How to Become a CNA in New Mexico (A Complete 2023 Guide)

How to Become a CNA in New Mexico

Those who want to become a CNA in New Mexico must know all the steps leading to their certificate. 

If you don’t — no worries! 

We’re here to help you out.

Our complete guide on how to become a CNA in New Mexico will have all the requirements, steps, and details. 

This way, you know EXACTLY what needs to be done. 

So let’s dive right in!

How to Become a CNA in New Mexico – The 5 Steps to Complete

Our guide breaks down the entire process into 5 steps. These are:

  1. Recognize the right route
  2. Find an ideal CNA program
  3. Complete your CNA training
  4. Take and pass the Competency Exam
  5. Be listed in the New Mexico Nurse Aide Registry

Let’s walk you through each of these steps. 

Step #1: Recognize the Right Route

Although all aspiring CNA candidates in New Mexico have the same end goal, there are 9 ways to get there — these are called routes. 

Read through these situations and see which applies to you:

RouteApplicant Profile
1New Nurse Aides. 

This is the start-from-scratch route. If you’re starting fresh, you’ll need to complete an approved nurse aide training program and pass both parts of the Competency Exam.  

If this scenario applies to you, please proceed to Step #2.
2Military Trained.  

If you obtained nurse aide-related training and developed the necessary skills in the military, you can pursue your CNA certification in New Mexico through Route 2. 

The NM DOH must give their approval before you can proceed. You may reach them directly to get more information regarding the process. 

If you receive an Approval Letter, you can proceed to Step #4. You are eligible to take the Competency Exam in New Mexico and must complete it in 6 months.
3RN/LPN Graduate. 

This is the route for CNA candidates who completed a state-approved nursing program but haven’t earned their licenses.  

If this applies to you, you must contact the NM DOH and get their approval. Call (505) 476 9025 to get more information about it. 

You receive an Approval Letter if the DOH finds you eligible for testing. You can proceed to Step #4 but ensure you complete it within 6 months.
4Out-of-State Nurse Aide with an Expired Certificate. 

You must seek the DOH’s approval to take the Competency EXAm in New Mexico if your certificate expired within the last 24 months. Your state’s Nurse Registry record must also be free of complaints regarding abuse, neglect, or misappropriation. 

If the DOH approves, you will receive a letter indicating it. You can proceed to Step #4 but ensure to pass both parts of the exam within 6 months.
5Out-of-State or Foreign-Trained Nurses (NA, LPN, or RN). 

This route applies if you received your nursing education outside of New Mexico. However, you must have an active license and be in good standing in your state or country’s nurse registry.  

Contact the DOH to know the process to secure their approval. You receive an Approval Letter once the DOH determines that you qualify to take the Competency Exam. You can proceed to Step #4 but ensure you complete it within 6 months.
6Nursing Students (RN/LPN). 

This route is for those currently undergoing a state-approved nursing program to be an RN or LPN. You must have already finished the basic coursework and clinical practice within the last 2 years. 

Like RN/LPN graduates, the DOH must approve your eligibility to test. If so, you have 6 months to complete Step #4.
7CNAs with Expired NM Certificates (Less than 24 Months Ago). 

You don’t need to undergo retraining if you apply for certification within 24 months of your certificate’s expiration. Remember to indicate your certificate number when you complete the application form. You also have 6 months to complete Step #4.
8CNAs with Expired NM Certificates (More than 24 Months Ago). 

You can apply for an Approval Letter for retraining exemption if you’ve been working in a nurse-related field while your certificate was expired.  

If you receive it, you must complete Step #4 within 6 months.
9CNAs with Expired NM Certificates (Retrained). 

This is the appropriate route if your certificate expired more than 24 months ago and you didn’t engage in nurse-related work during that time. 

You need to complete a state-approved nurse aide training program, meaning you go to Step #2. When you send in your application, your program provider must fill out the Work Verification section to confirm your education. 

After that, you have 2 years to pass both parts of the Competency Exam.

Step #2: Find an Ideal CNA Program

If your route requires you to complete a nurse aide training program, you need to find one that is state-approved and ideal for YOU. 

Here are some things to look into when finding a CNA program to enroll in:

  • Location: In New Mexico, approved CNA programs are offered in community colleges and universities, mobile programs, and nursing facilities. You can find an approved one near you by contacting the Nurse Aide Registry program coordinator at 505-476-9040.
  • Cost: Program rates vary between providers, but these can cost anywhere from $700 to $1,200. Comparing prices is an excellent way to find one within your budget. If you can’t afford it, you can also apply for scholarships or employer-sponsored training.
  • Curriculum and Flexibility: Like tuition fees, providers offer programs of varying lengths. A shorter program typically requires you to attend whole-day classes. Some providers have more flexible schedules — either offering night classes or online courses. Others have a stretched-out timeline that runs for 10 to 12 weeks. Depending on your situation and obligations, one option may be better.

