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Professional Certification

ACHCA is dedicated to meeting the professional development needs of today’s post-acute and aging services leaders.

Important Links

Certification Information

Initial Certification Application

ACHCA Certification Handbook

Recertification Information

Recertification Application


Executive Portfolio

Press Release

Glossary of Acronyms and Terms

Reference List

Additional Information

Professional Certification 

ACHCA began certifying nursing home administrators in 1981 and, through the years, the program has been revised several times to reflect emerging trends in professional credentialing. Certification is a means of demonstrating mastery of content at an advanced practice level. In today’s world, post-acute and aging services leaders need to practice at the top of their license to meet the challenges they face every day. This newly updated program, a keystone program of ACHCA for many years, will enable leaders to understand where their strengths lie, and more importantly to isolate the areas where additional work is needed in core domains. The certification exam results will provide a natural professional development path for individuals and organizations alike.


CNHA: Nursing Home Administrator Certification

The CNHA exam is based on the exam blueprint developed by the ACHCA Certification Committee, Subject Matter Experts as well as the four “Domains of Practice” as set forth by the National Long-Term Care Administrator Boards (NAB).

CALA: Assisted Living Administrator Certification

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 quality standard for assisted living administration. The CALA exam is based on the exam blueprint developed by Subject Matter experts based on the NAB-recommended references for the Resident Care and Assisted Living Lines of Service Exam. ACHCA’s CALA program serves as a model for advanced practice in assisted living administration. Not all states mandate licensure of assisted living administrators. Those that do have varying eligibility requirements to practice in the profession.

Those Who Earn Their Certification will receive:

  • A certificate suitable for framing and recognizing your achievement.

  • A press release template to support the marketing and promotion of your certification.

  • A letter to your CEO (or a potential employer) informing him or her of your achievement and its significance (upon request).

  • Identification in ACHCA’s member publications.

  • A micro badge to place in their email signature, informing peers, residents, and family members of the certification distinction.

  • Recognition at a special ceremony during the Annual Convocation & Exposition, where certified administrators will receive a specialized lapel pin.

Additional Information can be found here:


Professional Recertification 

Those who have earned the CNHA, CALA, and CAS credential, whether singly or as a component of multiple credentials, may maintain their status by renewing it every three (3) years.  The Executive Portfolio, Executive Level Course, Education Alternatives, and Speciality Exam may be utilized for renewing credentials. CAS cannot be renewed via exam at this time. 

Professional Recertification Application — As of October 1, 2013, ACHCA requires the submission of the Executive Portfolio at the time of recertification application submission.

It is highly recommended that you have your Executive Portfolio and signed Affidavit completed prior to beginning this application. If you have any questions please contact

Additional Information regarding Recertification


The Executive Portfolio

The Executive Portfolio allows an administrator to demonstrate professional activity and development during the certification renewal period. Requirements include:

Individuals who complete either the Certified Nursing Home Administrator (CNHA) or Certified Assisted Living Administrator (CALA) program must submit proof of continuing education (CE) credits every three (3) years to maintain their certification(s).  The number of CEs to submit vary based on an individual’s membership within ACHCA:

  • Recertification applicants must submit 90 CEs every three (3) years.  Members must submit a minimum of 18 CEs in each of the four (4) National Association for Long-Term Care Administrator Boards (NAB) domains during this timeframe, and the other 18 CEs submitted must be related to long-term and post-acute care administration or senior living leadership.                       


Acceptable CEs to submit must come from national conferences (e.g., ACHCA Convocation, AHCA/NCAL Convention and Expo, LeadingAge Annual Meeting and Expo, Argentum Senior Living Executive Conference), regional conferences (e.g., ACHCA District events), or state-level conferences, whether offered in-person or in an online or virtual format.  Any CE credits submitted must be from sessions approved by NAB or from sessions approved by a state licensure board or regulatory agency.

 For any individual who completes a master’s degree or doctoral degree in a relevant program (e.g., Master of Healthcare/Health Services Administration, Master of Business Administration, Ph.D. in Health Professions Education, DBA, DHA) during the three-year recertification period, all continuing education credit requirements are satisfied upon receipt of an official transcript confirming conferral of the graduate degree.

 Enhanced Credit for CEs

 To incentivize attendance at the annual ACHCA Convocation and District events, CE credits obtained from those educational sessions will be worth additional value.  If individuals attend the annual ACHCA Convocation, every CE earned there is worth 15% more than those obtained at other conferences and events, and for CEs earned at ACHCA District or Chapter events, every CE obtained there is worth 10% more.  For example:

  • Attending ACHCA Convocation and earning 25 CEs = 25 x 1.15 = 28.75 CEs.

  • Attending ACHCA District or Chapter event and earning 25 CEs = 25 x 1.10 = 27.5 CEs


Continuing Education Alternatives

In lieu of CEs obtained at conferences, ACHCA recognizes the multitude of ways that a healthcare leader with the CNHA or CALA may demonstrate continued excellence, contributions to the profession of long-term care administration and senior living leadership, or ongoing professional development and education.  As such, individuals submitting their required CEs for recertification may substitute Convocation or conference CEs with the alternatives noted below for up to 30 CEs out of their number of required CEs every three (3) years as noted above.  Acceptable alternative CEs earned during the recertification period include:

  • Serving as an instructor teaching a course related to long-term care or health care at the undergraduate university level for an entire semester is worth three (3) CEs for each time taught, and a course at the graduate level is worth six (6) CEs each time taught.

  • Publication of an article the individual has written as the first author in a scholarly peer-reviewed journal (e.g., The Gerontologist, JAMDA, Seniors Housing and Care Journal) or authorship of a published book chapter constitutes six (6) CEs. If the applicant is not the first author, they will earn three (3) CEs.

  • Publication of a substantive article in a national publication that is a newspaper, magazine, or periodical (e.g., McKnight’s, Provider) is worth three (3) CEs (note that “substantive” implies more than a letter to the editor and will be reviewed for appropriateness).

  • Presenting a session at a national conference focused on long-term care or senior living (e.g., ACHCA Convocation) or a similar statewide or regional conference (e.g., state affiliate of ACHCA, AHCA/NCAL, LeadingAge, or Argentum) is worth two (2) CEs.

  • Serving for one (1) full year or term as a mentor within the ACHCA Mentoring Program constitutes four (4) CEs.

  • Serving for 1,000 hours as a preceptor in your care community for a new administrator during their Administrator-in-Training experience is worth four (4) CEs.

  • Each of these activities is worth three (3) CEs for each time the service or activity is completed:

  • Receiving the Gold Award as part of the AHCA/NCAL National Quality Award Program constitutes six (6) CEs. NOTE: The applicant must have been the administrator of record for at least the nine (9) month period prior to the facility receiving the award to be eligible for this credit.

  • Individuals may submit other potential alternate CEs, in advance, to the Certification Committee for review.  Items submitted should be essentially equivalent to the items in this list, and the committee retains sole discretion whether to approve other items as alternate CEs.

Submission of Materials

All documents to verify CE credits or alternative CE credits must be submitted through an assigned OneDrive folder that ACHCA maintains. To gain access to your personal folder, please contact Elizabeth Lollis at

Recertification by Specialty Exam

The Certification Specialty Exam is used to recertify in the event that an administrator chooses not to complete the Executive Portfolio. An applicant must contact ACHCA to be approved to recertify by exam. If approved to recertify by exam, the applicant must pass the exam before the end of their certification grace period. It is recommended that an applicant who wishes to recertify by exam requests approval no later than six months before the end of their certification grace period.

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