Top CNA Programs in Washington

Now is a wonderful time to begin down the path towards becoming a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA). As the baby boomer generation continues to age and retire, and with people living longer than ever, the demand for CNAs will only continue to expand. According to the US Department of Labor, the nursing assistant field is expected to grow by 21% through 2022.

Also referred to in Washington as NACs (Nursing Assistant-Certified), these caregivers can be found working in a wide variety of healthcare settings, including hospitals, patient homes, transitional care units and assisted living facilities. NACs are tasked with providing physical, social, psychological and emotional care to their patients.

How to Choose a Top CNA Program in Washington

If you have made the decision to pursue a career as a CNA, the very first step you should take is to seek out the best programs that are available in Washington. While searching for these top programs, take the following into consideration:

  • Tuition and associated fees
  • The program's success rate
  • Partnerships with local health care facilities
  • Who accredits the institution? How long has it been accredited for?
  • Student to faculty ratio
  • Credentials and experience of course instructors
  • State certification assessment pass rate
  • Awards given to the program
  • Number of campuses the program is offered at
  • Availability of financial aid, grants and scholarships
  • Job placement rate

Testing and Certification

To become certified as a nursing assistant, students must enroll in a state-approved program. To meet the standards set forth by the state of Washington, NAC programs need to be at least 85 hours, including 35 of in-class instruction and 50 hours of clinical training. Furthermore, classroom instruction must include at least 7 hours of AIDS training, and 40 hours of clinical training must take place in a real-world clinical setting (at a hospital or long-term care facility). A list of approved programs can be found the Washington Department of Health and Human Services website.

Alternatively, RN and LPN students who have completed the necessary course work can be approved to sit for the state certification exam. All candidates are required to successfully complete a CPR course.

Once students have fulfilled the requirements mentioned above, they can then sit for the National Nurse Aide Assessment Program (NNAAP). The exam is composed of two sections-knowledge and skills. Although the knowledge portion can be taken in written or oral formats, students will be required to complete a short reading comprehension section regardless of which format they choose. The skills section of the exam tests a student's ability to carry out a number of tasks which are integral to nursing assistant work. Students are tested on five different skills and must pass each one in order to pass the section as a whole.

List of Top CNA Classes and Programs in Washington

South Seattle College

Originally chartered in 1970, South Seattle College is a two-year community college that’s situated in West Seattle. SSC represents one of the three community colleges which compose the District of Seattle Colleges. Prominent programs offered at the college include health care, winemaking, aviation and construction trades.

SSC offers students a Certified Nursing Assistant program that can be completed in as little as one quarter. This course is offered four times a year. Course curriculum is designed to ready students for the Washington State Nursing Assistant Certification test and to prepare students for future work as an entry-level, direct healthcare employee. Throughout the course’s duration, students will learn basic care techniques, various procedures which are integral to nursing assistant work, how to control infections, restorative care, dealing with death and dying and more.

Healthcare facilities near Seattle that are currently hiring CNAs

  • University of Washington
  • Overlake Medical Center
  • Virginia Mason Medical Center


South Seattle College’s estimated total cost for its CNA program is $2,071. This fee covers registration, tuition, books and supplies, entrance requirements and licensing fees.

North Seattle College

Established in 1970, North Seattle College is a publicly funded college that’s situated in the city of Seattle. NSC is accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities and represents one of the three colleges that make up the Seattle Colleges District. The college is known as one of the top member colleges in its system. NSS is perhaps best known for its programs in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and math

NSC offers students a one quarter, 14 credit, 202 contact hour Certified Nursing Assistant program. Of the 202 total contact hours, 86 hours are dedicated to theory while the remaining 116 hours are dedicated to lab skills practice and a clinical externship. Included in the course’s curriculum are topics like First Aid for Healthcare, CPR, body mechanics, anatomy and physiology, HIV/AIDS, interpersonal communication skills, personal care, infection control, patient rights, community health, and more. This course is specifically designed to prepare students for future employment as an entry-level, direct-care CNA at a long-term care facility or hospital, and is offered during fall, winter and spring quarters.

Over 90% of NSC’s CNA graduates pass the Washington State Nursing Assistant certification assessment.

Healthcare facilities near Seattle that are currently hiring CNAs

  • University of Washington Medicine – Northwest Hospital & Medical Center
  • Overlake Medical Center
  • Schick Shade Hospital


To find out more about NSC’s CNA program tuition, call (206) 934-3600.

Clark College

Located in the city of Vancouver, just north of Portland, Oregon, Clark College is a two-year college what was originally founded in 1933. CC’s main campus sits on 101 acres in the middle of Vancouver’s Central Park. The institution is accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities.

Clark College’s CNA program can be completed in 10 weeks in fall and spring. During the summer, it can be finished in as little as 8 weeks. Courses meet Monday through Thursday during daytime hours. The following three courses make up the program’s entirety: Nursing Assistant Foundations/Clinical, First Aid for Health Occupations, and Basic Education. During the program, instructors will introduce CNA candidates to safety and emergency nursing procedures, nursing care techniques, patient rights and confidentiality, principles of therapeutic relationships, legal and ethical issues related to CNA work, and more.

