Home Health Care

If you'd like to help others with health-related issues or household chores in the comfort of their own homes, a career in home health care may be a good fit for you. Read about job duties, job outlook and potential earnings here, along with how much training you'll need to enter the field.

Is a Career in Home Health Care for Me?

Career Overview

As a home health care aide, you'll provide in-home medical assistance to patients who don't need or don't want care at a hospital or medical facility. You may also provide home health care for mentally challenged or temporarily disabled patients. Job duties could include helping with movement or routine household tasks, assisting with hygiene, administering medications and monitoring vital signs; evening or weekend work might be required. As a home health aide, you may assist a variety of clients with different ailments and requirements, or aid a single patient who requires full-time care.

Home health care agencies provide their aides with varying amounts of supervision; government-funded or hospice providers may have stricter regulations. While you might function more autonomously as a personal health care aide, you'll still receive guidance from a nurse, social worker or other type of supervisor.

Employment and Salary Information

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment of home health care and personal aides was expected to increase by a much-faster-than average rate from 2012-2022. An increasingly elderly population and the need to limit excessive health care expenses for inpatient care may have a positive impact on job growth. In May 2013, home health aides made an average yearly wage of $22,050, while personal care aides earned an average of $20,990 a year (www.bls.gov).

How Do I Work in Home Health Care?

Education and Training

Some agencies provide on-the-job training for home health aides; individual states may have formal education requirements that must be completed before you can obtain a position. Accredited training can be found through 2-year and 4-year schools and may lead to a certificate or a degree in home health assisting. Individual programs may take as little as 80 hours to complete and include courses in cleanliness and sanitation, disease and illness prevention, communication techniques and safety precautions. You might also learn how to develop client health care plans, keep records and adhere to applicable rules and regulations, as well as how to respond to emergency situations.

A few schools offer online classes in home health care. You might also consider enrolling in an online Bachelor of Science in Nursing program or pursue a more advanced career in health administration.


Some states require home health aides to be certified or registered. Voluntary home health care certifications can be found through the National Association for Home Care and Hospice or state home health associations, and can serve as proof of competency in the field. Training and competency exams that lead to a professional certification may also be required if you or your employer accepts Medicaid or Medicare payments.

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