STNA vs CNA: What’s the Difference?

4 Min Read Published April 12, 2024

STNAs (State Tested Nursing Assistants) and CNAs (Certified Nursing Assistants) are healthcare professionals who provide basic care to patients in healthcare settings, such as hospitals, nursing homes, and long-term care facilities. However, in Ohio, an individual acknowledged as an STNA typically adopts the title of CNA across most other states.

While the roles are similar, there can be differences based on the state regulations and the specific training programs.

This article will review the differences between a CNA and an STNA, including salary information. Additionally, we will explain how to become an STNA in Ohio and provide information on training programs across the state.

What is the Difference Between a CNA vs. an STNA?

It's important to start by explaining that the roles and responsibilities of CNAs and STNAs are very similar, as both focus on providing essential patient care and supporting the healthcare team. 

The main difference between a CNA and an STNA lies in the terminology and the specific state in which these roles are recognized and regulated. STNA is a term specific to the state of Ohio. STNAs have completed state-specific training and testing requirements and adhere to the regulations of that particular state. 

However, both roles typically perform the following tasks:

  • Assisting with activities of daily living such as bathing, toileting, dressing, and mobility
  • Monitoring vital signs and reporting any changes in patient condition to nursing staff
  • Assisting with feeding and monitoring food intake
  • Offering emotional support 
  • Providing safety and ensuring proper hygiene
  • Assisting with mobility and exercise
  • Assisting with wheelchairs, walkers, and lifts
  • Documenting patient care activities for the healthcare team

If you're considering a career as a nursing assistant, you should research the specific requirements and titles used in your state to ensure you understand the appropriate training and certification process.

Certification and Scope

CNA is a nationally recognized certification. CNAs undergo standardized training programs and must pass a competency exam to become certified. Their training and certification allow them to work in various states across the country.

STNAs scope of practice is similar to that of a CNA, involving patient care tasks under the supervision of licensed healthcare professionals, but Ohio’s state guidelines govern it.

STNA vs. CNA Salary

CNA Salary

The US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that the median annual salary for all nursing assistants in the country is $36,220 or $17.41/hr. However, salary ranges can vary: the bottom 10% earn $28,030, while the top 10% earn as much or more than $45,940.

STNA Salary

ZipRecruiter reports that as of November 2023, STNAs in Ohio earned $17 per hour. However, hourly wages vary from as low as $9.37/hr to as high as $23.31/hr. ZipRecruiter also reports that the median annual salary for CNAs across the rest of the county is $20/hr, with wages ranging from as low as $10.82 to as high as $29.33.

How to Become an STNA in Ohio

Becoming an STNA involves completing a state-approved training program and passing a competency evaluation. Here are the general steps to become an STNA in Ohio:

Step One: Meet the Requirements

First, you must meet eligibility requirements. For most programs, you must be at least 16 years old and have a high school diploma or equivalent (though some programs may not require this).

Step Two: Enroll in an STNA Program

Next, you must enroll in a state-approved STNA training program. These programs are offered by various vocational schools, community colleges, nursing homes, and healthcare facilities.

Step Three: Complete Your Training

Complete 75 training hours as specified by the Ohio Department of Health.

Training programs encompass a minimum of 59 hours toward classroom instruction and hands-on skills training, supplemented by an additional minimum of 16 hours dedicated to supervised resident care within a long-term care facility (limited to nursing homes).

Step Four: Pass an STNA Exam

After successfully completing your STNA training program, you'll need to pass a state-approved STNA exam for certification, which consists of a written or oral test and a skills evaluation. The competency evaluation assesses your knowledge and ability to perform essential STNA duties. 

To take the STNA exam, students must come in full scrub attire and bring a US government-issued, photo-bearing, non-expired form of identification and their social security card.

Those who pass their test can have their names added to the Ohio Nurse Aide Registry.

STNA Programs

According to Ohio’s Nurse Aide Training and Competency Evaluation Program (NARCEP), as of November 2023, there are 454 STNA programs available in the state of Ohio. 

To obtain information regarding the location of nurse aide training classes, contact NATCEP through one of the following methods:

  • Phone: (614) 752-8285
  • Email:

For those who hold CNA certification in a different state and intend to obtain registration in Ohio, the process entails submitting a form known as the Nurse Aide Registry Request for Reciprocity. You can also contact the Registry at (800) 582-5908. 

You will also need to submit the following:

  • A clear picture of your driver’s license or state-issued identification, and
  • Clear social security card photo

STNAs can also usually transfer their nurse aid eligibility to non-Ohio states as well. Those who wish to do so must contact the nurse aide registry of the state they plan to move to and inquire about the requirements needed to make the transfer.


How Long is STNA Training?

The duration of STNA training programs in Ohio can vary based on the specific program and the institution offering the training. STNA training programs require a minimum of 75 hours of training, including classroom instruction and hands-on clinical experience.  Depending on the program and how quickly you complete it, this can take anywhere from two to six months.

Can You Take STNA Classes Online?

Taking online STNA classes depends on the program you choose. In some cases, portions of the classroom training component may be completed online. However, clinical hours must be completed in person at a local healthcare facility.

Sarah Jividen
Sarah Jividen Contributor

Sarah Jividen, RN, BSN, is a trained neuro/trauma and emergency room nurse turned freelance healthcare writer/editor. As a journalism major, she combined her love for writing with her passion for high-level patient care. Sarah is the creator of Health Writing Solutions, LLC, specializing in writing about healthcare topics, including health journalism, education, and evidence-based health and wellness trends. She lives in Northern California with her husband and two children. 

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