Free CNA Training in Pennsylvania: The Step By Step Guide

CNA Training in Pennsylvania

Free CNA Training in Pennsylvania: The Step By Step Guide

Did you know you can get free CNA training in the state of Pennsylvania through employer reimbursement when taking a job at a long term care facility or nursing home? We walk you through how to get the full cost of Certified Nurse Aide training, including testing, free after reimbursement. Plus, we share other avenues to get free CNA training and which training programs are available in PA and in Philadelphia. 

Short on time? We sum up right here the steps to get the full cost of your CNA training reimbursed when you take a job as a CNA in a nursing home.


VIDEO: The CareBridge Academy CNA School Experience


Can I take a CNA class for free?

Yes! All students can get nursing assistant training for free. 

Steps to get free CNA training

  1. Students enroll in a Certified Nurse Aide course and pay the cost up front
  2. Graduates of the CNA class will then take and pass the state competency exam for nursing assistants. 
  3. New nursing assistants get hired in a nursing home or long term care facility within one year of passing the state CNA exam and work 260 total hours.
  4. State and federal regulations require the nursing home to reimburse the full cost of the program, including the testing fees. Half of the reimbursement takes place after the CNA works 130 hours, with the rest of the reimbursement occurring after another 130 hours worked.
  5. After getting full reimbursement, the Certified Nurse Aide course and exam are effectively free!


Interested? Read below to find out about life as a CNA. Finally, at the end of the article we list other programs that pay for the cost of your training upfront which means no money out of pocket! Plus, we discuss even more resources to launch your nursing assistant career.


free CNA training

Free CNA training can lead to a satisfying healthcare career as a certified nurse aide and nursing assistant.

What is a CNA?

Certified nurse aides and nursing assistants (CNAs) are trained and certified healthcare providers. In many ways, CNAs make up the foundation of the nursing field in a variety of settings. These occupations make up crucial healthcare workers, also known as direct care workers. CNAs often make up the majority of workers in nursing homes and long term care facilities. There are over 15,000 across America. This isn’t even taking into consideration the CNAs across other healthcare segments like assisted living, hospitals, and in home healthcare. 

In their positions, CNAs usually provide the majority of hands-on patient care duties. They might include assisting patients with activities; grooming, dressing, bathing, assistance walking, transferring from one place to another, positioning and turning bed bound patients, feeding, and toileting are all examples. These activities are known as activities of daily living, or ADLs. CNAs will help in a variety of other ways in which we discuss further below.

Are you thinking about a new career as a nursing assistant? Alternatively, have you graduated from a CNA course within the last 12 months? If so, find out how you can get your tuition, testing fees, and school incurred expenses reimbursed as required under federal and state of Pennsylvania law. In essence, that means that your CNA course and testing will be free upon being eligible for reimbursement under state guidelines!

CNA free class

What does a CNA do?

CNAs work directly under the supervision of a licensed nurse (LPN or RN). They are an important part of the overall healthcare team. CNAs will assist residents or patients with their activities of daily living. In addition to assistance with ADLs, CNAs will collect important information like vital signs, as well as intake & output of the care recipient. They will report this information to the licensed nurse. The nursing assistant works hard to ensure that their patients or residents are comfortable and safe.

Where can I work as a CNA?

Becoming a certified nurse aide offers plenty of possibilities. As a nursing assistant (CNA), you can work in hospitals, assisted living facilities, adult daycare centers, home care agencies, and more. However, as you will learn, to get full tuition reimbursement under the Pennsylvania state approved model, effectively making the CNA training free, the CNA will need to work in a long term care facility or nursing home to start. The CNA can move to other healthcare settings after this. In fact, many CNAs may work in a variety of settings during their career and often do. 

What does a Pennsylvania license look like?

There is no formal CNA certification or license issued by paper. Rather, one must visit the online nurse aide registry as seen here and click on the Pennsylvania Department of Health. We show an example below of a current valid CNA license. As you can see, it lists the nurse aide’s name, registration number, issue date, effective date of the current CNA certification, and the date of expiration, among others. Best of all, the test which leads to your PA nursing assistant license can also be free after eligible reimbursement.

free cna course

CNA license example through Pennsylvania

Can I work in a long term care facility before obtaining a license? If so, how long can I work in the facility without having my CNA certification?

In Pennsylvania state, individuals interested in obtaining their CNA license can work in a long-term care facility for a period of up to 120 days. Day one starts from the beginning of the first day of employment. During this time, the employee must complete an approved CNA training program. They also need to successfully pass the CNA certification exam and get the results within the allowed timeframe. 

In practice, in most cases nursing homes and long term care facilities will only hire someone who has already completed the program. Generally, this will only apply when the individual is pending completion of the state examination. Remember, long-term care facilities are nursing homes. Other medical settings, such as hospitals or home healthcare agencies do not qualify.

