1. Home
  2. »
  3. Degrees
  4. »
  5. Nursing Degree Programs
  6. »
  7. Online CNA Classes

Online CNA Classes Your Nursing Journey Begins Here

Nursing assistants are on the frontline of the country’s healthcare system, providing direct patient care in every setting – from hospitals to nursing homes. It is a growing profession that affords both career flexibility and advancement. The training to become a certified nursing assistant (CNA) is relatively short, offered online, and allows students an opportunity to start their careers in a matter of weeks. Learn more about online CNA classes, certification and licensure requirements, and career outlook for certified nursing assistants.

Best Online CNA Programs 2018-2019

Badge
Get Seal Methodology 2-Year Schools

Completing an online CNA program can give students access to different career opportunities within the medical field while online learning provides them with the flexibility to maintain their professional and personal time obligations. However, it can be difficult to know which program is the best and meets each student’s individual needs. To help with this, we have found the top CNA programs based on our comprehensive methodology. See who made our list for 2017 below.

Filters
Save this list:
Download
Save this list:
Download
Rank School Name Location Tuition Financial Aid Acceptance Rate Graduation Rate # of Online Programs Credit for Experience Placement Services Counseling Services University Information
1 Hutchinson Community College Hutchinson, Kansas$2,68866%33% 2 Yes Yes Yes

Hutchinson Community College is one of the top 2-year institutions in Kansas, particularly for students trying to get into the healthcare field. HutchCC has close ties with the Kansas Department of Health and Environment, and its health programs produce highly sought-after graduates. Part of the reason HCC is popular is because it offers most its courses online, including its CNA certification course. Students looking for a speedy way to become a certified nurse assistant might be interested in this program. It includes a combination of both nurse and medical assistant certifications, all of which can be completed in just 3 months. After completing the required course to become a CNA, students can begin working as a nurse assistant within the next few days. Any previous nursing assistants that haven't been certified for over a year can also complete this certificate program to renew their certification. Afterwards, they can re-enter the job market.

School website
2 Pratt Community College Pratt, Kansas$1,88872%29% 2 Yes Yes Yes

One of the top workforce development institutions in Kansas, Pratt Community College offers a variety of certifications that can be completed in 2 years or less. Part of PCC's online offerings is an allied health division where students can become certified in a number of medical fields. Students who want to become a certified nurse assistant can do so almost entirely online -- coursework can be done online, but students will have to commute to campus for labs and clinicals. The length of this program varies depending on how quickly students choose to study but can usually be completed in less than 3 months. PCC offers these courses at a flat per-credit hour tuition rate, helping keep students' education affordable. Upon earning their degree, students will be prepared to take and pass the state exam for certification. This program leads to a long-term career in health care facilities like hospitals, nursing homes and assisted living facilities.

School website
3 Cochise College Douglas, Arizona$1,89616%21% 2 Yes No Yes

Known for its affordable education and high job-placement rate, Cochise College is a well-respected 2-year institution in Arizona. After earning credits at Cochise, students can transfer those credits to any 4-year institution in Arizona, as well as a number of schools across the nation. Students interested in becoming nursing assistants in Arizona can do so entirely online at Cochise. This certificate program takes only 1 semester to compete, and it prepares students to take and pass the required certification to begin their career in Arizona. The main course in the program, a 5-credit nursing assistant course, places emphasis on communication while also covering the required topics needed to become a CNA. Students will also learn CPR and first aid through a required 1-credit course, patient safety and some of the important legal aspects of the occupation.

School website
4 Ridgewater College Willmar, Minnesota$4,791-41% 2 Yes Yes Yes

Ridgewater College is a leader in professional development. The college's academics are well-respected, and many of its students who choose to transfer can bring most or all of their previously earned credits. While it isn't unique to Ridgewater, the nursing assistant program is one of the more popular programs. Students who complete this program will be eligible to pursue certification for employment. Courses are offered in 5-week formats, letting students begin their studies whenever they are ready. To complete the program, students will need to spend some time in labs. This can be done on either of Ridgewater's campuses (Willmar or Hutchinson) and even in some local high schools throughout the year.

School website
5 Wallace State Community College Hanceville, Alabama$3,51023%35% 2 Yes Yes Yes

Among the largest community colleges in Alabama, Wallace State Community College serves over 7,000 students every semester, with each studying toward a degree or certificate in preparation for a high-demand and growing career field. One of the fastest programs in the nation for becoming a certified nursing assistant, Wallace Community College's CNA education can be completed in just 25 days. This program has a flat fee that includes all textbooks and examination fees. To help, scholarships are also available. After completing the program, students will be prepared to take and pass the Alabama Nurse Aide Registry examination. To pass the exam, students will be required to complete some of their studies in-person to gain the real-world experience they'll need to become successful CNAs. The outcome of this program is meant to prepare students for a career in Alabama, but it is possible that students may be eligible to take and pass similar exams in other states.

