisburg-Carlisle $18.72 $38,940.00
    Johnstown $16.19 $33,670.00
    Lancaster $19.12 $39,770.00
    Lebanon $19.54 $40,650.00
    Northern PA $17.66 $36,730.00
    Philadelphia-Camden-Wilmington-NJ-DE-MD $19.83 $41,240.00
    Pittsburgh $18.98 $39,470.00
    Reading $19.70 $40,980.00
    Scranton–Wilkes-Barre–Hazleton $18.27 $38,000.00
    Southern PA $17.71 $36,840.00
    State College $18.07 $37,580.00
    Western PA $17.60 $36,610.00
    Williamsport $17.98 $37,400.00
    York-Hanover $18.74 $38,980.00

    Occupation: Nursing Assistants (SOC Code311131)
    source: data.bls.gov

    Pennsylvania CNA Requirements

    The state of Pennsylvania has several requirements before a person can qualify to work as a certified nursing assistant.

    First, individuals must be at least 16 years of age and have a high school diploma, GED, or equivalent.

    Accredited Program

    Then, hopeful CNAs need to take classes from an accredited program, many of which can be found at technical schools, community colleges, or nursing schools throughout the state.

    You may even be able to take some classes online.

    Classroom Instruction and Supervised Training

    Students must take a minimum of 80 hours of classroom instruction and supervised training.

    However, many training programs require 120 hours, which is the recommended amount by the Pennsylvania Department of Education.

    Earning a Certification

    Earning a certification is a requirement to work as a CNA in Pennsylvania.  Per the PA Dept of Health, you must register for and pass the NNAAP® Nurse Aide Exam.

    Additional Requirements

    Other state requirements for a CNA are:

    • Be in good physical health
    • Have up-to-date immunization records
    • Pass a criminal background check and register fingerprints
    • Pass the state exam
    • Become a certified CNA

    Career Overview

    Job Description

    CNAs help patients with their health care needs, oftentimes working under the supervision of a nurse as their assistant.

    These workers assist with many of the physical tasks needed for patient care such as eating, bathing, and grooming.

    Certified nursing assistants can work in places like hospitals, nursing homes, rehab centers, adult daycare centers, long-term residential facilities, and sometimes clinical facilities.

    What Do They Do?

    Responsibilities that a CNA in PA can have are:

    • Gathering medical supplies
    • Bathing and grooming patients
    • Answering patient calls
    • Documenting patient information
    • Stocking medical supplies
    • Turning over or moving patients
    • Feeding patients
    • Monitoring a patient’s food and liquid intake
    • Cleaning rooms and/or bed linens
    • Helping with some medical procedures
    • Transportation of patients
    • Helping to take care of patient wounds

    Those interested in becoming a CNA should be aware that job duties may differ depending on the facility.

    Other Skills Needed

    Communication skills are important since CNAs need to listen and respond to the needs and concerns of patients.

    In this role, you will also have to share information with fellow workers, so getting the information communicated correctly is imperative.

    Other skills that a certified nursing assistant should possess are:

    • Patience
    • Compassion
    • Physical stamina
    • Knowledge of medical terminology
    • An optimistic attitude
    • Be extremely detailed

    Career Outlook

    The need for qualified certified nursing assistants is expected to increase over the next decade. From 2021-2031, the Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that CNA jobs should increase by five percent across the country. Around 220,200 new jobs per year should become available. This means that there should be plenty of CNA jobs in Pennsylvania for eager, qualified candidates.

    The increase in new roles should come available due to a variety of reasons. The healthcare field will need more certified nursing assistants to help take care of an aging baby-boomer generation.

    New positions will also open up because of retirements in the profession as well as workers leaving the industry to pursue other jobs.

    Once an individual has their CNA, they can choose to continue their education to become an LPN by taking courses at their local community college or vocational school.

    This will require additional training and education that typically takes around six to twenty-four weeks, with 75 hours of training.