A certified nursing assistant (CNA*) is an in-demand healthcare position across the country, with steady growth projected over the next decade. But what is a CNA? A CNA works under a registered nurse (RN) or licensed practical nurse (LPN) to provide care to patients. This profession is high in demand and opens the door to other positions in healthcare if you have the desire to advance. Becoming a CNA or nurse aide can open up many career opportunities for you and could begin you down an increasingly lucrative career path in the healthcare industry. First, however, you’ll need to gain pass the CNA exam and earn your certification. In order to do either, you’ll need to enroll in certified CNA training near you or in a hybrid online program. We’ll give you the lowdown on how you can not only find accredited CNA classes but how you can find CNA classes for free! (*A CNA is referred to as an STNA, or state tested nursing assistant or an LNA, a licensed nursing assistant in certain states.)
“How do I become a CNA?”
One of the biggest reasons people become CNAs is because a certification can be obtained in as little as a month and the price is right. While every CNA training provider may have some variation in their programs, and states may have slightly different requirements, you’ll generally find that most CNA classes last from four to twelve weeks. On the way to your CNA certification, you’ll have the following milestones to complete:
- 4 to 12 weeks of classroom and clinical training
- CNA written test
- CNA skills test
Upon passing both portions of the CNA certification exam, you’ll just need to jump to finish up some paperwork to gain licensure with your states CNA registry and you’ll be ready to begin your job search, followed by the interview and hiring process and then you can start earning paychecks as a nursing assistant. If you’re concerned about passing the exam, you can get a feel for the types of questions you’ll see with our free CNA practice tests.
“Where can I find CNA training?”
The most obvious locations for finding CNA training near you is by checking with your local community college. CNA certification programs are common at most community colleges. Tuition will vary by location but typically ranges from just under $1,000 upward to around $3,000. Before you sign up for any paid CNA classes, be sure to look into possibilities for scholarships or grants to minimize your costs.
Other organizations that employ CNAs may also offer training, so if you have local long term care facilities, hospitals, or nursing homes, you may want to check their websites or give them a call to inquire about any CNA classes they may offer. One of the advantages of getting training from these types of places is that you may be offered full-time employment once you finish your training. In fact, you may want to ask about employment options before signing up for training, as it might be worth shopping around to see if you can find training that comes with a guarantee of employment upon successfully completing your certification.
Another one of the most popular avenues for gaining a CNA certification is by taking classes at the American Red Cross. The Red Cross has locations across the country, and a select few of them offer CNA training. The costs for training varies by your location and circumstance. Some Red Cross locations provide free CNA training, while others require payment aside from grants they may provide for low-income individuals.
“How do I find free CNA classes near me?”
At the very beginning of this page, we mentioned that CNAs are in demand across the country. So in demand as a matter of fact, that many facilities are willing to pay for your CNA classes in exchange for agreeing to work for them once you’ve gained your certification. CNA jobs are projected to grow 11% faster than other jobs through 2026 according to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics, making this practice very common for certain business.
Where do I find these classes for free?
If this sounds like something that would be a good fit for you, you are likely wondering how you can take these courses for free. The short answer is to avoid looking at a community college or vocational school because they generally charge to take a course. Your best bet to finding CNA classes near you is in places like nursing homes, long term care facilities, in-home nursing providers, and even some hospitals. As mentioned above, you can likely find information on local training programs on the websites of these businesses or by giving them a call.
Are the courses completely free?
We know what you’re thinking, nothing in this world is really free, right? Wrong! The organizations that are able to provide free CNA training courses are receiving government funding so you can take the courses and later join the organization as a member of their team.
Are these free CNA courses available near me?
If you’re looking for CNA classes near you, we would recommend talking to friends or family you may have to see if they know anyone who has taken free CNA courses before and where they completed them. You can also call your local hospitals and nursing homes to see if they offer these programs. Lastly, you can search online at websites such as cnafreetraining.com (https://cnafreetraining.com/cna-classes/) to see if there are any programs available near you.
“What are the pros and cons of free CNA training?”
Any time something is offered for free it can raise some red flags. If it’s free, there has to be a catch, right? Fortunately, in the case of CNA training, there aren’t a lot of downsides if you’re able to find someone who offers free CNA classes near you. In fact, there are a lot of reasons that your free CNA training course could be better than a class you’d pay for at a job training center or a local community college. On top of free classes, some businesses will offer additional incentives by paying you to work for them even while you’re still taking your classes. These locations also tend to offer more extensive hands-on experience during your training as well, and lets you get acquainted with other healthcare team members that you may end up working with upon gaining your certification. It’ss important to note that through the training and coursework, you will also have the ability to network with those in the field. These connections can come from classmates, professors, or individuals you meet while receiving hands-on training. Always be prepared to network because you never know when you may be opening the door to a future employment option!
The downsides to free training center around potential costs. One potential cost you may incur is having to sign with a business that is on the lower end of the CNA pay scale. Nursing homes, for example, tend to be on the low end of employers when it comes to how much a CNA gets paid. Signing a one year contract there could cost you some money compared to getting a CNA job at a government facility or a University. The other potential cost comes if you break an employment contract. If you sign a contract to work with the employer that paid for your training, that contract may require you to pay back the cost of training if you should leave the job for any reason. So, you’ll want to make sure you do your homework on whether you’ll be willing to work for your free training provider for the required length of their contract.
Regardless of where you decide to get your certified nurse assistant training, you’ll quickly discover that you have a valuable set of skills that can gain you consistent, rewarding employment across the country.