School website
6 Elizabethtown Community and Technical College Elizabethtown, Kentucky$3,7444%30% 2 Yes Yes Yes School website
7 North Central Kansas Technical College Beloit, Kansas$3,99631%79% 2 No Yes Yes School website

National Median Annual Salary & Job Growth for Nursing

The bureau of labor statistics provides the following data about job growth in the Nursing industry. As well as the following national median salary data for several different careers in the field of Nursing.

Career National Median Salary (May 2014) National Job Growth (2014-2024) Minimum Education
Certified Nursing Assistant $25,100 18% State-approved education program
LPN/LVN $42,490 16% Postsecondary non-degree award
Registered Nurse $66,640 16% Associate Degree
Nurse Practitioner $95,350 31% Master’s Degree

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Outlook Handbook; Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Employment Statistics

EXPLORE ONLINE DEGREE PROGRAMS TO BECOME A CNASearch Program

Milestone Map for CNA Graduates

The CNA field is allows dedicated individuals to pursue more advanced career paths after gaining experience. Below is a map that points out major accomplishments someone might achieve after taking online CNA classes.

High School
Diploma

Takes courses in the physical and life sciences

CNA Program

Finishes online CNA classes, passes certification examinations and earns placement on the state registry list

Professional Experience

Spends two years working as a CNA at nursing home

RN Degree

Enrolls in an associate degree program and passes the NCLEX-RN exam to become a registered nurse

New Opportunity

Explores interests in cardiac care by working as a nurse in a hospital’s cardiac intensive care unit (CICU)

Nursing
Promotion

Earns Cardiac-Vascular Nursing Certification (RN-BC) and moves into supervisor role in the CICU

CNA Classes: The Online Experience

The curriculum of CNA programs revolves around contact hours, that is hours of both classroom instruction and clinical experience. The lecture-based coursework is traditionally delivered online, while clinical practicums occur in local healthcare settings, such as hospitals or nursing homes. Below is an overview of the online learning experience for CNA students.

EXPLORE ONLINE DEGREE PROGRAMS TO BECOME A CNASearch Program
Virtual Classroom Settings

Using the Internet, CNA students log into an online learning management system to receive instructional materials, complete assignments, submit assessments, participate in online discussions, and communicate with their peers and instructors. Online CNA classes are traditionally offered in a self-paced format, allowing students to complete their coursework around their own schedule.

Local Clinical Experience

In-person clinical training sessions complement the book-based instruction students receive online. Students may either submit an application for a local preceptor, an individual that manages their clinical experience or work with a school’s approved health care agencies that provide clinical training in the student’s local area.

On-Campus Visits

If a student completes an online program of study at a college in their local area, they may be required to visit campus for a learning intensive. Learning intensives provide students an opportunity to further develop and refine their clinical skills.

Minimum Technology Requirements

Students must be able to access the Internet as well as have computers and up-to-date browsers and software (e.g. Microsoft Office) to access and submit their course materials. Technology requirements vary by individual school or training provider.

CNA Program Details

CNA programs are designed to be completed in a relatively short timeframe, with some programs requiring as little as six weeks of study to complete. Traditionally offered by community colleges, students can also find online CNA classes at vocational schools, technical institutes, and some hospitals. Admission requirements vary by program, but most schools require students to hold a high school diploma or GED, have good reading skills, and pass a physical examination and background check.

In these programs, students learn the basic principles of nursing and participate in supervised clinical practicums. Through a blend of knowledge-based and experiential curriculum, students develop basic nursing skills that allow them to assist registered nurses and other medical professionals in the care of patients in different healthcare settings. In addition to gaining familiarity with the core concepts patient care, students also study the ethical and professional guidelines for the profession. Upon graduation, students are prepared to sit for state-approved CNA certifications or the National Nurse Aide Assessment Program written and skills examination.

Typical Online CNA Classes

Certified nursing assistant programs cover a breadth of topics, preparing students for entry-level employment in the field. Curriculum is divided between core courses (e.g. nursing skills, infection control) and clinical, experiential learning classes. Below is an overview of common courses students may take in an online CNA program of study.

Introduction to Health Care In this course, students learn about the role of the certified nursing assistant within the context of the healthcare system. Topics of study include patient rights and safety, ethics, communication, medical charting, taking vital signs, and conflict resolution.
Nursing Arts I This course covers the fundamentals of anatomy and physiology and health disorders. Students study medical terminology, concepts of care in different healthcare settings, and life saving techniques.
Nursing Arts II An advanced course of study, students learn about the specialized equipment and skills used to care for patients. Additionally, the class covers topics ranging from nutrition to taking blood samples, patient admission processes to transferring patients.
Clinical Externship The clinical externship expands upon knowledge-based learning, providing students with an opportunity to apply their skills in real-world, patient care settings.
EXPLORE ONLINE DEGREE PROGRAMS TO BECOME A CNASearch Program

How to Find Quality CNA Training

Online CNA classes can help start a career in healthcare, but not all programs are created equal. Prospective students should research each program prior to applying to ensure the curriculum includes the proper blend of training and the instructional format suits the student’s learning style. Below is a list of checklist of items to consider before pursuing CNA certification.

