Home Health Aides

Summary

home health aides image
Home health aides may provide some basic health-related services, such as checking a client’s blood pressure.
Quick Facts: Home Health Aides
2014 Median Pay $21,380 per year
$10.28 per hour
Typical Entry-Level Education No formal educational credential
Work Experience in a Related Occupation None
On-the-job Training Short-term on-the-job training
Number of Jobs, 2014 913,500
Job Outlook, 2014-24 38% (Much faster than average)
Employment Change, 2014-24 348,400

What Home Health Aides Do

Home health aides help people with disabilities, chronic illness, or cognitive impairment with activities of daily living. They often help older adults who need assistance. In some states, home health aides may be able to give a client medication or check the client’s vital signs under the direction of a nurse or other healthcare practitioner.

Work Environment

Home health aides held about 913,500 jobs in 2014. They work in a variety of settings, including clients’ homes, group homes, and day services programs.

How to Become a Home Health Aide

There are no formal education requirements for home health aides, but most aides have at least a high school diploma. Home health aides working in certified home health or hospice agencies must complete formal training and pass a standardized test.

Pay

The median annual wage for home health aides was $21,380 in May 2014.

Job Outlook

Employment of home health aides is projected to grow 38 percent from 2014 to 2024, much faster than the average for all occupations. As the baby-boom population ages and the elderly population grows, demand for the services of home health aides to provide assistance will continue to increase.

State & Area Data

Explore resources for employment and wages by state and area for home health aides.

Similar Occupations

Compare the job duties, education, job growth, and pay of home health aides with similar occupations.

More Information, Including Links to O*NET

Learn more about home health aides by visiting additional resources, including O*NET, a source on key characteristics of workers and occupations.

What Home Health Aides Do

home health aides image
Home health aides provide companionship to clients.

Home health aides help people with disabilities, chronic illness, or cognitive impairment with activities of daily living. They often help older adults who need assistance. In some states, home health aides may be able to give a client medication or check the client’s vital signs under the direction of a nurse or other healthcare practitioner.

Duties

Home health aides typically do the following:

  • Assist clients in their daily personal tasks, such as bathing or dressing
  • Provide basic health-related services according to a client’s needs, such as checking vital signs or administering prescribed medication at scheduled times
  • Do light housekeeping, such as laundry, washing dishes, and vacuuming in a client’s home
  • Help to organize a client’s schedule and plan appointments
  • Arrange transportation to doctors’ offices or for other kinds of outings
  • Shop for groceries and prepare meals to meet a client’s dietary specifications
  • Help to keep clients engaged in their social networks and communities

Home health aides, unlike personal care aides, typically work for certified home health or hospice agencies that receive government funding and therefore must comply with regulations. They work under the direct supervision of medical professionals, usually nurses. These aides keep records of services performed and of clients’ conditions and progress. They report changes in clients’ conditions to supervisors or case managers. Home health aides also work with therapists and other medical staff.

Depending on their clients’ needs, home health aides may provide some basic health-related services, such as checking a client’s pulse, temperature, and respiration rate. They may also help with simple prescribed exercises and or with giving medications. Occasionally, they change bandages or dressings, give massages, care for skin, or help with braces and artificial limbs. With special training, experienced home health aides also may help with medical equipment such as ventilators, which help clients breathe.

Work Environment

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Most aides work in a client’s home; others work in small group homes or larger care communities.

Home health aides held about 913,500 jobs in 2014. The industries that employed the most home health aides were as follows:

Home healthcare services 38%
Services for the elderly and persons with disabilities 24
Residential intellectual and developmental disability, mental health, and substance abuse facilities 11
Continuing care retirement communities and assisted living facilities for the elderly 10

Most work in a client’s home; others work in small group homes or larger care communities. Some home health aides go to the same home every day or week for months or even years. Some visit four or five clients in the same day, while others work only with one client all day. They may work with other aides in shifts so that the client always has an aide. They help people in hospices and day services programs, and also help people with disabilities go to work and stay engaged in their communities.

Work Schedules

Most home health aides worked full time in 2014. They may be required to work evening and weekend hours to attend to their clients’ needs.

