Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA)

CNA Photo

NDSCS offers CNA training and testing for individuals interested in pursing a career in healthcare. NDSCS has a comprehensive pathway beginning with Pre-CNA, CNA, CNA Testing and continuing to NDSCS for credit programs in healthcare.

COVID-19 Considerations

NDSCS is focused on minimizing risk and the spread of COVID-19 while continuing to provide supportive and impactful experiences for our students. To accomplish this, extra cleaning will be done at our facility and social distancing guidelines will be observed. When social distancing is not possible, NDSCS employees will be wearing face coverings - students and visitors are required to do the same. Disposable face masks will be provided if visitors do not have their own.


For more information and upcoming class dates, call Deanne Sperling at 701-231-6930 or email ndscs.cna@ndscs.edu

Healthcare Class Offerings

Healthcare/CNA Basics

The SkillsND Healthcare/CNA Basics course is an 18 days / 81 hour class that prepares students for the CNA class.

The class provides the skills needed to be successful in CNA, including:

  • health concepts and vocabulary
  • resume building and career search strategies
  • critical thinking skills 

Emphasis is on building successful study skills to be prepared for the intense CNA course which moves quickly. Students meet income qualifications and test for the course. The course was developed for anyone needing additional time for learning CNA and English language learners.

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"I would not have passed CNA without the pre-CNA class."

- Sarah, Pre-CNA Graduate

CNA Courses

NDSCS offers high quality courses for those entering the CNA field or using the CNA course as a pathway to a nursing career. Emphasis is placed on working with clients in the long-term care setting. CNA is offered in a hybrid synchronous format; class happens in real-time, follows a class schedule, and requires that you are logged in for the entire class. There are required days for face-to-face skills instructions at the NDSCS-Fargo campus.

Live in a rural area? Have transportation challenges? There are any number of circumstances that make it challenging for people to attend face to class. Classes are structures with approximately 2/3 of the class online and 1/3 of the class at our NDSCS-Fargo campus to learn skills with the instructor.

Register for CNA

What do students say about CNA class?

Over 92% of student are satisfied or very satisfied with training and would recommend it to others. Students like: 

  • Small groups and breakout sessions
  • Discussion
  • Flexibility of class

"I was still able to work full-time with no scheduling conflicts."

-CNA Graduate

Course Overview

This course meets ND Health Department requirements for minimum 75 hour class.

Course Objectives

The NDSCS Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) class is developed for individuals:

  • Pursuing CNA as a career
  • Planning for a nursing career
  • Who need a class that meets between 15-20 hours per week
  • Who need additional time for study and careful review of healthcare basics


  • CNA Course fee $599
    Course textbook, workbook and supplies are provided as part of your class fee.
  • CNA Test is a separate fee of $250

Location for Onsite Classes and CNA Testing:

  • NDSCS-Fargo, 1305 19th Ave N, Fargo, ND


Ability and desire to learn in an online setting. There are many ways to become familiar with what online learning is like. Check out this link for a guide on how to be successful in an online class.

Students that pass all unit tests, demonstrate the required skills and meet the requirements for attendance receive an NDSCS CNA Class Certificate. Why earn a class certificate? The CNA class prepares students to be successful in the CNA Certification testing. In addition, some nursing programs require a CNA class certificate to enroll, there is no better work experience for a healthcare career, and many states require a CNA class certificate to work as a CNA.

General Course Requirements

  • Students must attend all classes as required by the ND Department of Health.
  • Pass all unit tests and skills.
  • An electronic device to use the required software, stable internet, camera and microphone, a quiet place to attend class. 
  • Software: Blackboard – for class instruction, videos, presentations and Zoom - for class meetings and discussion.
  • Students must be aware that employment in healthcare most likely requires annual flu shots and a clear Mantoux test. Requirements vary between facilities for vaccinations.
  • Students completing the course, tests, and homework will test for the CNA license at the end of the class.
  • Take time to carefully review the work requirements for CNA available at Onet Online.

Class Cancellation/Refund Policy

Register early to ensure the class will run. Class will be canceled 7 working days prior to the first day of class and full refunds issued if not enough students enroll. Class size is limited to 16 people. Call to put your name on the the waiting list if the class is full. You may cancel your registration and receive a full refund if you provide written notice 5 business days’ or more before the first day of class.

CNA Testing

CNA Testing is made available for NDSCS CNA students, other CNA students that need to retest, or people challenging the test without training. For more information on CNA Testing go to NDSCS.edu/CNATesting.

