How to Become a Home Care Assistant

What Does a Home Care Assistant Do?

home care assistant feeding an elderly client

Home care assistants serve a vital role in providing much-needed assistance to the elderly, disabled, and chronically ill populations within our communities. They care for patients who independently are unable to maintain good hygiene, proper nutrition, and a clean living space. They may also assist with daily activities and recreation if needed by the patient.

“Home care assistant” is a generalized term often used to refer collectively to two different branches of assistants: personal care aides and home health aides. Each branch varies in job function and responsibilities.

Home health aides (HHAs) help patients with personal necessities like dressing, bathing, and hygiene needs. By assisting with housekeeping and other IADLs (instrumental activities of daily life) like cooking and laundry, HHAs enable clients to live safely in their own homes, greatly improving their quality of life in the process. Aides may have to document the patient’s condition and the care that they provide, along with any problems encountered during care, submitting this report to a supervisor. In some cases, HHAs also facilitate transportation and leisure activities for clients. Depending on the state regulations, they may be able to take vital signs, give medications, and perform basic wound dressing changes as needed.

Personal care aides assist patients with self-care and everyday tasks as well as provide some clients with much needed companionship. Personal care aides are sometimes known by other titles, including caregiver, companion, and personal attendant. They often perform tasks similar to those of home health aides; however, they cannot provide any type of medical-related services, whereas home health aides may be able to provide basic medical services depending on state regulations.

Workplace Details

The word “home” within the title of home care assistant would suggest that the environment is primarily within an individual’s home, but this is not necessarily true. While most home care assistants do work in homes, their job functions may also be performed in a variety of provider settings such as retirement homes, community centers, residential group homes, and even nursing care facilities. An assistant may care for one individual or many, depending on the provider setting in which he or she works. The length of time during which a home care assistant may work with a client or clients varies from one day to multiple years. Work may include nights, weekends, and holidays depending on the requirements of the employer or the private client with whom the assistant is working.

Salary and Job Outlook

State
Average Wage
New York
$24150
Texas
$20550
Ohio
$21450
Pennsylvania
$23340
North Carolina
$20170

Hover over any state to explore local income and job growth data.

Created with Raphaël 2.1.0 AL AK AZ AR CA CO CT DE DC FL GA HI ID IL IN IA KS KY LA ME MD MA MI MN MS MO MT NE NV NH NJ NM NY NC ND OH OK OR PA RI SC SD TN TX UT VT VA WA WV WI WY

ALABAMA
Median Salary: 
$18,900
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $16,100
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $25,500

2014-2024 Job Growth: 32%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 480

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Birmingham$15,960$18,060$23,200
Huntsville$16,150$19,080$24,020

ALASKA
Median Salary: 
$30,800
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $21,300
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $38,000

2014-2024 Job Growth: 13%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 60

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Anchorage$20,520$29,290$37,520
Fairbanks$20,340$22,750$25,830

ARIZONA
Median Salary: 
$22,300
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $17,700
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $30,000

2014-2024 Job Growth: 30%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 870

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Phoenix$17,650$22,170$29,900
Tuscon$17,800$22,890$30,000

ARKANSAS
Median Salary: 
$18,000
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $15,200
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $23,800

2014-2024 Job Growth: 16%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 280

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Little Rock$15,610$21,020$25,870
Fort Smith$16,300$18,940$25,860

CALIFORNIA
Median Salary: 
$23,800
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $19,300
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $43,100

2014-2024 Job Growth: 39%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 2,030

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Los Angeles$19,160$23,070$53,260
San Francisco Bay$19,390$25,270$38,300
San Diego$20,290$26,000$39,330
Sacramento$19,090$24,610$53,620

COLORADO
Median Salary: 
$24,000
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $18,700
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $36,800

2014-2024 Job Growth: 58%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 1,210

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Denver$19,240$24,850$38,180
Colorado Springs$18,800$22,690$30,060

CONNECTICUT
Median Salary: 
$26,800
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $20,100
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $32,500

2014-2024 Job Growth: 24%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 400

