CNA Exam and Certification Iowa

Iowa Nurse Aide must complete a state approved training program consisting of 75 hours, including at least 30 hours of clinical practicum, for placement on the Direct Care Worker Registry. Candidates may commence practice before enrolling in a nurse aide program but must fulfill the 20-hour training requirement beforehand in preparation for resident contact. The 20-hour preparatory program does not exempt the worker from completing the 75-hour required training. Other candidates may apply to challenge the exam based on equivalent training. All candidates must pass the Written and Skills components of the CNA exam within three attempts.

CNA Classes in IA:

How to Apply for the Iowa CNA Exam

Community colleges (primarily) across Iowa have been approved to administer the CNA competency exam. Following are the two primary eligibility routes for taking the exam.

New Nurse Aides

A new nurse aide may apply to take the CNA competency exam after completing a minimum 75-hour course.

Individuals with formal training from a program not approved by Iowa State

An individual who has completed training other than an Iowa state-approved program must apply to take a challenge exam that is approved by the department of inspections and appeals. The candidate must present evidence of formal training to the facility conducting the exam before the exam is administered. The facility has the final say on who is eligible to take the exam.

The Nurse Aide Written and Skills Exams are available at community colleges, such as Iowa Western Community College and North Iowa Area Community College. Check with the school of your choice for application forms for the skills and written test. If you’re testing for the first time, you must apply for both exams.

Policies for rescheduling or canceling a scheduled exam date will vary by college.

Fee Schedule

The established testing fees in Iowa are as follows:

  • Written test – $50.00
  • Skills test – $85.00

CNA Exam Overview Iowa

The State of Iowa and the federal government require individuals to pass the CNA exam to work as a nurse aide in a long-term care facility. The test is administered in two parts, the Written Test and the Skills Competency Test. You’ll have three attempts to take the test. If you fail all three attempts, you must retrain before attempting the test again. Your name will be added to the Direct Care Worker Registry if you pass the test.

The written test is usually administered electronically via computer. The testing facility may be able accommodate requests to take an oral version of the test, but you must request it in advance.

What To Bring To The Exam

You’ll need a picture ID to take the test on exam day. You must also take a watch with a second hand and wear appropriate clothing if you’re taking the skills test. Testing centers that allow same day registration will serve candidates on a first come first served basis. Be prepared to wait if you do not have a scheduled test time.

Receiving Your Scores

You’ll receive the results on the same day for computerized tests. The testing provider will also send your results to the Iowa Direct Care Worker Registry, and you’ll be listed as active if you pass the exam and meet all the other requirements for certification. The DCW Registry no longer mails Registry cards, but you may sign in with your account ID and password to print your card. If you fail the exam, the results notification will include instructions for retesting. The standard test fees apply each time you take the exam.

Contact the Registry

Direct Care Worker Registry
Division of Health Facilities
Lucas State Office Building – 3rd Floor
321 East 12th Street
Des Moines, IA 50319
Telephone: 515.281.4077
Fax:  515.281.6259