What Does a Home Health Aide Do?

Learn About the Salary, Required Skills, & More

This illustration describes a day in the life of a home health aide, including "Help clients get dressed and undressed and maintain proper clothing," "Oversee the administration of prescribed medications to clients," "Provide and assist with personal services such as bathing and grooming," and "Accompany clients to their doctor visits."

Emilie Dunphy / The Balance

Home health aides (HHA) care for people with disabilities, chronic illnesses, cognitive impairments, or age-related issues who live in their own homes rather than a nursing facility.

HHAs help with daily living activities—including providing routine healthcare and assistance with personal tasks—so clients are able to remain safely at home. Home health aides also provide basic medical services, including administering medications, changing bandages, and checking vital signs such as body temperature, pulse rate, and respiration rate. 

Although home health aides work independently, they are supervised by a medical professional, typically a registered nurse.

Review information on how to become a home health aide, including job responsibilities and qualifications, education, training, salary, and job outlook.

Home Health Aide Duties & Responsibilities

Home health aides monitor care and help clients with daily living activities in their home or in a group home or care facility. Job responsibilities include: 

  • Overseeing the administration of prescribed medications to clients.
  • Assisting with routine healthcare tasks or activities of daily living, such as feeding, bathing, dressing, grooming, toileting, and mobility.
  • Providing clients with help moving in and out of beds, baths, wheelchairs, or automobiles.
  • Helping with tasks such as preparing meals, doing light housekeeping, and doing laundry.
  • Engaging patients in exercises or activities to keep them mentally alert.
  • Accompanying clients to doctor visits and other appointments.
  • Shopping for groceries and preparing meals to meet a client’s dietary specifications.
  • Following a specified care plan for the client and reporting on completed tasks after each visit.

With the assistance of a home health aide, many older or ill clients are able to age in place and stay in their homes. In addition to helping with medications, personal services, and living activities, home health aides provide companionship.

They are also in a position to monitor care and alert a supervisor or case manager if there are changes in a client's condition.

Home Health Aide Salary

A home health aide's salary varies based on the level of experience, geographical location, and other factors:

  • Median Annual Salary: $27,080 ($13.02/hour)
  • Top 10% Annual Salary: More than $36,990 ($17.78/hour)
  • Bottom 10% Annual Salary: Less than $20,130 ($9.68/hour)

Education, Training & Certification 

Home health aides typically receive training on the job and don't need to meet any specific educational requirements, although the job does involve some training:

  • Education: Although you don't need a high school diploma to become a home health aide, most people who work in this field have one.
  • Training: Home health aides receive on-the-job training from registered nurses, licensed practical nurses, or experienced aides. Health care facilities may offer training programs for new hires. Some states require anyone working in this occupation to have formal training, which vocational schools, community colleges, home health care agencies, and some health care facilities provide.
  • Certification: Certified home health or hospice agencies that receive payments from federally funded programs, such as Medicare or Medicaid, must follow regulations regarding aides' employment. In addition, several states license, certify, or register home health aides. Aides also may be required to obtain certification in first aid and cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR).

See the Licensed Occupation Tool on CareerOneStop for information about the requirements in individual states.

Home Health Aide Skills & Competencies

In addition to hands-on training, home health aides must have other "soft skills" that can help them excel in their jobs:

  • Interpersonal skills: In addition to stellar listening and verbal communication skills, you must be able to connect with your patients and their families on a personal level. It is essential to gain their trust so you can make them feel safe and comfortable.
  • Time management skills: You will have many tasks to complete during your shift. The ability to prioritize them will help you get everything done.
  • Detail-oriented: Home health aides must keep track of a lot of things—medications, vital signs, and appointments, for example. The ability to pay attention to details is important.
  • Physical stamina: You will have to lift clients and perform other tasks that require strength.

Job Outlook 

The job outlook for home health aides over the next decade relative to other occupations and industries is very strong, driven by the aging baby boomers and demand for in-home healthcare services.

Employment is expected to grow by about 34% between 2019 and 2029, which is much faster growth than the average for all occupations. These growth rates compare to the projected 4% growth for all occupations.

Work Environment 

Home healthcare agencies employ most individuals, usually deploying them to patients' homes. About 25% of individuals work in continuing care facilities, skilled nursing facilities, and facilities for the developmentally disabled.

Work Schedule 

Jobs are typically full-time, although some aides have part-time schedules. Patient schedules often require work on weekends, evenings, and holidays. Overnight shifts and live-in shifts are not uncommon.

How to Get the Job

RESEARCH: Learn more about the job duties of a home health aide, and assess whether you feel you're a fit for the job.

APPLY: You can go directly to the website of care facilities in your location and apply for jobs posted on their sites. Check sites like Care.com that list caregiving jobs. You can also find home health aide job listings on job boards such as Indeed.com, Monster.com, and Glassdoor.com.

INTERVIEW: Take the time to prepare for your job interviews, practice answering common interview questions, and be ready to share information on why you're interested in the position.

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