CNA Programs: Online versus Classroom

While looking into CNA training programs, the first decision to make is whether to take classes online or in a classroom. Learn about the pros and cons of both approaches in this article.
CNA Programs: Online versus Classroom

The path to becoming a Certified Nursing Assistant, or CNA, is pretty straightforward. You complete a state-approved program, take and pass a state licensing exam, earn your license, and find a job. As for the learning, however, there's one fairly major decision to make: whether to complete it online or in an actual classroom. Since many of the skills needed by CNAs must be demonstrated and practiced in person, online programs have hands-on components too. Lectures and the like are conducted completely online, however. By understanding the main differences between the two approaches, it will be much easier to make this important decision.

CNA Education in the Classroom

Many people gravitate toward CNA programs that are held in the classroom because they prefer to see and interact with teachers and fellow students in person. If such programs are convenient to you and offer what you need, completing your CNA program at a nearby community college or vocational or technical school may be the right choice.


A few advantages of completing CNA education in the classroom include:

  • More Hands-On Experience - These programs typically involve more hands-on education, which many CNAs believe gives them the experience they need to hit the ground running.
  • More Traditional - Like many aspiring CNAs, you may simply prefer a more traditional approach.
  • More Structured - Some students work well on their own. Others need the structure that's provided by a classroom setting.


There are drawbacks to a classroom setting too, and they include:

  • Less Flexible - Since you have to be at a certain place at a certain time, classroom CNA learning may not be right for people with full-time jobs.
  • Less Autonomy - If you thrive in situations where you're given less direction, you may not do as well with in-class CNA learning.

Online CNA Schooling

Thanks to the Internet, there's no need to be present in a classroom for hours every week to complete CNA schooling. This has revolutionized the way people learn, and it has made it easier than ever for busy working adults to hold down full-time jobs while advancing their educations.


The main advantages of completing CNA classes online include:

  • More Flexibility - With the exception of clinical education, you don't have to be at a certain place at a certain time with online CNA programs. You can watch lectures and complete assignments largely on your own schedule.
  • Less Supervision - Some students work better when they are left to their own devices. If you prefer not to have a teacher present constantly, online CNA learning may be the way to go.


As great as it can be, online CNA schooling has its drawbacks too. They include:

  • More Confusing - If you've never tried online school before, it can be pretty confusing at first. That's especially true if you tend to struggle with online technology in general.
  • Less Structured - While many students prefer completing tasks as they see fit, others require the structure that is provided by a classroom setting.
  • Less Social - Many students enjoy the social aspect of attending class every day in an actual classroom and are the better for it. You miss out on much of this with online learning.


Since many CNA programs are hybrid, meaning they are both online and offline, you may be able to enjoy the best of both worlds. In the meantime, learn more about both options to ensure you make the decision that's right for you.

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