Certified nursing assistants (CNAs) are integral to the healthcare system. They provide frontline patient care in a variety of medical settings, from home health care to hospitals. As the healthcare industry expands to meet the demand for care, opportunities for CNA employment are expected to grow. California offers numerous opportunities for becoming CNAs with programs in place state-wide to help you get into the workforce quickly.
Programs are available in private educational institutions, community colleges, vocational schools, hospitals, and high schools. Training usually takes only a few months. Though the hands-on nature of CNA work means most courses are in person, the coronavirus pandemic has led many schools to move some training online. This guide looks at both online and on-campus options, what it takes to become a CNA in California, what to expect once enrolled in a program, and the kind of salary and job outlook to expect.
Best CNA Classes and Training Programs in California
Becoming a certified nursing assistant in California requires finding an approved program. With numerous options available, how do you choose the best and most affordable? We surveyed the options and narrowed them down to the schools that truly stand out in terms of accreditation, student support, and affordability. The three standout schools for 2021 spotlighted below are all approved by the California Department of Public Health (CDPH).
Learn More About California CNA Classes and Other Nursing Programs Near You
FAQs About CNA Classes and Training in California
Inside Look at Online CNA Classes in California
Most CNA programs in California still require significant on-campus attendance. However, in response to the coronavirus pandemic, many schools are looking for ways to keep their students safer and thus are turning to hybrid models to cut down on face-to-face time. Santa Ana College is one example. To learn more about CNA courses that might be available online, check out our guide to online CNA classes.
Common Questions About Online CNA Classes in California
Will taking CNA classes online in California impact my ability to get certified or licensed?
As long as the program you choose is state-approved and properly accredited, online CNA classes in California have the same rigorous standards as coursework taught on campus. Given that, getting licensed as a nursing assistant is the same whether courses are online or not.
Do employers in California care if I take some of my CNA classes online?
Employers care about hiring someone who can do the job. If you are certified, an employer knows you bring the needed knowledge and skills to the table. That’s why an accredited and state-approved school for CNAs is essential. Whether you took classes online or in-person does not matter.
Are online CNA classes in California more affordable than campus programs?
There is usually no discount for taking classes online. However, there are other financial advantages. For example, lack of commute saves wear and tear on your vehicle, time spent in traffic, and fuel costs. Other advantages include avoiding parking fees and gaining access to e-textbooks.
Do online CNA classes in California take less time to complete?
Not necessarily, since training time for CNAs is usually already minimal and only for covering all necessary material. Programs are already designed to get you into the workforce fast. You might, however, find some flexibility with online work, like being able to take a class on your own time and not adhering to a set schedule.
How to Become a CNA in California
Becoming a CNA in California requires graduation from an approved program and passing an examination. The following steps take you through the requirements for becoming a certified nursing assistant and beginning work in the state as a CNA.
Complete CNA training
Submit the application
Upon enrollment, you must submit an initial application to the CDPH. You must also submit the Request for Live Scan Service form.
Pass relevant exams
Upon completion of the training program, applicants take the Competency Evaluation Exam. The test can be completed through an authorized vendor.
Complete remaining licensure requirements
Applicants must be at least 16 years of age, have a clean criminal background check, and complete the approved CNA program.
Learn how to keep the license current
Renewal of the license for a CNA requires 48 hours of in-service training or continuing education units during the two-year certification period. A minimum of 12 of those hours must be earned each year, and only 24 can be taken online. Submit the Renewal Application along with the documentation of hours completed.
To learn more about initial licensing and renewal, visit the Licensing and Certification Program page.
Salary and Job Outlook for CNAs in California
When you consider enrolling in CNA programs in California, you might be curious about the job outlook and the salary possible. We consider the salary and job outlook below along with the demand for CNAs in California.
Is there high demand for CNAs in California?
The healthcare system is booming across the country, with 8.9% job growth for CNAs expected from 2018 to 2028. That number is much higher in California with 14.3% growth expected. This demand is spurred, in part, by the aging baby boomer population as well as by advances in medicine helping them live longer, more productive lives. Consider this information when comparing the job outlook for CNAs in California to that in the rest of the country.
Job Outlook for CNAs in California
|CNA Employment (2018)||Projected New CNA Jobs (2018-2028)||Projected CNA Job Growth (2018-2028)|
Source: Projections Central
How much do CNAs make in California?
CNAs in California make slightly less than the national average, but pay for those in certain areas, especially in metro areas, tends to be higher than the national average. Some of the highest incomes are found in areas with large populations, like Salinas, Sacramento, San Jose, and San Francisco. These areas also have large hospital systems or a variety of long-term care and clinical settings that make CNAs more in-demand than in smaller, more rural areas of the state.
Annual Earnings for CNAs in California
|10th Percentile||Median Earnings (50th Percentile)||90th Percentile|
|El Centro, CA||$23,440||$26,480||$40,040|
|Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim, CA||$26,880||$33,610||$46,250|
|Oxnard-Thousand Oaks-Ventura, CA||$25,620||$32,410||$44,720|
|Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario, CA||$25,750||$33,930||$43,870|
|San Diego-Carlsbad, CA||$27,240||$35,830||$53,410|
|San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, CA||$32,620||$41,410||$64,210|
|San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, CA||$27,890||$38,510||$52,840|
|San Luis Obispo-Paso Robles-Arroyo Grande, CA||$27,010||$33,270||$43,200|
|Santa Cruz-Watsonville, CA||$28,160||$38,040||$75,650|
|Santa Maria-Santa Barbara, CA||$27,570||$36,870||$48,890|
|Santa Rosa, CA||$28,950||$37,310||$48,530|
|Yuba City, CA||$27,310||$35,140||$46,200|
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, May 2019
California CNA Student and Professional Resources
- Scholarships and Online Resources for CNA Students This scholarship and online resources page provides information on becoming a CNA, including how to pay for the program.
- California Department of Public Health (CDPH): Licensing and Certification Program This page tells all you need to know about becoming a certified nursing assistant in California. It includes step-by-step instructions for passing the exam and keeping certification current.
- California Nurses Association Certified nursing assistants can extend their healthcare careers by becoming LVNs or registered nurses or even venturing into other areas of healthcare. The California Nurses Association provides information, assistance, and support in these endeavors.
- California Organization of Associate Degree Nursing (COADN) This organization provides a great deal of information for nursing assistants, including information on training and testing.
- Certified Nurse Assistant (CNA) Training Programs This page offers a long list of CNA training programs that are approved by the CDPH.
- Detailed Guide for Nursing Assistants in Alameda County This county-specific guide provides information, including what job duties to expect, useful for CNAs across the state of California.