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The Top Online CNA Classes in Iowa (IA)

This guide to top online CNA classes in Iowa includes several program spotlights, detailed step-by-step instructions, a discussion of salary and career prospects, and FAQs.

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Author: Kyra Sutherland
Editor: Mark Earnest

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If you’ve ever had surgery or been ill to the point that you can’t perform basic everyday functions, then you know how frustrating it can be to depend on someone else for those things. For certified nursing assistants (CNAs), though, this is where they shine. Nursing assistants help patients bathe, go to the restroom, shower, dress, and eat as they recover in a healthcare setting.

In addition, few careers can be started before turning 18, but becoming a nursing assistant is one of those lucky job choices. High school students who are 16+ years old can take one of several online CNA classes offered by Iowa colleges. Once they become CNAs, students can also eventually earn a practical nursing certificate or go on to become registered nurses.

We wrote this guide for high school students, college students, or college graduates looking to enter healthcare for the first time, possibly through the nurse-aide avenue. It will walk you through the steps needed to become a CNA and detail other important information such as quality programs, salary outlook, career growth, and additional FAQs. Read on to get started.

Inside Iowa’s Standout Online CNA Classes

To give you an overview of a CNA program, we’ve highlighted several online CNA classes throughout Iowa that all have online components. These overviews offer a snapshot of a CNA program’s cost, duration, and expected schedule. Please note that this is not a ranked list.

Northeast Iowa Community College

Logo of Northeast Iowa Community College featuring a stylized, curving blue line on the left and the school's name in uppercase blue letters on the right.

The certified nurse aide certificate program from Northeast Iowa Community College is one of several online CNA classes that Iowa offers. Classroom learning is completed online and supplemented with hands-on lab and off-site clinical experiences. The program requires 80 hours and costs $675. Students who need tuition assistance can look into Iowa’s Opportunity Dubuque, a nationally recognized collaborative job training effort developed for local employers’ skilled workforce needs.

NICC’s CNA courses are available in person during the day or at night, or they can be completed in a hybrid format (lecture online, labs, and clinicals on-site). Course offerings range from 5-11 weeks. To participate in clinical requirements, students must pass a background check, a baseline tuberculosis screening, and submit proof of a COVID-19 vaccine. Influenza vaccines will also be required during flu season. Though the certificate is a non-credit program, students with their CNA license will find it easier to move on to other healthcare diplomas or degrees such as nursing.

North Iowa Area Community College

One of the online CNA classes that Iowa offers is the hybrid nurse aide certificate program from North Iowa Community College. Students can choose between face-to-face instruction or a mix of face-to-face and online instruction as a hybrid. At the end of the program, students will have a basic knowledge and acquired the skills to provide safe, effective patient and resident care. The theory portion of the course includes 35 hours of classroom work and 20 hours of laboratory practice. The required clinical experiences include 45 hours in a nursing home or long-term care facility. Classes start three times a year at a variety of locations.

The hybrid option includes reading, activity assignments, and discussion board participation. Students meet with the instructor once a week on assigned days to learn and practice skills. The final weeks of the class are spent in a clinical setting with the instructor. The Iowa certified nursing assistant certification test costs about $175. Students who need help with course expenses can check out NIACC’s Education to Employment program.

Western Iowa Tech Community College

The nurse aide course at Western Iowa Tech Community College is a four-credit course available at several locations, with a hybrid option starting every fall. It costs about $810 and is designed to provide students with the fundamentals of patient care in a healthcare environment. Topics covered in the course include basic anatomy and physiology, medical terminology, meeting human needs, safety measures, infection control, and physical care. Upon completion, students will feel prepared to assist patients in rehabilitation and perform daily activities that many people take for granted.

The program is designed to help students start their careers as valuable healthcare team members and will prepare them with the knowledge and skills required to pass the state’s certification exam. Once students choose an online CNA class in Iowa and become registered nurse assistants, they will be ready to pursue a practical nursing course or an associate degree in nursing (ADN) if they desire.

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How to Become a CNA in Iowa Online

Now that you have an idea of what certified nurse aide programs look like in Iowa, we’ll take you through the steps you’ll need to follow to become a CNA. You’ll start by choosing an online CNA class in Iowa and end with periodically renewing your license with the state.

Step 1: Meet Basic Background Requirements

Students must meet several essentials before beginning their online CNA class in Iowa. First, they must be at least 16 years old. Then, they must pass a background check and be current on several vaccines, typically COVID-19 and influenza during flu season. Students must also pass a basic TB screening. Sometimes, a physical examination is also required. Students must also purchase necessary supplies such as scrubs, a blood pressure cuff, a stethoscope, and textbooks/workbooks.