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Hartford$20,410$27,020$33,810
Bridgeport$20,600$25,990$30,730
New Haven$19,540$27,100$31,960

DELAWARE
Median Salary: 
$27,200
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $21,400
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $44,000

2014-2024 Job Growth: 30%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 150

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Wilmington$21,480$27,710$45,790
Dover$21,400$26,620$30,360

DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA
Median Salary: 
$26,200
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $20,800
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $30,300

2014-2024 Job Growth: 47%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 380

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Washington DC$20,050$25,790$30,440

FLORIDA
Median Salary: 
$22,100
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $18,000
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $29,700

2014-2024 Job Growth: 35%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 1,490

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Miami$17,830$21,810$30,170
Orlando$17,920$21,980$28,420
Tampa$17,890$21,850$27,410
Jacksonville$17,930$21,840$33,630

GEORGIA
Median Salary: 
$19,800
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $16,300
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $28,000

2014-2024 Job Growth: 44%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 560

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Atlanta$16,600$20,630$28,150
Augusta$16,070$18,920$24,380

HAWAII
Median Salary: 
$26,500
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $17,600
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $36,300

2014-2024 Job Growth: 33%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 150

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Honolulu$17,700$26,910$36,750

IDAHO
Median Salary: 
$19,800
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $16,300
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $29,800

2014-2024 Job Growth: 41%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 1,770

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Boise$16,640$22,140$30,410
Idaho Falls$16,190$18,960$28,900

ILLINOIS
Median Salary: 
$22,300
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $18,700
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $30,600

2014-2024 Job Growth: 26%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 1,570

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Chicago$18,680$22,230$30,380
Rockford$19,650$22,730$37,040

INDIANA
Median Salary: 
$21,900
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $17,100
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $28,400

2014-2024 Job Growth: 40%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 840

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Indianapolis$17,470$22,490$28,980
South Bend$16,690$20,050$26,150
Fort Wayne$17,100$21,590$25,470

IOWA
Median Salary: 
$23,200
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $18,900
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $30,300

2014-2024 Job Growth: 32%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 550

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Des Moines$20,350$24,130$30,770
Cedar Rapids$20,270$26,140$38,700

KANSAS
Median Salary: 
$22,700
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $19,600
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $28,800

2014-2024 Job Growth: 24%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 260

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Wichita$17,680$22,130$27,620
Kansas City$20,330$23,370$30,100

KENTUCKY
Median Salary: 
$21,900
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $16,800
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $34,600

2014-2024 Job Growth: 59%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 340

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Louisville$16,860$21,210$28,360
Lexington$19,720$25,880$34,990

LOUISIANA
Median Salary: 
$18,800
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $16,100
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $28,100

2014-2024 Job Growth: 33%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 650

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
New Orleans$16,500$21,220$32,600
Baton Rouge$16,090$18,290$29,180
Lafayette$16,040$18,520$26,140

MAINE
Median Salary: 
$22,900
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $18,800
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $31,700

2014-2024 Job Growth: 14%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 120

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Portland$20,240$23,160$32,440
Lewiston$21,410$31,860$38,110

MARYLAND
Median Salary: 
$23,500
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $19,600
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $30,300

2014-2024 Job Growth: 50%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 780

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Baltimore$20,100$23,190$30,730
Frederick$18,450$25,830$30,410

MASSACHUSETTS
Median Salary: 
$28,000
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $21,700
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $36,600

2014-2024 Job Growth: 7%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 680

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Boston$22,950$28,720$38,250
Worcester$22,260$27,890$35,570
Springfield$20,890$26,560$31,400

MICHIGAN
Median Salary: 
$20,900
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $17,700
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $28,700

2014-2024 Job Growth: 26%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 1,850

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Detroit$17,830$21,280$29,420
Grand Rapids$17,640$20,480$26,120

MINNESOTA
Median Salary: 
$24,700
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $20,400
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $30,800

2014-2024 Job Growth: 30%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 1,620

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Minneapolis - St. Paul$20,840$25,870$31,050
Rochester$20,100$23,480$29,930

MISSISSIPPI
Median Salary: 
$21,700
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $17,200
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $24,400

