CNA Programs Certifications and Degrees

Get your CNA certificate faster. Programs as short as 18 months.  Choose from online or on-site options.


CNA programs, certifications and degrees help nurses advance in their career field of choice. There is a shortage of nurses available in 2021 due to COVID-19-related issues. Obtaining a CNA certificate is one way to possibly achieve a fast graduation into a field where your new skills and training are needed right away. Are CNA certificate options available online? What are the best schools with CNA programs?

Certain CNA certificate programs are useful for advancing your career objectives when you are already a practicing nurse. They are also useful for helping you get a nursing-related job fast. Read ahead for important information about CNA programs, certificates and degrees in 2021.

What is a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) Certificate?

A Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) certificate helps post-graduate nursing students obtain first-level nursing jobs in the fundamental health care services industry. A CNA certificate also helps nurses already working in the field to advance their positions or expand their career opportunities. How is a CNA certificate different than a CNA degree? 

A CNA certificate program generally requires 1-18 months to complete. A nursing degree program takes significantly longer, usually with a two-year minimum commitment. Another primary difference between CNA certificate programs and nursing degrees is the types of jobs obtainable through each type of educational achievement.

What Jobs CNA Be Obtained with a CNA Certification?

A CNA handles various duties both supervised and unsupervised depending on the situation and more importantly, the patient. When required, supervision is provided by a registered nurse (RN) licensed practical nurse (LPN), both of which have more education and training than a CNA does. CNAs provide care for patients from young to old and having varying degrees of independence. The job requires physical endurance as well as strong communication skills. The type of assistance and care provided also depends on the type of training and education provided via the certificate program. 

A CNA helps his or her patients with daily life activities such as eating, bathing and taking medicines. Patients often need help moving around and getting on and off beds and other furniture. Care is provided in-home as well as in hospitals or other medical/care facilities. Other jobs and duties performed by a CNA include:

  • Taking & recording patients vitals.

  • Documenting physical abnormalities or issues such as new bruises or bleeding.

  • Cleaning/sanitizing patient beds, furniture & living areas.

  • Communicating w/the patient’s family, guardians & other medical providers.

  • Engaging with patients and providing comfort, communication & companionship.

Best Schools with CNA Programs

The COVID-19 pandemic created a situation where most higher education is received virtually/online in 2021 and for the foreseeable future. This means even schools with high-quality on-campus CNA certificate programs might currently be offering only online options. It is also important to make sure your school of choice is accredited and offers only accredited certificates and/or degrees. 

Hutchinson Community College in Hutchinson, Kansas has highly rated CNA certificate program options. Pratt Community College also offers excellent CNA certificate programs. The best schools offer a combination of affordable tuition, schedule flexibility, accredited programs and options for job placement/advancement. Some more of the best schools in the U.S. with CNA programs include:

Accelerated Fast Graduation

There are accelerated programs available for nursing certificates and degrees both. Accelerated programs are most commonly available online. Only students with the ability to dedicate the necessary time and focus to completing a CNA program with brevity are best served by accelerated programs. CNA certificate programs generally take a maximum of one and a half years to complete. Some only require several months or less to complete. Talk to your school advisor or an assigned representative about the possibilities of engaging in an accelerated graduation/completion program.

Online CNA Certification Options

Obtaining an education online is easier in modern times than ever before. While some CNA-based training does require hands-on work, this too is often capable of being completed virtually using live or pre-recorded video conferencing sessions. Online training most often provides the same curriculum as does on-campus courses. Pricing is also usually the same for both online and on-campus CNA certificate programs options. Online training does not require room and board expenses and is therefore occasionally less expensive than taking classes on a campus. Online CNA certificate programs through accredited online institutions are just as valuable as those obtained through on-campus programs, and often more convenient to obtain.

Financial Aid Assistance Options

Financial aid assistance options are available to help you pay for your CNA certificate or degree program. Most every school has a financial aid department with qualified staff members who are capable of helping you apply for financial aid. It is possible to apply for federally sponsored financial aid online or by mail using the new 2021/2022 Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form. Federal Pell Grants are also possibly available. Other financial aid assistance options for your CNA certificate program include the Cerner Nursing Assistant of the Year and Mercer Foundation for Health scholarships. The U.S. Job Corps and Medicare/Medicaid Service Based Tuition Reimbursement programs are also financial aid options potentially available to you. Consult with the financial aid office in your school of choice for more financial aid assistance options available in 2021.