Healthcare facilities near Vancouver that are currently hiring CNAs

  • US Department of Veteran Affairs
  • PeaceHealth
  • EmpRes Healthcare
  • Avamere Health Services


For current tuition fees for Clark College’s CNA program, call (360) 699-6398.

Bellevue College

Situated on the Eastside of Lake Washington, in the city of Bellevue, near Seattle, Bellevue College is a publicly funded community college that was first founded in 1966. With a yearly enrollment of 32,500 students, BC represents the largest of the 34 institutions that compose the Washington Community and Technical Colleges system, and the third largest post-secondary educational institution in the entire state.

BC offers students a 12-credit, one semester NAC program which consists of a total of 176 hours of instruction, split up into didactic lecture and discussion, lab skills training and a clinical experience at a local nursing home and hospital. The program is made up of the following four courses: Safety in Healthcare (AHE 120), Nursing Assistant Foundations (NAC 106), Nursing Assistant Technical Skills (NAC 107) and Nursing Assistant Practicum (NAC 108). Throughout the program’s duration, students learn a wide variety of skills which will prepare them to provide basic care to patients in a variety of settings.

Healthcare facilities near Bellevue currently hiring CNAs

  • Family Resource Home Care
  • Kindred Healthcare
  • University of Washington


To attend Bellevue College’s NAC program, in-state students can expect to pay approximately $1,155. Out-of-state residents can expect to pay approximately $2,939.


Centralia College

Originally established in 1925, Centralia College represents the oldest continuously operating community college in the entire state of Washington. This two-year, post-secondary educational institution is situated on 29 acres in the town of Centralia, serving the communities of Thurston County and Lewis County.

The Nursing Assistant program at Centralia College is made up of 9 credit hours and has been approved by the Washington State Department of Health and Department of Social Health and Services. This one-quarter long, comprehensive training program teaches students how to maintain a clean and safe environment for patients, interpersonal communication techniques, fundamental concepts of care, and more. Upon successful completion of the program, students will receive a HIV/AIDS Certification, an American Heart Association Healthcare Provider certification and of course a Nursing Assistant certification.

Healthcare facilities near Centralia that are currently hiring CNAs

  • Capital Medical Center
  • Providence Health & Services
  • Regency Olympia Rehabilitation and Nursing Center


To attend Centralia College’s NAC program, in-state students can expect to pay approximately $2,057. Out-of-state residents can expect to pay approximately $2,254, while international students can expect to pay around $4,536.

Clover Park Technical College

Clover Park Technical College is a public, 2-year post-secondary educational institution that’s situated in the Seattle suburb of Lakewood. CPTC was founded in 1942. In addition to its main campus in Lakewood, CPTC also maintains a smaller satellite campus in Puyallup.

CPTC offers students a 9-credit, 148 contact hour CNA program which is composed of three course sections—theory, lab skills and clinical practice. Throughout the duration of these three course sections, students learn the knowledge and skills integral to work as a CNA. The theory portion of the course (NAC 108) is comprised of 58 hours of didactic lecture and discussion, while NAC 111 (lab skills) is composed of 40 hours. The remaining 50 hours are dedicated to the clinical portion of the course (NAC 114). Students can enroll in this program at the beginning of fall, winter, spring and summer quarters.

Healthcare facilities near Lakewood that are currently hiring CNAs

  • Avamere Health Services
  • CHI Franciscan Health
  • State of Washington Department of Veteran Affairs


For in-state residents, tuition and fees associated with CPTC’s Nursing Assistant program amount to $1,107. Tuition and fees for out-of-state students amount to $2,704.

Seattle Central College

Originally established in 1965, Seattle Central College is a two-year community college that’s situated in the Capitol Hill neighborhood of Seattle. SCC represents one of the three colleges that make up the Seattle Colleges District. Many have referred to SCC as one of the country’s most diverse colleges.

Students can complete Seattle Central College’s CNA program in just one quarter, or about 9 weeks. During the course students will learn medical terminology, basic nursing skills, safety and emergency procedures, communication techniques, body systems, personal care skills and more.

Healthcare facilities near Seattle currently hiring CNAs

  • Overlake Medical Center
  • Kaiser Permanente
  • Newport Hospital & Health Services.


For current information on tuition and fees for Seattle Central College’s program, call (206) 934-3800.

Pierce College

First chartered in 1967, Pierce College is a two-year community college that serves the residents of Pierce County. In addition to the school’s two main campuses - in Lakewood and Puyallup, it also maintains smaller satellite campuses in South Hill, Fort Lewis, and at McChord Air Force Base.

Pierce College offers students a 12-credit NAC program which can be completed in eight to nine weeks. The program imparts the basic knowledge and skills that are required to assist patients with their daily living tasks. By the end of the course, students will know how to take vital signs, providing catheter care, dress, feed, toilet and bathe patients, as well as how to communicate effectively as a member of an interdisciplinary healthcare team. Classes meet four days a week from 8:00am to 3:00pm for the initial five weeks of the course (i.e. lecture and lab). In the remaining three to four weeks, the clinical portion of the course, classes meet from 7:00am to 3:00pm at a local healthcare facility.

Healthcare facilities near Pierce County that are currently hiring CNAs

  • Multicare Health System
  • State of Washington Department of Veteras Affairs
  • Workforce Central


Tuition and associated fees for Pierce College’s NAC program will range between $1,400 and $1,500.