  • Is the program state-approved?The first—and most important criteria—is state approval. Without state approval, students cannot move forward with certification or licensure.
  • Are credits transferable?Becoming a CNA can set the foundation for future education and career opportunities in nursing and related fields. Students should make sure their credits can transfer into associate or bachelor’s degree programs.
  • Do faculty have professional experience?Are faculty members working professionals? Do they have experience working as certified nursing assistants?
  • Does the program offer local clinical training practicums?Clinical experience is a core requirement for CNA certification. Students should review the preceptor and site placement services programs offer prior to enrolling.
  • What is the program’s success rate?Does the program graduate students who pass certification examinations and become licensed? What’s the graduation rate and job placement rates of the program? Each are indicators of the online CNA class quality.

CNA Program Accreditation

Unlike nursing, certified nursing assistant programs are not accredited. Instead, state boards of nursing and public health departments approve professional training programs. After meeting state requirements, CNAs are placed on the state’s certified nursing aide registry, a list of individuals who have met the minimal testing and training requirements to work under the supervision of a nurse. It is important to attend a state-approved program for two important reasons: 1) to qualify for state certification examinations and 2) to qualify for state licensure.

Learn more about the nursing accreditation and overall accreditation process.

CNA Programs: Step-by-Step Enrollment Guide

Besides the short completion timeframes, the other major benefit of online CNA classes is availability. Many CNA programs have rolling applications, meaning students can apply and start their classes at any time. Secondly, students typically only need to meet minimal requirements for admissions, which means they can get started on their training nearly immediately. Below is a general timeline to consider when applying to an online CNA program.

Step Time to Complete
Step 1 –

Complete physical examination, TB skin test and any other health requirements

1 to 2 months
Step 2 –

Submit background information disclosure form

1 to 2 months
Step 3 –

Earn Basic Life Support/CPR certification

1 to 2 months
Step 4 –

Apply for admission to CNA program

2 weeks to 1 month

CNA Career Outlook and Salary Comparison

Two factors are converging to drive employment opportunities for nursing assistants: health care reform and a rapidly aging population in the United States. The career outlook, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, is extremely bright. Here’s how CNAs stack up against other nursing professions in terms of job growth and salary.

State Licensing and Exams for CNAs

Nursing practice is regulated at the state level by individual state boards of nursing and public departments of health. Each state sets its own requirements to work as a nursing assistant or aide. The National Council of State Boards of Nursing offers a national map of nurse aide registries where students can learn more information about their respective state’s requirements.

While the individual state requirements may vary, common licensing steps include the following:

  • Application form and fees
  • Fingerprints and criminal background check (if required)
  • Graduation from a state-approved training program
  • Successful completion of state-approved competency examinations (Knowledge and Clinical)

CNA Certification Examinations

After completing the required number of training hours (typically 160 to 175 hours) in their state, CNA graduates are eligible to sit for state certification examinations, as well as the National Nurse Aide Assessment Program examinations (NNAAP) sponsored by the National Council of State Boards of Nursing. Currently, 23 states (including the District of Columbia) use the NNAAP to determine the qualifications of CNA candidates. All other states use individual state examinations to qualify candidates. Both the NNAAP and state-based certification examinations include a written test and manual skills demonstration.

The NNAAP written test includes 70 multiple-choice questions that measures a candidate’s knowledge across three domains: Physical Care Skills; Psychosocial Care Skills; and Role of the Nursing Aide. The manual examination reviews the candidate’s ability to carry out the necessary steps to complete critical nursing skills required by the profession. Commonly tested skills include the following:

  • Hand hygiene
  • Assists patients to ambulate using transfer belt
  • Assist patient with use of bedpan
  • Count and record radial pulse
  • Feed patients that cannot feed themselves
  • Provides foot care on one foot

Related Online College Nursing Programs

Nursing is a dynamic and diverse profession, one that affords a spectrum of employment avenues and educational programs. Individuals interested in advancing their healthcare career beyond nursing assisting or would like to pursue a different nursing path may want to consider an online nursing degree in one of the following areas:

Online LPN Programs

Online LPN programs prepare graduates to sit for the NCLEX-PN examination and become licensed practical nurses. Licensed practical nurses work under the supervision of a registered nurse, providing direct care to patients in a variety of health care settings. In these programs, students gain hands-on nursing skills and an understanding of the foundational principles of nursing practice.

Online RN Programs

With more than 2.7 million individuals employed, registered nurses comprise one of the largest professions in healthcare. However, no singular path exists to becoming a registered nurse and prospective students can select from different types of online RN programs to qualify to sit for the NCLEX-RN, the national certification examination.

Online Nurse Practitioner Programs

Nurse practitioners are advanced nursing professionals—trained, qualified, and licensed to provide independent care to patients across healthcare settings. Online nurse practitioner programs are available at the graduate level and include master’s degrees, post-master’s certificates, and doctoral programs.

Online Resources for Nursing Assistants