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How to select the best CNA program

November 18, 2021

Do an online search for “best CNA programs near me,” and the number of results can be intimidating — more than 75 million possibilities!

So, how do you decide which CNA schools are legitimate and worth a closer look, and which are a waste of time and possibly money? Below you’ll find some easy ways to determine if a training course is serving its students well.

1. Find out if it's free or too good to be true.

Free and low-cost training might seem too good to be true. And, sometimes it is. You’ll want to check the fine print for eligibility requirements, additional unlisted costs and long-term obligations. That said, legitimate programs that offer scholarships and other methods to secure your CNA training tuition free can be an accessible path to career advancement. So, do your homework, find the real deal, and then take advantage of any financial aid you can get! 

Learn about NextStep’s tuition scholarship.


NextStep offers a tuition scholarship funded by our respected long-term-care employers. To be eligible, learners commit to a minimum of 90 days in a paid, full-time CNA position with one of our employer partners. This is not an internship or externship. Our graduates receive full, competitive pay for their work. For full details about our scholarship tuition and additional non-tuition costs of becoming state certified, visit our FAQs on program costs for the state you intend to work in.

Colorado program costs

Washington program costs

Oregon program costs

2. Check the reviews.

Whether you’re picking out a movie or buying an electric toothbrush, the internet offers no shortage of opinions. The same applies to CNA schools. One of the best ways to tell if a CNA school is on the level is to read what people are saying about it. TrustPilot is a great resource because the company actively works to prevent fake reviews and promote transparency.

Learn what learners and grads have to say about NextStep’s CNA program.


NextStep currently averages 4 out of 5 stars on TrustPilot. Our CNA program was rated excellent by 59% of reviewers, who called the program “awesome,” “amazing” and “wonderful.” The reviews on our Facebook page are equally positive!

“NextStep helps you out through the whole process — classes, clinicals, job, understanding step by step. Loved the program. Great mentors, teachers. Just AMAZING!!!!!!” — Cindy, NextStep learner

“It was so easy to access. I could literally work on the NextStep program anywhere and anytime. I was also placed in a job and facility that I love.” — NextStep graduate

“I needed to further my education but at the same time take care of my family, and NextStep gave me the opportunity... I feel like everybody interested in being a CNA should take the NextStep course!” — Mercedes, NextStep learner

3. Find out if the CNA program is state certified.

Most states require CNAs to attend a state-certified training program. There’s a good reason for that: certification means a CNA school meets a rigorous set of education standards that ensure learners can safely — and legally — practice as a nursing assistant in the state. To find out if a CNA school is state certified, just check with your state’s board of health or nursing.

Learn about NextStep’s state certifications.


In the three states where NextStep currently operates, our CNA program has been accredited by the Colorado State Board of Nursing, the State of Washington Department of Health and the Oregon State Board of Nursing.

4. Read the fine print.

You can tell a lot about how legitimate a CNA school is based on how clear its policies are. Being able to understand exactly how the program works and what will be expected from you as a learner is especially important when your time and money are at stake. 

Information you’ll want to look for should include cost (including incidental expenses, such as textbooks and medical check-ups), how long the course will take, and what will happen if you can’t complete it. Knowing the exact content of the curriculum — and how and where learning will happen — is also useful to know when assessing a CNA school. 

Get the details about NextStep’s CNA program.


Want to know more about the specifics of the NextStep CNA program? Choose the FAQs for the state you plan to work in below to find out the specifics of our curriculum, how to qualify for a tuition-free scholarship, what we mean by blended learning and lots more.

NextStep FAQs




For even more detail, visit our course policies and End User Licensing Agreements below. Transparency is important to us. We want learners to know what’s expected of them and what they can expect from us.

NextStep course policies

Colorado policies / EULA

Washington policies / EULA

Oregon policies / EULA

5. See who the CNA school does business with.

A CNA school’s partnerships with other organizations are also good indicators of quality. Check to see which long-term-care providers endorse or partner with the school. Which investors are providing funding to the school? Has the school won any awards? These relationships are a great window into how legitimate the program is.

Learn about NextStep’s partnerships.


In 2020 NextStep was awarded the Frontline Health Worker Prize by Village Capital and Johnson & Johnson Impact Ventures. We’re backed by forward-thinking investors and partner with more than 75 well respected long-term-care providers in the regions where our program operates.

6. See how the CNA school’s graduates are doing.

Where a CNA school’s graduates end up working and their continuing career achievements can provide a good clue into the quality of their education. Most CNA schools will showcase graduates who are high achievers. If a school doesn’t, that’s a warning sign. Since many people list their education on LinkedIn, you can do a quick search for the school you’re considering and then take a look at the profiles of their graduates.

Find out what NextStep grads are up to now.


One of the things that distinguishes NextStep’s CNA program is the success it brings to its learners — learners like Matt Maneotis who, less than three months after graduating as a CNA, was named Employee of the Month at Life Care Center of Evergreen.

And he’s not alone. We surveyed our graduates in 2020 and found their projected lifetime earnings increased by nearly 60% on average after attending the NextStep CNA program.

7. Ask questions.

If you still have questions after going through this checklist, don’t hesitate to reach out directly to the CNA school. A legitimate organization will be happy to respond with any details you’re still missing. 

Questions about NextStep’s CNA program?


Contact us at

Once you’ve gone through all of the above steps and everything checks out, you can feel confident about enrolling in a training course. If that CNA program is NextStep, even better! We value our commitment to quality and transparency — it’s how we make sure you become the best CNA you can and find a career that really matters.

Ready to enroll? Click below! 

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