2014-2024 Job Growth: 33%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 380

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Jackson$20,120$22,280$24,440
Gulfport$16,160$19,070$24,060

MISSOURI
Median Salary: 
$22,500
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $17,700
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $27,200

2014-2024 Job Growth: 27%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 400

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
St. Louis$18,300$22,350$26,150
Kansas City$20,330$23,370$30,100

MONTANA
Median Salary: 
$22,300
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $19,800
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $26,200

2014-2024 Job Growth: 22%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 30

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Billings$20,780$26,130$30,150
Missoula$19,120$22,210$27,990

NEBRASKA
Median Salary: 
$23,400
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $19,600
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $30,800

2014-2024 Job Growth: 33%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 80

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Omaha$18,410$22,230$29,880
Lincoln$20,500$24,160$30,070

NEVADA
Median Salary: 
$22,800
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $17,900
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $38,600

2014-2024 Job Growth: 28%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 90

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Las Vegas$18,790$22,950$45,580
Reno$16,900$22,260$32,590

NEW HAMPSHIRE
Median Salary: 
$26,200
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $20,900
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $31,300

2014-2024 Job Growth: 35%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 100

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Manchester$21,540$26,700$30,600
Nashua$21,270$26,540$30,640

NEW JERSEY
Median Salary: 
$22,300
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $18,500
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $29,200

2014-2024 Job Growth: 45%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 2,380

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Newark$18,780$22,750$30,470
Trenton$20,340$24,060$30,250

NEW MEXICO
Median Salary: 
$20,700
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $16,800
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $35,500

2014-2024 Job Growth: 40%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 350

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Albuquerque$17,470$23,800$36,590
Las Cruces$16,060$17,910$33,920

NEW YORK
Median Salary: 
$22,600
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $19,300
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $29,100

2014-2024 Job Growth: 45%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 10,990

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
New York City$19,100$22,310$28,330
Buffalo$19,820$23,380$33,640
Rochester$19,380$23,200$35,090
Albany$20,410$23,560$30,250

NORTH CAROLINA
Median Salary: 
$19,000
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $16,100
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $24,700

2014-2024 Job Growth: 35%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 2,780

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Charlotte$16,070$18,740$24,290
Raleigh$16,600$21,000$26,110
Greensboro$16,100$18,590$23,740
Winston - Salem$16,160$18,870$28,330

NORTH DAKOTA
Median Salary: 
$29,400
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $21,900
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $38,900

2014-2024 Job Growth: 28%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 70

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Fargo$21,230$28,130$37,190
Bismarck$21,120$27,740$44,330

OHIO
Median Salary: 
$20,400
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $17,500
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $24,700

2014-2024 Job Growth: 40%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 4,480

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Cleveland$17,540$20,640$25,890
Columbus$18,060$21,630$24,520
Cincinnati$18,420$22,070$27,320
Dayton$17,380$19,430$24,330

OKLAHOMA
Median Salary: 
$22,100
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $16,800
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $31,400

2014-2024 Job Growth: 30%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 390

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Oklahoma City$17,700$22,720$36,180
Tulsa$17,480$24,240$34,310

OREGON
Median Salary: 
$22,600
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $19,900
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $29,800

2014-2024 Job Growth: 33%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 290

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Portland$19,710$22,900$33,160
Salem$19,680$22,140$24,870

PENNSYLVANIA
Median Salary: 
$21,300
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $16,700
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $29,200

2014-2024 Job Growth: 26%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 2,820

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Philadelphia$17,030$21,780$29,390
Pittsburgh$16,740$21,700$29,590
Harrisburg$17,270$22,210$31,160
Allentown$16,890$21,830$30,320

RHODE ISLAND
Median Salary: 
$24,000
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $20,100
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $37,800

2014-2024 Job Growth: 19%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 160

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Providence$20,110$24,220$37,400

SOUTH CAROLINA
Median Salary: 
$19,900
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $16,300
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $24,600

2014-2024 Job Growth: 34%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 620

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Greenville$16,140$18,980$24,380
Columbia$16,450$20,570$24,490
Charleston$16,780$20,870$25,000

