How to Become a CNA in Rhode Island

How to Become a CNA in Rhode Island

Certified Nursing Assistants (CNAs) assist in general patient care by serving meals, checking vital signs, or tending to wounds. CNAs are mostly found in hospitals or nursing homes and sometimes in clinical facilities. 

If you’re planning to become a CNA in Rhode Island, there are steps you need to take in order to get your certificate. We’ll walk you through these steps, from getting into a Nurse Aide program to earning your certificate.

So, what are you waiting for? Let’s dive into four steps to guide you on how to become a CNA in Rhode Island. 

How to Become a CNA in Rhode Island in 4 Steps

  • Complete a 120hr Nurse Aide program
  • Submit an application for licensure to RIDOH
  • Register & pass the state exam
  • Get your license

Complete an Approved Nurse Aide Training Program

In Rhode Island, Nurse aide aspirants need to complete 100 hours of training including 20 hours on clinical duty. CNA program length varies from school to school, but they generally take anywhere from 6-12 weeks. These programs are offered in community colleges, vocational schools, and some healthcare facilities. Some programs even have online options. 

You may check the Rhode Island DOH website for a list of approved nurse aide training programs. Some courses take more than 200 hours, but these are more comprehensive and take a lot longer to complete.

Nurse aide programs in Rhode Island usually cost around $500 – $1000 or even more. If that’s out of your budget, you can find low-cost or even free programs through nursing care facilities, government grants, or SkillsRI.  

Submit an Application for Licensure to RIDOH

Once you complete your training program, you need to send an application for licensure to the Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH). Note that this is different from the NNAAP (National Nurse Aide Assessment Program) exam, so you’ll need to apply separately for that. 

Together with your application for licensure as a nurse assistant, you will need to accomplish the following: 

  • Clear a criminal background check within four (4) months
  • Passport type 2×3 photograph taken within one (1) year
  • A $35 application fee 

Take and Pass the NNAAP

Candidates must pass the National Nursing Assistant Assessment Program (NNAAP) in order to become a CNA. The NNAAP is currently administered by Credentia. They are in-charge of  developing the contents of the exam and eporting your test results to RIDOH. 

To register for the exam, you will need to create your Credentia account online. You can check out this registration guide from their website for more details. 

Again, before qualifying for an exam, you will need to submit an application for licensure to RIDOH. Otherwise, you won’t be able to take the exam. 

The state exam has written (or oral) and clinical portions. You are required to pass both these portions in order to get your license within a year since you completed your training. You are given three attempts to do so. Failure to pass within three attempts would mean retaking your training program. 

The full examination costs $99. You must pay $69 to retake the written portion of the exam and $30 to retake the written or oral assessment. 

Note that if you are a nursing student who is currently enrolled in a nursing program with at least two (2) completed clinical courses, you are eligible to take the NNAAP without completing a nurse aide training program. 

You will receive your results shortly after completing the exam. Credentia will email you that your score has been posted on their website. 

Get Your License

Upon passing both portions of the NNAAP, RIDOH will mail your license within 60 days. If you don’t receive your license by then, you may contact RIDOH.

Frequently Asked Questions 

How do I renew my RI CNA license?

You must renew your license every 24 months. To do this, go to the RIDOH website and click ‘RENEW ONLINE’. A renewal notice will be mailed to your address 60 days before the expiration date of your license. 

If your license has expired, you may contact the state Department of Health and send proof that you’ve been working as a CNA for at least 8 hours for the past 2 years. 

If your license has expired for more than 2 years, you will have to retake a training program and retake the NNAAP as well. 

I want to become a Certified Medication Aide instead. How do I get my license?

To become a CMA in Rhode Island, you must first be a CNA. You will need to complete a Medication Aide program and accomplish an application form to be sent to RIDOH.

How do I transfer my out-of-state CNA license to Rhode Island? 

If you’re a CNA outside of Rhode Island, you may transfer through reciprocity, also known as endorsement. The process of reciprocity allows you to practice your profession in another state. You are eligible for a transfer if you have either of the following: 

  • evidence of 100 nursing assistant training program hours
  • evidence of 3 months employment as a nursing assistant within the last year 

To apply through endorsement, you must submit a verification form to your registry. After that, you must fill up an endorsement form and submit it to RIDOH. Your endorsement form will then be up for review. 


If you have a need to care for others, the CNA career path is just right for you, and we hope that these four steps will help you on your journey. Now that you have the information you need, all you must do is begin! 

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