If you’re looking for free classes to become CNA certified, then you probably already know that a CNA is a Certified Nurses Assistant (or Certified Nurses Aide). And you probably also know that in order to become a CNA, you need to take CNA training so that you can qualify for your certification exam.
Once you qualify, you take the exam, pass it, and can start working as a CNA. The whole process can take 4 to 24 weeks, depending on the program that you choose.
That’s the process in a nutshell, but the part where most people get stuck is finding classes.
Throughout the country, traditional nurses’ aide programs are offered in schools and employment centers. There may even be some options for online nurse aid classes, as well. These classes usually require fees anywhere from $300 to $2500, depending on your location and the kind of class you’re pursuing.
With costs in the hundreds or thousands of dollars, it’s tempting to look for free classes, especially free classes online. After all, wouldn’t it be great if you could train for your new career for free from the comfort of your own couch or desk chair?
When it comes to free classes, you should know your options. You should know why organizations would give away free classes when they normally cost a few hundred dollars. And you should know what to look out for, so that you don’t waste your time with “free” classes that don’t actually help you.
Unfortunately, there are no free classes online. At least I haven’t found any in my hours upon hours of researching the topic.
See, a CNA class needs to be accredited by the state where you plan to work. If the free CNA training program is not accredited, then completing these classes won’t let you qualify to take the CNA certification exam. To this day, I haven’t found any free accredited online programs for people looking to become a nurses’ aid, so most of them are not worth your time.
Now, there are a lot of web sites that say they offer “free CNA Classes Online” but these sites usually aren’t offering real training material that will qualify you for your state’s certification exam. These “free programs” are usually just a set of questions or drills taken from previous certification exam.
But completing these exercises, drills or “courses” doesn’t actually move you any closer to taking your exam, or becoming a CNA. They just waste your time. They don’t move you towards your goal.
If you think that you found legitimate free online classes, though, then you should look for a few key things to make sure it’s not a scam or time-waster. Firstly, you need to make sure that the classes offer in-person lab training and in-person, supervised clinical training in a hospital or other approved location.
These things are absolutely required for your CNA certification, so any courses that do not offer lab training and supervised clinical training are not worth your while.
There are more realistic options for free CNA courses that are conducted offline. These are traditional classes that are taught in a classroom by a qualified instructor. There are two main institutions that offer free training to aspiring nursing assistants: hospitals and unemployment agencies.
Hospitals sometimes offer free CNA training in exchange for your commitment to work for them after the training is done. For example, you may sign a contract stating that you will complete the CNA training at no cost, but are then obligated to work for the hospital for some period of time once you get certified.
This can be a great option if you have limited funds, because it also ensures that you have a job when you get your certification. It completely eliminates the job-hunting process.
However, if you complete the CNA course and realize that a CNA job is not for you, you may be stuck working a job that you don’t like. If you break your contract, you may face penalties, such as paying for the entire course to reimburse the hospital.
This is a good route to go if you know that you want to be a CNA, and there is a hospital in your area that provides this type of free training.
To find out if this is available, make a list of the hospitals in your area with their phone numbers. You can spend a few hours a day until you call each and every hospital on your list to see if they offer free training options.
Some unemployment agencies may offer free CNA training to unemployed people who cannot afford to pay for training themselves. Agencies may get funding to pay for the training to help people find work, since CNA training qualifies you for jobs that can be in high demand.
After all, working as a CNA is an entry level position that can kick off a long and successful nursing or healthcare career. It’s easy to understand why unemployment agencies will fund CNA training if local hospitals, clinics and nursing homes are in need of more CNAs.
If you are unemployed, asking your unemployment agency about these programs can save you hundreds or thousands of dollars in training fees.
There are a lot of CNA options out there if you are looking to become a CNA. Even if it’s not possible to get free training in your area, there are plenty of options for taking your classes either online or offline – but these options come at a cost.
Paying for classes may seem like a big investment now, especially if you don’t have the money or are unemployed. But if there are no free classes available at a local hospital or unemployment agency, then you can consider the money spent on your CNA certification as an investment in your future.
Once you are trained and certified, a CNA salary can be as high as $24,000 to $30,000 each year, so the investment in your certification classes will pay for itself.
Before you continue with any training course, online or offline, you should contact your state’s office of nurse licensing, office of public health, office of professions or whatever agency regulates nursing certifications in your state. By calling the right agency before committing to a program, you can verify that the classes you are taking will get you into your new job as a nursing assistant quickly.
photo credit: money