Certified Nurse Aide Requirements in Wisconsin

Wisconsin Certified Nurse Aides (CNAs) are credentialed on the basis of education and examination. They are under the jurisdiction of the Wisconsin Department of Health Services.

Select a Wisconsin Certified Nurse Aide (CNA) Topic:

Training and Examination Eligibility

Nurse aide education must be state-approved. There is a basic eligibility pathway for new nurse aides and multiple alternative pathways for individuals with equivalent healthcare training.

Wisconsin-approved programs are 120 hours long and include 32 clinical hours. The Department of Health Services has provided a list of all programs authorized to prepare nurse aides in Wisconsin (https://www.dhs.wisconsin.gov/caregiver/nurse-aide/natd-registry.htm). Prospective CNA students are advised to make sure that the program they select is authorized and to exert caution around programs offering online coursework.

Click here to learn about Nurse Aide programs as well as other entry to nursing and health care programs in Wisconsin.

Candidates may be allowed to test based on equivalent programs completed in other states, but will need the approval of the Department of Health Services.

Alternate Routes: Nursing education is also qualifying. Both currently enrolled student nurses and graduate nurses are eligible to pursue CNA certification. Internationally educated practical or professional nurses may test as CNAs while waiting to take and pass the NCLEX examination. They will need to demonstrate that they are eligible to take the NCLEX.

Home health aides may also be approved to test as CNAs. Veterans may apply based on military-based training if preparation meets state standards (https://www.dhs.wisconsin.gov/publications/p0/p00225a.pdf). Military personnel will need to demonstrate at least 32 hours of clinical training. They will need coursework in the following:

  • Basic nursing skills
  • Personal care skills
  • The aging process
  • Infection control
  • Safety and emergency procedures
  • Communication skills
  • Death and dying
  • Basic restorative skills
  • Resident rights
  • The cognitively impaired
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Examination Requirements

Wisconsin is one of approximately 25 states that uses the National Nurse Aide Assessment Program, or NNAAP. The NNAAP includes two separate tests: practical skills and knowledge.

The skills test assesses hand hygiene and five other random nurse aide skills. At least one task will require measurement skills (for example taking blood pressure or counting pulse). The candidate handbook includes a listing of all skills, along with the expected steps; critical steps are printed in bold letters (http://www.pearsonvue.com/wi/nurseaides/).

The knowledge test may be taken in written or oral format, but in Wisconsin, it is administered only in English. Candidates do not need to be approved under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) to take the oral examination. They may use the reading self-assessment found in the candidate handbook to determine whether the oral examination would be a good fit. They should be aware, though, that the oral examination does include ten word recognition questions.

The Wisconsin NNAAP is administered jointly by Pearson VUE and the American Red Cross. Some prospective CNAs take the NNAAP at their own facilities. In these instances, the instructor will share the test date with students. Other test takers select regional testing sites. Pearson VUE has provided a list of these testing sites.

Candidates who have been approved receive testing authorization by postcard. Those that have not included all materials required to establish eligibility instead receive deficiency letters.

Candidates take both evaluations the same day. They must bring proper ID. They will typically receive their score reports shortly after they test. If they have not passed both evaluations, they will receive information about retesting.

A fee will be due each time the examination is taken. The full examination costs $115 while the skills examination costs $70 and the oral or written examination, $45.The failing score report can be submitted as evidence of examination eligibility.

Candidates testing on the basis of Wisconsin-approved nurse aide programs must pass both parts of the evaluation within a year of the time that they completed their programs. They may attempt the exam as many times as is necessary to pass. A candidate who has passed one of the two required evaluations will not be required to retake it. If the candidate does not pass both portions during the eligibility window, however, it will be necessary to repeat training and again take the full competency evaluation.

The time limit does not apply to candidates approved under some alternative pathways.

The Application Process

Examination represents a last step; candidates who have passed both portions of the NNAAP receive information about their CNA cards shortly after testing.

In many cases, the examination application process and the state application process are one. However, some candidates will need state approval before they will be allowed to take the examination.

Individuals will find standard examination application forms on the Pearson VUE website (http://www.pearsonvue.com/wi/nurseaides/). Those who have completed state-approved programs can attach their certificates of completion as evidence of testing eligibility.

There is a separate examination application for student nurses and graduate nurses. Student nurses, however, will first need to submit a verification form to the Department of Health Services/ Division of Quality Assurance. Graduate nurses may submit authorization letters from the Department of Health Services when requesting examination. Several other types of document may demonstrate eligibility – including a copy of a state license. The necessary forms can be downloaded from the website of either of the agencies involved in the certification process.

Military personnel will need to submit qualifying documents to the Division of Quality Assurance (https://www.dhs.wisconsin.gov/publications/p0/p00225a.pdf). Documentation is to include academic reports, documentation of special trainings, and a document signed by the non-commissioned training officer. The applicant will also compose a personal statement explaining how military education and experiences have offered preparation for a nursing assistant role.

Out-of-State CNAs

Out-of-state CNAs who completed 120 hours of training and passed competency examinations can be endorsed into Wisconsin (https://www.dhs.wisconsin.gov/caregiver/nurse-aide/natd-registry.htm).

Out-of-state CNAs who completed shorter programs will be asked to provide employment verification.

The out-of-state application includes a license verification section that must be completed by a third party. In most cases, out-of-state CNAs send their verification forms to the state of registry. Pearson has provided a state-by-state list of nurse aide registries (http://asisvcs.com/publications/pdf/079960.pdf). The verification process is different for CNAs from California, Colorado, Missouri, North Carolina, and South Carolina. They will find the correct address inside the application packet.

Additional Information

The Wisconsin Nurse Aide Program (https://www.dhs.wisconsin.gov/caregiver/nurse-aide/natd-registry.htm) can be reached at (877) 329-8760.

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