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.

What is a Home Health Aide

A home health aide cares for the elderly, sick or disabled in private homes or residential care settings. As a home health aide, your job will be to assist individuals with personal care tasks and services required for daily living. You'll maintain patient records and may provide some health services under guidance. You'll also be responsible for monitoring your clients' health.

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 (2014-2024)38%*
Mean Salary (2015)$22,870*

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 38% between 2014 and 2024, a rate that is significantly faster than other occupations (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 as of May 2015 was $22,870, according the BLS. If you performed this type of work, you would have found some of the top paying jobs with state governments, where home health aides earned an average of $28,050 a year. If you worked at a continuing care retirement community or assisted living facility for the eldery, you would have earned an average of $23,010 a year, while you would have received an average of $23,500 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.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

If you're interested in assisting people at their residences or in care facilities, you may consider a career as a social and human service assistant or personal care attendant. Social and human service assistants provide help for clients in fields such as psychology and rehabilitation. Personal care attendants work with clients who require long-term care, assisting them with various daily tasks.

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