Home health aiding is a supporting health care profession in which a home health aide (HHA) assists patients with in-home care, including errands, housekeeping, fall prevention, patient transport, and more.
The best home health aide certification programs teach prospective HHAs all of the skills they must know to safely and effectively care for patients in their own homes or in assisted living facilities. They also meet the federal education requirements for HHAs working through agencies
Best Home Health Aide Certification Programs of 2021
Best Overall : Penn Foster
Penn Foster is the only home health aide program that exceeds the education requirements for all 50 U.S. states and requires a 40-hour externship for hands-on skills training.
All online except externship
Exceeds federal and state classroom requirements
No financial aid available
Pricier than other options
Penn Foster’s home health aide training program is the best overall because it exceeds the education requirements for home health aides to work with agencies covered by Medicare.
The Penn Foster HHA course covers therapeutic communication skills, body systems, drug pathways, nutrition, home care procedures, the aging process, laws, ethics, and confidentiality. After completing the fully online coursework, students proceed to a 40-hour externship during which they practice crucial home health skills under the supervision of an experienced mentor.
While Penn Foster offers assistance with externship placement, it’s ultimately up to the student to secure an externship in their area that meets the requirements for HHA education in their state.
Though the course is fully online (with the exception of the externship), there is a 12-month cap on the program. Fortunate, you can finish it in as little as five to six months.
Penn Foster is accredited by the Distance Education Accrediting Commission (DEAC), as well as several regional accreditation bodies, confirming the quality of education it provides.
While the Penn Foster HHA program is more expensive than other options available to prospective students, the paid-in-full price of $699 is still an affordable way to break into the health care industry. If you can’t pay upfront, you can sign up for monthly autopay for $799 total or monthly mail pay for $829 total.
Best for No Prerequisites : Ashworth College
Affordable, online, thorough, and fast, the Ashworth College home health aide course is the best option for students without a high school diploma.
Doesn’t meet Medicare eligibility requirements
No hands-on skills training
Doesn’t meet some state requirements
Without a high school diploma, it’s hard to find professional education classes that are thorough, accredited, and provide career assistance services. Ashworth College offers one of the best fully online home health aide courses you can take with absolutely no prerequisites.
In this course, students learn how to care for patients who are elderly, those who have disabilities, and those who are chronically or critically ill. Topics covered include bloodborne pathogens, safety in the home environment, safe patient handling, communication skills, hospice care, infection control, food preparation safety and hygiene, skin and personal care, emergency procedures, and more.
Tuition for this course costs $899 if you pay monthly or $699 if you pay in full. While this is more expensive than many other HHA courses, this program is also more thorough than most.
All Ashworth College graduates can access career services through the Ashworth College Central Network, which offers resume-writing tips, professional development advice, and more.
Ashworth College discloses that its HHA classes do not meet the state education requirements for several states, including California, Indiana, Mississippi, New Jersey, New York, and Washington, D.C. Students will also be responsible for independently pursuing and completing the federally required 16 hours of in-person skills training to meet Medicare requirements.
Best for Starting a Business : American Caregiver Association
Those who want to become independent home health aides will find immense value in the business-building toolkit offered through the American Caregiver Association (ACA).
Fully online program
Good for aspiring business owners
Doesn’t satisfy Medicare requirements for HHAs
No hands-on skills training
The America Caregiver Association is the national accrediting body for caregivers and it offers its own courses so you can become certified as a caregiver and associate yourself with the governing body for the profession.
The ACA offers several courses, but aspiring business owners should select the Caregiver Business Bundle for $179, which will establish you as an independent care provider in the ACA’s National Caregiver Registry (NCR).
In total, you’ll complete 120 hours of classroom instruction, but you'll need to find another provider for the federally mandated 16 hours of hands-on learning. In addition to the online courses, you’ll also receive the “Start Your Own Caregiver Service Business Guide,” which provides practical advice for starting your caregiving business.
Topics covered include residents’ rights; nutrition, hydration, and food services; vital signs; medication distribution; skin care; oral hygiene; grooming and bathing; assisting residents with activities of daily living; risk management; fall prevention; and other critical skills for home health care.
Also included are a caregiver ID badge and membership with the ACA. You do have to take an exam upon completion of the course to earn your status in the registry, but the exam is open-book and not timed.