Next Steps After Registering for CNA Class


  1. On the class registration page, carefully review the class calendar and clear your schedule; 100% class attendance is required to earn the class certificate.
  2. Approximately 10 days before class, you will be contacted by NDSCS.CNA@ndscs.edu with a checklist for preparing for class.
  3. Full payment is due on the cancellation deadline – approximately 10 days before class begins. Check the registration page for the exact date.
  4. One week before class begins, textbook and supplies will be available for pick up at the Fargo Campus – 1305 19th Ave. North, Fargo, ND 58102
  5. Approximately 5 days before class, you will receive two emails from no-reply-idm@ndus.edu with instructions for how to create your temporary NDSCS account.
    • On the blackboard site, go through student tutorials to become familiar with the blackboard software.
    • On the first day of class the instructor will grant access to the actual blackboard class.
  6. Approximately 2-4 days before class, you will receive an email from the instructor with the zoom link for the first class.


  1. Email is the primary way of connecting with students. Clean up your email (<500 messages) to ensure you can locate CNA emails. Make sure you have your email password because there will be times when you have to sign into NDSCS computers and email.
  2. Create a Zoom Account. Google 'Free Zoom Download', install the software and create a login/password. Practice zooming and using the mute, camera, and chat controls at the bottom. Know how to use the speaker and gallery view buttons which are located in the upper right corner. Practice zoom and get familiar with common etiquette.
  3. Download/update the Chrome browser. You must know how to use multiple tabs in the browser or how to have multiple windows open. 
    • Practice having multiple windows open and navigating between different views.
    • If moving between the views is a challenge, practice using the Alt Tab control to toggle between views.
    • Each night of class you will have at least 2 views open — the zoom window and the blackboard software window. 
  4. Your calendar — mark your calendar for all class days and testing. Reschedule any appointments because 100% class attendance is required. Parents should make arrangements for childcare. Your full attention in class is a necessity. Students do not receive credit for time when they are off camera or not paying attention in class.
  5. Internet — Check to make sure the quality of streaming video is okay. The instructor must be able to see you on camera and talk with you. As needed, you may need to turn off other devices to make sure all your bandwidth is available for class. If necessary, you may need to find another place to attend class. Do not use a phone or tablet to attend class; this is not adequate. NDSCS does have loaner laptops for rent.
  6. Review your schedule with family and friends to ensure they understand the commitment needed to be successful in CNA class.
  7. Set up your desk/study area. Make sure you have a quiet place to attend class and stay focused.
  8. Update your phone to ensure you have 2 factor authentication set up and your account is current. This is needed when you log into computers at NDSCS.
Funding Resources

Scholarships for CNA Class and/or CNA Testing may be available through the following options. If you are approved for a scholarship, work with the funding agency to contact NDSCS.CNA@NDSCS.edu to enroll:

Job Service North Dakota

  • 701-239-7300 (Fargo); 701-795-3700 (Grand Forks)
  • 1350 32nd St. S., Fargo ND 58103 - appointment required
  • Funding is available through the Workforce and Innovation Opportunity Act (WIOA) 


  • 701-232-2452
  • 3233 S. University Dr., Fargo ND 58104
  • This is the only agency that will fund CNA Testing for people challenging the CNA test without training.

M.E.T. (Motivation Education & Training, Inc.) – CNA Class

  • 701-352-4903 or almonte@metinc.org
  • Available for those who have agriculture or seasonal related farm work experience. 

Long term care facilities

  • Some facilities will hire employees and then pay for class. Visit the career search sites of local long term care employers.
Frequently Asked Questions

Why should a student take an approved CNA training program?

There are several good reasons for taking the approved class:

  • For obvious reasons, there are no shortcuts for getting into the healthcare field. Training and study are always required to get a job and prepare for any advancement. People are depending on you, so why wouldn’t you want to have good background knowledge of your job? Why wouldn’t you want to feel confident that you had been trained to do the best job you could?
  • The CNA test is difficult to pass; why not give yourself the best opportunity to pass by completing the class.
  • The CNA test is expensive; by the time someone has tested 3 times, they could have paid for the cost of CNA class. In our community and region, there are several funding options for scholarships for CNA class and CNA testing.
  • The CNA class certificate is required for some nursing programs.
  • The CNA class certificate is required by some states to work as a CNA.
  • Finally, NDSCS tests over 200 people per year. There were very few challenge students that pass on the first attempt. Many people never pass the test.

When taking the CNA class, what happens if I cannot attend class?  

The ND Health Department requires NDSCS to verify that students have attended class for a minimum of 75 hours. The 75 hours must be in class with the RN CNA instructor. Due to this requirement, NDSCS does not have the option to give “excused absences” or “make-up” work.  NDSCS does schedule the class so that there are at least 2 hours extra in the class schedule (for example, the class is scheduled for 77 hours).  Students must commit to 100% class attendance.

What are the requirements to earn a CNA class certificate?

