CNA Programs: 6 Compelling Reasons to Choose

What to Look for in a CNA Program

Here are some factors to consider when choosing a CNA program:


Check the school's website for accreditation and state approval information to ensure the program meets quality standards.


The program should cover essential topics and skills such as anatomy, patient care, and medical terminology and offer hands-on clinical experiences.


Choose a program with a suitable duration, typically 4-12 weeks, and flexible scheduling, such as evening/weekend classes, to accommodate commitments.


Instructors must be qualified, experienced, knowledgeable about patient care regulations, and up-to-date with the latest practices.


Assess the program costs based on location, program duration, lab fees, and textbook expenses.


Research programs' reps, reviews, and ratings from students and employers. A good CNA training program has a high job placement rate and good standing.

CNA Programs by State

Just click on your state or the state where you want to receive your training, and you will be presented with great options.

Frequently Asked Questions

Get answers to the most commonly asked questions about CNA training programs.

What Are CNA Programs?

CNA programs help you prepare for your state's CNA exam and a career as a CNA. These programs include classroom education and supervised clinical training. These courses train you to help patients with their personal hygiene and daily living needs, provide them comfort and transportation assistance, and monitor their vital signs. You will also learn how to work in specific settings including nursing homes, assisted living facilities, hospices, hospitals, doctors’ offices, medical clinics, and urgent care clinics under the instruction of licensed nurses and doctors. Successful completion of an approved CNA training program is required by most states prior to applying for CNA licensure. In the states that don’t require it, this requirement is waived if you are in the process of completing an RN degree or LVN / LPN license program and have already taken classroom lessons and clinical training required for CNAs as part of that RN or LVN/LPN program or if you simply have a high school diploma or GED or even if you don’t have the diploma/GED, you just have to be over 18 years of age and you can attempt the state’s CNA exam directly.

Where Can I Find CNA Programs?

Accredited vocational schools, nursing schools, community colleges, the Red Cross, and even some high schools offer CNA training programs. These programs are typically offered on-campus, but some classes - the classroom education - can also be offered online. If you are unsure if becoming a CNA is right for you, you can find free nurse aide programs online through OpenCourseWare systems from universities such as Des Moines University, Johns Hopkins University, University of Michigan, and University of Notre Dame. Note that programs offered through OpenCourseWare systems are non-credited, so they will not count towards any requirements for completion of a program in your state. These are simply to help you discover what a CNA program entails so that you can decide if it is the right career for you.

What Can I Expect From the Program?

In an approved CNA training program, you will be prepared for the written and clinical portions of your state's Certified Nursing Assistant exam. Your CNA program will cover communication, safety, patient rights, nursing ethics, patient care, vital sign monitoring, elimination techniques, nutrition, emergency response, rehabilitation, and mental health. You will learn these skills in classroom, lab, and clinical settings through instructor-led lectures, classroom discussions, instructional videos, and practice in a nursing lab. Depending on the school you choose, you will have the choice of morning, afternoon, or evening classes to fit your schedule, so whether you are currently employed or still in school working towards a high school diploma or other degree program, completing a nurse aide program is convenient for you. After completing your program, you should know how to provide basic patient care in settings such as nursing homes, hospitals, and doctor's offices.

What Do You Learn in a Program?

During your program, you will learn to effectively communicate with patients, their families, and those involved in their medical care, including other facility staff such as nurses and doctors. This will include the use of correct medical terminology and abbreviations. You will learn to identify the basic needs of your patients and changes in their physical, social, and emotional growth and development. You will be taught legal and ethical principles surrounding patient care, including confidentiality, policies, and procedures, and your ethical responsibilities as a nursing aide. You will be trained to assist patients in daily activities, including bathing, moving from one place to another, oral hygiene, feeding, and personal grooming. You will also learn how to encourage your patients’ behaviors to allow for a restraint-free environment, and when and how to restrain patients when needed for their safety and the safety of their families and facility staff caring for them.

What Is the Cost of the Program?

The cost varies depending on the school you choose to attend. Some programs break the fees down into classroom instruction, clinical training, textbooks, and other components, while others charge by credit hour, with the cost depending on how many credits the training is broken into. In addition to the courses, you may have to pay fees for application processing at your school of choice and a criminal background check. If you are currently working in a healthcare setting, you may want to check with your employer to see what costs they are willing to cover to help you transition to becoming a Certified Nursing Assistant. Some states require employers to cover part or all of tuition costs for certification training. Grants may also be available for students who demonstrate financial need.

What Are the Requirements for the Programs?

In order to take the programs, you must meet specific requirements, which vary depending on the school you choose. Most schools require that you complete a routine criminal background check, a physical and mental evaluation, and basic testing in reading and mathematics (if you don’t have a high school diploma or GED). You may also need to attend an orientation session for those entering a CNA training program or continuing education studies, and submit your immunization records or proof of immunity from certain diseases and conditions. Attendance to all classroom-led instruction, lab skills training, and clinical experience is mandatory for passing your program. You must also pass all quizzes, tests, and assessments with a satisfactory grade.

What Is the Typical Duration of the Program?

CNA programs vary in length depending on the school chosen. The Red Cross offers a four-week CNA course, while community colleges often offer eight-week courses. When quantified by hour, programs usually range from 75 - the minimum required by federal law - to well over 100 hours. These hours are broken down into classroom instruction, lab work, and supervised clinical practice. The length of time spent in class depends on the school and overall length of the program. For example, in an eight-week program, day classes will meet for three to four hours, Monday through Friday, with some full-day meetings on Saturdays for labs and clinical practice. Evening classes will meet for four hours without a Saturday lab option. Additionally, there are 3-week programs that often require full eight-hour days from Monday through Friday for accelerated completion.

What Is the Difficulty Level of the Program?

Most CNAs rate the level of difficulty for the programs and subsequent exam as easy, especially those who had no troubles passing high school biology or human anatomy and physiology classes. Even students who take their CNA training while working full time do not find it difficult to keep up. The information covered, especially for the written part of the state's Certified Nursing Assistant exam, can mostly be answered using common sense. CNAs rated vitals and medical terminology as the most difficult parts of the programs, but even those were described "simple." As long as you pay attention in class and practice your skills, you should not find it difficult to complete your program and go on to pass your CNA exam.

What Happens After Completing the Program?

After completing your program, you will be eligible to apply for license through examination in most states. Application requires submitting proof of completion of your program (in most states) and fingerprints for an in-depth criminal background check (you will need to submit fingerprints at a later stage in other states). Once you pass the written and clinical portions of the exam, your name is added to your state’s nurse aide registry. At this point, you will be able to start applying for jobs as a Certified Nursing Assistant. Then, to keep your CNA license active, you will need to maintain continuous employment as a CNA for at least the minimum number of hours required by your state. Some continuing education may also be required to maintain your license.

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