How to Become a Home Health Aide

What Does a Home Health Aide Do?

home health aide with elderly woman in wheelchair

Home health aides are a valuable part of any health care team. If you have a desire to make a positive impact on the lives of the sick, disabled, and elderly, this could be a great position for you to consider. Home health aides (HHAs) assist patients with completing important personal tasks such as dressing, bathing and a variety of hygiene needs. Additional aspects of this position include assisting clients to remain safe in their own homes by providing a higher level of assistance with minor cleaning and instrumental activities of daily living (IADLs) such as cooking, light housekeeping, and laundry.

Tasks may include written documentation of patient care performed, patient’s condition, or problems to be reported to a supervising health care professional. In some instances, HHAs also assist by arranging transportation and planned leisure activities for clients. Some states allow home health aides to administer medications or check vital signs under the supervision of a health care practitioner, such as a registered nurse (RN). Although the administration of medications by HHAs continues to be somewhat controversial, states have been increasingly allowing this job function within regulations. States such as Missouri, Arkansas, Colorado, and New Jersey now permit HHAs to perform a wider range of services.

If you want to enter the health care field, the job of a home health aide offers considerable reward, enabling you to focus on providing patients hands-on care with a personal touch.

Workplace Details

As you consider the career path of a home health aide, you must reflect on what type of environment you would find comfortable when providing patient care. Working as a home health aide does not always require a person to work in a private home of a patient. Your clients may reside in independent living apartments, retirement communities, assisted living facilities, or even group homes and transitional housing. Most HHAs focus on providing direct personal care with one patient at a time, but may visit several patients on the same day. HHAs are typically supervised by a patient’s health care provider, such as a registered nurse providing care and oversight to that specific client. The patient’s family members may also provide the supervision in cases when the HHA is caring directly for a patient privately without the interaction of a certified home health agency.

Nine questions to consider:

  • Would you be comfortable going into patients’ homes alone?
  • Do you plan to work in a geographical area of high crime?
  • Do you like to be independent? (Are you capable of performing required tasks without direct supervision?)
  • Are you comfortable speaking to a client’s family members if needed?
  • How would you react if you were asked to provide client care in a cluttered, unsanitary home?
  • Do you like a slower pace of patient care, or do you prefer a fast-paced, exciting environment?
  • Are you able to lift a patient without injuring yourself?
  • Do you have any pet allergies? (Clients often have pets.)
  • Would you feel comfortable providing personal care to a person of the opposite sex?

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 Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the overall mean wage for home health aides is $22,870, up from $22,400 the prior year. The median salary is $21,920, or $10.54 per hour. Wages vary based on geography and working environment; certified HHAs account for much of the higher reported wages, as a consequence of varying geographic and workplace requirements. The lowest 10% of HHAs earn $17,480 annually, while the highest 10% earn $29,950.

According to the US News & World Report on the Best Health Care Jobs of 2015, home health aide rank #23 as one of the fastest growing positions on their list. As the population ages, so does the need for the level of assistance that can be provided by HHAs. Many seniors prefer to remain in their own homes as long as possible; having the assistance of home health aides supports this option. The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that there will be massive growth of 38% within this industry between the years 2014 and 2024, which means demand for approximately 348,000 new home health aides. Certified HHAs have more options for employment consideration than those not taking the certification training.

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 Health Aide

1

Earn a high school diploma.

There are no formal education requirements for home health aides, but most aides do possess a high school diploma.

2

Research state requirements and consider your goals.

Some states require a minimal amount of formal education beyond high school. The necessary programs in these states vary somewhat in duration as well as in the type of health care professional responsible for conducting the training. In addition to this, some states also require standardized testing and hands-on competency assessment before an HHA is permitted to work with a client.

Regardless of your state’s requirements, though, if your goal is to work in a certified home health or hospice agency, you’ll be required to obtain formal training and pass a standardized test, often including a hands-on demonstration of competency on associated topics in the presence of a registered nurse (RN).

