Top CNA Programs in California

Certified Nurse Assistants (CNAs) are men and women that work in a wide variety of healthcare settings and provide basic nursing care to patients under the direction of a registered nurse. They also provide much needed emotional and social support to patients. These crucial direct healthcare workers spend more time with patients than any other staff member working in the healthcare profession. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, nursing assistants are listed as one of the fastest-growing occupations in the U.S. As a result, there are ample opportunities for CNAs to find work and enjoy upward mobility in the healthcare profession. Those that seek careers as CNAs should be compassionate, efficient, and effective people. Individuals thinking about pursuing a career as a CNA in California should do their best to seek out the very best certification program available to them.

CNAs can be found working in physicians' offices, convalescent homes, private homes, transitional care units, and community health agencies.

How to Choose a Top CNA Program in California

Those looking to pursue a career as a Certified Nurse Assistant should try their best to find and attend the top programs available to them. Prospective CNA students should take the following measures into consideration when seeking out top programs:

  • Determine the program's CNA certification exam pass rate; compare it to the statewide average
  • Program accolades or awards
  • Approximate cost to attend
  • Number of campuses the program is offered at
  • Availability of scholarships/financial aid/grants
  • Student success rate of the program (how many students enroll versus how many graduate)
  • Local healthcare facility partnerships with the program
  • When was the program originally established
  • What sort of credentials do the administrators and instructors have

Testing and Certification

In order to become a CNA in the state of California, students will first need complete a program that has been approved by the state's Department of Public Health. Fully accredited programs in the state must include at least 60 hours of in-class instruction and 100 hours of supervised clinical/laboratory training.

California is one of the twenty-five states that uses the National Nurse Aide Assessment Program (NNAAP) to test prospective CNAs on their abilities. The NNAAP exam is administered to students via Pearson VUE.

To take the NNAAP exam, students must pay a fee of $90 for those that wish to complete the knowledge portion of the exam in a written format; those who wish to take it in the oral format must pay $105.

List of Top CNA Classes and Programs in California

California is home to a multitude of quality CNA programs. Those interested in them should take care to choose only the best for their degree certificate, as this can impact future employment opportunities. The following are some of the best, most prolific CNA programs in the state, based on the criteria provided above.

Miracosta College

Miracosta College is located in Northern San Diego County and maintains campuses in Oceanside and San Elijo. The school was originally established in 1934 and has a Certified Nursing Assistant Program that has been operating since 1987. MC has produced hundreds of successful CNAs over the years. The latest statistics show that 97% and 92% of Miracosta College students who enrolled in NURS160 (certified nursing assistant) passed the written and skills portion of the state certification exam, respectively. These percentages are well above the stage average of 88%.

Healthcare facilities near Oceanside currently hiring CNAs

  • Grandcare Health Services
  • Plum Healthcare Group, LLC
  • West Coast Hospice Care


In total, the total cost of the CNA program at Miracosta College is approximately $600.

Santiago Canyon College

Santiago Canyon College is a 2-year community college located in Orange. The college was founded in 1985 and along with Santa Ana college, makes up the Rancho Santiago Community College District (RSCCC). SCCs Certified Nursing Assistant program is composed of a 10-hour in-class, didactic, ‘Overview of Nursing Assistant Training Program’ as well as a 160-hour ‘Certified Nursing Assistant Training’ portion, which in total adds up to 170 program hours. The program seeks to impart the appropriate knowledge onto students which will allow them to become key members of healthcare teams operating under the supervision of an RN.

Healthcare facilities located near the city of Orange currently hiring CNAs

  • Chapman Integrated Medical Center
  • Orange Healthcare and Wellness Center
  • Maxim Healthcare Services


The total approximate cost of SCCs Certified Nursing Assistant program is $387 dollars, making it one of the most affordable CNA programs in the state.

Bakersfield College

Bakersfield College is a publicly funded, community college based out of Bakersfield in the central valley of California. The school is a part of the Kern Community College District and serves approximately 31,000 students annually.

BCs Nurse Assistant job skills certificate seeks to provide vocational education that prepares students to provide basic healthcare services to individuals. MEDSB69, the 6-unit Nurse Assistant course, is approved by the California Department of Public Health and teaches students skills like documenting patient care, effective communication and interpersonal skills, and taking and recording vital information like blood pressure, height, weight, etc.

Healthcare facilities in the area currently hiring CNAs

  • Windsor Care Centers
  • Encompass Health
  • Mercy Hospital Bakersfield


Students who wish to attend Bakersfield College’s CNA program will need to set aside approximately $1,050.

