Home Health Aides and Personal Care Aides

Summary

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Home health aides may provide some basic health-related services, such as checking a client's blood pressure.
Quick Facts: Home Health Aides and Personal Care Aides
2016 Median Pay $22,170 per year
$10.66 per hour
Typical Entry-Level Education High school diploma or equivalent
Work Experience in a Related Occupation None
On-the-job Training Short-term on-the-job training
Number of Jobs, 2016 2,927,600
Job Outlook, 2016-26 40% (Much faster than average)
Employment Change, 2016-26 1,179,500

What Home Health Aides and Personal Care Aides Do

Home health aides and personal care aides help people with disabilities, chronic illnesses, or cognitive impairment by assisting in their daily living activities. 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 and personal care aides work in a variety of settings, including clients’ homes, group homes, and day services programs.

How to Become a Home Health Aide or Personal Care Aide

Home health aides and personal care aides typically need a high school diploma or equivalent, though some positions do not require it. Those 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 $22,600 in May 2016.

The median annual wage for personal care aides was $21,920 in May 2016.

Job Outlook

Employment of home health aides and personal care aides is projected to grow 40 percent from 2016 to 2026, much faster than the average for all occupations. As the baby-boom population ages and the elderly population grows, the demand for the services of home health aides and personal care aides will continue to increase.

State & Area Data

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

Similar Occupations

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

More Information, Including Links to O*NET

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

What Home Health Aides and Personal Care Aides Do About this section

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Personal care aides assist clients in everyday tasks.

Home health aides and personal care aides help people with disabilities, chronic illness, or cognitive impairment by assisting in their daily living activities. They often help older adults who need assistance. 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 and personal care aides typically do the following:

  • Assist clients in their daily personal tasks, such as bathing or dressing
  • Housekeeping, such as laundry, washing dishes, and vacuuming
  • Help to organize a client’s schedule and plan appointments
  • Arrange transportation to doctors’ offices or other outings
  • Shop for groceries and prepare meals to meet a client’s dietary specifications
  • Keep clients engaged in their social networks and communities

Home health aides may provide some basic health-related services (depending on the state they work in), 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.

Personal care aides—sometimes called caregivers or personal attendants—are generally limited to providing non-medical services, including companionship, cleaning, cooking, and driving.

Direct support professionals work with people who have developmental or intellectual disabilities. They may help create a behavior plan and teach self-care skills, such as doing laundry or cooking meals.

Certified home health or hospice agencies often receive payments from government programs and therefore must comply with regulations regarding aides’ employment. Aides 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, and work with therapists and other medical staff.

Work Environment About this section

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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 911,500 jobs in 2016. The largest employers of home health aides were as follows:

Home healthcare services 45%
Services for the elderly and persons with disabilities 23
Continuing care retirement communities and assisted living facilities for the elderly 10
Residential intellectual and developmental disability facilities 6
Nursing care facilities (skilled nursing facilities) 3

Personal care aides held about 2.0 million jobs in 2016. The largest employers of personal care aides were as follows:

Services for the elderly and persons with disabilities 46%
Home healthcare services 15
Residential intellectual and developmental disability facilities 9
Continuing care retirement communities and assisted living facilities for the elderly 7
Private households 7

Most home health aides and personal care aides work in clients’ homes; others work in small group homes or larger care communities. Some visit four or five clients in the same day, and others only work with one client all day—in some cases staying with one client on a long-term basis. 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 may travel as they also help people with disabilities go to work and stay engaged in their communities.

Injuries and Illnesses

Personal care aides have one of the highest rates of injuries and illnesses of all occupations. Home health aides have a higher rate of injuries and illnesses than the national average.

Work as a home health or personal care 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, 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.

Work Schedules

Most aides work full-time, others work part-time. They may be required to work evening and weekend hours, depending on their clients’ needs.

How to Become a Home Health Aide or Personal Care Aide About this section

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

Home health aides and personal care aides typically need a high school diploma or equivalent, though some positions do not require it. Those working in certified home health or hospice agencies must complete formal training and pass a standardized test.

Education

Home health aides and personal care aides typically need a high school diploma or equivalent, though some positions do not require it. There are also postsecondary nondegree award programs at community colleges and vocational schools.

Training

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

Training may be done on the job or through specialized programs. Training typically includes learning about personal hygiene, reading and recording vital signs, infection control, and basic nutrition.

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

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

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. Some states allow aides to take a competency exam in order 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.

Aides also may be required to obtain CPR certification.

Important Qualities

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

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

Interpersonal skills. Home health aides and personal care aides must work closely with 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 and personal care aides should be comfortable performing physical tasks. They might need to lift or turn clients.

Pay About this section

Home Health Aides and Personal Care Aides

Median annual wages, May 2016

Total, all occupations

$37,040

Home health aides

$22,600

Home health aides and personal care aides

$22,170

Personal care aides

$21,920

 

The median annual wage for home health aides was $22,600 in May 2016. 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 $17,990, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $30,610.

