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The CNA Certification in Massachusetts

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In the medical profession, the acronym CNA stands for “certified nursing assistant.” A CNA is someone who has completed an approved nursing assistant training course and passed a state certification exam. However, most state nursing boards refer to all nurse aides, home health aides and nursing assistants as CNAs. CNAs perform direct patient care such as feeding, bathing and grooming. Nursing assistants in Massachusetts must meet several requirements before being listed on the state nurse aide registry and available for work.


All nurse aides, home health aides and hospice aides in Massachusetts must complete an approved nursing program before taking the state CNA licensing exam. The state of Massachusetts requires all new nurse aides to finish a 75-hour, state-approved training course before they are eligible to take the state CNA test. Most training courses offer clinical experience as well as classroom instruction.

Health Check

Many CNA training programs in Massachusetts ask that students submit a health check before enrolling in training. Being a nursing assistant is a physically demanding job that requires a great deal of bending, lifting and physical contact with patients. You may need to submit a general physical examination form and/or proof of recent vaccinations against tuberculosis, rubella, measles, hepatitis B and chicken pox before admittance or before starting your clinical rotation.

Competency Exam

The CNA licensing exam for nurse aides in Massachusetts is called the Nurse Aide Competency Exam, or NACE. It is offered in two parts: a written test and a clinical skills test. The written test is 60 multiple-choice questions, while the skills test is performed one-on-one with an examiner. During the clinical portion, you will have to demonstrate how to correctly perform a number of nursing duties such as catheter care, reading vital signs and patient transfers. You have four chances to pass the written section and three chances to pass the clinical section of the CNA exam before you are required to retake a nursing assistant training course and try again. Once you pass the exam, you are entitled to be placed on the Massachusetts state nurse aide registry, and will receive a state CNA certificate and wallet card.


Massachusetts CNA licenses are good for two years. You should receive notification 45 days in advance of your license’s expiration telling you to renew, which you can do by asking your employer to complete and return the CNA renewal form. You must have worked at least one eight-hour period during the past two years to be eligible to renew. If you let your license lapse for longer than 24 months, you will need to take the state competency test again before you are listed as active on the nurse aide registry.