How to Become a Home Health Aide:
The Definitive Guide


We all need a little bit of help sometimes.

Some of us more than others.

That’s why there are home health aides.

These wonderful people come into the homes of individuals who need a little extra help.

People may need assistance due to illness, age, disability or even cognitive impairments.

Home health aides are there to make sure their clients are taking their medications, and doing what they need to do on a daily basis.

Does this sound like something that you’d be interested in?

Then read on to learn more about this amazing career.

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What is a Home Health Aide?

Home health aides work in various home environments to keep up on the daily tasks of their clients.

These clients may have issues with mobility or mental health issues that require extra assistance.

Home health aides will work with these clients to prepare meals, help with showers, take the client places so that they can get around, help with medications, and anything else that the client may need on a daily basis.

It’s important to remember that many clients are ill or impaired, and should be treated with respect and dignity with this career.

Duties

When you are a home health aide, you allow people to stay in their homes as long as possible.

It may be a challenging job at times, but it is rewarding.

Let’s take a look at some of the things you may be asked to do:

  • Monitor client’s condition
  • Provide housekeeping and laundry services
  • Help with bathing, showering, and dressing
  • Help family members care for clients
  • Record information as well as notifying nurses or doctors
  • Make sure that the client is safe at all times
  • Serve meals
  • Shop or do other errands

Salary

As of July 2019, the average salary for a home health aide is around $24,000.

The range typically falls between $22,000 and $27,000.

Depending on your education, additional skills, and the number of years that you’ve worked in the career, you may make more or less than average.

Some home health aides work as independent contractors, which means you can set your own salary.

When you are just starting out in the career, it is important to remember that you will learn new skills along the way, so if you find yourself on the low end of the salary average, the experience will help you with raises in the future.

Average National Salary: $24,000

$22K
$23K
$24K
$26K
$27K
10%
25%
50%
75%
90%
*Salary information last updated 2019

Average Annual Salary by State

StateAvg. Annual Salary
Alabama$23,302
Alaska$28,053
Arizona$24,731
Arkansas$22,982
California$27,904
Colorado$24,906
Connecticut$27,154
Delaware$26,230
Florida$23,982
Georgia$24,106
Hawaii$26,305
Idaho$23,577
Illinois$25,738
Indiana$24,406
Iowa$23,857
Kansas$23,390
Kentucky$23,257
Louisiana$23,722
Maine$24,081
Maryland$25,955
Massachusetts$27,179
Michigan$25,231
Minnesota$25,480
Mississippi$21,668
Missouri$23,732
Montana$22,645
Nebraska$22,907
Nevada$25,730
New Hampshire$25,355
New Jersey$27,729
New Mexico$22,720
New York$26,804
North Carolina$23,832
North Dakota$23,232
Ohio$24,356
Oklahoma$23,482
Oregon$24,881
Pennsylvania$24,931
Rhode Island$26,330
South Carolina$23,181
South Dakota$21,309
Tennessee$22,695
Texas$24,481
Utah$23,668
Vermont$24,056
Virginia$24,589
Washington$26,679
West Virginia$22,008
Wisconsin$24,606
Wyoming$22,178

Annual Average Salary: Top 5 States

The top earning state in the field is Alaska, where the average salary is $28,053

These are the top 5 earning states in the field:

Alaska - $28,053
California - $27,904
New Jersey - $27,729
Massachusetts - $27,179
Connecticut - $27,154

How to Become a Home Health Aide

Step 1Research Your State's Requirements

It is possible that your state may require a little bit of formal education beyond high school in order to become a home health aide.

Many states don’t, but it is always more responsible to make sure.

You may have to take a standardized test and hands-on competency testing before you are permitted to work with a client.

Looking for the answers to these requirements is different for everyone, as the states can vary even the slightest bit.

It is, however, important to know what your state requires, as it can have major consequences for you if you don’t follow the rules.

Step 2Get Into a Program

If your state does require that you enter into a program, you’ll want to check out your local community colleges first.

Most of the classes will require that you be at least eighteen years of age.

You do not have to obtain a degree in order to work as a home health aide.

If your state requires that you pass the program, then you will need to take an exam at the end of the program in order to gauge your competence.

Most of the program will be in-class education, but there may be some physical training as well.

Step 3Gain More Training

Due to the fact that the programs likely don’t have a lot of on the job training, you are going to want to find some of your own.

There are two ways you can go about getting some training under your belt.

