Smiling female caregiver with elderly man

How to Become a Home Health Aide

Duties, Responsibilities, Schooling, Requirements, Certifications, Job Outlook, and Salary

Smiling female caregiver with elderly man

After you’ve earned your Medical Assistant (MA) diploma, there are several of career options available to you that build on the knowledge and skills you gained throughout your education. One of the most challenging and satisfying alternative career paths available for MAs is that of a home health aide. Becoming a home health aide can provide you with a rewarding new vocation that builds on your education and skillsets and allows you to help patients manage their conditions at home with their families.

Continue reading this career guide for an in-depth look at the skills involved in being a home health aide, along with the educational requirements, salary, and job outlook for this critical position.

Not sure if becoming a home health aide is right for you? Click here to see the other careers featured on our list of top alternative jobs for medical assistants.

Home Health Aide Definition

What is a Home Health Aide?

Home health aides dedicate their professional time and talent to care for those suffering from chronic illnesses, serious disabilities, the elderly, and anyone in need of continuous care. They usually work within the homes of their patients, but can also provide care in facilities outside the home. Home health aides often forms close, personal relationships with those under their care. They also pay close attention to the evolving condition of patients and report their findings to physicians responsible for their medical care.

Home Health Aide: Job Description

What Does a Home Health Aide Do?

Home health aides help patients in need of continuous care live independent lives by assisting them with daily activities, including routine healthcare needs and personal tasks. By helping provide for the patient’s overall well-being, you’ll play a critical role in maintaining a quality of life that simply isn’t available from facilities outside of the home.

Being a home health aide can be a demanding job. You will likely spend a great deal of time with the same patient and will become a constant companion during a challenging time in that patient’s life. Home health aides must be trustworthy people who can be relied upon to always look after the health of their patients. As a home health aide, you’ll be keeping a close eye on the physical and emotional well-being of the patient, reporting any meaningful changes in condition to the family as well as the doctors and nurses in charge of the patient.

Home Health Aide Duties

Some of the day-to-day responsibilities of home health aides include:

  • Administering medications as prescribed
  • Taking and monitoring vital signs
  • Providing first aid for minor injuries
  • Reporting the patient’s condition to the physician
  • Assisting the patient with exercises
  • Preparing patient meals
  • Dressing the patient
  • Bathing the patient
  • Assisting with toilet use
  • Joining patients during doctor’s visits
  • Performing light housekeeping duties
  • Accompanying the patient during trips outside of the home

Healthcare team walking in a hallway

Where Do Home Health Aides Work?

As the name implies, home health aides work primarily in their clients’ homes but occasionally work in nursing homes, hospices, and assisted-care communities. Their employers are usually not the patient’s family but instead staffing agencies, hospice facilities, and home health agencies.

Home Health Aide Schooling & Certification

How Long Does It Take to Become a Home Health Aide?

What Degree Do You Need to Be a Home Health Aide?

Medical assistants who seek to expand their career opportunities will find that the experience of earning an MA diploma will serve them well in their quest to become a home health aide. While becoming a home health aide does not require a college degree, it usually requires a high school diploma or equivalent. It’s also typical for home health aides to receive on-the-job training after obtaining employment, but some states require formal training that can amount to 75 hours of instruction in certain important aspects of the position including hygiene, CPR, and basic nutrition. In addition, some states conduct background checks on applicants before granting them certification.

Why is Home Health Aide a Great Alternative Career Path for Medical Assistants?

Home health aides perform meaningful work that makes a genuine, positive difference in the lives of their patients and those of their families. If you hold a Medical Assistant diploma, you are already an excellent candidate for a home health aide position.

For starters, your MA diploma shows you have the education and training necessary for the position. It also shows you have the compassion and desire to help those in need. And when the time comes for a prospective employer to choose which candidate gets the position, your MA diploma will give you a distinct advantage over candidates without that valued training.

Being a home health aide is a great alternative career path for medical assistants due to its bright job outlook, opportunities for advancement, and the widespread availability of positions.

Home Health Aide Salary

How Much Do Home Health Aides Make?

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the average annual salary for a home health aide is just above $28,000, which works out to be just above $13 per hour. Annual salaries for home health aides in the 90th percentile can reach as high as $36,000 or more.

Highest Paying Industries for Home Health Aides

According to the BLS, these are the industries where you’re most likely to find the top-paying jobs for home health aides:

Industry Average Hourly Pay Average Salary
State Government $18.58 $38,640
Educational Support Services $17.41 $36,210
Scientific Research & Development $16.00 $33,290
Individual & Family Services $13.69 $28,480
Mental Health & Substance Abuse Facilities $13.40 $27,860

Highest Paying States for Home Health Aides

According to the BLS, home health aides earn the highest average wages in these states:

State Average Hourly Pay Average Salary
Alaska $17.00 $35,360
North Dakota $16.36 $34,020
Massachusetts $16.29 $33,890
Vermont $16.26 $33,810
Washington $15.80 $32,860

Highest Paying Cities for Home Health Aides

According to the BLS, home health aides earn the highest average annual wage in these cities:

City Average Hourly Pay Average Salary
Napa, CA $22.92 $47,670
Fairbanks, AK $16.84 $35,030
San Francisco, CA $16.57 $34,470
Barnstable Town, MA $16.56 $34,430
New Bedford, MA $16.55 $34,430
Norwich, CT $16.40 $34,100
Boston, MA $16.31 $33,910
Bismark, ND $16.25 $33,810
Seattle, WA $16.24 $33,770
Santa Rosa, CA $16.21 $33,720

Home Health Aide Job Outlook

What is the Job Outlook for Home Health Aide?

The BLS estimates that the overall employment for home health aides will grow an impressive 34% by 2029, a rate that is much faster than the average growth rate across all other jobs during the same time period (4%). As the population of America’s Baby Boomers ages, it is expected that the need for home health aides will be high for some time to come.

Medical students using computers

Start Your Career by Earning Your Medical Assistant Diploma

For those seeking a rewarding career with enduring levels of demand that builds on your Medical Assistant diploma, becoming a home health aide could be a great career path for you.

If you’re ready to take the next step towards becoming a home health aide, you can start by earning your Medical Assistant diploma in as little as 10 months at Eagle Gate College.

Click here to learn more about our Medical Assistant program.