Initial Certification

Initial Certification

Initial Certification

Thank you for your interest in the CNA Certification Program and for pursuing your specialty certification credential!

We want certification to be more accessible to nurses while maintaining our established high quality and credibility. We’ve heard from you that the CNA Certification Program must evolve to match changes in nursing curriculums and practice. That’s why the eligibility specialty experience hours required for nurses to apply for certification will be reduced. There are two options:

  1. 1,950 hours of experience in your nursing specialty within the last five years (formerly 3,900 hours).
  2. 1,000 hours of experience in your nursing specialty within the last five years plus 300 hours of formal education, which can be a specialty post-basic course or program at a college/university (as opposed to the former 2,925 hours of specialty experience plus education).

For more details, see the application process.

“Certification is a foundational element of specialized nursing and has provided me with a sense of pride and accomplishment.”

Darlene Bunn, RN, BHSc(N), COHN(C), COHN-S, CDMP

How to apply

To become certified for the first time (initial certification), you must pass the exam.

Read our important dates to learn when you can apply to write the exam for your specialty. If you’re ready to apply, sign in to or create your CNA account. Before applying, you may want to learn more about the application process.

The certification exams can now be written online from home with ProctorU or in a test centre with Meazure Learning.

Please note:
Nurses certified in any specialty can maintain their credential by renewing every five years through continuous learning or by rewriting the certification exam.

For nurses in Quebec, CNA certification is accredited by the Ordre des infirmières et infirmiers du Québec. Obtaining certification can be claimed as 36 continuous learning accredited hours.

Recently added exams

Some of our newest certifications include:

  • Medical-surgical and gerontology for licensed practical nurses and registered practical nurses
  • Gerontology as well as psychiatric and mental health for registered psychiatric nurses
  • Pediatrics for registered nurses and nurse practitioners

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