A certified nurse assistant (CNA) is a health care professional who works under the supervision of a registered nurse (RN) or licensed practical nurse (LPN). Find employment through CNA placement agencies until you are ready to work for yourself as a sole proprietor CNA or expand your business to include other CNAs under your direction.

CNA Placement Agencies

CNA placement agencies assist CNAs in finding per diem work, which refers to short-term, temporary assignments in one or more facilities. As a per-diem worker, you have the flexibility to work when and where you choose. Working in this capacity gives you an opportunity to develop professional relationships that may benefit you when you open your own CNA business.

To register with one or more CNA placement agencies, prepare a professional resume. You can find examples online that help you with formatting and content. Be prepared to provide a copy of your high school diploma (or GED) and a copy of your CNA certification. You should also have names and contact information for three to five professional references.

Sole Proprietor CNA Business

After you've worked in the field for other people gaining experience and making contacts, you may want to establish your own business as a sole proprietor. A sole proprietorship is a business that is usually owned and operated by a single individual. There's little distinction between you and the business. You're entitled to all the profits, but you're also responsible for all the debts, losses and liabilities.

Forming a sole proprietorship does not require any formal action on your part. You use your Social Security number to file federal, state and local taxes. If you're doing business under a name other than your own ("A-Plus Certified Nurse Assistant," for example), you are required to file a fictitious name with the state. Depending on where you live, this may be called an "assumed name" or "DBA" (doing business as).

Marketing as a Sole Proprietor CNA

Before establishing your own business, you ideally made contacts in the field. Prepare a marketing package that demonstrates your qualifications and experience. Include a resume, copies of certifications, references and testimonials. Visit facilities in person to present your credentials to the individuals responsible for hiring CNAs.

Expanding Your CNA Business

The day may come when you want to expand your business to include several additional CNAs who work for you. When that happens, you should change from a sole proprietorship to, most likely, a limited liability company. Then, you are responsible for vetting the potential CNAs who represent your company and making sure they have the right training and certification to work in your state.

CNA Training Requirements

CNAs must have a minimum of a high school diploma or GED in addition to the successful completion of CNA training. CNA training is offered through community colleges, medical facilities and trade and vocational schools. The program must be approved by the state's nursing board and the National League for Nursing Accredited Commission (NLNAC).

CNA training programs typically include a combination of classroom instruction and hands-on practice under the supervision of an RN or LPN. Some programs offer the classroom portion online. Depending on the program, training can take between four and 12 weeks. Costs vary but usually include tuition, lab fees, textbooks, uniforms, certification exam fees and the costs for TB testing and a criminal background check.

CNA Requirements in Your State

Requirements for working as a CNA vary from state to state, so be sure to check what's necessary for the state where you plan to run your business. Visit the website of RegisteredNursing.org, locate the map of the United States and click on your state. You get information on board-approved programs, costs and average salaries.

CNA Certification Exam

Upon successful completion of training, CNAs pass a two-part examination. The written portion, performed in a group setting, usually consists of multiple-choice questions that must be answered within a 90-minute time frame. The second portion of the certification exam, on clinical skills, is scheduled individually with a single test proctor or observer. The candidate must correctly perform four randomly selected skills within a 30-minute time frame.

CNA Responsibilities

CNAs work in a variety of settings, including personal residences, hospitals, nursing homes, assisted living facilities and adult care facilities. Duties can vary, depending on where you work, but typically include the following:

  • Assisting patients with basic living activities
  • Listening to the health concerns of patients and recording them in notes for RNs
  • Measuring vital signs
  • Housekeeping
  • Tending to patient issues and problems, such as wound care