Become a Nursing Assistant by Taking CNA Classes Online

Ann Feeney, CAE
Updated December 20, 2023
Edited by
Reviewed by
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Person in college

If you want to enter the healthcare field but cannot attend on-campus classes, you can enroll in certified nursing assistant (CNA) classes online instead. While you must still attend some classes in person to gain hands-on skills, taking CNA classes online can reduce on-campus time. Learn more about how to become a nursing assistant and find the best CNA classes online for you.

What Does a CNA Do?

CNAs, also known as nurse aides or nursing aides, help patients with daily living activities, such as eating, taking medication, or bathing. They must be able to perform physical tasks, such as lifting or repositioning patients with limited mobility. CNAs also assist nurses and other healthcare professionals by setting up equipment, recording patient vital signs, and helping patients and visitors with information.

Most CNAs work in hospitals or in residential care facilities, such as nursing homes. They may also provide home healthcare. All CNAs work under the supervision of a registered nurse (RN) or an advanced practice nurse (APRN).

Key Skills for CNAs

CNAs must have both interpersonal and medical skills. These include:

  • Empathy and active listening with patients and loved ones
  • Observation skills, like being able to tell when a patient needs additional care
  • Communication skills with colleagues at all levels and with patients
  • Understanding of public health, sanitation, and how to reduce the likelihood of infection
  • Identifying and solving problems, and recognizing the potential for problems to arise while addressing them proactively

Did You Know…

  • According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), nursing assistants earned a median salary of $35,760 in May 2022.
  • In 2022, nursing care facilities were the top employers of the nation’s 1.4 million nursing assistants, employing 33% of the workforce.
  • The highest-paying states for nursing assistants include Alaska, California, New York, and Oregon.

Steps to Become a CNA

  • Step 1: Earn your high school or GED diploma
  • Step 2: Complete an online or in-person state-approved CNA program
  • Step 3: Pass a background check
  • Step 4: Pass a medical/physical exam
  • Step 5: Pass your state’s CNA certification exam

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How Do Online CNA Programs Work?

While you can take many CNA classes online, CNA programs also include on-campus or other fieldwork components that you must complete in person. You can take CNA classes online from a variety of providers, including community colleges, vocational and technical schools, and even some high schools, hospitals, and nursing homes.

Online CNA Program Formatting

Most CNA classes online are asynchronous, which involves recorded material you can engage with on your own schedule. Having high-speed internet is helpful for attending asynchronous classes, but it may be a necessity for attending any synchronous courses, or live lectures. The coursework usually includes lectures, quizzes and tests, and discussion. This can allow for flexibility in scheduling when you take CNA classes online.

Depending on the provider, you will attend lab courses either on a school campus or in an actual healthcare setting. Fieldwork must also take place in a hospital or healthcare setting. Many programs offer evening or weekend options for in-person components.

Online CNA Program Curriculum

The curriculum for CNA classes online covers the same topics as in-person CNA programs, such as the role of nurse aides and their responsibilities, infection control and injury prevention, nutrition and hydration for patients, common diseases, anatomy, and effective communication. You also gain hands-on experience during in-person clinical hours at a local facility, like a hospital, long-term care facility, or nursing home. Each state sets its own CNA program standards and curriculum requirements, but they are generally similar across states.

Online CNA Program Length

Depending on the state, you may be able to finish your CNA program, including attending CNA classes online and required in-person components, in 4-6 months. Your program completion time may vary depending on whether you enroll in full-time, part-time, or self-paced classes. In general, most states require 100-120 hours of instruction, including 40 hours of in-person clinical experience.

Online CNA Program Cost

Attending CNA classes online can save you the cost of transportation, childcare, and other related expenses. Tuition and fees can range from approximately $1,000-$3,000, assuming you are eligible for in-state tuition at a community college. Also consider expenses for equipment, such as scrubs and books. You can reduce your costs by applying for financial aid from your school and for other nursing scholarships. Earning a CNA certificate is much more affordable than a nursing degree.

badge-checkImportance of Choosing a State-Approved Program

Each state sets its own requirements for CNA programs and maintains a list of approved options. You must attend a state-approved program to apply for a license. Check the program website or search for your state’s list of approved CNA programs.

What Are the Benefits of Taking CNA Classes Online?

  • Online CNA classes are flexible, allowing you to complete coursework anywhere without commuting to and from campus.
  • Asynchronous CNA programs let you schedule classes around work and family responsibilities.
  • Most online CNA programs last just a few short months.
  • You can meet other healthcare workers and grow your professional network.
  • Tuition for online CNA programs is relatively inexpensive.

Frequently Asked Questions About Online CNA Classes

Can you become a CNA online?

You can attend many CNA classes online, but you must also attend lab classes and other in-person components. Attending CNA classes online can make a program better fit your schedule.

Where can you take CNA classes online?

You can typically take CNA classes online from the same organizations that provide on-campus programs, such as community colleges, vocational and technical schools, high schools, or healthcare providers, like hospitals and nursing homes.

How much do online CNA classes cost?

Attending CNA classes online typically costs $1,000-$3,000, depending on the program. You may be able to reduce the cost with financial aid.

How long do online CNA classes take?

Attending CNA classes online takes approximately 4-6 months, typically the same as traditional on-campus programs. The exact length will depend on your state’s requirements and the pace of the program.

Page last reviewed on October 19, 2023

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