If you’re looking to become a certified nursing assistant (CNA) in Chicago, you can complete your training in just six weeks. Local hospitals, community colleges, and other providers all offer accelerated and affordable CNA classes in Chicago that build key skills in clinical diagnostics and patient-centered care. Some may even extend online options, making it even easier to get certified and start working in this in-demand field.
This guide provides all of the information you need to find a quality CNA program and launch your nursing career in the Chicago area. It spotlights the best CNA programs available, details the steps necessary to enter the profession, and answers common questions from prospective students just like you. Keep reading to start your CNA journey in Chicago.
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Best CNA Classes and Training Programs in Chicago
Affordability and state approval are the most important factors when considering CNA classes in Chicago. To get you started in your program search, we’ve identified the best programs available with those criteria in mind. The schools profiled below rise to the top with their quality, accredited programming, low tuition rates, and substantial student support. Jumpstart your nursing career and discover which schools stand out in 2022.
City Colleges of Chicago – Malcolm X
Located on the West Side of Chicago, City Colleges’ Malcolm X campus offers a basic nursing assistant training program that introduces students to key nursing concepts and the basics of patient-centered care. The program includes a series of didactic courses held during the week and requires at least 40 hours of hands-on work at an outside clinical site. Ideal for full-time learners and working professionals alike, these Chicago-based CNA classes also provide easy pathways for those interested in earning associate degrees or other nursing credentials in the future.
Malcolm X’s program extends multiple entry points throughout the academic year, including spring, summer, and fall offerings to accommodate busy schedules. Incoming students must complete a comprehensive medical examination and attend a virtual information session before beginning their course of study.
Prairie State College
A public community college located in the Chicago Heights suburb, Prairie State College offers a certified nursing assistant program that is completable in just eight weeks. Students move through a course sequence that involves 100+ hours of theory and at least 40 hours of clinical instruction with seasoned faculty and practitioners. Skills learned include basic patient care like bathing, grooming, and feeding along with how to provide social and emotional support to patients. Students also learn to communicate patient information to nurses and LPNs. Graduates receive CNA certificates and can move into the school’s RN program if they desire.
Prairie State’s CNA classes prepare aspiring professionals for entry-level work in community health clinics, home care providers, hospitals, and other nursing facilities. Graduates have enjoyed a state certification exam pass rate above 80%. Students purchase their own uniforms and scrubs and complete background checks and drug screenings before admission.
College of Lake County
College of Lake County administers a nurse assisting program in traditional and hybrid formats through its main campus just north of Chicago. Program requirements include didactic instruction, clinical skills simulations, and other hands-on experiences, adding up to seven credits in total. Students choose among day, evening, and weekend options, making the program especially suitable for those looking to balance busy schedules and other commitments.
Lake County’s program focuses on elder care and places special emphasis on the CNA role within larger healthcare delivery teams. The course of study also looks at the legal and ethical aspects of nurse assisting in addition to rudimentary skills and knowledge. Instruction comes in eight-week or 16-week intervals, and clinical placements occur at partner sites across the greater Chicago area.
FAQs About CNA Classes and Training in Chicago
How much do CNA classes cost in Chicago?
Most quality programs offer affordable CNA classes in Chicago, although some expect students to pay for additional supplies or equipment like uniforms, scrubs as well as things like processing fees. Tuition rates remain relatively low, however, especially in comparison to more advanced nursing programs. Private providers are usually more expensive than public schools and colleges, so the total cost does sometimes vary a bit. The data below give you a sense of the tuition-based costs you can expect to pay for CNA classes in Chicago.
Where can I get help paying for my CNA classes in Chicago?
Paying for even the most affordable programs still requires smart budgeting and financial planning. Fortunately, scholarships, tuition waivers, and other forms of aid exist to help you do so. For example, City Colleges of Chicago and College of Lake County both maintain active scholarship foundations that provide some relief to new and returning CNA students.
Additionally, most schools also offer payment plan opportunities. Such plans do not reduce costs, but they can help reduce the burden by allowing students to pay out expenses over time instead of all at once. Navigate to our main financial aid page and our guide to CNA scholarships for more information.
How long do CNA classes in Chicago take to finish?
Because the CNA role is an entry-level position, rising professionals can finish their training in a fraction of the time required of most other nursing programs. This means that depending on your background and the program’s requirements, you could complete your Chicago-based CNA classes in just a couple of months. Online and hybrid offerings could expedite things even further.
Midwestern Career College, for example, offers a basic nursing assistant program that only lasts six weeks and includes hands-on training at a medical facility. Other providers extend that timeframe by a few weeks. Prairie State College, for instance, adopts an eight-week timeline, requiring 102 hours of didactic learning and 42 hours of clinical instruction.
Inside Look at Online CNA Classes in Chicago
Very few schools offer online CNA classes in Chicago. Most still require significant on-campus attendance, but a few are moving to other models. In most cases, this involves online or hybrid instruction for didactic coursework early on, and a pivot to in-person learning for clinical components.
Medway Healthcare Institute is a great example of this new flexibility, allowing students to complete an eight-week hybrid course of study that involves 120 contact hours. Students take theory-based content online, then move to in-person modules for labs and other hands-on experiences. Anmut School of Nursing uses a similar hybrid model, including 80 hours of didactic material completed online and 40 hours of in-person clinical experience. Check out our guide to online CNA classes to learn more about these delivery methods.
How to Become a CNA in Chicago
Completing an accredited training program with state approval is an important prerequisite, but you’ll need to satisfy a few more requirements before beginning work as a Chicago CNA. The Illinois Department of Health offers guidelines for this process, and the main steps include:
Passing a written competency exam that assesses basic nursing skills and knowledge
Completing a criminal background check
Providing official transcripts from your program
Additionally, all CNA candidates in Illinois must be at least 16 years old and able to speak and understand English or the main language of the facility where they will work. Once you complete these steps, you can submit a CNA application and receive official certification. See our guide to becoming a CNA in Illinois for more detailed information on the process.
Earnings Outlook: How Much Do CNAs Make in Chicago?
As the table below indicates, the overall salary potential for CNAs in Chicago remains largely consistent with national trends. Median earnings for graduates in the greater Chicago area exceed that of working professionals in similar roles nationwide, and those numbers outpace pay in other areas throughout Illinois. Chicago also stands out as the favorable metro area for CNAs across the state and offers more opportunities for higher earning power.
Timon Kaple, Ph.D., is a full-time writer and researcher. His work focuses on sociolinguistics, small-group folklore, the anthropology of sound, higher education, and student support services. He has experience as an ethnographer and enjoys conducting fieldwork and archival research.
Kyra Sutherland has been a freelance writer since 2017 and enjoys infusing her work with her passion for education. When she isn’t writing she can be found building her backyard garden, experimenting in the kitchen, or chasing her two energetic boys and their feisty cat. You can find out more about Kyra on her blog No Nightlights.