Healthcare Career Training or Community College in Tampa: Which Is Right for You?
If you’re looking to get into healthcare, becoming a CNA can be a great way to start an entry-level career in an in-demand field. And with a relatively short training period compared to other healthcare careers, nursing assistants can usually start within months—rather than years—of beginning a training program.
Fortunately, you have plenty of options when it comes to finding a CNA training program that works for you, from traditional community college certificate programs to fast-track career training. But how do you decide which training path to pursue for your CNA career?
Learn about some of the most common education paths for nursing assistants and what to consider when looking at CNA training options.
Types of CNA Education Paths
Although Florida is a “challenge” state, which means you can take the CNA test without going through approved training, the vast majority of employers prefer hiring certified nursing assistants who’ve graduated from a reputable training program.
Two of the most popular and comprehensive training options are CNA career training and community college nursing assistant programs.
CNA Career Training
Programs that specialize in training CNAs can be the perfect opportunity for obtaining targeted education, especially if you’re certain you want to become a nursing assistant. This type of career training is focused, efficient, and aims to get you certified and working as quickly as possible.
Premier Nursing Academy is a career training program that offers students accelerated CNA training in a 6-week format, along with a guaranteed job after graduation.
Community College or Vocational School CNA Training
A more traditional route to healthcare training is enrolling in a CNA program at a community college or vocational school. These schools generally have dozens of courses in various subjects to choose from, and students can pursue CNA training as part of a larger educational degree or certificate program.
CNA Training Considerations
As you research different nursing assistant programs, it helps to keep your overall career goals, schedule constraints, and life obligations in mind to find the best fit. Here’s what students should consider when looking at career training or community college for CNA training.
Length of CNA Program
CNA career training provides quicker entry into a nursing assistant career than community or vocational college. For example, Premier Nursing Academy’s certified nursing assistant program takes six weeks to complete. In contrast, the comparable program at Santa Fe College in Gainesville takes a full semester, about 15 weeks. That’s more than double the length of a career training course.
Shorter career training programs enable you to begin working (and making an income!) much faster, while longer programs at community colleges may require fewer hours per week of schooling so you can more easily attend class around other life obligations.
CNA Program Cost
The cost of CNA training programs can vary, ranging from free to thousands of dollars. On the whole, community colleges generally offer affordable training to aspiring nursing assistants. For instance, Tallahassee Community College’s nurse assistant program costs $337.28. However, some public colleges charge significantly more—over $2,071 for Santa Fe College’s program.
Some CNA career training programs charge a premium for nursing assistant training, but Premier Nursing Academy’s program is completely free to students.
Location of CNA Program
Although you may be able to find online training for some portions of your CNA course, any comprehensive program will require in-person training, so location should always be a factor.
Whether you go with career training or community college, finding a location that’s close to home not only makes your commute easier, but your training provider may have relationships with nearby employers that you can work for after graduating.
Nursing Assistant Job Placement
As with any college, community colleges and vocational schools may have a career center that can provide you with resources to help you apply for and land a CNA position. However, it’s ultimately up to you to find your own job after getting certified.
Premier Nursing Academy matches students with employer partners during training, so they have guaranteed jobs after graduation. Employers also cover students’ CNA exam costs for the first attempt.
CNA Program Flexibility
Class schedules vary for every school, but career programs focused solely on CNA training tend to have more flexibility than community colleges. The Premier Nursing Academy Pinellas Park location offers three different schedules to meet students’ diverse needs, with morning, afternoon, and evening class options.
Community and vocational colleges offer part-time class schedules but usually have limited semester-long options that don’t allow you to pick a specific schedule that works around the rest of your life.
Variety of Programs
If you’re looking for a place that offers a variety of schooling options, a community college or vocational school may be the better choice—especially if you think you may want to switch your focus. If you’re in a CNA program at a community college and decide to switch programs or pursue a higher degree in nursing, you have that option.
Career training at a CNA-specific school is limited to nursing assistant training, but it does enable you to get to work in a shorter amount of time. If you want to continue your nursing education, you can enroll in community college and work toward a higher degree while bringing in income from your CNA job.
Choosing Your CNA Program
When deciding between a more traditional community college path vs. targeted career training, considering all the above can help you choose a CNA program that’s best for your unique situation. While community colleges and vocational schools have more certificate and degree options if you decide to pursue another career, CNA career training is generally a quicker, more affordable option if you know you want to be a nursing assistant.