First, you can see if your program allows you to shadow another home health aide, and pick up the pointers from them.

Or, you can find a job and work through their training program.

Either way, you will get some great on the job training and useful techniques.

Step 4Become Certified

There is no professional licensure to be a home health aide.

That doesn’t mean you don’t need to get a little bit of certification in the process of becoming one, though.

Most employers require some certification, and that can from training.

If you have worked 75 training hours and have required hands-on skills, you will be considered a certified home health aide.

Some states do require that you have 120 hours of training.

You’ll have to pass a standardized test as well.

There’s no right or wrong way to get your certification, and some states don’t even require a certification to work as a home health aide.

In order to stay up to date on what your state requires, please check out local home health aide sites to see where you stand.

Step 5Consider Advancement

Being a home health aide is a great career, so it is perfectly fine to be one until you retire.

Though, some people do choose to find an advanced career, which can garner more money and experience.

Once you have many years of experience, it may be time for you to talk to your employer about becoming a supervisor.

This career change will give you the opportunity to help train other home health aides who are just starting out.

Another thing that you may want to think about is getting an Associates or Bachelors degree to become a medical assistant, nurse, or another career in the medical field.


Education

In order to become a home health care aide, you don’t necessarily need any extra proper education.

That is, as far as getting a college degree goes.

Depending on your future employer, specifically, if you are hired by one that receives funds from Medicare or Medicaid, then you must complete formal training.

This training can be done through your employer.

If you work for a private company, you do not need any specific training.

More experienced aides will often give you on the job training.

You may also receive training from nursing assistants, licensed registered nurses, etc.

Some of the training that you can expect to receive will include:

  • Learning how to inspect clients heart rates, temperature, and blood pressure
  • You’ll also learn about the medications that the client takes, the dosage, and how to administer it
  • Though it isn’t that glamorous, you’ll likely also learn about cleaning bedpans, how to change linens, and how to shower/groom your clients

If this is the type of field that you are interested in pursuing, it is advised that you research your state’s requirements in order to work as a home health aide.

There are some community colleges and other local education classes that you can take in order to get up to date on the information you need to become a home healthcare aide.

Training to become a home health aide is fairly short, and you can often find online courses to take if you do not want to go to your community college.

Most training programs, if you decide to take one, will last around 4 to 6 weeks.

That’s not too long, and you’ll be on your way to working as a home health aide in no time.

Once you gain some education, you may want to think about certifications.

Video About The Career


Certification

Even though there aren’t any formal licensing or certification requirements to become a home health care aide, sometimes your employer will require that you receive certifications in other areas.

These certification classes can be found at your local community colleges or other postsecondary institutions.

Typically, if you are going for certification, the training will last around a semester.

In order to pass the program, you’ll likely need to take an exam, and you also may have to have state-mandated blood tests done.

If you are interested in finding a place to become certified, try the National Association for Home Healthcare and Hospice.

In order to gain a certification from the NAHC, you’ll need 75 hours of training, know how to demonstrate your skills, and pass an exam.

Some states require additional training.

Another thing that you’ll need to get done is a background check.

Typically, employers will pay for this to be done, and you won’t have to do anything in order to prepare for a background check.

A certification that you will likely need in order to work as a home health aide is in CPR.

You can typically find CPR classes at your local Red Cross, where you can learn about first aid and CPR simultaneously.

In order to pass your CPR certification, you’ll need to complete an in-person or online course taught by a CPR instructor.

After you complete the training, the certification will be good for two years.

Whether you continue on as a home health aide or not, you should consider renewing your CPR certification, as it will help you in many areas.

Before you begin working for your employer, find out what types of certifications that you need, and whether they provide on the job training.

Some employers will also pay for you to get your certifications.

Certification Example:

home health aide certificate example

Average Training Program Duration: 0-6 Months

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Job Outlook

The job outlook for home health aides will rise nearly 50 percent by 2026.

This growth is considered much faster than other careers in the same field.

The baby boomer generation is growing older, which means more people are going to need home health aides.

It also has become more popular for people with disabilities and elderly people to stay home instead of going into the hospital.

Families prefer that their aging parents or relatives stay home to get one on one care instead of being one of many.

This means that if you are interested in a career as a home health aide, you will find many jobs.

Employment Growth Projection: 47%

911,500
2016
1,342,700
2026

That's a higher than average projected growth of 431,200 jobs.

Home Health Aide: Interest Over Time


Should You Become a Home Health Aide?

