Career Q&A: Home Health Aide
In Demand: Careers in Health Care, Career Voyages, U.S. Dept. of Labor
What will I do?
Many people who are frail, sick or disabled would prefer to receive their care in the comfort of their homes, rather than a nursing home or medical facility. Comfort is important, but home care also makes good financial sense.
Home health care aides, also known as nursing assistants, are the ones who make it safe and pleasant for patients to stay at home. Under the supervision of nurses or medical staff, home health aides provide basic, yet crucial, health services including checking pulse, respiration and temperature. They also help patients take their medications, bathe and change their position in bed or assist them with moving around in the house.
What training will I need and how can I get it?
Most home health care aides are employed by home care agencies. A high school diploma or equivalent is usually needed, but some agencies hire high school students for part-time jobs. Newly hired aides usually receive classroom training from their employer or they receive on-the-job instruction from licensed nurses or more experienced aides.
Because Medicare covers home care for many patients, the federal government has set a competency test for home health aides. It suggests that training includes at least 75 hours of classroom and practical training supervised by a registered nurse. The National Association of Home Care offers a voluntary national certification for home care aides.
How much will I earn?
Pay ranges from $8.50 to $10.50 per hour. Home health aides typically get higher pay based on experience and responsibility. The job can help employees decide if they want to pursue other training as a licensed practical nurse or medical assistant.