STNA Classes: State Tested Nurse Aide Career Guide

If you are thinking about enrolling in STNA classes but aren’t sure how to begin, you’ve come to the right place.

In this career guide, we want to help you understand the role of an STNA, the type and cost of training required, what you can expect of the testing requirements for the program, and information regarding how to maintain your STNA designation.

What is an STNA?

What does STNA stand for? State Tested Nurse Aides. STNAs are skilled caregivers in the state of Ohio who perform a variety of tasks related to direct patient care. Their services support registered nurses, licensed nurse practitioners, and doctors and aim to improve the quality of life for their patients by assisting with activities of daily living.

It is most common to see STNAs working with older adults, though their patients can be any age. Any person with mental or physical disabilities or other types of impairments can benefit from the services of a state tested nurse aide.

STNA Job Description and STNA Duties

“Activities of daily living,” or ADL, is an important term you will likely come across multiple times when researching the role of an STNA, and the term covers many aspects of what you can expect to do while on the clock.

STNAs help their patients with things like bathing and personal hygiene, ensuring proper ambulation and assisting in mobility, as well as monitoring and recording of basic vital signs and bodily functions. In addition, a nurse aide may also spend time addressing wound care or set up and help with certain types of procedures, or perform light housekeeping duties, like changing and washing linens or preparing and serving meals.

While they perform many aspects related to a patient’s overall health, STNAs do not dispense medication or perform any procedures directly. 

One of the benefits of pursuing a career as a state tested nurse aide is the numerous job opportunities. STNAs can find themselves working in long-term care facilities like nursing homes or assisted living environments, hospitals, or various types of medical offices. 

Work Environment

An STNAs job is physically demanding, with employees spending many hours on their feet performing light to strenuous lifting and movement, depending on the patients’ needs. They can also easily find themselves in fast-paced environments, caring for multiple patients in a single day.

Direct patient care can be a highly rewarding job for the right employee, and if you enjoy being constantly busy and on the move during your workday, a career as an STNA may be the perfect fit for you.

What’s the difference between an STNA vs CNA?

The only difference between an STNA and a CNA is the title that their respective states use.

STNA (State Tested Nurse Aide) and CNA (Certified Nurse Assistant) are the same profession, but only in Ohio, are CNAs called STNAs.

To become a nurse aide anywhere in the country, you must first attend a state certified nurse aide training program. Successfully completing this training allows you to sit for a final state exam.

Passing the final exam results in the STNA title in the state of Ohio simply because nurse aides are neither licensed nor certified there, so they do not recognize “CNA” as an appropriate designation.

STNA Salary and Career Outlook

  • Average annual salary - $26,740
  • Average hourly wage - $12.85
  • Employment - 66,160 

The Bureau of Labor Statistics states the median pay for STNAs in 2017 was $26,740 per year, which comes out to $12.85 per hour. The top 10% of earners in the field can see salaries up to $38,630 per year ($18.57 per hour), while the bottom 10% earn around $20,680 per year ($9.94 per hour). Skilled nursing facilities, hospitals, and retirement communities employ the highest number of STNAs, respectively. 

One of the reasons pursuing a career as a nurse aide is so desirable is the projected job growth. The BLS estimates an 11% increase in jobs between 2016 and 2026, a higher than average rate.

Are there entrance requirements to start STNA classes?

Most forms of post-secondary education have standards students must meet prior to enrollment, and STNA training is no different.

Some schools require students to take entrance exams and receive passing scores, while others may require either a portion or all of the tuition paid prior to admission.

While entrance standards can vary, generally for STNA programs you can expect schools to require:

  • Applicants be at least 16 years of age
    • Those younger than 18 would require parent or guardian consent and signatures on entrance forms
  • Valid state-issued photo ID
  • Background check
  • Two-step Mantoux (TB) skin test
  • Physical exam

What type of training is required to be an STNA?

Similar to a home health aide, STNAs are required by federal regulation to receive no less than 75 hours of training. The 75 total hours are broken up to include at least 16 hours of supervised practical training and 59 hours of classroom instruction.

Your supervised practical training will be held in a setting separate from the classroom, like a laboratory, where you will be able to actively demonstrate what you’ve learned while performing tasks on an individual.

What will I learn in my STNA classes?

The state of Ohio complies with regulation 483.152, and all STNA courses provide instruction accordingly.

Your program will make sure you receive at least 16 hours of training in the following areas before you have any direct contact with a resident patient:

  1. Communication and interpersonal skills
  2. Infection control
  3. Safety/emergency procedures, including the Heimlich maneuver
  4. Promoting residents' independence; and
  5. Respecting residents' rights

To complete your training you will learn a variety of topics, including:

Basic nursing skills

  • Taking and recording vital signs
  • Measuring and recording height and weight
  • Caring for the residents' environment
  • Recognizing abnormal changes in body functioning and the importance of reporting such
  • changes to a supervisor
  • Caring for residents when death is imminent

Personal care skills, including, but not limited to

  • Bathing
  • Grooming, including mouth care
  • Dressing
  • Toileting
  • Assisting with eating and hydration
  • Proper feeding techniques
  • Skin care
  • Transfers, positioning, and turning

Mental health and social service needs

  • Modifying aide's behavior in response to residents' behavior
  • Awareness of developmental tasks associated with the aging process
  • How to respond to resident behavior;
  • Allowing the resident to make personal choices, providing and reinforcing other behavior consistent with the resident's dignity
  • Using the resident's family as a source of emotional support

