Home Health Aide

Career Information

Home Health Aide
A home health aide checks her patient's blood pressure. Michael DeLeon / E+ / Getty Images

Job Description

A home health aide cares for people who have disabilities, chronic illnesses, cognitive impairments or age-related problems. He or she provides basic services that include administering medications, changing bandages and checking vital signs like temperature, pulse rate and respiration rate. Although a home health aide works independently, he or she is supervised by a medical professional, usually a registered nurse.

Do not confuse home health aides with home care aides who do not provide medical services of any type.

Employment Facts

There were 1,018,000 people employed in this occupation in 2010 (US). Most worked for home health care agencies. A very small number of home health aides were self employed.

Educational Requirements

Although one doesn't need a high school diploma to work in this career field, most people who do, have one. Since those are the job candidates with whom you will be competing, it makes sense to stay in school.

Home health aides receive on-the-job training from registered nurses, licensed practical nurses or experienced aides. Some states require anyone working in this occupation to have formal training which is available from vocational schools, community colleges and home health care agencies.

Why Do You Need to Know About Educational Requirements?

Other Requirements

Home health aides who work for agencies that receive US Medicare or Medicaid reimbursement must, according to federal law, complete a state approved training program and a competency evaluation (Centers for Medicare and Medicaid.

Home Health Agencies: State Operations Manual [PDF]). Some states place even more stringent requirements on agencies receiving Medicare and Medicaid reimbursement. In addition several states license, certify or register home health aides. See the Licensed Occupation Tool on CareerOneStop for information about the requirements in individual states.

Certain characteristics make some people better suited to this occupation than others. One needs to be detail oriented and have good interpersonal and time management skills. One must also have good physical stamina because home health aides lift clients and perform other physical tasks.

Advancement Opportunities

Some home health aides choose to further their education in order to become licensed practical nurses or registered nurses.

Why Do You Need to Know About Advancement?

Job Outlook

Job growth for this occupation is expected to be excellent. The US Bureau of Labor Statistics says it will grow much faster than the average for all occupations through 2020. The agency also predicts there will be more job openings for this occupation than for most others (The US Bureau of Labor Statistics).

Why Do You Need to Know About Job Outlook?

Earnings

Home health aides earned a median annual salary of $20,610 and median hourly wages of $9.91 in 2011 (US).

Use the Salary Wizard at Salary.com to find out how much a Home Health Aide currently earns in your city.

A Day in a Home Health Aide's Life

On a typical day a home health aide may:

  • keep records of a patient's condition or progress
  • discuss a patient with a case manager
  • administer medications
  • help patients get in and out of bed
  • bath, dress and groom patients
  • change and launder patient's linens
  • engage patients in conversation or otherwise entertain them
  • serve meals to patients

Sources:
Bureau of Labor Statistics, US Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2012-13 Edition, Home Health Aide and Personal and Home Care Aides, on the Internet at http://www.bls.gov/ooh/Healthcare/Home-health-and-personal-care-aides.htm (visited February 8, 2013).
Employment and Training Administration, U.S. Department of Labor, O*NET Online, Home Health Aides, on the Internet at http://online.onetcenter.org/link/details/31-1011.00 (visited February 8, 2013).

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