Step #3: Complete Your CNA Training

Once you select an approved program, you need to see if you meet its eligibility prerequisites. 

Of course, these vary between providers. But to give you an idea, you might have to comply with the following:

  • Be at least 18 years old
  • Graduate from high school or get a GED
  • Show proficiency in English
  • Pass a 7 to 10-panel drug screening
  • Have up-to-date immunization, including Varicella, Hepatitis B, Tdap, and MMR
  • Test negative for TB within the last year
  • Receive an annual flu shot
  • Have health insurance

After successfully enrolling, you can begin your CNA training. 

Now, in New Mexico, it is required to undergo a minimum of 75 hours of training. This should include both classroom instruction and clinical practice.  

Step #4: Take and Pass the Competency Exam

To test your knowledge and skills, you need to pass a CNA Competency Exam. 

In New Mexico, this exam is administered by Prometric. 

Here are the steps to register and schedule for the exam:

  1. Download the Application Form and fill it out (including the payment form). You can find the current form on the Prometric website

NOTE: The fee is $107.10 for both the skills test and the written or oral test. 

NOTE II: The state of New Mexico pays for your fee if a Medicaid-licensed facility offers you employment or is currently employing you. However, the facility must fill out the Work Verification section of the application form. If you do not pass on your first try, you must shoulder the testing fees for retakes.

  1. Include your Approval Letter (for those who went through routes 2 to 8) 
  1. Mail the form to this address: 

Prometric ATTN:

NM Nurse Aide Program

7941 Corporate Drive,

Nottingham, MD 21236

  1. Prometric reviews your application and sends an Authorization to Test (ATT) letter if you’re eligible. This will have your exam schedule – the date, time, and location. 
  1. On your scheduled date, arrive 30 minutes early and bring the following:
    1. Your original ATT letter
    2. 2 valid government-issued IDs with a signature and photo and the same name as your ATT letter
    3. Appropriate attire – flat, closed-toed shoes and a uniform or scrub
    4. A watch with a secondhand
  1. Take and pass the CNA Competency Exam. 

Step #5: Be Listed in the New Mexico Nurse Aide Registry

Once you pass both portions of the Competency Exam, Prometric will go ahead and list your name in the New Mexico Nurse Aide Registry. 

And that completes the steps to becoming a CNA in New Mexico. 

Frequently Asked Questions About CNAs in New Mexico

Before we go, let’s answer some frequently asked questions for even more information. 

What can I expect from the CNA exam in New Mexico?

Well, there are 2 portions — the written/oral test and the skills test.

NOTE: If you want to take the test orally, you have to specifically request it when applying. 

The written/oral portion has 60 multiple-choice questions, which you must complete in 90 minutes. The covered topics are as follows:

  • Role of Nurse Aides (18%)
  • Promotion of Safety (18%)
  • Promotion of Function and Health of Residents (24%)
  • Basic Nursing Care Provided by the Nurse Aide (26%)
  • Providing Specialized Care for Residents with Changes in Health (14%)

Since you take this on a computer, you will get your results immediately after.

For the skills test, you will need to demonstrate 5 skills, including proper handwashing techniques and indirect care. The rest are assigned to you randomly. The time limit varies per candidate, but it typically runs between 30 to 40 minutes.

You must pass all 5 skills to complete this portion. You’ll get your results at the testing site shortly after you finish.

How long will my CNA certificate remain valid in New Mexico?

In New Mexico, CNAs need to renew their certificate every 2 years. 

Fortunately, there are no continuing education requirements to fulfill. However, it doesn’t mean your renewal happens automatically.

You’re qualified for a renewal if you worked as a CNA for 8 hours or more in the previous 24 months. You must also have no records of abuse, neglect, or misappropriation of residents’ property in the Nurse Aide Registry.

How do you renew your CNA certificate in New Mexico?

Complete Section 1 of the renewal form and have your employer

answer Section 2. You can find the current form on the Prometric website

Some facilities refuse to comply with the latter. If you find yourself in that situation, you must complete Sections 1 and 3 and attach a copy of your W-2 or your most recent pay stub.

Send the completed form with the $26.25 renewal fee to this address:


ATTN: NM NA Program

7941 Corporate Drive

White Marsh, MD 21236

NOTE: If you work in a Medicaid-approved facility, you do not need to pay for renewal. The state of New Mexico covers it.

Do CNAs in New Mexico earn a lot?

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, The annual average salary for nurse aides across the country is $33,250. Those employed in New Mexico earn slightly less at $31,620.

The Wrap Up

So that was how to become a CNA in New Mexico. 

Remember, the first important thing to do is to check your route. From there, you can work on the steps that you need to complete. 

This guide gives you all the information you need!

Good luck!

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