Certified Nurse Aide Requirements in New Jersey

New Jersey nurse aides are under the jurisdiction of the Department of Health. A person qualifies by completing approved training, passing an examination, and clearing a criminal background check.

The Department of Health contracts with PSI to administer examinations and provide some additional services.

Select a New Jersey Certified Nurse Aide (CNA) Topic:

Training and Examination Eligibility

The first step is education. Individuals are to enroll in state-approved NATCEPs, or ‘Nurse Aide in Long Term Care Facilities Training and Competency Evaluation Programs’. New Jersey programs are 90 hours and include 50 classroom hours and 40 clinical hours. The Department of Health has provided a list of approved programs (http://www.nj.gov/health/healthfacilities/documents/ltc/approved_natcep_programs.pdf). The list is organized by county. Nursing homes may also offer training; these programs do not appear on the list.

The list of approved programs is revised periodically. Individuals may email ‘ltc at doh.state.nj.us’ if they are unsure of the status of a program. They should include the word NATCEP in the subject line.

Click here to learn about Nurse Aide programs as well as additional entry to nursing and health care programs in New Jersey.

There are multiple alternative training pathways. Individuals can qualify based on student nurse or graduate nurse status. Student nurses must apply within a year of completing fundamentals of nursing. Graduate nurses may apply while waiting to take the NCLEX. Foreign nurses are also eligible if they are licensed at the professional (RN) level in their own country.

Individuals trained as military nurse aides, homemaker-home health aides, or assistive personnel may also be able to document that they have completed the required fundamentals of nursing coursework. Home Health Aides will need to document that they have completed the long-term care module of the core curriculum for unlicensed assistive personnel that has been approved by the Department.

Examination Requirements

Prospective nurse aides must take a clinical skills test and a written (or oral) knowledge test. They must pass the skills test before taking the knowledge test. They are typically scheduled for the skills evaluation by their program instructors.

A skills evaluation will assess hand washing and four random skills, for example, caring for dentures, taking radial pulse, or performing range of motion on a person’s shoulder. The candidate bulletin includes a description of nurse aide skills.

After passing the skills examination, candidates will contact PSI to schedule the written or oral examination. The oral examination is available in English and Spanish. Scheduling can be done via the internet. Candidates may also call (800) 733-9267. Written examinations are administered in six New Jersey cities. Candidates will be allowed to schedule as little as a day in advance if there is room. However, as spots do fill, examinees are advised to have several options in mind when they contact PSI.

Examinees are allowed two years from the time they complete their training and one year from the time they make their first attempt to fulfill the examination requirement. If they have not passed both evaluations during this timeframe, they will need to retrain. They may not make more than three attempts at either examination without retraining.

Candidates who have been granted waivers, however, will need to enroll in approved programs if they fail either the knowledge or skills evaluation.

Candidate information bulletins give an overview of examination content as well as details about eligibility routes, test day policies, and rescheduling optoins. They are available on the PSI website (https://candidate.psiexams.com/catalog/fti_agency_license_details.jsp?fromwhere=findtest&testid=2414). PSI can be reached by email at ‘njnurse at psiexams.com’.

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Criminal Background Checks

New Jersey applicants must have criminal background checks. The process depends on application pathway. Students who complete approved programs will receive materials from their instructors. Those who apply through alternate pathways will receive them from the Department of Health.

Candidates should be aware that the criminal background check process can take as long as twelve weeks. Those who answer “no” to background screening questions are allowed to work in long-term care for up to 120 days while they are in the process of meeting requirements.

A candidate who answers “yes” to screening questions must provide a reference letter from a nursing aide instructor or from his or her long-term employer. The Department will also require a letter from a parole or probation officer (if applicable) and a statement providing details about any criminal conviction.

The Application Process

Candidates who are requesting examination permission based on alternative healthcare training must first apply to the Department of Health for waiver (http://www.nj.gov/health/healthfacilities/certification-licensing/nurse-aide-pc-assistant/apply/index.shtml). Other candidates can request their application materials from PSI.

The certificate will be issued when all requirements have been met. An examinee who has already cleared the criminal background check may receive a certificate at the testing site. If the background check results have not yet been received, the certificate will be mailed later.

Out-of-State CNAs

Out-of-state CNAs can be certified by reciprocity if their training and evaluation programs are determined to be at least equivalent to New Jersey’s. In cases where programs are not equivalent, the CNA will need to complete skills and knowledge evaluations; however, it will not be necessary to complete the training program (http://www.nj.gov/health/healthfacilities/certification-licensing/nurse-aide-pc-assistant/apply/index.shtml). Out-of-state CNAs must be in good standing with their own registries.

Reciprocity candidates will get their applications from PSI.


The skills evaluation costs $23. The written examination costs $53. The Spanish or English oral examination costs $67. Test takers will initially pay for both evaluations.

The reciprocity fee is $30. There is no fee for the required background check.

Additional Information

The New Jersey Department of Health can be reached by telephone at (866) 561-5914. Office hours are 9:00 to 5:00. Information for long-term care providers is found on the web at http://www.nj.gov/health/healthfacilities/certification-licensing/nurse-aide-pc-assistant/apply/index.shtml.

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