Top CNA Programs in Tennessee

Now is a great time to begin down the path towards becoming a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) in Tennessee. The US Bureau of Labor Statistics has estimated that job growth in the CNA sector will grow by approximately 21% through the year 2022.

CNAs are healthcare workers who are dedicated to providing direct care to a wide variety of patients. Generally, CNAs can be found working in settings like rehab centers, transitional care units, hospitals, private homes and a variety of long-term care facilities. CNAs assist their patients with things like personal care, taking vitals, range of motion exercises, hygiene needs and more. On average, CNAs earn an annual salary of $20,000.

How to Choose a Top CNA Program in Tennessee

If you're considering pursuing a career as a CNA, it's recommended to find the best programs that are available in your area. When looking for these top programs, take the following into account:

  • Local healthcare facility partnerships
  • Scholarship, grants, and financial aid availability
  • Student to faculty ratio
  • Credentials of instructors
  • Length of time the program has been around
  • Total cost of attendance
  • Job placement assistance
  • Number of campuses the program is offered at
  • The program's rate of success
  • Pass rate of the state certification assessment
  • Awards, accreditation or accolades the program or institution has received

Testing and Certification

Individuals who wish to pursue a CNA certification must first complete a state-approved program. To be approved, programs are required to be a minimum of 75 hours and should be made up of theory/lecture, lab and clinical sections. Prior to having any kind of contact with patients during the clinical portion of the class, students must have completed at least 16 hours of training. During these initial hours, students are instructed on concepts like emergency procedures and interpersonal skills. After a student has successfully completed an approved CNA program, they must take the certification assessment within two years.

Individuals who are able to challenge the examination include RNs, LPNs, and people who have had relevant military training. Others with appropriate backgrounds can be approved on a case-by-case basis.

The assessment is composed of two distinct tests: knowledge and skills. Students must pass both to gain certification. The knowledge exam consists of a series of multiple-choice questions which can be taken in either English or Spanish. Those with sub-standard reading proficiency are permitted to take this section in an oral format. The skills portion of the assessment tests students on five duties that are integral to work as a CNA. To be successful in the skills assessment, students must score a minimum of 80% on each skill.

Students who wish to sit for the certification assessment will need to pay a fee of $30 for the knowledge section and $60 for the skills section. Learn more about Tennessee certification requirements see the TN Department of Health website.

List of CNA Classes and Programs in Tennessee

Tennessee College of Applied Technology—Knoxville

The Tennessee College of Applied Technology—Knoxville represents one of the 27 campuses of the TCAT college system. This branch of the college was founded in 1966.

TCAT—Knoxville offers students a nursing aide program that has been approved by the Tennessee Department of Health. The program is composed of 120 contact hours and meets a total of 18 days from 8am to 3pm over a 2-month time period, so it can be completed rather quickly. The course is offered during daytime or evening hours. Students who enroll will need to complete four main course components before they successfully graduate: a life support course, in-class lecture, lab skills and a clinical externship. The courses which comprise these four components are the following: Worker Characteristic, Intro to Health Care, Human Body Health and Disease, Safety, Patient and Resident Care, Special Care Patients, and CNA Long Term Care Clinical.

Healthcare facilities located near Knoxville that are currently hiring CNAs

  • North Knoxville Medical Center
  • Turkey Creek Medical Center
  • Parkwest Medical Center


The total approximate cost to attend TCAT—Knoxville’s CNA program is $731.

Career Academy – Memphis

Career Academy—Memphis is a private postsecondary educational institution originally chartered in 2004. The institution is accredited by the Tennessee Higher Education Commission. CA—Memphis represents the oldest privately operating CNA training program in the city of Memphis.

In addition to operating its CNA program, the Career Academy also serves as a state certification testing site. Unlike most programs, Career Academy works with students until they feel confident enough to test, even if it means extra instruction and practice after the course has ended. Students who attend Career Academy—Memphis are said to have great opportunities for job placement upon graduating.

Students have the option to enroll in either a 4-week program where classes meet from 8:30am to 2:30pm, or a 6-week program where classes meet from 5:00pm to 9:00pm. Both programs meet Monday through Friday.

Healthcare facilities located near Memphis that are currently hiring CNAs

  • Methodist Le Bonheur Healthcare
  • Regional One Health
  • Signature HealthCARE LLC


The total approximate tuition fee to attend Career Academy—Memphis is $1,350. This covers the CPR certification course, the state certification assessment registration fee and the course textbook.

Walters State Community College

First established in 1970, Walters State Community College is a 2-year college located in Morristown, in the northeast region of the state. The college maintains four campuses which serve 10 rural eastern Tennessee counties.

Students at WSCC can complete a state-approved CNA program in less than 12 weeks. The CNA training program at WSCC is composed of 75 contact hours. Individuals who successfully complete the program will be well-prepared to enter the workforce as an entry-level direct healthcare worker. This program consists of a mixture of in-class lecture time, lab skills and a clinical externship. Prior to beginning the clinical externship portion of the course, students are required to complete 16 hours of instruction where they’re taught concepts like interpersonal skills, residence independence, infection control, safety procedures and more. Throughout the duration of the program, students will learn 25 different nursing assistant competency skills—5 of which they will be tested on during the state certification assessment.

Healthcare facilities located near Morristown that are currently hiring CNAs

  • Newport Medical Center
  • Jefferson Memorial Hospital
  • Claiborne Medical Center.


For more information on tuition for WSCC’s CAN program, call (423) 585-2600.