Santa Rosa Junior College

Santa Rosa Junior College is a community college located in the beautiful city of Santa Rosa in Sonoma County. SRJC has additional campuses in the neighboring city of Petaluma as well as other cities around Sonoma County.

The Nursing Assistant Certificate program of SRJC is 6 units in total and is comprised of 226 hours of in-class lecture, skills lab, and clinical practice. The program is 10 weeks long and has meetings 3 or 4 days a week. SRJC offers the program during spring, summer and fall semesters.

Students who wish to be successful should set aside at least 12 hours per week of study time.

Healthcare facilities near Santa Rosa currently hiring CNAs

  • Plum Healthcare Group
  • EmpRes Healthcare Management
  • Creekside Behavioral Health
  • Park View Post-Acute


The total cost of the 10-week program is about $700 to $800 and includes tuition, uniforms, textbooks, parking, laboratory pack and other expenses. Financial aid is available for qualified students.

College of the Sequoias

College of the Sequoias is a two-year community college located in Visalia, California which is in Tulare County. The school is named after the giant Sequoia trees that populate the nearby Sierra Nevada mountain range.

NURS 260 is a 6-unit course that prepares students for CNA employment in the field. Once students have successfully passed this course, they are then eligible to sit for the certification exam given by the State of California Department of Health Services Licensing and Certification.

Healthcare facilities near Visalia currently hiring CNAs

  • Dycora Transitional Health & Living
  • Mission Care Group


The approximate cost of the CNA certification program at College of the Sequoias is $969.

Butte College

Located about 80 miles north of Sacramento in the city of Oroville, Butte College is a 2-year accredited community college that offers students a 6.5 unit Certified Nursing Assistant/Home Health Aide program that is specifically designed to ready students to take and pass the state certification exam. The courses which make up the program, NSG 200 and NSG 201, comprise a total of 190 hours of instruction; 82 hours focused on didactic instruction and theory, and 108 hours of clinical training supervised by trained professionals in the setting of a healthcare facility. The program takes 12 weeks to complete with students and staff meeting 3 days a week for roughly 8 hours per day.

Healthcare facilities near Oroville currently hiring CNAs

  • Oroville Hospital
  • Oroville Hospital Post-Acute


For current tuition rates, contact Butte College directly.

American River College

Originally founded in 1955, American River College is a publicly-funded community college located in the unincorporated community of Foothill Farms in the northern region of Sacramento County. The college’s Certified Nursing Assistant program consists of 150 hours of instruction and training, including 50 hours of classroom theory (lecture/discussion/projects) and 100 hours of laboratory practice/clinical experience. The 6-unit NURSE 100 course material covers over 30 chapters from the assigned textbook.

Healthcare facilities near Foothill Farms community currently hiring CNAs

  • Sunrise Senior Living
  • HRC ManorCare
  • Mission Carmichael Health Care Center


Students wishing to enroll in ARCs NURSE 100 course will be required to pay between $625 and $700.

Summit Career College

Founded in 1991 in Colton, California, Summit Career College is a trade school that has since grown to operate three campuses which serve students in Orange County, the Inland Empire and San Diego counties. The college offers a variety of programs in fields like healthcare, welding and others.

SCC offers a 6-week CNA certification program which aims to impart the correct skills and knowledge to students so that they can provide safe and effective treatment to their future patients. Program curriculum includes three parts/classes: Essentials of the Certified Nursing Assistant, Clinical Training, and Skills Lab. SCC’s Certified Nursing Assistant program teaches students the principles of efficient care, how to communicate effectively with patients, and equips students with the necessary skills required for entry-level positions within the nursing field.

Healthcare facilities around the city of Colton currently hiring CNAs

  • Reche Canyon Regional Rehabilitation Center
  • Elite Healthcare Staffing
  • Meadows Ridge Health Care Center


For current tuition rates, please contact Summit Career College directly.

College of the Canyons

College of the Canyons is a publicly funded, 2-year community college located in the Northern Los Angeles County city of Santa Clarita. The school was established in 1969. Today, College of the Canyons represents one of California’s top community colleges.

College of the Canyons offers students one of the top CNA programs in the state. In its 6-unit CNA program, instructors teach students crucial nursing skills that are necessary to adequately care for hospitalized or long-term care patients.

Healthcare facilities around Northern Los Angeles County currently hiring CNAs

  • Dignity Health
  • Atria Senior Living Group, Inc.
  • Home Care Assistance Santa Clarita


The cost to attend the CNA program at College of the Canyons is estimated between $900 and $1800.

