Cost of CNA Classes & Certification

If you want to become a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA), you have to be prepared to finance yourself from training to certification.

Upfront, you have three major costs to pay for:

  • Nursing Assistant Training and Competency Evaluation Program (NATCEP)
  • State Competency Evaluation Exam (CEE)
  • Certification listing on the Nursing Assistant Registry (NAR)

Having to finance yourself can be quite a burden, but there are ways to lessen that.

So read on to learn what specific costs you’ll pay for and how you can pay for them.

Costs Associated with Taking a CNA Training Program

Fact: NATCEP isn’t cheap.

Although it certainly costs much lower than nursing programs, it doesn’t change the fact that the bulk of your finances will be spent on it.

How much you’ll pay for the tuition depends on the training facility you’ll enroll in, like:

  • Community colleges
  • Technical and vocational schools
  • Long-term care facilities
  • Hospitals
  • Nonprofit healthcare organizations, e.g. American Red Cross
  • Private entities, e.g. job corps and medical training centers

Some of them may charge a flat rate for the entire program, while others by credit hour.

One exception is long-term care facilities as they will shoulder your training and certification expenses.

Aside from tuition, other costs associated with CNA training are as follows:

Program Supplies

Before you start attending your CNA classes, you’ll usually receive a list of supplies you need to use during the program.

The list includes:

  • Textbooks or educational DVDs
  • Non-slip tennis shoes
  • Uniform scrubs
  • Stethoscope
  • Watch with a second hand
  • Educational supplies, e.g. pens, notebooks, highlighters, etc.

Medical Examination

Before program admission, you’ will undergo and pass a medical/physical exam.

The purpose of doing so is to prove that you’re healthy and physically fit to perform the job of a nursing assistant.

Included as well are the TB tests and verification of your current immunizations.

Miscellaneous Fees

As you’re undergoing training, you’ll use the training facilities’ resources, such as:

  • Classrooms
  • Laboratories
  • Technologies

As such, you’ll also pay for the costs of using them.

Costs Associated with the State Competency Evaluation Exam

After training, taking and passing the state’s CEE will earn you CNA certification.

This certification will be your proof that you can get employed as a CNA.

And so, you will have to spend money to be able to take the exam.

The exam fees will vary from state to state, but the total usually ranges between $70 and $120.

Costs Associated with Listing on the Nursing Assistant Registry

Having your information listed on NAR is very important.

It signals to employers that you have an active certification and are in good standing.

Luckily, paying for an entry to NAR is the cheapest out of the three major training and certification costs.

That’s because it’s either FREE or the cost for it is included in the exam fees.

Other Costs Associated with CNA Training and Certification

In addition to those three above, there may be other expenses that you should consider adding to your budget.

Here are some of them:

Criminal Background Check

In most states, CNAs would need to pass a criminal background check (CBC) before they can start working.

Sometimes, they’ll have you undergo a CBC prior to admission to NATP.

It will cost you about $20 to $40 to do it.

Note that some states or training facilities will pay for it on your behalf.


Unless you’re taking an online NATP, you’ll incur transportation expenses to and from the training facility.

If you’re planning to use public transportation, you need to know the fare and include it in your budget.

If you’re planning to drive, take into account the costs for gas, auto maintenance, parking, etc.


Most training facilities don’t provide childcare on-site.

Not to mention that you can’t bring your children with you during clinical training.

So you will have to arrange proper childcare while you’re completing NATCEP.

Ways to Pay for CNA Training and Certification

With the associated costs you’ve read so far, paying for them can be overwhelming.

Fortunately, there are options that can lighten your financial burden.

Also, keep in mind that you can always earn these expenses back with your CNA salary.

You can use the following ways to pay for your CNA training and certification:


If you’re financially affluent, you can shoulder the costs of sending yourself through NATCEP and CEE.

Some training facilities arrange payment plans so that the cost is spread over months or weeks.

You can consider applying for it to make it easier to pay for the program.


Generally, nursing facilities will pay for your training and certification in exchange for you working for them.

Do note that state and federal regulations will only allow you to be employed for 120 days.

Within that time frame, you must’ve earned your CNA certification and be listed on NAR.

Otherwise, you can’t work for them anymore.

Student Loans

Applying for a student loan is one of the common ways to fund your NATCEP.

You’ll have to check with the training facility on how you can qualify for one.

Scholarships and Grants

If you’re really strapped for cash, you can apply for a scholarship or grant.

Your chosen training facility will have a list of scholarships and grants that you can qualify for.

Usually, the financial aid programs will ask the following information:

  • Demographic information
  • Financial need
  • Socio-economic background

It may be best to submit your request to Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA.

Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act Program

Another way you can fund your training and certification is through the Workforce and Innovation Opportunity Act (WIA).

If you qualify, WIA will offer you financial aid so you can access your chosen certification program.

Then, they’ll match you with a potential employer so you can succeed in the job market.

Medicare/Medicaid Tuition Reimbursement

Facilities that have Medicaid and Medicare funding will cover their employees’ CNA training costs.

So if you work in one of these facilities within 12 months of earning CNA certification, you’ll receive a reimbursement.