Top CNA Programs in Oregon

As the baby boomer population continues to age, the value of the certified nursing assistant's (CNA) role in the healthcare field will continue to increase, as will the need for nursing assistants. Employment for those who assist nurses tending to the needs of patients is expected to increase substantially in the coming years. As a matter of fact, between 2012 and 2022, the Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that CNA jobs will rise by more than 20 percent-that's over 300,000 new jobs.

CNAs provide compassionate assistance to patients who may require aid with mobility, daily activities, dietary needs and more. Beginning a career as a CNA can be a gateway into a lengthy and stable healthcare career.

How to Choose a Top Program in Oregon

Those considering a CNA role would be wise to seek out the best programs that are available prior to enrolling in one. Prospective CNA students should take the following into consideration when searching for top programs:

  • Student success rate of the program
  • Cost of attendance
  • Partnerships with healthcare centers in the region
  • State certification pass rates
  • Accreditation of the program
  • Availability of financial aid, grants and scholarships
  • Student to faculty ratio
  • Credentials and experience of instructors
  • Job placement assistance opportunities

Testing and Certification

Oregon is one of only two states that have dual Certified Nursing Assistant levels: CNA 1 and CNA 2. The CNA 1 generally works in settings that include assisted living, transitional care, and long-term care facilities. The CNA 2 has an expanded skill set, so they tend to find employment opportunities in acute care hospital settings.

For individuals who wish to begin their journey towards CNA certification, their first step must be to apply and enroll in a state-approved CNA program. Approved programs must be at least 75 hours in duration. A list of such programs can be found on the Oregon State Board of Nursing website. To be approved to sit for the state competency evaluation, students must successfully complete their program and pass the course's final examination with at least 75%. When these requirements have been fulfilled, the student can then sit for the evaluation. Nursing students who have recently graduated are also able to sit for the exam. Students should have completed their respective CNA courses within the previous 2 years of taking the assessment.

The CNA 1 competency evaluation is composed of two parts: written and manual skills. The written section can also be taken in an oral format; however, exam takers should be mindful that it includes a number of reading comprehension questions. The manual skills portion of the exam tests students on a variety of essential nursing assistant skills like handwashing, ambulating with a gait belt and others. Oregon contracts Headmaster to administer its certification assessments. Some students are able to test at their program's facility, while others will need to travel to an approved regional testing center. Students have a total of three chances to pass both parts of the exam. In the case that one section is failed while the other is passed, candidates are only required to retake the failed section.

After a student has attained their CNA 1 certification, if they wish to go on to a CNA 2 certification, they must enroll in an approved CNA 2 program. To be eligible for certification as a CNA 2, individuals are required to be in good standing on the CNA 1 registry. After completion of the CNA 2 program, individuals will need to pass the CNA 2 certification assessment. Learn more at the Oregon State Board of Nursing website.

List of Top CNA Classes and Programs in Oregon

Portland Community College

Founded in 1961, Portland Community College is a public college located in the most populous city in the state—Portland. PCC represents the largest community college in Oregon and serves 1.9 million residents spanning across five counties—Washington, Columbia, Clackamas, Yamhill and Multnomah. Each year, the college enrolls more than 83,000 students.

PCC offers students CNA 1 and CNA 2 programs. The institution’s CNA 1 course is composed of two sections: the first section comprises 80.5 hours of in-class lecture, discussion and lab skills, while the second section is made up of 75 hours of supervised clinical training. Included in the CNA 1 program is a CPR certification course. Additional skills students learn throughout the duration of the course include transferring patients from their bedsides to their wheelchairs and vice versa, taking and recording vitals, communication techniques, psychosocial skills and more. The course is offered during both daytime and evening hours,

Additionally, if you’re already a CNA 1 who’s seeking to earn a bit more and to advance your career, PCC also offers students a CNA 2 program. This program will teach students advanced nursing assistant skills which will allow them to work in acute healthcare settings like hospital emergency rooms. In total, the program is comprised of 88 contact hours—60 hours of lecture and lab, and 28 hours of clinical practice in an acute care facility.

Healthcare facilities located near Portland that are currently hiring CNAs

  • Veterans Affairs, Veterans Health Administration—Emergency Department
  • Oregon Health & Science University
  • Providence Health & Services


To attend the CNA 1 program at PCC, individuals will need to pay a fee of $1,600. PCC’s CNA 2 program tuition is estimated at $1,095.

Clackamas Community College

Originally chartered in 1966, Clackamas Community College is a 2-year institution that’s located in Oregon City. CCC represents one of the largest community colleges in all of Oregon. The college operates three campuses in Oregon City, Wilsonville, and Clackamas. Other learning sites maintained by CCC are situated in the towns of Molalla and Canby. CCC is accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities.