Injuries and Illnesses

Work as a home health aide can be physically and emotionally demanding. Aides must guard against back injury because they often move clients into and out of bed or help them to stand or walk.

In addition, home health aides frequently work with clients who have cognitive impairments or mental health issues and who may display difficult or violent behaviors. Aides also face hazards from minor infections and exposure to communicable diseases, but can lessen their chance of infection by following proper procedures. 

How to Become a Home Health Aide

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Some home health aides may work under the direction of other health professionals to administer medications to clients.

There is no formal education requirement for home health aides, but most aides have at least a high school diploma. Home health aides who work for certified home health or hospice agencies must complete formal training and pass a standardized test.

Education

Although a high school diploma or equivalent is not generally required, most home health aides have one before entering the occupation. Some formal education programs may be available from community colleges or vocational schools.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

Home health aides who work for agencies that receive reimbursement from Medicare or Medicaid must get a minimum level of training and pass a competency evaluation to be certified. Training typically includes learning about personal hygiene, reading and recording vital signs, infection control, and basic nutrition. Aides may take a competency exam to become certified without taking any training.

Additional requirements for certification vary by state. In some states, the only requirement for employment is on-the-job training, which employers generally provide. Other states require formal training, which is available from community colleges, vocational schools, elder care programs, and home healthcare agencies. In addition, states may conduct background checks on prospective aides. For specific state requirements, contact the state’s health board.

In addition, many home health aides may be required to obtain CPR certification.

Training

Home health aides may be trained in housekeeping tasks, such as cooking for clients who have special dietary needs. Aides learn basic safety techniques, including how to respond in an emergency. Specific training may be needed for certification if state certification is required.

In addition, clients have their own preferences, and aides may need time to become comfortable working with them.

Important Qualities

Detail oriented. Home health aides must adhere to specific rules and protocols to help take care of clients. Aides must carefully follow instructions from healthcare professionals, such as how to care for a client’s wound or how to identify changes in a client’s condition.

Integrity. Home health aides should make clients feel comfortable when they tend to personal activities, such as helping a client bathe. In addition, home health aides must be dependable and trustworthy so that clients and their families can rely on them.

Interpersonal skills. Home health aides must work closely with their clients. Sometimes, clients are in extreme pain or distress, and aides must be sensitive to their emotions. Aides must be compassionate, and they must enjoy helping people.

Physical stamina. Home health aides should be comfortable performing physical tasks. They might need to lift or turn clients.

Pay

Home Health Aides

Median annual wages, May 2014

Total, all occupations

$35,540

Healthcare support occupations

$26,440

Home health aides

$21,380

 

The median annual wage for home health aides was $21,380 in May 2014. The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $17,040, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $29,560.

In May 2014, the median annual wages for home health aides in the top industries in which they worked were as follows:

Continuing care retirement communities and assisted living facilities for the elderly $21,660
Residential intellectual and developmental disability, mental health, and substance abuse facilities 21,590
Home healthcare services 21,160
Services for the elderly and persons with disabilities 20,880

Most home health aides worked full time in 2014. They may be required to work evening and weekend hours to attend to clients’ needs.

Job Outlook

Home Health Aides

Percent change in employment, projected 2014-24

Home health aides

38%

Healthcare support occupations

23%

Total, all occupations

7%

 

Employment of home health aides is projected to grow 38 percent from 2014 to 2024, much faster than the average for all occupations.

As the baby-boom population ages and the elderly population grows, the demand for home health aides to provide assistance will continue to increase. The older population often has health problems and will need help with daily activities.

Elderly clients and people with disabilities are increasingly relying on home care as a less expensive alternative to nursing homes or hospitals. Clients who need help with everyday tasks and household chores, rather than medical care, can reduce their medical expenses by returning to their homes.

Another factor that will likely lead to an increase in the demand for home care is that most clients prefer to be cared for in their homes, where they are most comfortable. Studies have found that home care is often more effective than care in a nursing home or hospital.