Answer:   To earn a CNA class certificate, students must meet 3 requirements:

  1. Attend class for a minimum of 75 hours, which includes 16 hours of onsite skills instruction, and
  2. Pass all unit tests with a minimum of 75%, and
  3. Demonstrate competence of all manual skills.

I have a felony – Can I be a CNA?

Training and being hired as a CNA is a multi-step process.

  1. Will the ND Health Department issue a certificate?  Before considering CNA as a profession, review the ND Nursing Assistant Application for Certification by Examination form (1101ND) required to register for the CNA certification test.  If you answer “yes” to any question on page 2, consider contacting the ND Health Department to find out if you would be issued a certificate after passing the CNA certification exam.
  2. Are you hirable as a CNA?  Even if a person earns and is granted a CNA certificate, a person needs to be hirable.  Some human resource contacts in the metro community have said they WILL NOT hire someone with a record of a violent felony or theft. On a positive note, NDSCS has been in contact with a CNA that was convicted of a violent felony and the license was revoked.  After waiting 5 years to demonstrate that they had rehabilitated, the CNA was able to regain CNA certification and was hired in a small-town long-term care facility.
  3. In summary, each situation is different, so it is important to ask a lot of questions before pursuing a career in healthcare. 

What is a “challenge test” student?

In North Dakota, a person may test for the CNA certification without having attended an approved North Dakota training program. (NDSCS is an approved CNA training program/class.)  This is called “challenging the test.” When challenging the test, a person has 6 months to make 3 attempts to pass the test. When a person does not pass the test in 3 attempts or goes beyond the 6 months, the person is then required to take an approved CNA class. Students can contact HDMaster to find out their testing status.

My CNA certification has lapsed. What do I do?

When the CNA certification has expired, the CNA becomes a “challenge test” student. You must retest and demonstrate your knowledge and skills by completing both parts of the CNA certification exam. Go to ndscs.edu/cnatesting and follow the three-step process to register for testing.

How long is the HD Master CNA certification test? What part do I take?

HD Master is the company that administers the test in the state of North Dakota. Every CNA in North Dakota is testing with this company.        

The CNA knowledge test is 90 minutes to complete the 72-question multiple choice test. To pass, a score of 75% or better is needed. There is a database of over 800 test questions. Page 8 of the ND Nursing Assistant Candidate Handbook has a breakdown of questions by subject area.

The CNA Skills test is 30 minutes to complete the randomly assigned skills taken from the ND CNA Candidate Handbook list of 24 skills.  Each candidate is assigned either 3 or 4 skills to complete. To pass, a score of 80% without missing any key steps (bolded steps) is needed. If you are taking the test for the 1st time, you must take both parts of the test. 

I worked as a CNA in a different state. How do I get a ND CNA certification?

If you currently work as a CNA, you can get a ND CNA certification by going to https://services.ndnar.org and completing the request for endorsement. If do you not have a current license, you must retest as a challenge student and complete all other details described in the endorsement process. There is no cost to get a ND CNA number.

I have a ND CNA certificate. Can I work in a different state?

The process to request a CNA Certificate in a different state is called “endorsement”. Google CNA endorsement in the state to find the process required to obtain a CNA number.

How does a challenge test student prepare for a test?

1. Purchase a CNA review text to improve your knowledge. NDSCS uses books from Hartman publishing. 
2. Download the ND Candidate Handbook located here. This document is prepared by HD Master in consultation with the ND Health Department and gives information about: 

  • The knowledge test and the subject areas covered in the test.
  • The detailed list of the 24 manual skills you are expected to know for the manual test.

3. Visit HDMaster.com and take advantage of the HD Master sample questions.

What is the most common reason people fail the ND CNA Certification Exam?

NDSCS is a regional testing facility for the ND CNA Certification Exam, and we test well over 200 people per year. The most common problem is with the skills test. 1) Candidates do not know the individual steps for each of the 24 skills. Candidates are not reading the test instructions that say the skills are to be completed EXACTLY as listed in the ND Candidate Handbook. To pass, the candidate must have at least 80% of the steps correct plus not miss the key steps (bolded steps). 2) Candidates are not prepared to complete the 3-4 skills in the 30 minutes allotted. In general, students underestimate the amount of practice needed to complete the steps in 30 minutes. 

How do I get my CNA certificate after passing the test?

Once both parts of the CNA certification test are passed, the test results are sent to the North Dakota Department of Health by HD Master/Headmaster. After the Department of Health has certified that all requirements are met, a certificate number is issued. Go to page 6 of the North Dakota Candidate Handbook (located at www.HDMaster.com -> North Dakota) to see the written instructions to “verify a registration” at https://services.ndnar.org. Successful CNA candidates print off the card and/or verification letter to present when applying for jobs.