3

Enroll in the necessary program based on your location and goals.

The duration of training to become a home health aide is much shorter than you might think. In some states, certified home health agencies may provide the required training classes, the standardized written testing, and hands-on competency assessments in order for candidates to be considered for patient assignments once hired.

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Otherwise, you will find preparatory classes offered at community colleges or through vocational/technical schools that ensure students meet the educational requirements before they are permitted to work with a client independently. Most classes require students to be at least 18 years of age.

4

Obtain additional client-specific training.

Educational programs and on-the-job training are beneficial to learn overarching necessary skills. However, each client will have unique needs that may require additional training that lasts from a few hours to a few days, depending on the complexity of the patient’s health care needs. Examples of patient-specific needs may include special dietary needs or specific transfer techniques to ensure patient safety.

5

Become certified.

Home health aides do not hold professional licensures, but many employers require their HHAs to be certified, either due to preference or due to state regulation requirements. To become certified, you must successfully complete the minimum state-required training hours, which varies greatly from state to state; in some states, that means 75 hours of training and hands-on skills. Several states actually require up to 120+ hours. Refer to State-by-State Training Requirements for exact requirements in your state; details can be reviewed either by the map or in an easier-to-understand table format.

An aide must then pass the standardized written testing, as well as complete a hands-on demonstration of each associated skill appropriately.

6

Consider opportunities for advancement.

Once home health aides have performed the required job duties for many years, their wide variety of skills and considerable experience allows some employers to advance them into supervisory roles, overseeing and educating other HHAs and acting as mentors, onboarding orientation trainers and supervisors. HHAs with a high school diploma can choose to further their education and training in order to become medical assistants, nurses or other associated health care professionals.

Having the prior experience as a home health aide often makes it less overwhelming to take next steps and seek additional education. It isn’t uncommon for a nursing student to work as a home health aide or certified nursing aide while attending school. The HHA experience helps a nursing student increase his or her comfort level when working with patients, and may bolster prospects of academic success.

Explore Educational Paths

NON-DEGREE HHA PROGRAM

Several months (length varies by state)

You might attend one of these HHA educational programs if you live in a state that requires you to attend one, or if your career goals involve working in a certified home health or hospice agency. If formal education is required in your state, these programs are often taught by a licensed RN. But in some states, an experienced HHA or other health care professional may conduct your education.

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The expense of an HHA programs can vary from a couple hundred dollars to nothing at all if, for instance, an agency is providing the training to new employees.

Aspiring HHAs in these programs develop important skill sets and learn about a variety of important subjects including the following:

Basic safety techniques

Students learn not only how to keep the patient safe, but also how to prevent injury to themselves when completing tasks such as transfers, bathing and dressing.

Emergency response

HHAs learn basic first aid skills as well as cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), which could very well save the life of a client.

Nutrition

This provides students with the foundational understanding of human nutrition, upon which HHAs can build each time they learn the highly individual nutritional and dietary needs of clients in the future.

Clinical training

As part of the program, HHAs participate in clinical training under the supervision of an RN, experienced HHA or other health care professional.

Keys to Success as a Home Health Aide

Necessary Skills and Qualities

Physical fitness

Performing the duties of a home health aide can be physically demanding at times. In order to perform this job, a person must be able to lift at least 50 lbs. and must primarily be in good health.

Interpersonal skills

Because aides focus on direct patient care, patience is a necessity, as are dependability, effective communication, and good time management.

Health and safety awareness

According to the US Department of Labor (DOL), HHAs sustain on-the-job injuries and illnesses at a higher-than-average rate compared with people in other occupations, so taking preventative safety measures to ensure you rarely get sick is important.

Pass background and health checks

Most employers require an applicant to pass a criminal background check that includes checking for elder or child abuse and neglect. The applicant must also complete testing for tuberculosis (TB) and test negative before working with patients. In addition, many employers require drug testing prior to completion of the hire process.

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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