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Certified Nursing Assistant Training

Be part of the next generation of vaccinated health care workers

Program Update: The state has met its goal of recruiting and training 1,000 new nursing assistants through this free training initiative. Read Governor Walz’s press release on meeting the goal.

Governor Walz has proposed continued investment in free nursing assistant training. If that recommendation is funded during the 2022 legislative session, we will update this webpage with more information.

Find a Program

Minnesota State University, Mankato is offering 3 Next Generation Nursing Assistant classes this fall. Classes start September 5, October 3, and October 31. For more information and to apply, visit the Minnesota State University, Mankato website.

Register to take your certification exam

If you received free training through this initiative, the next step is to take your certification exam. For anyone who received free training through this initiative, your certification exam fee will be provided at no cost to you.

Note: Top complete certification, you will need to take a skills test AND a knowledge test.

Find/sign up for your skills and knowledge tests:

Once certified, you will be able eligible for employment at any hospital, veterans homes, or long-term care facility in Minnesota.

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 3/29/22)

  • Total enrolled in free CNA training: 940 students
    • Number enrolled through public training provider: 647 students
    • Number enrolled through private training provider: 293 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

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 initial press release from Governor Tim Walz announcing this initiative.

For questions about the initiative, contact