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Certified Nursing Assistant Training

Be part of the next generation of vaccinated health care workers

Calling all Minnesotans: We need you to join the next generation of Minnesota health care workers.

The State of Minnesota has set a new goal to recruit, train, and employ at least 1,000 new certified nursing assistants for Minnesota long-term care facilities experiencing staffing shortages by the end of January 2022.

Start your new career as a certified nursing assistant (CNA) today and the State of Minnesota will cover the cost of tuition, books, uniform, and the certification exam. On average, CNA training runs a total of 75 hours, with the courses lasting 2-3 weeks. A variety of dates and times are offered, with new options being added regularly.

That’s right, a new career in the new year, at no-cost to you.

Find a Program

The following training providers are offering free courses as part of this initiative:
    • New Course alert: Pine Technical & Community College will offer training in Onamia starting February 7 at the Mille Lacs Healthcare System building. To learn more and/or register, please contact Kathy Reid at or 320-629-4563 OR DiAnna Abrahamsen at or 320-629-5176.

If you do not see a program offered in your area, sign up on this website to receive more information. By signing up, you will receive communication on how to access training and upcoming courses as they become available.

Getting certified and finding a job

After you have completed your training, you will be able to schedule your certification exam, at no-cost to you. Your training provider can help with this process.

There are currently 15,000 open CNA positions throughout Minnesota. Once you are certified, we encourage you to apply for a position at a long-term care facility or veteran home in your area.

Program eligibility:

  • Free CNA training is open to all Minnesotans who are 16 or older and able to work in the United States. 
  • Each program/college may have their own enrollment requirements. 
  • Some training providers may require background checks. 
  • All employers will require background checks. 
  • Employers will require CNAs are up-to-date on their vaccinations, including the COVID-19 vaccination. 

Progress toward meeting the 1,000 CNA goal:

(Student enrollment data as of 1/26/22)
  • Total enrolled in free CNA training: 558 students
    • Number enrolled through public training provider: 438 students
    • Number enrolled through private training provider: 120 students
  • Total Number of high school students enrolled in CNA Training: 338
    • Number of high school students completing their training between January and March 2022: 139 students
    • Number of high school students completing their training in May/June 2022: 199 students

Grant Opportunity for High Schools: Expanding Minnesota High School Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) Grant - FY22

To support this initiative, a new grant is now available to help establish CNA training programs at Minnesota high schools in any school district that doesn’t already have a CNA program. The initiative funds will cover approved equipment, supplies, and curriculum costs to establish the new classrooms.
  • Due Date: February 22, 2022 at 4 P.M. Central Standard Time
  • Total amount available: $150.000.00
  • Maximum grant amount: $15,000.00
  • Minimum grant amount: $5,000.00
  • Submit all required material to


Completed applications due: February 22, 2022 at 4:00 P.M. Central Standard Time
Anticipated date of grantee announcement: Mid-March

Required Grant Documentation

All documentation below is required for a complete grant. A complete application submission will included Application and Assurances, Application Narrative and Excel Budget, along with any other documentation that is requested in the Instruction Document.
Instruction Document

  • This document contains all the information you will need to complete this grant application, including our criteria for the grant, how to apply, and the selection process.

Application Narrative and Assurances

  • This is the official cover sheet and application narrative. Please download and complete all fields and the narrative portions of the application. All completed applications must be sent to by February 22, 2022 by 4:00 p.m. We will not consider late applications.


  • You must complete the budget document and submit it to us in an Excel format.

For more information on this grant, visit the Minnesota Department of Education website.

Why did the State of Minnesota set this goal?

Good question! According to data from the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development, nursing assistants are the sixth highest in-demand job in the state. This need has only been exacerbated by the pandemic, and the current pipeline of students pursing a CNA credential is not poised to meet the demand.

To address this need, the Minnesota Office of Higher Education is convening a work group of state agencies, higher education institutions, and long-term care providers to implement the recruiting and training program. The initiative will offer resources and support to those pursuing a CNA credential from the first day of class to the first day on the job. This includes covering costs for tuition, fees, and materials. Additional investments will support transportation and technology needs for students.

The program will also provide up to 10 high schools with funds for lab equipment necessary to offer nursing assistant training classes on site. Information on how high schools can apply to be considered will be provided shortly. This website will be updated at that time.

The initiative is made possible through federal American Rescue Plan funds.

Member organizations of the workgroup include:

  • Care Providers of Minnesota
  • Leading Age MN
  • Minnesota Department of Education
  • Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development
  • Minnesota Department of Health
  • Minnesota Department of Human Services
  • Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry
  • Minnesota Department of Veterans Affairs
  • Minnesota Office of Higher Education

Read the press release from Governor Tim Walz announcing this initiative.

For questions about the initiative, contact