June 17, 2024

Multi-State CNA Licenses: What to Know Before You Apply

A CNA fills out an application for her CNA license by endorsement so she can practice in another state.

Certified Nursing Assistants (CNAs) play a pivotal role in healthcare, offering essential care to patients in a range of settings. For CNAs aiming to broaden their horizons and practice in multiple states, navigating the licensure process is crucial. In this guide we’ll explore the steps necessary for CNAs to obtain licensure across multiple states.

Understanding CNA licensure across state lines

Unlike Registered Nurses (RNs) and Licensed Practical Nurses (LPNs) covered under the Nurse Licensure Compact (NLC), CNAs must pursue licensure through endorsement or reciprocity to practice in states beyond their initial certification. 

This means there currently is not a way to obtain one license that carries across state lines. So what are your options if you want to practice in another state? Check with your state for their licensing guidelines, and explore the steps below to apply for CNA by endorsement.

Applying for CNA license by endorsement or reciprocity

If you are already certified as a CNA in one state and seek licensure in another state, reciprocity offers a pathway to expedite the process. 

  1. Ensure You Are Certified: License by endorsement or reciprocity requires you to be certified and licensed within at least one state already. Just getting started in your career? Learn more about becoming a CNA.
  2. Research Reciprocity Requirements: Familiarize yourself with the reciprocity criteria of the state where you intend to practice. Requirements may include holding an active CNA license, completing specific training or continuing education, and passing a background check.
  3. Gather Documentation: Collect all necessary documentation, including proof of current CNA certification, education transcripts, and background check results, as required by the receiving state.
  4. Submit Reciprocity Application: Complete and submit the reciprocity application to the licensing board of the state where you seek licensure. Ensure all required documentation is included and fees are paid according to the state's guidelines.
  5. Await Processing: Allow time for the reciprocity application to be processed and reviewed by the licensing board. The duration of processing may vary depending on the state's procedures.
  6. Receive Reciprocal License: Upon approval, you will receive your reciprocal CNA license for the new state, granting you authorization to practice within its boundaries.

Preparing for your travel or relocation as a CNA

While CNAs do not fall under the Nurse Licensure Compact (NLC), the endorsement and reciprocity processes offer viable pathways to what is essentially multi-state licensure. By understanding the requirements and procedures outlined in this guide, CNAs can navigate the licensure process with confidence, enabling them to pursue diverse career opportunities across state lines. 

Whether you're considering relocation, exploring travel CNA assignments, or seeking career advancement, obtaining licensure in multiple states can open doors to new possibilities and professional growth.

As with any licensing, it’s important to consult your state’s official guidelines regarding CNA licensure. Are you interested in learning more about multi-state licensure for registered nurses? Check out our blog explaining Nurse Compact States.

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