Is there a difference between CNA and STNA?

Yes, there is a difference between a CNA (Certified Nursing Assistant) and an STNA (State Tested Nursing Assistant). If you’re preparing for a career as a nurse’s aide, you know what you want to do: work with other healthcare professionals, directly helping patients.

What can be confusing is the variety of names this position goes under. The key difference between a CNA and a STNA is that CNA is a general term used across the United States, while STNA is specific to Ohio, indicating the nursing assistant has passed the state’s particular examination.

Continue reading for a deeper dive into the distinctions and specifics of these roles.

STNAs, CNAs, and More

Actually, the only major difference between STNAs and CNAs – as well as LNAs, NAs, and other nursing assistants – is the title that their respective states use. Here’s a quick list of common designations for nursing assistants:


Certified Nurse Aides in Michigan, New York, and Virginia; Certified Nursing Assistants in Maine, Delaware and Florida; Certified Nurse Assistants in California


State Tested Nurse Aides in Ohio (the only state that uses this acronym)


Nurse Aides in Connecticut, New Jersey, Tennessee, and – with a minor adjustment – in North Carolina; Nursing Assistants in West Virginia, Maryland, and Rhode Island


Licensed Nursing Assistants in New Hampshire

All of these are job titles for the same thing: someone who works with nurses and provides supervised direct care to a patient.

A CNA wearing a stethoscope shows a patient information on a tablet.

What’s Required to Become a CNA or STNA?

It’s not surprising that the requirements for CNAs, STNAs, NAs, and LNAs are all very similar. Each state requires that a certain amount of time (about 75 hours) be spent in both classroom study and in practical, supervised hands-on training. This is also covered in the STNA / CNA exam; there is a collection of 5 scenarios that are used to demonstrate the nursing aide’s understanding of the requirements of their job.

What topics are on the written part of the CNA/STNA exam? Expect to see things like specialized care, direct and indirect care, ADL assistance, nursing assistant roles, patient rights, basic medical knowledge, and health and safety practices.

CNA or STNA? The Deciding Factor

At the end of the day, your decision to become a CNA or an STNA boils down to just one thing: the state where you’ll be working. Aside from the difference in terms, both STNAs and CNAs fulfill a vital role in the healthcare industry. Neither specifically earns more than the other or has any markedly different job duties.

Finally, no matter where the location, CNA and STNA jobs are expected to increase by 9% between 2018 and 2028. Becoming a certified nurse aide can add valuable experience to your resume.