CNA Degrees: Certificates & Online Training Info

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What kind of job can you get with a certificate, diploma or training as a certified nursing assistant? Get the truth about the requirements, courses and career options, and find out what you can do with your certified nursing assistant certificate, diploma or training.
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Study to Become A Certified Nursing Assistant: Degrees at a Glance

Completing a certified nursing assistant (CNA) certificate, diploma or training program can provide you with the skills needed to work in a hospital, long-term care facility or rehabilitation center. These programs teach how to assist patients with personal hygiene, mobility and feeding. CNAs provide daily care services for the elderly, ill and injured.

After completing a CNA education program, you need to pass certification exam that consists of both written questions and demonstration of competency with clinical tasks. Certificate, diploma and training programs equally prepare you to take state CNA exams. In most states, a student who has passed the state exam will be placed on the state registry and hold the title of Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) or Nursing Assistant Registered (NAR) credential.

Certificate, Diploma or Training Program
Who is this degree for? Individuals looking to immediately enter the workforce or continue their education and enter a nursing degree program
Common Career Paths (with approximate mean annual salary) -Nursing aides, orderlies and attendants ($25,000)*
- Home health aide ($22,000)*
Time to Completion 1 semester full-time
Common Graduation Requirements -Successful completion of all coursework
-Perfect attendance at clinical sites
Prerequisites -High school diploma or equivalent
- Ability to read at an 8th grade level
Online Availability Yes

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (May 2011 figures).

Certified Nursing Assistant Certificate, Diploma or Training Program

CNA education programs are designed to prepare students for state licensure exams. Programs cover basic skills needed to assist and care for the ill, injured and elderly. CNAs have excellent job prospects according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). The BLS predicted that job growth for CNAs would increase by 20% between 2010 and 2020.The majority of jobs were expected to be available in nursing homes and long term care facilities. Most certified nursing assistant programs can be completed in a short amount of time, allowing students to immediately enter the workforce.

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Most certified nursing assistant programs don't require any prerequisite courses before gaining admission
  • Online or hybrid programs are available to accommodate the needs of students
  • Students can be trained and ready for employment in less than 6 months

Cons

  • CNAs may work irregular schedules, including holidays, weekends and nights
  • A job as a nursing assistant can be emotional and physically tiring
  • Risk of injury from lifting patients

Courses and Requirements

Most certified nursing assistant certificate, diploma and training programs consist of two portions. One portion of the program requires students complete coursework which includes modules, textbook reading and class lectures. The other portion of the course requires students to complete a clinical experience. This usually takes place in a long-term care facility and is arranged by the school. During this portion of the program, students gain hands-on experience by working with patients under the supervision of their instructor. Students enrolled in a CNA program learn how to safely transport patients, provide basic personal hygiene and toileting needs.

Most schools require students have perfect or near perfect attendance at the clinical site in order to receive their certificate or diploma. Students need to have a strong understanding of the material taught in class in order to pass the state certification exam.

Online Degree Options

Online programs leading to a CNA certificate or diploma are available in a variety of formats. Fully-online programs are available in addition to hybrid programs, which allow students to complete some classes online and others on campus. Online programs allow students to complete all required coursework online, but students still need to complete their clinical hours at a long-term care facility or nursing home. Online and hybrid programs may appeal to returning students, parents and individuals working full-time.

Online refresher courses are also available for students who have expired nursing assistant certificates. Refresher courses are offered in a self-paced format and prepare students to take the written and manual skills portion of the state examination. This allows students to renew their certification without leaving their home.

Stand Out with This Degree

Students who are enrolled in a CNA program can gain letters of recommendation and references by showing up on time and conducting themselves in a professional manner at clinical sites. Students who have completed a CNA program can show employers their dedication by attending a certified nursing assistant skills review session at a community college. Graduates of a certified nursing assistant program can increase their chances of being hired by obtaining additional certifications. Furthering your education as a certified medication assistant will allow you to distribute medication. Employers value employees who can perform multiple job functions.

Degree Alternatives

Strong job prospects await individuals who have graduated from a CNA program, but their beginning salary is often fairly low. A licensed practical nurse (LPN) is an alternative career option in the nursing field with similar job prospects and a higher salary potential. Most licensed practical nursing programs take about a year to complete and allow graduates to perform more complex duties. LPN's are responsible for administering immunizations, performing blood draws and monitoring patients. Many LPN programs require students to complete a certified nursing assistant program and pass the state exam as a prerequisite for admission.

Students who have successfully completed an accredited LPN program and have passed the NCLEX-PN exam to become a LPN can enroll in a 'bridge program' to complete their registered nurse (RN) degree. In 2011, the BLS reported that LPNs made a median annual salary of about $41,000 and RNs made a median of about $66,000.

