Top CNA Programs in North Carolina

Caring for the disabled, sick and elderly as a certified nursing assistant (CNA) in North Carolina may be physically demanding; however, it can be one of the most personally rewarding professions out there. The demand for certified caregivers is as high as ever, and it's expected to stay that way for the foreseeable future.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, between 2012 and 2022, CNA employment is projected to rise 21% nationally. As baby boomers continue to retire, there should be many opportunities for trained CNAs to find work.

As direct healthcare workers, CNAs assist RNs, physicians, and other healthcare professionals to care for patients in a more efficient manner.

How to Choose a Top CNA Program in North Carolina

Individuals considering a future career as a CNA should attempt to find the best CNA programs available in the state. Prospective CNA students should take into consideration the following when seeking out top programs:

  • Student success rate of the program
  • Tuition cost
  • State certification pass rate
  • Institutional or program accreditation
  • Job placement rate
  • Ease of receiving financial aid or scholarships
  • Student to faculty ratio
  • Partnerships with healthcare facilities in the area
  • Credentials of instructors

Testing and Certification

The initial step on the path to becoming a CNA is enrolling in a program that has been approved by the North Carolina Division of Health Service Regulation (DHSR). Students have the choice to enroll in 2 types of CNA programs: Nurse Aide I and Nurse Aide II. Both programs offer two distinct certifications. The Nurse Aide I certification is basic, while the Nurse Aid II certification teaches students concepts and skills that are more complex.

After students have successfully completed a state approved training program, they must take the National Nurse Aide Assessment Program (NNAPP) exam, which is administered by Pearson VUE. The 2-part NNAPP exam evaluates students on their knowledge base as well as on their clinical abilities. Students who complete an approved CNA program have two years from the time they complete the program to pass the certification exam. To take both sections of the exam (written and oral), students must pay $101.

List of Top CNA Classes and Programs in North Carolina

Mayland Community College

Situated near the Appalachian Mountains in the western region of the state, Mayland Community College is located in the town of Spruce Pine. MCC represents one of the 58 higher education institutions that comprise the North Carolina Community College System.

MCC’s Nurse Aide Certificate program (C45850) is composed of 17 total credit hours and 169 contact hours over two semesters. Throughout the course’s duration, students undergo a mix of classroom instruction, lab skills practice, and a clinical externship at a local hospital. Throughout the course, students learn skills like catheter care, how to take and record vital signs, various range-motion exercises, how to properly turn and position bedridden patients, and more.

The program is comprised of the following classes:

  • Success and Study Skills
  • Nurse Aide
  • Geriatric Aide
  • General Psychology
  • Medication Aide

Healthcare facilities located near Spruce Pine that are currently hiring CNAs

  • Appalachian Regional Healthcare System
  • Carolinas HealthCare System
  • Brian Center Health & Rehabilitation—Spruce Pine


To attend MCC’s CNA program, students will be required to pay around $354 total.

Pamlico Community College

Located in Grantsboro, near the eastern coastal region of the state, Pamlico Community College is a post-secondary educational institution founded as an industrial education center in 1962. Today, it operates as a fully functional 2-year community college.

PCC offers students two Nursing Aide Certification courses (Nurse Aide I and Nurse Aide II). The Nurse Aide I certification course is 11 weeks long, while the more intensive Nurse Aide II class is 15 weeks. Both courses consist of in-class lecture, lab skills practice and a clinical externship. Nurse Aide I and IIs will be well prepared to care for geriatric patients following their training. Nurse Aid II graduates are allowed to perform more complex tasks by the NC Board of Nursing.

PCC’s Nurse Aid I certification class is offered during daytime and nighttime hours while the Nurse Aide II certification course is only offered during the evening. Lectures for both courses are held at the Grantsboro Campus.

Healthcare facilities located in Pamlico County that are currently hiring CNAs

  • Pruitthealth
  • RHA Health Services
  • Home Instead Senior Care


The registration fee for both courses, Nurse Aid I and II, is $180.00. Expect additional fees for books, scrubs and the state certification.