Step 2: Graduate from an Approved CNA Program

Next, students must choose a course and attend all classroom hours, in-person labs, and clinicals. Iowa requires that students complete 75 hours of instruction from an approved CNA program to be eligible to sit for the certified nursing assistant certification exam, so skipping classes is not an option. These hours are divided between classroom instruction, hands-on labs, and clinical experiences. Once the 75 hours are completed, students can pay for and take the certification exam.

Step 3: Take the National Nurse Aid Assessment Program Competency Examination (NNAP)

The NNAP is an exam divided into two parts. First there is a written/online/oral portion comprising 70 multiple-choice questions. Students have up to two hours to complete the questions. The second part is an in-person exam in which students demonstrate up to five of out 23 possible skills that an evaluator picks randomly. Two of those skills will always be handwashing and some sort of measurement skill such as weighing or blood pressure. Consider taking practice tests and going over study exercises before the exam.

Step 4: Start Working as a CNA

Once you’ve earned your certification as a nursing assistant, your name will be added to a statewide registry accessible by employers. You can start applying for jobs when you receive word that you are certified. You’ll likely find job openings at nursing homes, skilled nursing facilities, and hospitals. Your duties will include helping patients with daily activities, including moving, bathing, and eating.

Step 5: Renew Your CNA License Periodically

Once you’ve passed the certification test, Iowa requires CNAs to renew their license every 2 years. To do this, you must complete at least one day (at least 8 hours) of nursing or nursing-related duties every 24 months, with that information submitted by your employer. Additionally, long-term care facilities are required to provide at least 12 hours of in-service training for its CNAs per year.

Salary and Career Prospects for CNAs in Iowa

There is a large demand for CNAs and other healthcare providers throughout Iowa. Where national job projections place CNA job growth at just over 8%, Iowa predicts that the number of job openings for certified nurse aides will grow throughout the state by 12.5% through 2030. This means about 2,850 new CNA positions in the state’s next decade and an average of more than 3,000 CNA job openings each year. Such predicted growth can help high school students and others entering healthcare to have confidence in their decision to become a certified nurse aide.

As with other states, CNA salaries vary from city to city in Iowa. If you look at the chart below, you’ll note that the median yearly salary for certified nursing assistants statewide is at $34,690. Cities in Iowa with a median pay above this amount include Waterloo-Cedar Falls, Des Moines, Sioux City, and Cedar Rapids (in order, starting from the highest median salary). CNAs working in the Davenport-Moline-Rock Island area will experience some of the lowest salaries in the state, followed by Iowa City and Ames.

Area10th PercentileMedian90th Percentile
Ames, IA$31,230$34,470$38,890
Cedar Rapids, IA$30,390$34,890$41,200
Davenport-Moline-Rock Island, IA-IL$28,570$33,460$39,040
Des Moines-West Des Moines, IA$30,670$35,560$43,680
Dubuque, IA$30,650$34,590$43,310
Iowa City, IA$31,460$33,740$42,160
Sioux City, IA-NE-SD$30,410$35,060$39,040
Waterloo-Cedar Falls, IA$29,820$35,630$39,670

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

AreaNew Jobs (2020-2030)Growth RateAvg. Annual Openings
United States115,3008.3%187,000

Source: Projections Central

Answering Your Questions About Online CNA Classes in Alabama

CNA programs may differ in cost, time required, modality (online, in-person, or hybrid), prerequisites, and more. Here are a few questions and answers to keep in mind as you move forward.

Are there 2-week CNA classes online in Alabama?

Yes! While two weeks is on the short side to complete a CNA program, it is possible. In Mobile, Alabama, Taite Healthcare Training offers a two-week CNA program for $600. In Mobile and Spanish Fort, Saad Healthcare also offers a two-week program, for $850.

Are there free CNA classes in Alabama?

In some instances, yes. However, do note that often free CNA programs come with the stipulation that, if you pass the program, you then work for the provider. For example, the Huntsville Hospital offered such a program in 2021 to fill high CNA demand in the region. Huntsville Health and Rehabilitation has done the same, offering free CNA training for incoming employees.

Can you take the CNA test without classes in Alabama?

No, you must complete a state-approved nurse aide training program within the last two years to take the CNA test and be added to the Alabama CNA registry.

How long is CNA training in Alabama?

Program length depends on the CNA program you choose, but most are completed in about four to six weeks. Most of the weeks focus on classroom education (online, in-person, or hybrid) with the latter portion of the program for in-person clinical work.

What are the technical requirements of online Alabama CNA classes?

Most CNA classes require no special technical capabilities, so as long as you have a laptop with a stable, high-speed internet connection, you’ll be able to log in to your classes and complete all online assignments.

What topics are covered in Alabama CNA classes?

It depends on the program you choose. For example, the CNA program at the University of West Alabama includes course work on communication, body mechanics, disease control, safety, aging, and patient abuse. Meanwhile, the program at Jefferson State Community College covers communication, safety, body mechanics, aging, disease, and death and dying.