Citrus College

Citrus College is the oldest state community college in Los Angeles County. The school sits in the Los Angeles suburb of Glendora and makes up one of the six community colleges that make up the Citrus Community College District.

Citrus College’s 5-unit Nursing Assistant Course (NRS 101) seeks to prepare those taking it to sit for the nurse assistant competency exam for certification. The course consists of 54 lecture hours and 108 lab/clinical hours.

The school reported that in the year 2017, 100% of students who took the state certification examination passed. This is above the state average of 88%.

Healthcare facilities around Glendora currently hiring CNAs

  • Arbor Glen Care Center
  • Prime Healthcare
  • Glendora Community Hospital


The estimated cost to attend Citrus College’s CNA program is $985.

City College of San Francisco

Originally founded in 1935, City College of San Francisco is one of the oldest community colleges in the entire state of California. Today, the urban community college enrolls as many as one in nine San Francisco residents— that’s 70,000 students annually.

CCSF offers Bay Area residents a CNA program that is approved by the California State Department of Health Care services. Upon completing the program, students are eligible to sit for the state’s Nurse Assistant Competency Exam.

The short term intensive training program is one semester (18 weeks) long. CNA students will need to complete 3 course sections to complete the program. The three course sections are as follows: Convalescent Care - 21 hours per week for 10 weeks, Home Health – 32 hours per week for 2 weeks and Acute Care – 21 hours per week for 6 weeks.

Healthcare facilities in San Francisco currently hiring CNAs

  • Sunrise Senior Living
  • Dignity Health
  • Saint Francis Memorial Hospital


For California residents, the cost per semester unit is $46. For non-residents, the cost per semester unit is $234.

Ventura College

Ventura College is a publicly funded, 2-year community college located on the central coast of California. The college was originally founded in 1925.

VC offers students a 6-unit Certified Nurse Assistant Program that is approved by the CDPH. In  2016-2017, 100% of Ventura College CNA students passed the written exam while 89% passed the skills portion of the exam.

Healthcare facilities in and around Ventura County currently hiring CNAs

  • Community Memorial Health System
  • BrightStar Care
  • Maxim Healthcare Services


Attending VCs Certified Nursing Assistant program costs approximately $691.

Mt. San Antonio College

Sitting on 420 acres in the Los Angeles suburb of Walnut is Mt. San Antonio College. The school offers students over 240 different academic programs to choose from. One of its best programs is its CNA program.

The CNA program is comprised of three course sections: VOC HTH01 – Certified Nursing Assistant, VOC HTH04 – Acute Care CNA and VOC HTH05 – Health Career Skills Lab. In total the program consists of a total of 96 hours – 36 hours of didactic, in-class lecture and 64 hours of clinical/laboratory practice.

Healthcare facilities in Walnut and the surrounding areas currently hiring CNAs

  • AltaMed
  • CareMeridian
  • Prime Healthcare Services


For California residents interested in attending Mt. San Antonio College’s CNA program, they can expect to pay $46 per unit hour. Conversely, non-resident students can expect to pay $310 per unit hour.

Cuesta College

Cuesta College is located in the beautiful central coast city of San Luis Obispo on the central coast of California. The state-funded community college offers students a 5-credit, 9-week program that runs during fall and spring semesters at their North County campus in Paso Robles. Cuesta’s CNA program consists of two courses: NAST 148 – the lecture/class portion of the program, and NAST 148L – the lab skills portion of the program. Both courses are corequisites and need to be taken simultaneously.

Healthcare facilities in San Luis Obispo County currently hiring CNAs

  • Mission View Health Center
  • Tenet Healthcare
  • BrightStar Care


The total estimated cost of Cuesta College’s CNA program is between $750 and $1,045.

Imperial Valley College

Imperial Valley College is a community college located in Imperial County in Southern California. IVC currently enrolls approximately 7,000 students per year. During the school year of 2014-15, the school awarded over 29 million in grants, scholarships and financial aid.

IVC's Certified Nursing Assistant program goes by the course name AHP 060. It’s a one-semester, 1.5 unit course that offers students 25 hours of classroom lecture/instruction with 25 hours clinical training. Upon successful completion of this course, students become eligible to sit for the state’s CNA competency exam.

Healthcare facilities in Imperial County currently hiring CNAs

  • El Centro Regional Medical Center
  • ProCare One
  • Volunteers of America SW


The total cost to attend IVC's Certified Nursing Assistant program is between $678 and $979.