Interested in working in healthcare without spending years in school? Becoming a certified nursing assistant or aide (CNA) is a great way to start your career. Whether in a hospital, nursing home, doctor’s office, or long-term care facility, CNAs are a critical part of patient care. Illinois requires that you obtain a certification to work as a CNA. Most new CNAs complete a basic nursing assistant training program that’s approved by the Illinois Department of Public Health. After graduating, you’ll take the Illinois Nurse Assistant Competency Exam or INACE and can begin your nursing career. Best of all, this process can be completed in just a few months.
Read on to discover everything you need to know about taking CNA classes in Illinois, including a list of top programs, available online learning options, and more about how the CNA certification process works.
Find Illinois CNA Classes in a City Near You
Best CNA Classes and Training Programs in Illinois
As a prospective CNA student, you have a huge variety of approved CNA classes in Illinois to choose from. The difficult part is finding the right program for you. To help, we’ve highlighted a few standouts in terms of affordability, student support services, and learning convenience. See if one of them has what you’re looking for, or use simply use them as a quality benchmark as you check out other program options.
The Nurse Assistant program offered by Southwestern Illinois College stands out from many other Illinois CNA programs. Classes are held at several of Southwestern Illinois College’s campuses, including Belleville, Sam Wolf Granite City, Red Bud, and East St. Louis. With small classes of 10 to 20 students, you’ll have easy access to instructors who can provide support and guidance. The Nurse Assistant program is fully approved by the Illinois Department of Public Health; multiple classes open each semester (spring, fall, and summer). Students earn their nursing assistant credential in an accelerated six-week format or an extended 16-week format. There’s also an eight-week CNA summer program.
The Illinois Central College Nursing Assistant Program teaches students both the practical and theoretical aspects providing direct care in various settings. The six-credit program includes three types of CNA classes in Illinois. Lecture classes teach the foundational concepts and principles necessary to be a CNA. Lab classes offer a controlled environment in which students learn basic nursing skills that involve direct interaction with patients. Finally, clinicals offer students the opportunity to apply their learning in a real-world, supervised medical setting. To help students pay for the CNA program, Illinois Central College offers the CNA Career Pathways Grant Program to help up to 25 CNA students fund their education and training.
The eight-credit Basic Nursing Assistant Training Program from the City College of Chicago – Malcolm X is approved by the Illinois Department of Public Health. The Basic Nursing Assistant Training Program offers both day and night classes and five start dates—two in the spring, two in the fall, and one in the summer. These Illinois CNA classes are offered at the main campus, located near the University of Illinois Hospital, and the West Side Learning Center. In addition to completing an application, prospective students must attend a mandatory information session, pass a medical exam, and pass a drug screening before they can enroll.
FAQs About CNA Classes and Training in Illinois
How much do CNA classes cost in Illinois?
Taking CNA classes in Illinois is relatively affordable, given that the programs are short. Most schools structure their CNA training into a single six- to eight-credit course offered during one semester. Therefore, incoming students can anticipate a one-time payment before classes begin or a payment plan over the length of the course. To give you a rough idea of what typical CNA classes in Illinois cost, review these three programs.
Where can I get help paying for my CNA classes in Illinois?
Students taking CNA classes in Illinois are not eligible for federal student loans or state grants. However, some schools have other financial assistance programs, such as scholarships (see this example at Black Hawk College). Alternatively, a future employer may be willing to pay for part or all of your Illinois CNA classes. To learn more, visit our CNA scholarships guide.
How long do CNA classes in Illinois take to finish?
Many of the basic nurse assistant training programs in Illinois don’t have accelerated or part-time options. Instead, most students take traditional or online CNA classes in Illinois location that last about two months. For example, the CNA program at Midwest Technical Institute lasts seven weeks, while the Basic Nurse Assistant Training Program at Black Hawk College includes eight weeks of classroom and clinical instruction. However exceptions exist, such as Southwestern Illinois College, which offers six-week and 16-week academic tracks.
Inside Look at Online CNA Classes in Illinois
Working as a nursing assistant or aid is very hands-on. As a result, many of the skills necessary to be an effective CNA come from in-person learning and training. That’s why you won’t find fully-online CNA classes in Illinois that are approved by the Illinois Department of Public Health.
However, some schools have created CNA programs that combine in-person and online learning. While students complete their labs and clinicals in person, some coursework can be completed online. Examples of these programs include College of Lake County and Moraine Valley Community College.
How to Become a CNA in Illinois
The path to becoming a CNA in Illinois is similar to the process in most states. The two biggest requirements are completion of a CNA program that’s approved by the Illinois Department of Public Health and passing the CNA licensing exam. The following steps walk you through how to complete these requirements, as well as additional steps to obtain your nursing assistant license.
Graduate from an Illinois Department of Public Health CNA Program
While there are several ways to become a CNA in Illinois, graduating from an approved CNA program is the primary method for those with no prior training. Sometimes referred to as a basic nurse assistant training program, your classes will consist of at least 80 hours of education and at least 40 hours of clinical training (with at least 12 of these hours covering dementia/Alzheimer’s training).
Apply for the Illinois Nurse Assistant/Aide Competency Exam
After you complete approved CNA classes in Illinois, your school sends your information to the Illinois Nurse Assistant Competency Exam program at Southern Illinois University – Carbondale. You’ll then receive an email that guides you through creating an online account, confirming your eligibility to take the CNA exam, registering for the exam, and paying the fee of $75.
Take the Illinois Nurse Assistant/Aide Competency Exam
You can take the Illinois Nurse Assistant Competency Exam at one of about 50 locations across Illinois. The site you choose will determine whether you take the exam on paper or on a computer. You’ll have 12 months after graduating from an approved CNA program to pass your exam. If you fail the exam three times, you’ll have to complete another approved CNA training program before you can take the exam again.
Pass the Criminal Background Check
Under Illinois law, you must pass a criminal history check before you can become a CNA. Not every conviction will bar you from becoming a CNA. However, if you have a disqualifying conviction you can request a waiver. Waivers are not guaranteed and may take up to two months to process.
Continue Working as a CNA
Once you have your CNA license, you’ll need to renew it every two years. During that time you must work as a CNA (or provide similar services) for pay. If you go 24 straight months without working as a CNA, you’ll need to complete the recertification process to maintain your license.
Salary and Job Outlook for CNAs in Illinois
The CNA job market for the United States is strong. However, the projected job growth rate in Illinois is low in comparison. Despite that, more than 7,000 CNA openings are expected each year for the next few years.
As for the salary outlook for CNAs in Illinois, the median earnings are very close to the national average. In the region, Illinois CNAs can expect to earn roughly what CNAs earn in Indiana and Iowa, slightly higher earnings than CNAs in Kentucky and Missouri, and lower earnings than CNAs in Wisconsin.
Job Outlook for CNAs in Illinois
Annual Earnings for CNAs in Illinois
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, May 2020