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Nursing, Psychiatric, and Home Health Aides

Nursing, Psychiatric, and Home Health Aides

Bureau of Labor Statistics

Some employers provide classroom instruction for newly hired aides, while others rely exclusively on informal on-the-job instruction by a licensed nurse or an experienced aide. Such training may last from several days to a few months. Aides also may attend lectures, workshops, and in-service training.

Licensure and certification. The Federal Government has guidelines for home health aides whose employers receive reimbursement from Medicare. Federal law requires home health aides to pass a competency test covering a wide range of areas. A home health aide may receive training before taking the competency test. In addition, the National Association for Home Care and Hospice offers voluntary certification for home health aides. Some States also require aides to be licensed.

Similar Federal requirements exist for nurse aides who work in nursing care facilities. These aides must complete a minimum of 75 hours of state-approved training and pass a competency evaluation. Aides who complete the program are known as certified nurse assistants (CNAs) and are placed on the State registry of nurse aides.

More on Home Health Aides


Salary: $20,000 - $75,000
Min. Education: HS Diploma
Related Careers: Registered Nurse, Medical Assistant

Other qualifications. Aides must be in good health. A physical examination, including State-regulated tests such as those for tuberculosis, may be required. A criminal background check also is usually required for employment.

Applicants should be tactful, patient, understanding, emotionally stable, and dependable and should have a desire to help people. They also should be able to work as part of a team, have good communication skills, and be willing to perform repetitive, routine tasks. Home health aides should be honest and discreet because they work in private homes. They also will need access to a car or public transportation to reach patients’ homes.

Advancement. Opportunities for advancement within these occupations are limited. Aides generally need additional formal training or education to enter other health occupations. The most common health care occupations for former aides are licensed practical nurse, registered nurse, and medical assistant.

For some individuals, these occupations serve as entry-level jobs. For example, some high school and college students gain experience working in these occupations while attending school. In addition, experience as an aide can help individuals decide whether to pursue a career in health care.

Employment Stats

Nursing, psychiatric, and home health aides held about 2.3 million jobs in 2006. Nursing aides held the most jobs—approximately 1.4 million. Home health aides held roughly 787,000 jobs, and psychiatric aides held about 62,000 jobs. About 52 percent of nursing aides worked in nursing and residential care facilities and another 29 percent worked in hospitals.

Professionals in home health aide careers were mainly employed by home health care services, nursing and residential care facilities and social assistance agencies. About 47 percent of all psychiatric aides worked in hospitals, primarily in psychiatric and substance abuse hospitals, although some also worked in the psychiatric units of general medical and surgical hospitals. Others were employed in State government agencies; residential mental retardation, mental health, and substance abuse facilities; and nursing and residential care facilities.


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