The median annual wage for personal care aides was $21,920 in May 2016. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $17,310, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $29,760.

In May 2016, the median annual wages for home health aides in the top industries in which they worked were as follows:

Nursing care facilities (skilled nursing facilities) $23,570
Continuing care retirement communities and assisted living facilities for the elderly 22,860
Residential intellectual and developmental disability facilities 22,510
Services for the elderly and persons with disabilities 22,410
Home healthcare services 22,390

In May 2016, the median annual wages for personal care aides in the top industries in which they worked were as follows:

Residential intellectual and developmental disability facilities $22,820
Continuing care retirement communities and assisted living facilities for the elderly 22,490
Services for the elderly and persons with disabilities 21,910
Home healthcare services 19,830

Most aides work full-time, others work part-time. They may be required to work evening and weekend hours in order to attend to clients’ needs.

Job Outlook About this section

Home Health Aides and Personal Care Aides

Percent change in employment, projected 2016-26

Home health aides

47%

Home health aides and personal care aides

40%

Personal care aides

37%

Total, all occupations

7%

 

Overall employment of home health aides and personal care aides is projected to grow 40 percent from 2016 to 2026, much faster than the average for all occupations. As the baby-boom generation ages and the elderly population grows, the demand for the services of home health aides and personal care aides will continue to increase.

Elderly clients and people with disabilities are increasingly relying on home care as an alternative to nursing homes or hospitals. Families may prefer to keep aging family members in their homes rather than in nursing homes or hospitals. Clients who need help with everyday tasks and household chores, rather than medical care, may be able to reduce their medical expenses by staying in or returning to their homes.

Job Prospects

Job prospects for home health aides and personal care aides are excellent. These occupations are large and are 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 and personal care aides, 2016-26
Occupational Title SOC Code Employment, 2016 Projected Employment, 2026 Change, 2016-26 Employment by Industry
Percent Numeric

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

Home health aides and personal care aides

2,927,600 4,107,100 40 1,179,500

Home health aides

31-1011 911,500 1,337,000 47 425,600 employment projections excel document xlsx

Personal care aides

39-9021 2,016,100 2,770,100 37 754,000 employment projections excel document xlsx

State & Area Data About this section

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.

CareerOneStop

CareerOneStop 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 About this section

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

Occupation Job Duties ENTRY-LEVEL EDUCATION Help 2016 MEDIAN PAY Help
Child care workers

Childcare Workers

Childcare workers attend to the basic needs of children, such as dressing, bathing, feeding, and overseeing play. They may help younger children prepare for kindergarten or assist older children with homework.

High school diploma or equivalent $21,170
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 $44,090
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 $31,540
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 $26,590
Occupational therapy assistants and aides

Occupational Therapy Assistants and Aides

Occupational therapy assistants and aides help patients develop, recover, improve, as well as maintain 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 $56,070
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 $45,290
Psychiatric technicians and aides

Psychiatric Technicians and Aides

Psychiatric technicians and aides care for people who have mental illness and developmental disabilities. Technicians typically provide therapeutic care and monitor their patients’ conditions. Aides help patients in their daily activities and ensure a safe, clean environment.

See How to Become One $28,670
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 $68,450
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 $31,810
Suggested citation:

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Home Health Aides and Personal Care Aides,
on the Internet at https://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/home-health-aides-and-personal-care-aides.htm (visited November 24, 2017).

Last Modified Date: Tuesday, October 24, 2017

What They Do

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State & Area Data

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2016 Median Pay

The wage at which half of the workers in the occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. Median wage data are from the BLS Occupational Employment Statistics survey. In May 2016, the median annual wage for all workers was $37,040.

On-the-job Training

Additional training needed (postemployment) to attain competency in the skills needed in this occupation.

Entry-level Education

Typical level of education that most workers need to enter this occupation.

Work experience in a related occupation

Work experience that is commonly considered necessary by employers, or is a commonly accepted substitute for more formal types of training or education.

Number of Jobs, 2016

The employment, or size, of this occupation in 2016, which is the base year of the 2016-26 employment projections.

Job Outlook, 2016-26

The projected percent change in employment from 2016 to 2026. The average growth rate for all occupations is 7 percent.

Employment Change, 2016-26

The projected numeric change in employment from 2016 to 2026.

Entry-level Education

Typical level of education that most workers need to enter this occupation.

On-the-job Training

Additional training needed (postemployment) to attain competency in the skills needed in this occupation.

Employment Change, projected 2016-26

The projected numeric change in employment from 2016 to 2026.

Growth Rate (Projected)

The percent change of employment for each occupation from 2016 to 2026.

Projected Number of New Jobs

The projected numeric change in employment from 2016 to 2026.

Projected Growth Rate

The projected percent change in employment from 2016 to 2026.

2016 Median Pay

The wage at which half of the workers in the occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. Median wage data are from the BLS Occupational Employment Statistics survey. In May 2016, the median annual wage for all workers was $37,040.