By: Kathleen Gaines MSN, BA, RN, CBC
Home health aides are trained professionals who assist clients with disabilities, cognitive impairments, injuries, or other health issues in the comfort of their own homes.
As a home health aide, you'll support clients with daily living activities such as bathing, dressing, preparing meals, performing light housework, and running errands, making a huge impact in their lives!
If you're considering a career as a home health aide, you probably have a lot of questions like:
- "What does a home health aide do?"
- "How do I become one?"
- "How much you can make?"
If that's the case, you're in the right place. Read on to find out if becoming a home health aide is the right career move for you.
Part One What is a Home Health Aide (HHA)?
Home health aides monitor people with disabilities or chronic illnesses and help them with various activities of daily living. Generally, this involves assisting older adults who need assistance.
Home health aides work under the supervision of other healthcare providers to provide more advanced care for patients, including administering medication and checking vital signs.
Part Two What Does a Home Health Aide Do?
Job descriptions vary significantly amongst home health aides depending on the place of employment. But in general, they perform the following tasks:
- Administering prescribed medications at scheduled times
- Advising on nutrition, cleanliness, and housekeeping
- Arranging transportation to doctors’ offices
- Assisting clients in their daily personal tasks, such as bathing or dressing
- Caring for wounds and changing bandages or dressings if needed
- Checking vital signs
- Collaborating with other healthcare professionals
- Collecting routine specimens
- Creating a behavior plan
- Helping family members care for the patient by teaching appropriate ways to lift, turn, and reposition the patient
- Helping patients care for themselves by teaching the use of cane or walker, special utensils to eat, special techniques, and equipment for personal hygiene
- Helping to keep clients engaged in their social networks and communities
- Helping with braces and artificial limbs
- Helping with advanced medical equipment
- Keeping up to date with in-service training
- Maintaining medical records
- Massaging clients if needed
- Notifying nursing supervisor of changing or unusual conditions
- Performing light housekeeping, such as laundry, washing dishes, and vacuuming in a client’s home
- Planning appointments
- Providing basic health-related services according to a client’s needs
- Providing companionship and basic emotional or psychological support
- Shopping for groceries and preparing meals to meet a client’s dietary specifications
Part Three Home Health Aide Salary
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median salary for a home health aide in 2019 is $27,080 per year or $13.02 per hour. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $20,130, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $36,990.
Highest Paying States for Home Health Aides
How much you can make as a home health aide varies based on where you work. The top five highest-paying states for home health aides are:
- Alaska - $35,360
- North Dakota - $34,020
- Massachusetts - $33,890
- Vermont - $33,810
- Washington - $32,860
Highest Paying Cities for Home Health Aides
The top five highest-paying metropolitan areas for home health aides are:
- Napa, California - $47,670
- Fairbanks, Alaska - $35,030
- San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, California - $34,470
- Barnstable Town, Massachusetts - $34,430
- New Bedford, Massachusetts - $34,430
And the top five highest-paying nonmetropolitan areas for home health aide are:
- Alaska nonmetropolitan area - $40,280
- West North Dakota nonmetropolitan area - $35,350
- East North Dakota nonmetropolitan area - $35,040
- Central East New York nonmetropolitan area -$34,930
- Massachusetts nonmetropolitan area - $34,250
Home Health Aide Salary by Years of Experience
Specifically, payscale.com reports home health aides can earn a higher annual salary with increased years of experience.
- Less than one year of experience earns an average hourly wage of $10.70
- 1-4 years of experience earns an average hourly wage of $11.07
- 5-9 years of experience earns an average hourly wage of $11.80
- 10-19 years of experience earns an average hourly wage of $11.87
- 20+ years of experience earns an average hourly wage of $12.00
Part Four How to Become a Home Health Aide
Requirements to become a home health aide can vary slightly between states. It is essential to review your individual state’s requirements for training, education, and certification. But in general, you’ll need to complete the following steps:
Step 1: Graduate with a high school diploma or equivalent
The minimum educational requirement to apply for home health aide training is a high school diploma or GED.
Step 2: Apply for a training program
Home health aide programs are offered by community colleges, private schools, and some employers. Community college programs can take about a year to complete, and private school programs usually require around 75 hours.
Some employers may offer on-the-job training but typically do not offer formal training. The fastest programs can take just 4-7 weeks to complete.
Home health training programs require classroom and clinical training. Ensure your program is certified by your state; otherwise, you may have difficulty obtaining certification later on. Tuition for these programs usually costs between $400-$800.
Step 3: Meet the program requirements
Each state has a minimum required by Federal law: at least 75 hours of training, including at least 16 hours of supervised practical or clinical training. Some states require up to 120 hours of training.
Step 4: Pass an evaluation
Once you complete training and program requirements, you need to apply for testing and certification through your state. Testing requires that you show competency on both a written exam and a skills evaluation.
Step 5: Gain experience
Now that you have the education and clinical training, it’s time to put your skills into action! There is no shortage of work for home health aides on the horizon. The US Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that there will be a need for 1,159,500 additional part-time or full-time home health aides between 2019-2029!
You may want to consider working with a home health agency or other care agency to get your first job. Home health agencies usually require proof of training and certification, an interview screening, and a background check.
Part Five Where Do Home Health Aides Work?
Home health aides can work in a variety of locations, including:
- Adult care facilities
- Assisted living facilities
- Continuing care retirement communities
- Home healthcare services
- Hospice care
- Individual and family services
- Private homes
- Residential intellectual and developmental disability facilities
- Small group homes
Part Six What is the Career Outlook for a Home Health Aide?
According to the BLS, in 2019, there were 3,439,700 home health aides in the United States. By 2029, there will be a need for additional 1,159,500 home health aides, which is an expected growth of 34%. About 568,800 openings for home health aides are projected each year, on average, over the decade.
Elderly clients and people with disabilities increasingly rely on home care as an alternative to nursing homes or hospitals. Families may prefer to keep aging family members in their homes rather than in nursing homes or hospitals. Clients who need help with everyday tasks and household chores rather than medical care may be able to reduce their medical expenses by staying in or returning to their homes.
Part Seven What are the Continuing Education Requirements for a Home Health Aide?
Generally, for an individual to renew their home health aide certification, they will need to fill out an application, complete a specific number of CEU hours, and pay a nominal fee. Each state has particular requirements, and it is essential to check with the state before applying for renewal.
Federal law requires home health aides to complete a minimum of twelve continuing education hours every calendar year.
Part Eight Resources for Home Health Aides
Check out these resources to find out more information on becoming a home health aide.
Part Nine Home Health Aide FAQs
What are the primary duties of a home health aide?
- Home health aides will provide various services to their clients, including but not limited to providing housekeeping and laundry services, shopping for food, preparing and serving meals and snacks, and running errands. Furthermore, home health aides will assist patients by providing personal services, such as bathing, dressing, and grooming.
Which is a better career choice: home health aide or CNA?
- Certified Nursing Assistants (CNA) earn more money than home health aides because of the level of training. So from a monetary perspective, becoming a CNA is a better career choice; however, home health aides have higher job growth projection.
What's the difference between a caregiver and a home health aide?
- A caregiver is a layperson, generally a family member that does not have specialty training in caring for an individual. In contrast, a home health aide has the training to assist with activities of daily living.
Why are home health aides so valuable in healthcare today?
- People who need home health are often more socially isolated. Fortunately, home health aides can provide needed companionship and act as an additional source of community and support. Over time, home health aids can improve their clients’ overall mental health, reducing their risk of other health complications such as high blood pressure and Alzheimer’s disease.