How to Become a CNA in Illinois

How to Become a CNA in Illinois

So, you’ve decided to pursue a career as a CNA in Illinois, but you’re unsure of the whole process. 

Luckily, you found us!

Just like in any other state, you need to meet specific requirements to achieve your goal. 

In this article, we will simplify things for you as we guide you through the process of how to become a CNA in Illinois. 

Let’s start!

How to Become a CNA in Illinois in 5 Steps

Here are five steps to becoming a CNA in Illinois:

  1. Choose the Best CNA Path for You
  2. Complete the CNA Training Program
  3. Pass the Examination
  4. Get Listed on Illinois’ CNA State Registry
  5. Pursue a Career as a CNA

Let’s take a closer look at each one!

Step #1: Choose the Best CNA Path For You

Now that you’ve decided to pursue a career as a CNA, you need to choose the right path. In Illinois, there are six paths to becoming a CNA, and each has its requirements. 

So, let’s check out these paths and choose which one suits you best!

New Candidates

If you are a new candidate, you need to complete a 120-hour state-approved CNA training program. 

Nursing Students or Graduates

  • If you’re an RN (registered nurse) or LPN (licensed practical nurse) in Illinois with good standing, you can pursue a career as a CNA without being on the registry. 
  • If your nursing license is from another state, you are required to get listed on Illinois’ CNA registry. 
  • If you have an expired RN or LPN license in Illinois, you’re not eligible to work as a CNA until you’re back on the registry. 
  • Nursing students can become CNAs as long as they provide written proof that they completed accredited fundamentals of nursing courses and at least 40 hours of supervised clinical training. Nursing students should also pass the written competency test. 

Foreign LPNs or RNs

If you’re an RN or LPN in another country and do not have a nursing license in the U.S., you can only work as a CNA once you get listed on the Illinois CNA registry. You must submit the following:

  • Proof in English of completed training 
  • A copy of your educational transcripts in English 
  • A copy of your Social Security Card 
  • If you are not a US citizen, you must submit proof of employment authorization to work in the U.S. 
  • Lastly, you are required to pass a written competency test. 

CNAs from Another State

If you’re a listed as a CNA in another state with good standing, you must meet the following criteria:

  • Proof of your current CNA registration
  • No record of neglect, abuse, or misappropriations of money in another state

Military Training

If you have completed a U.S. military training program equivalent to a nurse aide training program, you must show proof of completing 40 hours of clinical experience or provide the Form DD 214. 

If you’re not a U.S. citizen, you should show proof of employment authorization to work in the U.S. Additionally, you are required to take a written competency test. 

CNAs with Expired Certificates

If you were not able to meet the CNA renewal requirements within the given timeframe, you must be recertified. 

In some cases, you must complete an accredited training program. 

Step #2: Complete the CNA Training Program

Although there are many CNA training programs in Illinois, you must attend a state-approved program. 

Right now, there are still no approved online CNA programs in Illinois. You can see the list of accredited programs in Illinois here

Here are some common requirements for enrollment in an accredited CNA program:

  • At least 16 years old 
  • Proof of immunization
  • Criminal background check
  • Medical exam
  • Negative Tuberculosis test within the last 6 months
  • Minimum of eight years in school or proof of equivalent knowledge
  • Healthcare Provider CPR card (in some cases)

Length of the Program

The length of the CNA program depends on the facility or school you choose, but most programs take 120 hours or 3 weeks to be completed. 

The Illinois Department of Public Health requires at least 80 hours of lecture-based classroom training and 40 hours of clinical training. 

The program must also include 12 hours of class that covers mental health disorders such as dementia.

Curriculum Structure

You can expect that the CNA training will cover topics such as:

  • Anatomy
  • Mental health
  • Workplace safety
  • Patients’ rights
  • Interpersonal skills
  • Restorative services
  • Patient transport and movement
  • Basic nursing care
  • Infection control
  • Emergency procedures
  • Personal care and hygiene


The CNA program costs about $700 to $1,800 depending on the location and school that you’ve chosen. This does not include other fees for textbooks, uniforms, supplies, and health care equipment. 

There are some facilities, such as nursing homes, that offer free CNA classes. Other schools also accept payment plans and financial aid. 

Step #3: Pass the Examination

We’re almost there! 

Before getting listed on the registry, you need to pass the Nurse Aide Competency Exam. 

Students who completed a Basic Nursing Assistant Training Program (BNATP) or its equivalent in Illinois can be competency tested. 

Now, let’s take a closer look at the competency exam. 

The Nurse Aide Competency Evaluation Exam is divided into two parts—the skills test and the written examination. 

The Manual Skills Test

If you completed the BNATP in Illinois, the skills test can be performed in the classroom or laboratory during the training program. 

During the school’s test, students will be asked to perform at least three skill sets that are based on the 21 performance skills taught during the training.

The Written Test

The written test is administered by Southern Illinois University at Carbondale. The tests are offered in various locations and are available throughout the year. 

The rest of the exam is transmitted electronically to the Illinois registry. The results will be emailed to you within 2-3 weeks and if you passed, you will get a certificate of completion. 

You can also check for the results in the Health Care Worker Registry after a week.

Step #4: Get Listed on Illinois’ CNA State Registry

You’re almost there!

Once you pass the competency exam, you are required to get listed on the Health Care Worker Registry. 

You won’t be able to work as a CNA if you’re not in it. Employers can use the Registry to verify whether your social security number is valid.

Step #5: Pursue a Career as a CNA

Finally, you’re all set!

You have a fulfilling career ahead of you with countless employment opportunities in Illinois. 

As a CNA, you can work in various health care and resident facilities. You can also plan your career based on the people you like to work with and the type of facilities you want such as nursing homes, assisted living facilities, and healthcare facilities. 

Frequently Asked Questions About Becoming a CNA in Illinois

How much do CNAs in Illinois make?

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, CNAs in Illinois have an average mean salary rate of $30,310. Salary depends on the location of your work.

How much is the CNA examination in Illinois?

Here is the total exam cost:

  • $35 – Written Exam (includes re-tests)
  • $45 – Translated Exam
  • $65 – Written and Skills Evaluation


Becoming a CNA in Illinois can be a long process, but it ensures that patients receive high-quality care. 

Hopefully, our step-by-step guide helped you keep things on track.

Good luck!

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