What is the cost of the CNA course?

certified nurse aide reimbursement

The CNA course at CareBridge Academy costs $1745. This cost is all inclusive though. That means that the cost listed here includes classroom materials, uniforms, and textbooks for this particular course. Costs can vary across different providers. However, the costs mentioned here are around average. 

That being said, with CareBridge Academy’s CNA training, you get free job placement assistance and access to dozens of area employers looking for CNA graduates. That’s not to mention the premier instruction offered by CareBridge Academy’s highly qualified and experienced RN and LPN nurse instructors. Plus, as you will see, the entire cost of the CNA training can be free when you meet the criteria! The nursing assistant test that leads to certification as a CNA is a different fee and is managed under a different organization. Fortunately, this fee is also reimbursable as a training cost for nursing assistants. 

What is the cost of the CNA test?

The cost of the CNA test in Pennsylvania is $135. 

What does the test consist of?

The test, managed and distributed by Pearson VUE, includes a skills exam as well as a written exam portion. Each CNA applicant must pass both examinations before being listed on the Pennsylvania Nurse Aide Registry.

Where can I take the CNA test?

You can find a list of locations where you can take the CNA test here. This includes all testing locations across the state of Pennsylvania. 

How do I get reimbursed for my CNA course which makes the training free?

The long term care nursing facility that hires and employs you is responsible for the full payment of training and testing costs that you paid. Federal law in the United States prohibits the expenses of the training and testing to be charged to the CNA. 

You are not required to immediately begin working in a nursing home or long term care facility to be eligible for this reimbursement. The CNA just needs to be employed or receive an offer of employment within 12 months of completing the CNA program. Then, you can be reimbursed by the long-term care facility that hires and employs you. For example, if a CNA graduates from the CareBridge Academy program and passes the CNA test, then gets hired at a home healthcare agency for a 6 month period before switching jobs to work in a nursing home, they are still eligible for the full reimbursement. 

Reimbursements for CNA training are made on a prorated basis. To demonstrate, CNAs will be reimbursed for half the cost of training and testing after working at the long-term care facility for 130 hours. The additional half of the training and testing costs are reimbursed after working at the facility for an additional 130 hours. The CNA will need to provide written documentation to the long-term care facility to support your request for payment.

CNA reimbursement example

Let’s finish with an example for interested individuals to understand. If a CNA student comes into the program at CareBridge Academy and completes the course as well as successfully passes the exam on their first try, they will have paid a total of $130. If they begin working immediately and are working a full-time, 40 hour per week job at a nursing home, they should receive $748.50 after approximately 25-30 days. Then, if they continue to work at approximately a full time basis, they should receive the additional $748.50 reimbursement within another 25-30 days. 

As you can see, the student will end up receiving the entire cost of the CNA training for free! They will just need to pay the cost of the program up front and then wait to get a reimbursement. 

What if I don’t pass the program or the test? Can it still be reimbursable or free training?

CNA classes pennsylvania

It is possible that a student could fail to pass the program or test. However, CareBridge Academy and other CNA courses will generally work with students to ensure successful program completion. The student should abide by all attendance requirements and make every effort to succeed. While the program is not a 100 percent pass rate, school administration will attempt to help students overcome any barriers that they may have. 

Plus, CareBridge Academy works with students before enrolling into the CNA program. They will work with the individual to try and overcome any barriers that they may have and ensure that they are successful. 

As far as the test goes, fortunately students are allowed to take the test again if they do not pass one or both sections on the first try. Luckily, if you only fail to pass one section you do not have to retake both test sections. Therefore, for bad test takers or students worried about failing the test, do not worry. While the success rate is not 100 percent, you can have an additional attempt to pass if you need it. Keep in mind though, that you will have to pay additional testing fees if you need to take one or both sections of the CNA test. In total, the student has three opportunities to retake all or part of the exam.

If I have to take the exam multiple times, are those costs reimbursable?

CNA test

Yes! The cost of the testing up to three times is also reimbursable. Therefore, even if you have to take the CNA course and then need three attempts to complete the exam, you will still get full reimbursement. If you meet all of the requirements, your CNA training and testing will all be free after reimbursement.

What proof or evidence do I need to provide to get reimbursement by the facility?

The CNA course that you successfully completed and paid for as well as the Pearson Vue test site will provide exactly one receipt each. They will be considered proof of payment for the training and testing in the nursing assistant program. The CNA will simply need to provide this documentation to the long term care facility and that’s all the evidence they need to get reimbursement. 

Be sure to not lose this documentation! CNA schools and testing services are only allowed to provide one copy of the receipt of payment. Therefore, if an individual loses the information, they cannot get reimbursement. This is to prevent an individual from getting reimbursement from more than one nursing home

Is the CNA training free if I have to pay up front costs?