Popular Schools

  • Online Programs Available
    1. Kaplan University

    Program Options

    Doctorate
      • Master of Science - DNP Executive Leader
      • Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP)
      • Master of Science - DNP Path (Doctor of Nursing Practice)
    Master's
      • Accelerated BSN to MSN
      • Master of Science - DNP Family Nurse Practitioner
      • Master of Science in Nursing - Adult - Gerontology Practitioner
      • M.S. in Nursing - Family Nurse Practitioner
      • MS in Nursing
      • Master of Science - DNP Adult Nurse Practitioner
    Bachelor's
      • Bachelors of Science in Nursing - RN to BSN (RN License Required)
      • Bachelor: Health Science
      • Bachelor: Healthcare Admin
    Certificate
      • Family Nurse Practitioner Graduate Certificate
      • Nurse Educator Graduate Certificate
  • Online Programs Available
    2. Ashford University

    Program Options

    Bachelor's
      • BS in Nursing (RN to BSN)
      • BS/Health Information Management
  • Online Programs Available
    3. Grand Canyon University

    Program Options

    Doctorate
      • Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP)
      • Doctor of Nursing Practice with an Emphasis in Educational Leadership
      • EdD in Organizational Leadership - Health Care Administration
    Master's
      • MBA and MS in Nursing: Nursing Leadership in Health Care Systems (dual degree)
      • MS in Nursing: Nursing Leadership in Health Care Systems
      • M.S. in Nursing: Nursing Education
      • MBA: Health Systems Management
      • MS in Health Care Administration
      • MS in Nursing: Nursing Education
    Bachelor's
      • BS in Nursing (Registered Nurse - R.N. to BSN)
      • BS in Health Care Administration
      • BS in Health Sciences: Professional Development & Advanced Patient Care
      • Bachelor of Science in Behavioral Health Science
  • Online Programs Available
    4. Herzing University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • Master of Science - Nursing With a Concentration in Family
      • MBA Dual Concentration: Healthcare Management and Public Safety Leadership
      • MBA Dual Concentration: Healthcare Management and Project Management
    Bachelor's
      • RN to Bachelor's in Nursing
    Certificate
      • Diploma: Medical Assisting
  • Online Programs Available
    5. Colorado Technical University

    Program Options

    Doctorate
      • Doctor of Management - Health Care Management and Leadership
    Master's
      • MS - Nursing - Nursing Administration
      • MS - Nursing - Nursing Education
      • MS - Healthcare Management
      • Master of Science in Management - Healthcare Management
    Bachelor's
      • BS - Nursing (RN to BSN completion)
      • BS - Business Administration - Health Care Management
  • Online Programs Available
    6. Colorado State University Global

    Program Options

    Master's
      • Graduate Specialization - Healthcare Administration
  • Online Programs Available
    7. Northcentral University

    Program Options

    Doctorate
      • Education Sepcialist - Nursing Education
    Master's
      • Master of Science in Organizational Leadership - Health Care Administration
  • Campus and Online Programs
    8. Virginia College

    Program Options

    Bachelor's
      • Bachelor: Health Services Management
  • Online Programs Available
    9. American InterContinental University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • Master of Healthcare Management
      • Master of Business Admin: Healthcare Admin
    Bachelor's
      • Bachelor of Business Admin: Healthcare Management
      • Bachelor of Healthcare Management - HSA Mgt.
      • Bachelor of Healthcare Management
  • Online Programs Available
    10. Utica College

    Program Options

    Doctorate
      • Transitional Doctor of Physical Therapy
    Master's
      • MBA - Health Care Management
      • Masters in Health Care Administration
      • Online Master of Science in Health Care Administration - Acute Care
      • Online Master of Science in Health Care Administration - Long Term Care
      • Online Master of Science in Health Care Administration - Service Organization
    Bachelor's
      • RN to Bachelor of Science

Featured Schools

Kaplan University

  • Master of Science - DNP Executive Leader
  • Accelerated BSN to MSN
  • Bachelors of Science in Nursing - RN to BSN (RN License Required)
  • Family Nurse Practitioner Graduate Certificate

Which subject are you interested in?

Ashford University

  • BS in Nursing (RN to BSN)
  • BS/Health Information Management

What is your highest level of education?

Grand Canyon University

  • Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP)
  • MBA and MS in Nursing: Nursing Leadership in Health Care Systems (dual degree)
  • BS in Nursing (Registered Nurse - R.N. to BSN)

What is your highest level of education?

Herzing University

  • Master of Science - Nursing With a Concentration in Family
  • RN to Bachelor's in Nursing
  • Diploma: Medical Assisting

What is your highest level of education?

Colorado Technical University

  • Doctor of Management - Health Care Management and Leadership
  • MS - Nursing - Nursing Administration
  • BS - Nursing (RN to BSN completion)

Are you a US citizen?

Colorado State University Global

  • Graduate Specialization - Healthcare Administration

What is your highest level of education?

Northcentral University

  • Education Sepcialist - Nursing Education
  • Master of Science in Organizational Leadership - Health Care Administration

What is your highest level of education?

Virginia College

  • Bachelor: Health Services Management

What is your highest level of education completed?