Overall Satisfaction

Overall Satisfaction: Medium

The overall satisfaction for a home health care aide is around average.

The job can be very stressful, as when you are working in someone’s home, you are likely the only one there helping them.

You will have many job responsibilities, which can also add to the stress factor.

Hours and flexibility can also be quite draining on some people.

It is very possible to receive raises and promotions in this field of work.

People enjoy this job, but it is hard on the emotions and the body.

Average Salary

Average Salary: Low

The average salary for a home health aide is $24,000 a year.

This is considered on the lower spectrum of salaries in this field of work.

If you want to make more money with this career, you will need to think about getting certifications in CPR and first aid.

You’ll also want to think about working with more than one client at a time.

This isn’t suggested when first starting out in the field, as it can be very demanding.

Job Growth Outlook

Job Growth Outlook: High

The job growth outlook for a home health aide looks to be incredible.

The job is looking to grow around 40 percent by the year 2026.

With the baby boom population on their way to becoming elderly, more people are going to need assistance.

It has become a popular thing to get help from the comfort of your own home rather than staying in a hospital.

This means that more people will be requiring home help, rather than nurses and doctors.

Education Duration

Education Duration: 0-6 Months

One of the interesting things about becoming a home health aide is that there isn’t any formal education, which means you don’t need to hold an Associates or Bachelors degree.

What you should do instead, is find a training program in your area so that you can be assured you understand all that goes into being a home health aide.

Most employers will offer on the job training as well, which is done by nurses or senior staff members.

If you do a program from a community college, it can take around 4 to 6 months, but sometimes these aren’t required.

Personal Skills Needed

Personal Skills Needed

There’s no denying that being a home health aide comes with his own specific set of skills.

Some of the personal skills that you should have are:

  • Communication skills- You’ll need to be able to listen to family members as well as your clients to learn what is best for everyone.
  • Compassion- Being alone and sick can be terrifying, so having compassion toward your clients can make them feel more comfortable in your care.
  • Attention to detail- You will need to pay attention to many different things, and keep records of changes.
  • Being flexible- Sometimes you’ll have to work different hours or do different tasks on certain days of the week.
  • Honesty- Being in someone’s home and taking care of them when they are at their weakest requires you to be honest and understanding.
  • Physical strength- You may need to lift or help steady your client, being physically fit can help with that.
  • Patience- Most clients will be elderly, which means they may be slow and in pain.


Frequently Asked Questions

Q. What is the average salary of a home health aide?

The average salary for a home health aide is around $24,000 annually.

People who are just starting out as home health aides are likely to make less money than average, around $20,000.

Those that have been working in the field for a long time will likely make more, up to around $30,000.

It helps to get experience, CPR certifications, as well as go through a home health aide program if your employer requires it.

The more certifications and experience you have, the more you will make.

Independent contractors can make more due to being able to set their own wages.

It’s important to make sure that you are able to be an independent contractor in your state before working as one.

Q. How long does it take to become a home health aide?

It doesn’t take that long to become a home health aide, as there aren’t very many requirements.

Some things that you will want to do before you become a home health aide is research programs in your area, get some training, get certified in CPR and first aid, and find out the companies in your area.

All of this can take as much time as you need.

Typically, the programs last around a semester of school, but you do not have to get a degree.

CPR certification can take around 4 to 6 weeks, as well as first aid certification.

You can become a home health aide in less than a year.

 

Q. What does a home health aide do?

Home health aides help people who are elderly, disabled, or cognitively impaired.

A home health aide comes to the home of their client.

They then help the client with everyday tasks.

These can include showering, feeding, grooming, chores, errands, the list goes on.

You are basically an extra set of hands for the person who needs help.

Another important factor of this job is that you will take extensive notes and keep observations for the family members and your employer.

Q. What is the demand for home health aides?

The demand for home health aides is very high.

People are leaning toward having home health aides instead of leaving their loved ones in the hospital to be taken care of.

This is typically cheaper, and it is also cozier for the people who need assistance.

Everyone feels more comfortable in their own home rather than a hospital.

Q. How much does it cost to become a home health aide?

This can vary from state to state, and from program to program.

Some programs cost as little as 99 dollars a semester.

Sometimes you can even find classes online.

If you are interested in looking into classes, check your local community colleges, they will typically have home health aide programs available.

Becoming certified for CPR can cost around $60, but you need to remember that you will have to renew your certification every two years.

It will cost much less to become a home health aide than to go through one semester of college.


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