Certified Nursing Assistant Requirements in Illinois

Illinois Certified Nursing Assistants must meet training and examination requirements set by the state. The most direct pathway is to complete a CNA training program. Alternative pathways include nursing school and military healthcare training.

Select an Illinois Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) Topic:

CNA Training

A prospective CNA must complete an Illinois-approved nursing assistant program. A basic nursing assistant training program, or BNATP, will cover the state-mandated curriculum. It will include at least 80 hours of theory and at least 40 hours of clinicals; at least 12 of the instructional hours will address dementias such as Alzheimer’s. The timeframe may range from three weeks to 120 days; educational institutions that offer courses by term are allowed to exceed the 120 day limit. The Department of Public Health has provided a list of approved programs (https://hcwrpub.dph.illinois.gov/Programs.aspx).

Alternate Training

Illinois will accept equivalent U.S. military-based training. Military personnel may qualify based on training as medical services specialists or hospital corpsmen.

Individuals can also be certified on the basis of current or past nursing school enrollment. A nursing student will need to have completed, at minimum, a course such as Fundamentals of Nursing or Nursing 101. The individual must have completed at least 40 hours of clinical experience under supervision.

Nurses with current Illinois licensure can work as CNAs without being placed on the registry. All other nurses, including those with current licensure in other U.S. states, must be placed on the registry; U.S. nurses will need to verify that the above training requirements were met. An individual can also be certified on the basis of licensure as a practical nurse or registered nurse (or the equivalent) in a foreign nation. However, documentation requirements will differ.

Individuals who wish to be approved for examination on the basis of alternate training are directed to call 217-785-5133.

Examination Requirements

A student who completes a BNATP can expect to complete performance and written evaluations before being placed on the registry (http://www.ilga.gov/commission/jcar/admincode/077/077003950C04000R.html).

All nurse aides are required to pass a written examination, unless they are candidates for reciprocity. The Illinois Nurse Aide Competency Exam is administered by Southern Illinois University-Carbondale (SIU-C).

In most cases, the test taker will submit the application and $65 fee to the training program. The training program will ensure that the candidate meets eligibility requirements; it will also offer support in completing the paperwork.

Candidates will apply for examination directly only if they have failed or ‘no-showed’ a previous examination or have been approved for testing based on alternate training.

Candidates who re-schedule after a no-show currently pay $25, while those who retake the examination after a failed attempt pay $35. If a candidate allows a year to pass after a failure or no-show, however, he or she owes full examination fees.

The examination is offered at test sites throughout Illinois. A candidate can search for test sites by zip code (http://www.nurseaidetesting.com/nurse-aide-students/test-sites).

The application must be submitted several weeks before a scheduled administration. A list of upcoming examination dates and postmark deadlines is available on the SIU-C site (http://www.nurseaidetesting.com/nurse-aide-students/postmark-and-exam-dates-2014). The candidate can go online later to verify registration status (http://www.nurseaidetesting.com/nurse-aide-students/exam-schedule).

A sample test is also available online (http://www.nurseaidetesting.com/nurse-aide-students/sample-test).

Southern Illinois University-Carbondale states that test results are typically mailed two to three weeks after they are received (http://www.nurseaidetesting.com/nurse-aide-students/faq). These results are unofficial. The registry receives results electronically, and employers are required to verify status directly. The trainee is allowed up to three attempts at the written examination.

SIU-C Nurse Aide Testing can be reached by telephone at 877-262-925 or by email at ‘wednat at siu.edu’.

Sponsored Content

Special Accommodations for the Competency Examination

If appropriate documentation is provided, a test taker can be approved for special needs accommodations such as oral examination or large print.

Special needs accommodations are not granted on the basis of language background. In most cases, the competency evaluation is offered only in English. Nurse aides may be approved to take the competency examination in another language, however, in cases where at least half the residents at their facility speak the other language.

Background Checks

In order to be added to the health care registry, the nurse aide will need to clear a background check. The CNA training program will approve candidates for testing only after they have met the background check requirement. Other applicants will receive fingerprint materials after they submit applications.

Candidates with disqualifying criminal history can apply for waivers. Waiver requests are available from the Department of Public Health (http://www.idph.state.il.us/nar/).

The Application Process

Individuals who complete Illinois-approved programs can expect to receive application materials from their program; the program will also have the responsibility of submitting the completed applications (http://www.idph.state.il.us/nar/cnafacts.htm).

Individuals applying by alternate pathways will find application materials on the Department of Public Health website (http://www.idph.state.il.us/nar/home.htm). The Department has provided separate application packets for nursing students, military personnel, and foreign nurses.

Nursing students will need to have a school official verify that they have completed basic nursing coursework and 40 hours of clinicals.

Foreign nurses will need to have their diplomas and transcripts translated into English. Transcripts must show the hours of training that were completed.

Military personnel may include copies of certificates or DD 214s. A certificate must show at least 40 hours of clinical work.

Foreign nurses and military personnel who do not hold U.S. citizenship will be required to provide work authorization.

An approved candidate will be added to the registry after USI-C communicates that the examination has been passed. Registry status can be verified online. The state does not issue licenses or other credentials.

Out-of-State CNAs

CNAs who have current status in another state can be placed on the Illinois registry without taking the competency examination, provided they have met requirements found in the Code of Federal Regulations (42 CFR, Sections 483.151 and 483.152).

Out-of-state applications are available on the Department of Public Health website ([email protected]).


Former CNAs who seek recertification will need to pass both written and manuals skills tests. The candidate may locate a manual skills evaluator by contacting the registry or contacting a local community college.

The registry will also need to confirm that the candidate has an acceptable background.

Additional Information

The Health Care Worker Registry can be reached by telephone at 217-785-5133 or by email at ‘DPH.HCWR at Illinois.gov’.

Sponsored Content

Find Nursing Licensure Requirements in Your State:
US map

Learn about becoming a Registered Nurse, LPN or LVN in your state:
To View Full U.S. Map Click Here.