CCC offers students three different CNA programs: CNA 1, CNA 2 and a Nursing Assistant—Gerontology Specialist.

The institution’s CNA 1 program is designed to arm students with the appropriate skills and knowledge to adequately prepare them to perform basic-level nursing care. Throughout the duration of the seven-credit CNA 1 course, students will be instructed in the following areas: basic structure and function of the human body, patient needs, body mechanics, infection prevention, communication techniques and more. This course can be finished in approximately 11 weeks and is offered every term. It’s comprised of 150 total contact hours—75 hour of lecture/discussion/lab and 75 hours of clinical skills experience. The clinical externship portion of the course begins during the sixth week and is carried out at a local long-term health care facility.

CCC’s Acute Care Training (CNA 2) program seeks to ready students to perform a wide variety of acute nursing assistant care tasks in health care venues like hospitals, community health centers and more. This program is open only to those who have already earned a CNA 1 certification. In total, the Acute Care Training program is made up of 90 hours—60 hours of in-class lecture and lab and 30 hours of clinical skills experience.

CCC also offers students a unique specialized gerontology nursing assistant program. The program merges CNA curriculum with theory directed at serving the geriatric population. It can be completed in two semesters. Upon completing the 19-credit program, students should be able to apply gerontological concepts to real world settings.

Healthcare facilities located near Oregon City that are currently hiring CNAs

  • Marquis Companies
  • Avamere Health Services


CCC’s CNA 1 program costs in-state students approximately $700 plus associated fees. Out-of-state students can expect to pay around $1,862.

In-state students enrolled in CCC’s Geriatric CNA program can expect to pay approximately $1,900, plus additional fees. Out-of-state students can expect to pay around $5,054 plus additional fees.

For current tuition and fees for CCC’s CNA 2 program, contact the school directly.

Oregon Coast Community College

Situated in the city of Newport, Oregon Coast Community College is a two-year college that serves the community of Lincoln County. OCCC was first established in 1987 and represents the second newest community college of the 17 operating in the state.

OCCC offers students an 8-credit, 173 contact-hour Certified Nurse Assistant Level 1 Training Program (NUR 101). The program hours are split up into 3 sections: lecture, skills lab and clinical experience. Students will complete the lecture portion independently in an online format. This particular section should take students approximately 53 hours to complete. Both the skills lab and the clinical experience should take 42 hours and 75 hours to complete, respectively.

OCCC also offers a Certified Nursing Assistant Level 2 Training Program (NURS 102), which can be completed by individuals who have already obtained their CNA Level 1 certification. NURS 102, a 6-credit course, is comprised of 90 hours of training. During the training program’s duration, 40 hours are dedicated to in-class lecture and discussion, 20 hours to lab skills training and 30 hours to a clinical externship. Students will be introduced to more advanced nursing assistant concepts and will focus on improving upon the skills they have attained during the Level 1 course.

Healthcare facilities located near Newport that are currently hiring CNAs

  • Samaritan Health Services
  • Avamere Health


To attend OCCC’s CNA 1 program, in-state students can expect to pay around $840, while out-of-state students can expect to pay around $1,712.

To attend OCCC’s CNA 2 program, in-state students can expect to pay around $630, while out-of-state students can expect to pay around $1,284.

Mt. Hood Community College

Located in the city of Gresham, Mt. Hood Community College is a two-year community college first opened in 1966. It enrolls approximately 30,000 students annually. In addition to its main campus in Gresham, MHCC also operates a campus in Maywood Park Center, as well as various learning locations at area public schools.

MHCC offers students a CNA 1 course as well as a CNA 2 course. Its CNA 1 course has been approved by the Oregon State Board of Nursing (OSBN) and is made up of 150 contact hours. The course’s hours are split up into three sections: lecture material, lab practice and a clinical externship. The course teaches students a wide variety of skills that will prepare them to be valuable members of an interdisciplinary health care team.

MHCC’s CNA 2 course has also been approved by the OSBN. It’s open only to those who are already in possession of an unencumbered CNA 1 license. In total, the program is just 84 hours long and consists of lecture, lab and a clinical externship. The course is meant to build upon and enhance the knowledge of a CNA. Skills CNA 2 students will learn include: running an EKG machine, checking a patient’s blood sugar, and other skills associated with acute care.

Healthcare facilities located near Gresham that are currently hiring CNAs

  • Veteran Affairs, Health Administration—Portland
  • Sunnyside Medical Center
  • Fresenius Medical Care


Current tuition information for MHCC’s CNA programs can be found by calling (503) 491-6422.