Care of cognitively impaired residents

  • Techniques for addressing the unique needs and behaviors of individual with dementia (Alzheimer's and others)
  • Communicating with cognitively impaired residents
  • Understanding the behavior of cognitively impaired residents
  • Appropriate responses to the behavior of cognitively impaired residents
  • Methods of reducing the effects of cognitive impairments

Basic restorative services

  • Training the resident in self care according to the resident's abilities;
  • Use of assistive devices in transferring, ambulation, eating, and dressing;
  • Maintenance of range of motion
  • Proper turning and positioning in bed and chair
  • Bowel and bladder training
  • Care and use of prosthetic and orthotic devices

Residents' rights

  • Providing privacy and maintenance of confidentiality
  • Promoting the residents' right to make personal choices to accommodate their needs
  • Giving assistance in resolving grievances and disputes
  • Providing needed assistance in getting to and participating in resident and family groups and other activities
  • Maintaining care and security of residents' personal possessions
  • Promoting the resident's right to be free from abuse, mistreatment, and neglect and the need to report any instances of such treatment to appropriate facility staff
  • Avoiding the need for restraints in accordance with current professional standards

Your STNA training will be performed by or under the general supervision of a registered nurse. This RN will have at least two years of nursing experience, with at least one year of service in a long-term care facility.

Your instructor will also either have previous experience supervising nurse aides or have taken a course on teaching adults.

You are considered a “nurse aide” once you have completed the required 75 hours of training, and you will receive a certificate of such from your training program.  

This certificate will remain valid for 24 months, during which time you will have a maximum of three attempts to complete the competency evaluation required to become a state tested nurse aide.

Once you have successfully completed the test, it will be recorded in the state’s nurse aide registry and you will officially be an STNA!

STNA Testing: What is the nurse aide competency evaluation like?

The term “competency evaluation” alone might be enough to make some people run for the hills!  Test anxiety can be a real buzz kill, but don’t worry:

Your training is aimed to prepare you to successfully take this test!

Your exam could be conducted by the state directly, or by a state approved proctor like D & S Diversified Technologies.  

Regardless of where you are scheduled to take your exam, you can expect these common factors when it’s time to STNA test in Ohio:

  • You will be required to present your social security card along with a valid, government issued photo ID the day of your exam
  • You will be allowed to choose between a written or oral examination - though the oral examination can come at an additional cost, and you may still have to read a small portion of the exam to satisfy the state’s reading comprehension requirement
  • Your exam will cover all topics learned in class, including: communication and interpersonal skills, basic nursing skills, personal care skills, mental health and social service needs, care of cognitively impaired residents, basic restorative services, and residents’ rights
  • The skills you are required to demonstrate will be randomly selected and will cover the tasks listed under “personal care,” including: bathing, grooming, dressing, toileting, assisting with eating and hydration, proper feeding techniques, skin care, and transfers, positioning, and turning
  • The skills portion of your exam will be administered and evaluated by an RN with at least one year of experience caring for the elderly or chronically ill
  • To pass the competency evaluation, you must receive 80% or higher on the knowledge portion, and must correctly perform all required skills on the demonstration portion

How do I maintain my status on the Ohio STNA registry?

You just accomplished a huge goal and successfully completed your STNA training and exam!

No way you’re going to let all that hard work go to waste, right?

To maintain an active status on Ohio’s nurse aide registry, the appropriate state department must receive verification that you have worked at least seven and one half consecutive hours or eight hours in a 48 hour period providing paid nursing or nursing-related services in the 24 months since being placed on the registry.

If this information is not verified in the 24 month period, you can either:

  • Submit documentation that the appropriate paid services were provided during the 24 month timeframe, or
  • Successfully complete the training and competency evaluation again

How much does STNA training cost?

While programs can range from a few hundred dollars to upwards of $1500, there is a silver lining!

Free STNA Classes

Federal regulations specify a few key ways in which students can get free STNA training! Pretty cool, right? They include:

  1. Nurse aids who are employed or have received an offer of employment from a care facility by the date they begin their training
    • Training will be provided free of charge by the facility - including fees, textbooks, and required materials
  2. Individuals who become employed or receive an offer of employment as a nurse aide by a care facility no later than 12 months after completing their training
    • The facility will reimburse up to 100% of training costs incurred by an individual, pro-rated based on the length of time between training completion and hire date

Can I take STNA classes online?

Yes, it is possible to take online STNA classes in Ohio, though they come with some additional requirements for enrollment.

Programs like the one offered through St. Elizabeth Healthcare provide the majority of the training online, but still require students to attend in-person clinical training prior to completion. The online STNA course at St. Elizabeth is also only offered to those who can provide proof of acceptance to nursing and pre-nursing programs.

If you find an STNA class offered online, be sure to thoroughly review the entrance requirements prior to registration to ensure you qualify.

Who do I contact for questions?

STNAs are regulated by the Ohio Department of Health. Questions can be directed to:

Ohio Department of Health
Nurse Aide Registry
246 N High Street
Columbus, OH 43215

Ph: 1-800-582-5908
Email: [email protected]


Enrolling in STNA classes doesn’t have to be a daunting task. By using the information in this career guide, you can feel confident that you are ready to begin researching programs to find the right one for you. 

Have you had experience registering for STNA classes, or do you have a question related to the process that we didn’t address in the article? Let us know in the comments!