To become a Certified Nursing Assistant, you must enroll in CNA courses and take a certification exam. If you don’t have money for local CNA classes, you may be wondering, “How can I find free CNA classes near me for free?” While it might seem surprising, in many places you can take these courses for free. We’ll walk you through several of the more popular ways you can enroll in reduced cost or in some cases even tuition-free CNA classes.

Why Become a CNA?

A career in healthcare is rewarding, and you can make a comfortable living while providing care for those in need. Healthcare is also one of the few industries that offer consistent demand, stability, and generous salaries. However, many people think it’s too difficult to become qualified to work in a healthcare setting. In truth, they’re not entirely wrong, as many careers in the healthcare field have lengthy educational requirements and in today’s fast-paced world it can be difficult to find the time to fit school into your life. A perfect way to eliminate some of these barriers is to start your career as a CNA or Certified Nursing Assistant. CNAs are an integral part of the healthcare team working alongside doctors and nurses, and providing direct patient care. To become certified to work as a CNA you will need to enroll in a state-licensed program and sit for your state board certification exam.

How Do I Become a Certified Nursing Assistant?

Beginning a career as a CNA is a relatively quick and straightforward process. The first step is to find a CNA class at a state-approved nurse assistant program. Training typically lasts anywhere from four to twelve weeks and consists of both classroom and hands-on clinical training. Once you have successfully completed the required course hours, you can sit for the CNA certification examination. The exam includes a written and practical test, typically referred to as the skills test. Once you pass your certification exam, you are basically free to begin your career as a Certified Nursing Assistant.

How Do I Find Free CNA Classes?

Many nursing assistant courses are offered through community colleges, vocational schools, and medical care facilities. One of the most popular ways to enroll in free CNA classes is in nursing homes and hospitals. Community colleges, vocational schools, and Red Cross CNA classes are great places to receive your CNA education as well, but they can be costly. Tuition for these courses can cost hundreds or even thousands of dollars. Some of these programs offer financial assistance in the way of loans, but who wants to go into debt when there are other options? Fortunately, some hospitals and nursing homes offer local CNA classes free of charge. Along with being free of charge, classes through a hospital or nursing home usually come with guaranteed employment with the facility that provides your education. Who wouldn’t want a free program and secured employment upon completion?

Should I Take Free CNA Classes?

Yes, it may seem a little sketchy to get a free education, but the truth is that the places that offer them do so for good reason. The question you might be asking is “How are healthcare facilities able to offer these courses free of charge?” The answer is that many of these programs receive funding from the state government, or hire those who complete their programs to ensure a steady stream of qualified employees.

How do you go about finding out which hospitals provide free CNA courses?

Many people find out about these free opportunities through word of mouth, from someone they know who work at that particular facility. You can also find out about these classes through a hospital or nursing home websites, or by searching online using a tool like our state by state free CNA class listings. If you are not able to find any information online a simple phone call to the hospital or nursing home human resources office will likely provide you with all the information you need. The training you receive from a hospital is very comparable to the education offered through a school. They both offer some classroom instructions and hands-on clinical experience.

Advantages of Free Hospital and Nursing Home CNA Programs

Besides the obvious advantage of the classes being free, there are many pros to receiving a free certification from a healthcare facility over other options such as a community college. What exactly are these advantages?

  • Guaranteed Employment: After completing CNA coursework and earning certification, the next step is job searching, which no one likes to do. You could eliminate the formidable task of looking for your new CNA job if your training was completed at a hospital or nursing home because they will employ you. When you agree to join the program, you also agree to work for that facility for a specified period of time.
  • Paid Education: Some hospitals and nursing homes, actually pay you while they train you to become a nursing assistant. Yes, you heard that correctly, paid classes are offered at many facilities because even as a student you are incredibly valuable to the hospital, this is a win-win situation for everyone involved. The facility receives new workers trained specifically for their facility’s requirements, and you receive an education, employment, and compensation.
  • Networking: The classes are usually held at the hospital or nursing home that is offering the course. Throughout the weeks that you are learning, you will be able to work with other healthcare professionals. You will be able to form relationships with other healthcare professionals who can make great mentors and can guide you in the right direction throughout your career in healthcare, particularly if you want to progress to a career as a registered nurse or a licensed practical nurse.
  • Practical Hands-on Experience: CNA courses through a community college or vocational school offers clinical experience because it is needed to pass the practical part of your board exam. Classes offered through a hospital provide a clinical experience as well, but you tend to have more opportunity for practicing patient care, as you will be learning in a hospital setting compared to a classroom at a school.

Potential Downside to Free CNA Classes: There is no doubt that the pros of receiving free CNA certification from a hospital are plentiful, but what are some of the potential cons? If you sign a contract to receive tuition payments in exchange for say a year of working at a facility after completing your coursework and you leave without fulfilling the requirement, there can be financial consequences. You may have to pay back the facility for the tuition if you do not comply with your contract.

Overall, hospitals and nursing homes that offer CNA classes are a great way to enter the healthcare field. Receiving your education from a healthcare facility opens up many opportunities for you.

Additional Options CNA Courses

While many people opt for free CNA classes at a senior care center or a hospital, many states offer several other options as well.

Job Centers

Many job and vocational training centers will also make free CNA classes available to certain individuals. To see if classes are available, check with your local unemployment office or job placement center. If there are no free classes being offered, you could be eligible for discounted tuition or a scholarship to help you cover the costs.

Job Corps

Job Corps is a program for individuals aged 16 to 24 who are interested in learning a trade. They offer no-cost tuition in addition to room and board at a Job Corps facility. Some centers will even help you obtain certification once you have completed your program. Assistance with job placement is provided to all graduates as well.

All of these are good options; however, not everyone is able to take advantage of them. In the event that none of these fit your needs, your best bet would be to look for classes at a local community college or through an accredited online school.

You can have a lifelong career as a certified nursing assistant, or you can use your experience as a stepping stone to other careers in the healthcare industry. Whatever your path may be, embarking on a job as a certified nursing assistant will lead to a gratifying career.

American Red Cross Is No Longer Offering CNA Training

As of December 31st, 2023 the Amercian Red Cross is no longer offering CNA training via its Nurse Assistant Training Program.