Isothermal Community College

Founded in 1964, and named after the area’s stable and temperate climate, Isothermal Community College is a 2-year college which serves Polk and Rutherford counties. ICC is located in the small town of Spindale, in the foothills of the western region of the state. The college is part of the NCCC college system.

ICC offers students certifications as Nursing Aid Is and IIs. The college’s 17 week, 188-hour Nurse Aide I (NA1) course seeks to prepare future CNAs to perform basic nursing care skills for geriatric and adult populations. This course places a special emphasis on the physical and social demands of the elderly, restorative care, death and dying, communication and more. Included in NA1 are in-class lecture and discussion meetings, lab skills practice and clinical experience. Classes meet twice a week, on Monday and Tuesday from 8:30am to 3pm. ICC’s 192-hour Nurse Aide II course is designed to ready future CNAs to perform a variety of complex skills for an even wider variety of patients.

Healthcare facilities located near Spindale that are currently hiring CNAs

  • Rutherford Regional Health System
  • Carolinas Healthcare System
  • CBS Forest City


ICC’s Nurse Aide 1 and II both cost $180, plus additional fees to attend.

Montgomery Community College

Founded in 1967, Montgomery Community College is a 2-year public college that’s located in the city of Troy. MCC is a member of the 59 colleges that comprise the North Carolina Community College System.

MCC’s 148-hour Nursing Assistant program is composed of two different course sections: an 88-hour classroom section and a 60-hour clinical section. The classroom section includes didactic lecture, discussion, and hands-on lab practice. During the non-clinical portion, students learn concepts like how to ensure patient safety and how to care for patients who suffer from Alzheimer’s and other dementia-causing disorders. To pass this portion of the program, students must have a cumulative score of at least 80% and will need to have mastered 20 nursing assistant skills. Once students have completed the initial part of the program, they can then move on to the clinical portion, where they will be instructed in skills like assisting patients with feeding, assisting with ambulation, taking vital signs and more.

Healthcare facilities located near Troy that are currently hiring CNAs

  • Carolinas HealthCare System
  • Victorian Senior Care
  • Encompass Health


The fees associated with attending MCC’s Certified Nursing Assistant be found by contacting them at (910)-898-9600.

Alamance Community College

Alamance Community College is a 2-year educational institution that was first established in 1958 as an industrial education center. The college is located in Graham and serves the population of Alamance County.

ACC’s 160-hour Nurse Aide I certification course (NAS 101) seeks to produce qualified CNAs who can work effectively in a variety of healthcare settings under the supervision of a registered nurse (RN). After successfully completing the course, students should be able to demonstrate the skills needed to find employment in the field. During the program, students learn how to provide personal care for a wide variety of patients. Other concepts learned include the process of aging, proper communication techniques, various ethical and legal issues, end of life care, mental health and others.

Healthcare facilities located near Graham that are currently hiring CNAs

  • Warren Care Services
  • Cone Health
  • Advanced Home Care


The approximate total cost to attend Alamance Community College’s CNA program is $863.

Carolinas College of Health Sciences

First established in 1990, Carolinas College of Health Sciences is a 2-year higher learning institution that focuses exclusively on allied health, nursing and other forms of medical education. CCHS is located in the city of Charlotte and is a subsidiary of Atrium Health. Because of its proximity to one of the top hospitals in the nation, students who attend CCHS have access to training opportunities in state-of-the-art medical facilities.

CCHS’s 144-hour Nurse Aide I certificate program meets Federal CNA training standards and is approved by the NC Division of Health Service Regulations (DHSR). During the program’s classroom, laboratory and clinical externship students will be instructed in fundamental patient care abilities. CCHS’s CNA program is taught by RNs who have been approved by the DHSR.

Healthcare facilities located near Charlotte that are currently hiring CNAs

  • Lake Norman Regional Medical Center
  • Piedmont Medical Center
  • Charlotte Health & Rehab Center


The fee to attend the Nurse Aid I program at CCHS is approximately $650.