CNA free class

It is, if you meet all of the requirements mentioned here. The state of Pennsylvania has a wonderful program in place that allows prospective CNAs minimize the financial burden of becoming a CNA through its approved nursing assistant reimbursement program. As mentioned, the costs of CNA certification truly are free after meeting the requirements and getting the costs of the training and testing covered during employment in the Certified Nurse Aide role. 

However, as you can see, there will be some costs that the students will need to incur and there is no guarantee that a student will pass the training or that they will find employment as a CNA. There are a few options that we discuss below that may also allow for free CNA training without the student needing to pay out of pocket costs to be reimbursed later. 

We would like to mention though that the employment outlook for CNAs is truly incredible though. As you will see, there are many employment opportunities for prospective nursing assistants. Plus, the number of jobs continues to grow. Therefore, while nothing is guaranteed, jobs in nursing homes and long term care facilities are plentiful. 

Employment outlook for Certified Nursing Assistants

CNA course

The job outlook for CNAs is projected to be fantastic and there is a huge need for nursing assistants, even right now. Occupations as a CNA are estimated to increase much faster in comparison to other occupations in America, according to projections. The US Bureau of Labor Statistics has projected an 8 percent overall increase in CNA jobs in America through 2028. The projected increase in available jobs for all occupations is just half that over the same period at 4 percent. Plus, this estimation only includes future CNA jobs that will be added as a result of an aging population. It does not include the thousands of open CNA jobs across America, or even in Pennsylvania, right now.

Are there other ways to get CNA training for free?

Yes. Some nursing homes will offer their own CNA courses in house. In these scenarios, you will be expected to complete the CNA training program at the organization. Then, you will be required to work at the facility for a specified amount of time. If you don’t, you could be held responsible for some or all of the cost of the CNA course. However, this is a great option for individuals who may not have the funds to pay for the CNA program up front!

There may be other avenues as well for an interested CNA to attain their certification for free. The most common way to be able to do this would be through Pennsylvania’s PA Careerlink program. Keep in mind that you will need to be considered eligible under their own set of criteria. That being said, it’s a great option to get free CNA training for interested individuals that happen to qualify!

Programs that offer Certified Nurse Aide training with no upfront fees!

Are there other programs available to cover the cost of my nursing assistant program?


CareBridge Academy works with several community partners that may cover the cost of your CNA program. Our partnerships include:


Long Term Care Facility Partnerships

Direct training for students on behalf of a nursing home. CareBridge Academy has several partnerships with different area nursing homes. The nursing home agrees to pay for the cost of the training upfront, and in exchange, the student commits to working at the facility after graduation.

PA Careerlink Sponsored Training

Sponsored training for eligible individuals through PA Careerlink of Philadelphia. CareBridge Academy is a proud partner and approved training organization through PA Careerlink and Philadelphia Works

Eligibility through this program might include people that:

  • Are unemployed, dislocated, or have received notice of a layoff
  • Are lacking marketable skills to obtain work with a self-sustaining wage
  • Need workforce training services to obtain or retain employment for higher wages
  • Are unable to obtain grant assistance from other sources to pay the cost of training (e.g., Trade Adjustment Assistance or Federal Pell Grants)
  • Demonstrate the skills and qualifications for being successful in a training program


Eckerd Connects Youth Training & Paid On-The-Job Experience 

Eckerd Connects is paying for the full cost of training for eligible individuals who enroll in CareBridge Academy’s Home Health Aide (HHA) certification course provided by CareBridge Academy.  The course runs 75 clock hours over a total of 4 weeks. 

On top of that, newly certified graduates are placed into a paid on the job training program with a variety of local healthcare companies! This is a great way to get both a certification as well as get paid while gaining valuable experience in a variety of medical settings.

In addition to the Home Health Aide training, individuals may be able to get approval to get placed directly into the nursing assistant program!

To be eligible, the student must be:

  • Between the ages of 16 and 24
  • A Philadelphia resident
  • Not currently in school. The candidate does not need a high school diploma or GED, they just can’t currently be enrolled in school (high school or college)


Are you interested in free training and paid job experience in our Certified Nurse Aide or Home Health Aide Program? Drop us a line and let us know by contacting us today!


The CareBridge Academy CNA Course

CNA classes pennsylvania

CareBridge Academy offers a high quality CNA class in the greater Philadelphia, Pennsylvania region. CareBridge Academy commenced its CNA course because it found a lack of affordable and comprehensive training classes available in Philadelphia. Plus, with the CareBridge Academy CNA training, courses are offered regularly and flexibly with various options and start dates. Classes include day, night, weekend, and part-time CNA classes that are offered. 

We work one-on-one with our students in a supportive setting. This is done to ensure that students can successfully complete the course and test on their way to getting free CNA training after eligible reimbursement. 

Check out CareBridge Academy’s 120 hour CNA class which includes 55 hours working in a clinical setting. This means students get hands-on practice in a nursing home with real patients and residents. To learn more about CareBridge Academy or to reach out to us with any questions, contact us here.

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