In Iowa, certified nursing assistants (CNAs), also referred to as nurse's aides, must be listed on the Iowa Direct Care Worker Registry to be eligible for work in an Iowa long-term care facility (nursing home, skilled nursing facility, or a skilled or swing bed unit of a hospital).

CNAs do not need to be on the registry to work in other types of facilities.


Complete the 75-hour CNA Course

Iowa's community colleges offer training for individuals interested in becoming certified nursing assistants (CNAs). The colleges offer both classroom studies and hands-on clinical training.

Additionally, some health care facilities and private entities also offer the CNA course.


Pass the Written and Skills Tests

Successful completion of both written and skills tests is required to be placed on the Iowa Direct Care Worker Registry.

  • If a potential CNA does not pass either one of the tests in three attempts, they must retake the 75-hour course AND begin a new testing cycle.
  • The candidate must pass both a written and a skills test within four months of their hire date.
  • Upon successful completion of the written and skills tests, registry staff will receive notice from the testing entity and the CNA will be placed on the registry. Processing time varies; please allow at least two weeks.
  • The cost for exams are approximately $60 (written) $115 (skills). The cost of training is determined by the community college or entity where the course is offered. However, for aides working in certified nursing homes this fee is typically paid by the employer.

Please visit the Community Colleges for Iowa website for information on CNA course testing. Testing is only provided at one of the community colleges. Other organizations that offer the training do not provide testing.