Home Health Aide: Job Duties, Employment Outlook, and Education Requirements

Research what it takes to become a home health aide. Learn about education requirements, job duties, average wages and job outlook to find out if this is the career for you. Schools offering Medical Assisting degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Career Information At a Glance

Home health aides care for the elderly, sick or disabled in private homes or residential care settings. They assist individuals with many functions, often enabling them to continue living in their homes rather than in institutions. See the table below for more information about the career of home health aide:

Degree RequiredH.S. diploma or G.E.D.
75 hours of training (offered at community colleges)
Education Field of StudyHealth
Key ResponsibilitiesAssist patients with activities of daily living
Perform personal services for patients
Under nursing supervision, administer medication and perform some nursing tasks
Licensure/CertificationCertification requirements vary by state and may include passing background check
Job Growth (2012-2022)48%*
Mean Salary (2013)$22,050*

Source:*U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Are the Job Duties of Home Health Aides?

As a home health aide, you'll help individuals who need assistance with basic daily living, especially the elderly. Home health aides allow these individuals to live in their homes instead of at a care home or other institutionalized setting. You'll help patients with tasks such as bathing, dressing, walking, exercising and eating. Also, you may be required to perform some personal services such as ironing, housekeeping and laundry.

With guidance from nurses and other medical staff, you may be allowed to administer medication, check vital signs and change dressings. Home health aides often work for government hospices or home health agencies and face stricter regulations than if you worked for a private employer.

Among your most important responsibilities is to be aware of your patients' needs. You'll keep detailed care records and report any changes in a patient's medical condition. Along with providing physical and medical care, you'll interact closely with patients, giving you the opportunity to gauge their mental alertness and health condition.

What is the Employment Outlook?

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment opportunities for home health aides are expected to grow by 48% between 2012 and 2022, a rate that is significantly faster than other occupations, suggesting there will be a high demand for home health care aides now and in the near future (www.bls.gov). This growth is attributed to a projected rise in the elderly population, many of whom prefer home health care because of the high cost of inpatient health care and the desire to remain in a familiar environment.

The average annual salary for home health aides in May 2013 was $22,050, according the BLS. If you performed this type of work, you would have found the top paying jobs at psychiatric and substance abuse hospitals, where home health aides earned about $37,830 a year. If you worked at an elderly community care facility, you would have earned $22,200 a year, while you would have received $22,850 a year at other residential care facilities, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

What Type of Education Do I Need?

Most training for a home health aide takes place on the job under the guidance of experience nurses or supervisors. Generally, you must have completed at least 75 hours of training in areas such as nutrition, patient care, vital signs, infection control and personal hygiene, according to the BLS. Afterward, you'll be expected to pass a skills competency evaluation or a state-administered examination to work as a home health aide.

Various states may have additional certification requirements such as a background investigation. Although a college degree is not required, home health care training programs are available at community colleges. Additional on-the-job training may be needed if you want to assist patients with breathing equipment and other medical apparatus.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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