Iowa Nursing Assistant / Nurse Aide Guide

CNA - Certified Nursing Assistant - Aide Practice Exam

Is a License or Certification needed: You need to pass a state-certified nursing assistant program and the state exam in order to be certified. This must be done in order to work as a nursing assistant in the state of Iowa and be listed on the Iowa State Direct Care Worker Registry.

Who Grants Certification: Iowa Western Community College trains nurse aides in order to get them state-certified. Once certified, the IWCC also ensures that nurse aides are listed on the Iowa State Direct Care Worker Registry.

The Qualifications to become Certified: There is more than one route to qualify to register as a nurses aide in the state of Iowa. These include:

  • You have successfully completed an Iowa State Department of Health approved training program consisting of 30 hours of classroom instruction and 75 hours of clinical training.
  • You have passed the Iowa nurse aide competency evaluation including both written and skill portions.
  • You are listed in good standing as a CNA on the Iowa State Direct Care Worker Registry.

How to Apply for Certification and to take the Exam: In order to apply for nurse aide registration in the state of Iowa, you will need to complete one of the state-approved training program. Then, in order to apply to take the state test, use this form to apply for the exam. Mail your application along a money order for the test fees to:

Iowa Western Community College Continuing Health Education
2700 College Road
Council Bluffs, IA 51503

Upon receipt of this registration form, IWCC will mail an admission slip (with date and time of your state exam) for you to take along with a photo ID on Test Day. You must take both the photo ID and the admission slip to the testing center.

For the skills test, you will follow all directions as above with the written test, except that the fees may be different. The Skills Test Registration Form is here.

Test Content: Both written and skills parts must be passed to be listed on the Iowa State Direct Care Worker Registry. The written section is 60 questions in length. You will have 90 minutes to complete the exam. A minimum score of 70% is required to pass both test portions.

The written exam questions are based on the Iowa state-approved test plan. Content topics include:

  • Activities of Daily Living/Basic Nursing Skills
  • Restorative Services
  • Common Diseases and Disorder
  • Infection Control
  • Mental and Social Needs
  • Cognitive Impairment
  • Resident’s Rights
  • Safety and Emergencies
  • Communication and Interpersonal Skills
  • Role and Responsibilities of the CNA

The skills evaluation will be set within a specific amount of time to finish a given number of skills, usually around 30 minutes to finish 5 skills. You will need to practice these skills. They will not need to be absolutely perfect, but you will need to be deemed competent in these skills. The nurse aide skills usually include things like:

  • Infection Control
  • Communication
  • Rights and preferences
  • Safety, comfort and needs

For further answers to your questions about the written or skills portions of the Iowa State Certified Nurse Aide exam, please contact the Iowa Direct Care Workers Registry at 515.281.4077.

Certification Renewal and Continuing Education Requirements: According to the law in Iowa, to renew your CNA registration, it is required that you have worked 8 hours at your place of employment in the paid role of a nurse aide during the past 24 months. This must be paid employment, not volunteer work, and in a nursing environment such as a nursing home, home health setting or a hospital.

Ten hours of continuing education are required. Find more details here. For information on CNA Certification Renewal, contact:

Iowa Western Community College
2700 College Road
Council Bluffs, IA 51503

Phone: (712) 325-3200 or 1-800-432-5852


IA Direct Care Worker Registry
IA Department of Inspections & Appeals

To prepare for your nursing assistant or nurse aide exam, use’s Certified Nursing Assistant Exam Practice Test Kit with 300 multiple choice questions, written by nursing experts and educators.

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