Best for Certified Nursing Assistants : Southern Technical Institute
This home health aide course prepares currently certified nursing assistants (CNAs) to take their skills into the homes of patients and provide additional care.
Continuing education opportunity for CNAs
Includes hands-on skills check
Must travel for skills check
Doesn’t meet federal Medicare requirements unless you’re a CNA
Florida-based Southern Technical Institute offers a fast-track for CNAs looking to expand their work into home health care. This home health aide course is completely online with the exception of a two-hour, hands-on clinical exam. If you don’t live in Florida, you must arrange to travel there for the skills examination or request a certified instructor to come to you. If you don’t complete or pass the skills exam, you won’t be awarded your certificate.
The program costs $229 and covers home health basics, including infection control and prevention, personal care and hygiene, bathing and clothing, food safety, body mechanics, positioning and transferring, and body systems.
Southern Technical Institute’s program does not meet the federal requirements for Medicare reimbursement unless you are already a certified nursing assistant. If you are not a CNA, this course only awards 40 hours of classroom instruction, enough to work as an HHA in the state of Florida but not through a Medicare-billing HHA agency. You should check your state’s individual requirements for HHAs before enrolling in this course.
If you are a CNA, however, you will be awarded a 75-hour certificate upon completion of the online program and two-hour skills check.
Best Intensive Course : CareerStep
CareerStep’s home health aide program curriculum is vastly more comprehensive than any others you’ll find, clocking in at an impressive 285 hours of classroom instruction.
Self-paced, online learning
1:1 student support
Can take up to a year to finish
No financial aid available
CareerStep offers the most thorough, intensive home health aide training we could find. With 285 hours of classroom time, this program gives you an added edge over other aspiring HHAs.
The program could take up to one year to complete, but CareerStep asserts that if you dedicate two hours per day, five days a week, to your studies, you can finish in as little as seven months.
CareerStep’s home health aide program is pricier than most, with a tuition of $2,999. However, you do get much more instruction than you would with any of the others. This course covers more than the day-to-day skills you need as an HHA, including the health care system as a whole and how HHAs fit into that system. It has an entire module dedicated to finding and maintaining employment, and you’ll learn how to work with a variety of special needs patients.
On top of that, the level of detail in the body systems coursework is unbeatable compared to other HHA certification courses. In the CareerStep program, anatomy and physiology are broken up into seven separate learning modules, beginning with a module on medical terminology.
There are no prerequisites to enroll in this program, other than being 18 years old and having a high school diploma. While CareerStep doesn’t offer or accept financial aid, it does offer payment plans through Affirm and PayPal Credit.
Best for Assisted Living : Cornerstone Healthcare Training
Cornerstone Healthcare Training offers a home health aide course specifically designed for students wanting to work in assisted living facilities.
Meets federal classroom requirements for Medicare billing
Specializes in assisted living
No hands-on training
Some classes are scheduled and not self-paced
Cornerstone Healthcare Training offers two home health aide courses: one catered to future HHAs who want to work through an agency or as an independent provider, and one catered to future HHAs who want to work in an assisted living facility.
Cornerstone’s assisted living specialty HHA training is unique in that it specifically focuses on additional skills students will need in a group or multi-family living situation. In addition to the basic training needed to work as an HHA, including body systems, medication distribution, infection control, and more, you’ll learn skills and knowledge needed to care for people with conditions commonly found in assisted living homes, specifically mental illnesses and dementia.
Cornerstone also offers individual courses for students pursuing additional knowledge in specialty areas or continuing education credits to maintain their certification. For example, if you also want to open up the opportunity to work as an independent provider or through a home health agency, you can separately purchase the nurse delegation courses offered by Cornerstone. This will prepare you to complete nurse-delegated tasks in a variety of settings.
The assisted living home health aide course consists of 75 hours of online learning and concludes with a virtually proctored online exam. Some of the classes in the course are scheduled live-online classes, which means you’ll need to attend lectures at scheduled times.
Tuition for the home health aide certification program is $664, and there is an additional cost if you want to take other specialty classes on the side.
Penn Foster is the best home health aide certification program. It not only meets but exceeds the minimum federal requirements for home health aide training. With 200 hours of classroom training, this program also exceeds the state-sanctioned requirements for all 50 states.
