How to Become a CNA

Careers in the medical profession are some of the most fulfilling, rewarding careers in the world; You are able to experience first hand how your care and kindness affects your patients on their road to recovery. There are many different types of careers in health care, requiring varying degrees of education and skill. A common one is Certified Nursing Assistant, commonly known as CNA. If you are uncertain whether or not this career is right for you, want more information about how to become a CNA, or are just curious about how much cna classes cost, keep reading!

How to Become a CNA

A CNA is a member of a team of healthcare professions that performs his or her duties under the watch of a Registered Nurse (RN) or a Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN). You will also get to interact with many other members of medical community including physicians, physical therapists, and occupational therapists–so if you feel being a CNA is only the beginning of your career journey, learning from these more experienced professionals may help you decide what your next step should be.

In order to become a CNA, you will have to complete a training program–many are offered through nursing homes, though the Red Cross also offers these courses in some areas. Technical or community colleges are also a way to complete a CNA program in a more traditional learning setting–the choice is yours, however, programs offered through colleges tend to be more expensive. Courses generally run around $1500, though this may vary depending on what part of the country you live in.

Cost of CNA Classes

Before going through the basics of a CNA Training program, many want to know how much CNA classes cost and what their investment in this process will be.  Costs for CNA classes and programs vary state by state.  They also vary depending the on type of path for obtaining your CNA you are going to take.  If enrolling as a medical assistant degree or as an two year associates program general ranges are from $70 to $200 per credit hour.  The total average tuition can be as much as $17,000.

However, if you are going to take a more typical route and only pursue simply a CNA certification the average cost is lower, but there is a large range depending on where you live and from which institution offers the classes.  CNA classes cost between $200 and $2100.  This cost range covers the actual training course, then a fee for taking the CNA exam, and finally the fee for the CNA certification.

What to Expect During CNA Training

Training to become a CNA ranges anywhere from three weeks if attending full time classes to eight weeks if attending part time classes. During this time you will a lot both in the classroom and hands on training–speaking of which, with the concerning rise in online/correspondence courses for healthcare jobs, please realize that it is extremely important that you have hands-on, in real life training. One cannot learn to properly interact with or care for an ill or elderly person through the internet. These courses are mostly useful for people who find themselves unexpectedly caring for an elderly or disabled relative, not for those who wish to make a career out of it. Many employers will not accept these types of degrees, or will require additional training or a probationary period prior to hiring. During your CNA course you will learn about the following:

  • Medical terminology
  • Infection control
  • Patient rights
  • Documentation
  • Communication skills
  • Basic patient care-vital signs, bathing, dressing, grooming, etc.
  • Preventing the spread of infections

Remember that your desired place of employment can influence what training you need. For instance, if you prefer to only work in nursing homes, you will not need to be trained in taking care of infants and children. However, if you are going to work in a hospital setting, they may require training for all ages, psychiatric patient training, and any other qualifications that they specify, so make sure you check. As you would assume, clinical hours (working hands-on with patients) will be part of your training and you will have to prove to your instructor(s) that you have learned the skills taught to you in your program and are able to put them to use in real life.

Completing Your CNA Program

Once you have completed your course you will be required to take a Competency exam that will be administered by your state. There are two parts to the exam, a written and clinical part. The written part is generally not difficult and there are many variations of the CNA practice test that you can study beforehand. The clinical aspect of the test is slightly more difficult as people tend to get nervous when they are focused on property caring for the “patient” in the scenario, and what each test administrator looks for or docks you for can vary. However, if you pay attention during your courses and know the information well, you should be able to easily pass. You will generally be told whether or not have you have passed the same day. If you have failed, there may be a brief waiting period before you are allowed to retake one or both tests. Once you passed the competency exam you will be a certified CNA and can begin your career. In summary, many people wonder how to become a CNA. While there are many steps and certifications in doing so, once you become a CNA it can deliver a satisfying career.

Michael Schultz, RN
Registered Nurse

Michael Schultz is a registered nurse with work experience at Sparrow Health, Holland Home Rehab, Ingham Regional Medical, and Spectrum Health. He has worked as a medical and surgical nurse and has expertise in gastrointestinal medicine.  Michael graduated from LCC in 2003 and subsequently worked admitting patients at Sparrow ER/Urgent Care for 2 years.  After that, Michael worked for 6 years at Ingham Regional Medical Center, followed by 7 years in Gastrointestinal/Genitourinary at Spectrum Health.