A Quick Look into CNA Programs




This is a partnered guest post.

A CNA is a Certified Nursing Assistant. Some states refer to this profession as “Certified Nurse’s Assistant” or “Certified Nursing Aide” but these are all different names for the same occupation. CNAs are trained to perform basic aspects of patient care. In many cases the first person encountered during a visit to a doctor’s office or clinic is a CNA. CNAs are supervised by licensed or registered nurses, nurse practitioners, or physicians. Training and certification requirements to become a CNA vary from state to state but in most cases involve completing a training course and passing an examination.

CNA Training Courses

Most states have numerous public and private educational institutions, community colleges, and vocational schools that offer CNA certification courses. Some larger technical/vocational high schools even offer coursework to become a CNA so that a student can seek certification to work in this field directly after graduation. CNA training programs are also available online. Online programs are beneficial because a student can take the courses at his or her convenience. Most Internet-based training courses also offer the opportunity for the student to ask questions and seek guidance via phone or email if needed. CNA courses generally require only one to three months of full time academic work to finish. If a student is only able to devote two to three hours a day instead of full-time attention the coursework will necessarily take longer. The cost of CNA courses at a public university or online ranges from around $400 to around $1200.


CNA Curriculum

CNA coursework generally includes training in most or all of the following subjects:

• Monitoring of vital signs such as temperature and blood pressure

• Basic medical terminology to facilitate communication with other medical professionals

• Grooming, bathing, and other aspects of patient care

• Patient comfort, safety, and mobility

• Proper patient nutrition and hydration

• Basic first aid and CPR

• Care of special classes of patients—infants, the elderly, end of life, etc.

• Infection prevention

• Proper disposal of medical waste

• Handling patient information and records


CNA training also includes a short internship period to provide hands-on experience in patient care. This internship is usually completed at a clinic or doctor’s office.


CNA Certification

All states require some level of certification for CNAs. Most states require the completion of an approved CNA course as discussed above before applying to take the CNA examination. However some states will allow an individual to take the examination without a previous training course. Although some applicants with significant experience working in the medical field or those who have engaged in self-study of the examination topics may pass the examination, a thorough training course tailored specifically to CNAs is highly recommended by most state CNA certification boards.


Employment as a CNA

CNAs are employed by physician’s offices, clinics, hospitals, nursing homes, outpatient care facilities, and home health providers. A CNA can expect to earn an average annual salary of around $24,000. The BLS projects an increase in opportunities in this and related career fields of around 20 percent in the decade between 2010 and 2020. The rise in demand for CNAs will be fueled by an aging American population and increased demand for health care services in the coming years.


Becoming a CNA is an excellent way to embark on a career in the expanding field of medical care. Many CNAs use their training as a stepping stone to pursue further education and become licensed or registered nurses.


I'm a mother of 2 who likes to get involved in too much! Besides writing here I started a non-profit, I'm on the PTO board, very active in my community and volunteer in the school. I enjoy music, reading, cooking, traveling and spending time with my family. We just adopted our 3rd cat and love them all!

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  1. I know quite a few people who started their nursing careers as CNAs, then after working through college, earned their BSN. I think it’s a great way to earn the required patient contact hours while earing a living, too.

  2. Have a friend doing this right now. I could never work in the nursing field. Just not cut out for it.

  3. Looks like a good deal.

  4. CNAs are certainly better trained than they were a few decades ago.

  5. I think my daughter’s good friend is working towards this!

  6. My best friend’s daughter is currently going to school for this.