SOUTH DAKOTA
Median Salary: 
$26,200
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $20,800
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $33,000

2014-2024 Job Growth: 15%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 40

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Sioux Falls$20,640$25,390$35,030

TENNESSEE
Median Salary: 
$19,000
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $16,200
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $24,200

2014-2024 Job Growth: 47%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 820

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Nashville$16,290$19,330$24,160
Memphis$16,210$18,880$23,780
Knoxville$16,170$18,490$23,630
Chattanooga$16,300$20,800$32,650

TEXAS
Median Salary: 
$18,400
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $16,000
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $27,800

2014-2024 Job Growth: 40%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 3,950

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Dallas - Ft. Worth$16,290$20,250$34,680
Houston$15,930$18,200$26,790
San Antonio$16,300$20,800$32,650
Austin$16,350$20,830$29,100

UTAH
Median Salary: 
$22,700
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $17,100
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $31,200

2014-2024 Job Growth: 44%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 200

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Salt Lake City$17,760$24,990$35,210
Ogden$17,120$22,730$32,900

VERMONT
Median Salary: 
$26,500
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $21,000
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $31,300

2014-2024 Job Growth: 22%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 20

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Burlington$20,510$25,420$30,280

VIRGINIA
Median Salary: 
$21,800
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $16,600
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $29,800

2014-2024 Job Growth: 46%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 680

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Virginia Beach$17,140$21,910$28,020
Richmond$16,130$18,630$27,640

WASHINGTON
Median Salary: 
$23,900
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $20,500
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $32,600

2014-2024 Job Growth: 28%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 520

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Seattle$20,670$24,510$32,450
Spokane$20,410$23,210$36,880

WEST VIRGINIA
Median Salary: 
$18,500
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $17,000
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $22,600

2014-2024 Job Growth: 29%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 220

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Huntington$17,180$19,360$24,670
Charleston$17,030$18,570$23,150

WISCONSIN
Median Salary: 
$23,100
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $18,600
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $31,800

2014-2024 Job Growth: 28%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 370

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Milwaukee$17,790$22,500$30,110
Madison$20,040$24,510$33,080

WYOMING
Median Salary: 
$27,400
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $19,400
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $31,300

2014-2024 Job Growth: 28%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 30

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Cheyenne$23,970$29,420$37,560

The annual mean wage reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) is $23,600 for home health aides. Salaries range from a low of $17,990 up to a high of $30,610.

Meanwhile, the median annual wage for a personal care aide is $21,920, according to the BLS. The lowest 10% of wage earners make around $17,310 and the highest 10% earn closer to $29,760.

Job opportunities for home care assistants will be numerous from now well into the future; based on its statistic, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics anticipates a 38% employment increase for HHAs and a 26% increase in jobs for personal care aides between 2012 and 2022. This job growth is due mostly to more elderly people needing care and choosing to stay in their homes as long as possible. Some clients don’t require medical related assistance as much as additional assistance with household tasks or minor personal hygiene assistance. Hiring a home care assistant may be a cheaper option for many clients who wish to stay in their homes to avoid the increased expenses that occur with moving to a higher level of care, such as an assisted living facility or retirement home.

Compare Salaries by City

New York City NY Median Pay

$22310 Per Year

$10.72 Per Hour

Chicago IL Median Pay

$22230 Per Year

$10.68 Per Hour

Steps to Become a Home Care Assistant

1

Get your high school diploma.

No formal education is required to become a home care assistant. But according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (2016), most home health aides have earned a high school diploma. This is true for personal care aides as well.

2

Enroll in a formal program.

In some states or for certain employment settings, home care assistants will need to complete an educational program. HHAs who aim to work in a certified home health or hospice agency are required to get formal training and pass a competency test. Some states include additional required training above the nationally mandated minimum for working within an agency.

Show Me Schools »

Programs are offered at vocational schools, community colleges, agencies and elder care programs. To enroll in classes, students typically must be at least 18 years of age.