Additionally, the Penn Foster home health aide program assists students in securing a 40-hour externship to hone hands-on skills and positions students to earn jobs with the best home health aide agencies or work as independent caregivers.
Compare the Best Home Health Aide Certification Programs
|Company||Price||Duration||Meets Federal Classroom Requirements?||Format|
|$699 to $829||Up to one year||Exceeds||Online + externship|
Best for No Prerequisites
|$699 to $899||Up to one year||Yes||Online|
|American Caregiver Association
Best for Starting a Business
|Southern Technical Institute
Best for Certified Nursing Assistants
|$229||Up to six months||Yes||Online + one day in person|
Best Intensive Course
|$2,999||Up to one year||Yes||Online|
|Cornerstone Healthcare Training
Best for Assisted Living
How to Choose the Best Home Health Aide Certification Program
The best home health aide certification course is different for each student. Several factors play a role, including:
- Cost: Determine how much money you can put toward your HHA education. Most courses are relatively low-cost compared to other health care education programs, with the high end sitting around $1,200 and the low end at just $100.
- Duration: If you need to start working fast, consider finding a multi-day, in-person course near you. This way, you can meet the 75-hour class time requirement quickly. If you have more time, a self-paced, online course might be a better fit and allow for more flexibility.
- Prerequisites: Some HHA training programs require minimal prerequisites, such as a high school diploma. Some courses don’t have any prerequisites, while some advanced or topical courses require more than a high school diploma.
- Course format: Decide whether you want to take an online course or learn in person—or a combination. This is one of the first factors to consider when researching home health aide certification programs.
- Outcomes: When looking for an HHA certification program, make sure to check what the course prepares you for. Does it meet the 75-hour classroom requirement for Medicare or the educational requirements for your state? If you have to take an exam to work as an HHA in your state, does it prepare you for that? Is there any hands-on skills training?
- Job opportunities: Does the outcome of the program set you up for job placement in the type of environment you want to work in? For instance, if you want to be a home health aide that specializes in critical illnesses, make sure to consider that in your search criteria.
Home Health Aide (HHA) vs. Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA)
HHAs and CNAs have similar duties, but CNAs have more responsibilities and require more knowledge and skills than HHAs.
While both professions involve assisting patients with basic medical needs, such as monitoring vital signs and helping with personal hygiene, CNAs provide more advanced care. CNAs can monitor oxygen levels, change bandages, draw blood (if they’re also phlebotomy-certified), and take blood sugar readings. Education requirements for CNAs include having a high school diploma and attending state-sanctioned nursing assisting courses and then passing an exam.
HHAs help more with household tasks that the patient can’t complete on their own. An HHA might prepare meals, do the grocery shopping, and clean. HHAs also have the important job of preventing falls, helping patients get to the shower and toilet, and helping patients get clothed when needed.
Education requirements for HHAs vary by state, but in general, satisfying the federal requirement of 75 hours of classroom learning will help prospective HHAs secure jobs with home health agencies.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
How Much Do Home Health Aide Certification Programs Cost?
The cost of home health aide certification programs varies, but most cost between $100 and $800 dollars. In-person classes are typically more expensive than online courses, and courses with clinical hours will cost even more. Students typically must cover costs associated with clinical hours and externships, including transportation and clothing (scrubs).
Are Home Health Aide Certification Programs Worth It?
Although there are no formal education requirements for home health aides, there are requirements for HHAs to be covered by Medicare. It’s recommended that students fulfill this requirement in order to more easily find jobs.
If you want to be a home health aide covered by Medicare, you must satisfy the minimum federal requirement of 75 hours of classroom learning, including 16 hours of supervised, hands-on learning. This is highly recommended, as most home health aide agencies are required to ensure their staff meets these requirements.
What Do You Learn in a Home Health Aide Certification Program?
You’ll learn the basics of caregiving in your home health aide certification program. Topics covered include patient communication and bedside manner, recording vital signs, personal care, hygiene, patient nutrition, medication distribution, handling emergencies, patient transport, and first aid. If you choose to specialize in a certain population, you will learn skills specific to that population.
We looked for the most comprehensive trainings for the best prices, analyzing factors like accreditation, course content, certification opportunities, and federal regulations. We chose only home health aide certification programs that, at a minimum, satisfy the federal requirements for classroom time, with the exception of the course intended for current CNAs.