Contrary to other jobs in healthcare, Certified Nursing Assistants (CNAs) don’t need a college degree.
However, you have to take training to earn a postsecondary non-degree diploma or certificate.
A CNA certification…
- Proves that you’ve gained the appropriate knowledge and skills to provide basic patient care
- Shows employers that you understand and can safely perform the job of an entry-level nursing assistant
With it, you can…
- Work in nursing facilities under the supervision of senior nurses
- Use it to advance to a nursing program and become an RN, LPN, or LVN
And so, to become a CNA, you need to meet some requirements first.
Every state’s requirements differ, but at a minimum, you must meet the following:
- Complete a state-approved CNA training program
- Pass the state competency evaluation exam
Only then can you be granted a listing in the state’s Nursing Assistant Registry.
On this page, we’ll focus on the first requirement: the CNA training program.
- What courses are included in the program
- What the admissions requirements are
- How long it takes to complete it
- How much your CNA education will cost
- Where you can enroll in one
Additional Read: CNA Certification Requirements
Courses You’ll Take in a CNA Training Program
Before you enroll in a CNA training program, you must ensure that it’s been approved by the state’s governing bodies.
Usually, those bodies are the state’s Board of Nursing and the Department of Health.
Doing so ensures that you receive a CNA education that meets the state and federal standards.
In the program, you will study the following subject areas:
- Basic nursing care, including first aid
- Communication skills
- Personal care skills
- Taking vital signs
- Long-term care
- Emergency procedures
- Controlling infections
- Mental health
- Respecting residents’ rights
- Ethics and laws
- Collecting and reporting on data
After learning these, you’ll undergo supervised clinical training to practice in a real-life setting.
Then, once you’ve completed your CNA training, you can go ahead and sit for the CNA certification exam.
Additional Certification: CNA Specializations
If you want to add a CNA specialization, you can pursue additional professional certifications.
Here are some of your options:
- Adult Day Care Aide
- Cardiology Aide
- Developmentally Disabled Direct Care Aide
- Geriatrics Aide
- Home Health Aide
- Medication Aide
- Pediatrics Aide
- Psychiatry Aide
- Residential Care Aide
With the additional credentials, you have more career opportunities and receive a higher salary.
Admissions Requirements of a CNA Training Program
Most CNA training programs require students to meet the following to get admitted:
- Must be at least 16 years old
- Obtain a high school diploma or GED equivalent
- Pass the medical/physical exam
- Undergo a criminal background check
Duration of a CNA Training Program
Most CNA training programs take four to twelve weeks to complete classroom and clinical training.
Further, some offer flexible schedules to accommodate students’ needs, especially working individuals.
For example, they allow you to choose a day, night, or weekend class.
Some even set the courses up online for you to complete at your own pace.
So sometimes, it may take longer than average.
Cost of Enrolling in a CNA Training Program
The cost of CNA programs can vary depending on which training facility you enrolled in.
For instance, if you enroll in a community college, it may cost you around $500 to $3,000 in total education expenses.
But if you choose a facility-based (nursing home) program, then training and certification are free.
The nursing facility and some private entities will shoulder those two for you in exchange for work.
Institutions Offering CNA Training Programs
There are plenty of institutions offering CNA training programs across the U.S.
You can find them by browsing the updated approved list from the state’s CNA governing bodies’ websites.
Usually, you can find these programs at these institutions:
- Community colleges
- Technical-vocational schools
- Trade schools
- Nursing facilities
- Medical academic institutions
- Private entities
The good thing is that some of them also offer online CNA training programs for interested students.
In the online program, you’ll do hybrid learning where…
- Class coursework is completed online
- Clinical training is arranged at a local facility
Explore the information (curriculum, tuition) about your training facility carefully.
Some of them may have program curricula designed to train students only to a certain level.
Also, if you want flexibility and convenience, you may want to consider enrolling in an online program.
Plus, online programs cost significantly less than traditional schooling.
Additional Read: Online CNA Programs