Job Prospects

Job prospects for home health aides are excellent. This occupation is large and is projected to add many jobs. In addition, the low pay and high emotional demands may cause many workers to leave this occupation, and they will have to be replaced.

Employment projections data for home health aides, 2014-24
Occupational Title SOC Code Employment, 2014 Projected Employment, 2024 Change, 2014-24 Employment by Industry
Percent Numeric

SOURCE: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Employment Projections program

Home health aides

31-1011 913,500 1,261,900 38 348,400 [XLSX]

State & Area Data

Occupational Employment Statistics (OES)

The Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) program produces employment and wage estimates annually for over 800 occupations. These estimates are available for the nation as a whole, for individual states, and for metropolitan and nonmetropolitan areas. The link(s) below go to OES data maps for employment and wages by state and area.

Projections Central

Occupational employment projections are developed for all states by Labor Market Information (LMI) or individual state Employment Projections offices. All state projections data are available at www.projectionscentral.com. Information on this site allows projected employment growth for an occupation to be compared among states or to be compared within one state. In addition, states may produce projections for areas; there are links to each state’s websites where these data may be retrieved.

Career InfoNet

America’s Career InfoNet includes hundreds of occupational profiles with data available by state and metro area. There are links in the left-hand side menu to compare occupational employment by state and occupational wages by local area or metro area. There is also a salary info tool to search for wages by zip code.

Similar Occupations

This table shows a list of occupations with job duties that are similar to those of home health aides.

Occupation Job Duties ENTRY-LEVEL EDUCATION 2014 MEDIAN PAY
Child care workers

Childcare Workers

Childcare workers provide care for children when parents and other family members are unavailable. They attend to children’s basic needs, such as bathing and feeding. In addition, some help children prepare for kindergarten or help older children with homework.

High school diploma or equivalent $19,730
Licensed practical and licensed vocational nurses

Licensed Practical and Licensed Vocational Nurses

Licensed practical nurses (LPNs) and licensed vocational nurses (LVNs) provide basic nursing care. They work under the direction of registered nurses and doctors.

Postsecondary nondegree award $42,490
Medical assistants

Medical Assistants

Medical assistants complete administrative and clinical tasks in the offices of physicians, hospitals, and other healthcare facilities. Their duties vary with the location, specialty, and size of the practice.

Postsecondary nondegree award $29,960
Nursing aides, orderlies, and attendants

Nursing Assistants and Orderlies

Nursing assistants, sometimes called nursing aides, help provide basic care for patients in hospitals and residents of long-term care facilities, such as nursing homes. Orderlies transport patients and clean treatment areas.

See How to Become One $25,090
Registered nurses

Registered Nurses

Registered nurses (RNs) provide and coordinate patient care, educate patients and the public about various health conditions, and provide advice and emotional support to patients and their family members.

Bachelor's degree $66,640
Occupational therapy assistants and aides

Occupational Therapy Assistants and Aides

Occupational therapy assistants and aides help patients develop, recover, and improve the skills needed for daily living and working. Occupational therapy assistants are directly involved in providing therapy to patients; occupational therapy aides typically perform support activities. Both assistants and aides work under the direction of occupational therapists.

See How to Become One $52,300
Physical therapist assistants and aides

Physical Therapist Assistants and Aides

Physical therapist assistants, sometimes called PTAs, and physical therapist aides work under the direction and supervision of physical therapists. They help patients who are recovering from injuries and illnesses regain movement and manage pain.

See How to Become One $41,640
Social and human service assistants

Social and Human Service Assistants

Social and human service assistants provide client services, including support for families, in a wide variety of fields, such as psychology, rehabilitation, and social work. They assist other workers, such as social workers, and they help clients find benefits or community services.

High school diploma or equivalent $29,790
personal care aides image

Personal Care Aides

Personal care aides help clients with self-care and everyday tasks. They also provide social supports and assistance that enable clients to participate in their communities.

No formal educational credential $20,440
Suggested citation:

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2016-17 Edition, Home Health Aides,
on the Internet at http://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/home-health-aides.htm (visited February 12, 2016).

Publish Date: Thursday, December 17, 2015