In addition to geographic and agency requirements, a home care assistant must obtain a minimum of 75 hours of training in order to become eligible for certification. Getting certified can definitely improve job prospects, no matter where you live.

3

Get certified.

Home health aides are not licensed, but many employers prefer or require that HHAs obtain certification. The National Association for Home Care & Hospice (NAHC) oversees certification. Minimally, in order to become certified, the candidate must complete 75 hours of training. In some states, the required amount of time is greater than 75 hours. You can refer to this map for HHA training requirements in your state. Upon completing the training, HHAs will have to take a standardized written test and correctly demonstrate the skills they learned during training.

4

Advance your career.

Personal care aides may start within their role and progress into the role of a home health aide by receiving additional health training. Once they advance into the HHA role, they may have more opportunities to advance even further into medical assisting, nursing or both. Many home care assistants with experience and a higher level of training seek out available opportunities to teach students or supervise new home care assistants.

Explore Academic Paths

No formal education or training is required to work as a home care assistant at a nonmedical agency. These assistants typically provide companionship, run errands, and help with housekeeping. To prepare for this career pathway, get some volunteer experience with elderly people or people with disabilities.

HOME HEALTH AIDE CERTIFICATE PROGRAM

2-4 weeks

Home care assistants working in Medicare-certified home health and hospice agencies must be state-licensed as home health aides (HHAs). Under federal law, this requires a minimum of 75 hours of training, including 16 hours of clinical experience. Some states require additional training hours.

There are a few ways to meet this requirement:

  • Many home care agencies will train qualified candidates for free. In most cases, graduates must commit to working for the agency for a minimum period of time.
  • Some community colleges, technical colleges, and career training centers offer HHA training courses. If you choose this pathway, verify that the program is approved by the appropriate regulatory agency for your state (usually the nursing board, health department, or department of aging).

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HHA training covers the following topics:

Intro to home health

Learn the roles and responsibilities of a home care aide within the healthcare team.

Basic nursing

Study the fundamentals of patient monitoring, including vitals, weights, and fluid output.

Nutrition and meal planning

Understand the nutritional needs of older people and those with common health conditions.

Task modification

Gain techniques to promote independence while assisting clients with their daily activities.

To qualify for licensure, home health aides must also document a minimum number of clinical experience hours. Depending on the state and program, this might involve a home care simulation, shadowing a home care assistant, or caring for clients under supervision.

In some states, certified nurse assistants (CNAs) can become licensed as home care assistants by completing an accelerated bridging program. These take anywhere from 10–40 hours to complete, depending on state regulations.

To find CNA-to-HHA bridging programs, check with community colleges, career centers, and your local chapter of the American Red Cross.

Keys to Success as a Home Care Assistant

Physical health

This role involves performing physical tasks such as lifting, turning and repositioning patients; an aide must possess a higher level of physical stamina and strength in order to be comfortable and safe performing those required tasks. Because of their work environments, home care assistants have a higher rate of injury than the national average. Injury can occur when lifting a client, helping a client ambulate (walk), or simply helping a client to get in and out of a bed, chair, or shower.

Emotional strength and compassion

Because they focus on direct patient care, home care assistants must possess patience, dependability, and good interpersonal skills. Home care assistants will be working closely with patients who may have severe pain or who may be experiencing emotional distress; they must be able to show sensitivity to patients’ emotions. It is important for the aide to be warm, compassionate, and emotionally stable. Clients may suffer from Alzheimer’s or other cognitive impairments that prove very challenging at times; the client may even become violent and aggressive.

Attention to detail

Home care assistants must be detail-oriented to follow specific rules and protocols. In some instances, personal care aides may be exposed to communicable diseases or infections when working with clients, depending on the nature of a client’s health issues.

Kelli Hansen, RN

Kelli Hansen has 18 years of experience as a registered nurse. Her professional experience spans 27 years and ranges from home health care to long-term care, acute care, case management and utilization review. Kelli holds a bachelor’s degree in nursing as well as a master’s degree in health care operations management. She has earned multiple certifications, including Certified Senior Advisor (CSA), Certified Managed Care Nurse (CMCN) and Certified Dementia Practitioner (CDP).

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