The pathway to becoming an ACHCA professionally Certified Nursing Home Administrator (CNHA) and/or Certified Assisted Living Administrator (CALA) starts here!

ACHCA certified administrators have demonstrated the knowledge, skills, and values consistent with the high standards of management necessary to provide quality care to residents, families, and communities.

  • To access the initial and certification renewal application, please use the drop down menu above.
  • Membership in ACHCA is NOT a requirement for Certification.


ACHCA began certifying nursing home administrators in 1978 and, through the years, the program has been revised several times to reflect emerging trends in professional credentialing. The CNHA exam is based on the exam blueprint developed by Subject Matter Experts based on the Nursing Home Administrator job analysis.


Not all states mandate licensure of assisted living administrators. Those that do have varying eligibility requirements to practice in the profession. With inconsistent administrator requirements across states, experienced assisted living administrators can demonstrate their knowledge and ability through ACHCA Professional Certification.

Since the assisted living sector does not have federal regulatory oversight and is regulated by the states, the ACHCA Professional Certification process provides a national standard for assisted living administration. The CALA exam is constructed on the exam blueprint developed by Subject Matter experts based on the assisted living administrator job analysis.

ACHCA’s CALA program serves as a model for advanced practice in assisted living administration.

Membership and Certification are not related. You do not need to be a member of ACHCA to be certified through ACHCA.



State Recognition

The Professional Certification Program identifies and honors administrators and managers who are performing at an advanced level of skill and knowledge. Certified Nursing Home Administrators may be eligible for some form of licensure recognition in participating states/ jurisdictions.

The following states recognize ACHCA's CNHA program which in many cases “fast tracks” administrator eligibility for licensure in that state:

  • Alabama
  • Alaska
  • Arizona
  • Arkansas
  • Illinois
  • Iowa
  • Kentucky
  • Maine
  • Massachusetts
  • Minnesota
  • Montana
  • Nevada
  • New York
  • North Dakota
  • Ohio
  • Rhode Island
  • South Carolina
  • Tennessee
  • Washington
  • West Virginia

Licensing rules and requirements vary by state. Check with your state licensing board for your state’s reciprocity requirements. A list of state licensure boards and contact information is maintained on the NAB website at www.nabweb.org.

Commitment to the Public

Professional Certification reflects a commitment to residents, families, and staff. Certified administrators have advanced knowledge and experience to lead their facilities.

Enhancement of the Profession

Professional Certification promotes quality in the profession and improves the public image of administrators. The presence of a Certified Administrator in a long term care organization speaks well to consumers evaluating an Assisted Living Community or Skilled Nursing Facility.

Personal Satisfaction and a Sense of Achievement

Certification is a voluntary program, which allows experienced and practicing administrators to validate their knowledge, skill and abilities. Professionally Certified individuals cite a strong feeling of personal accomplishment. Candidates who sit for the certification exam receive detailed score reports so they can assess areas of strength and areas for development.

Employer Recognition

Some employers encourage their administrators to become professionally certified and others look for Certification as a condition of hire. Certification is considered a plus on a résumé.


ACHCA certification means credibility. When I see the CNHA designation, I see a professional who has taken the next step in demonstrating their desire for professional development and commitment to our profession. I look forward to correlating future positive outcomes in our client centers who are led by these certified professionals. - Diana Wilks, CNHA, FACHCA, President of Ethica Health and Retirement Communities



Streamlining the ACHCA Certification Grace Period to prepare our Members for Success

The ACHCA Professional Advancement Committee is pleased to announce the streamlining of the certification grace period from one year to 3 months. This change is driven by best practices, insights and trends that will position you as a seasoned and prepared professional.
We are adopting this new change immediately for current certified members and future candidates.

How you will benefit from this change:

  • A focused and frequent reminder from ACHCA at 90, 30 and 14 days before your re-certification is due.
  • Adequate time to plan and manage your professional development activities.
  • An improved recertification process and a better membership experience for you.

Action Required:

  • Review your ACHCA certification information in your membership profile and if your certification is about to expire or you are within your grace period, we encourage you to apply now to recertify.
  • Acknowledge the receipt of this notification by sending an email to [email protected] with the subject line: Yes, I received the changes to the grace period message!
  • Recertification may be achieved through:
    • Executive portfolio (150 CE over the 5-year certification period, allocated into the 5 Domains of Practice)
    • Executive Level Course, with preapproval
    • Re-take and pass the Specialty Exam To recertify, visit the Certification Page — hover over the certification tab and click on the certification renewal application.