What They Do: Home health aides and personal care aides help people with disabilities, chronic illnesses, or cognitive impairment by assisting in their daily living activities.
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 One: 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.
Salary: The median annual wage for home health and personal care aides is $29,430.
Job Outlook: Employment of home health aides and personal care aides is projected to grow 25 percent over the next ten years, much faster than the average for all occupations.
Related Careers: Compare the job duties, education, job growth, and pay of home health aides and personal care aides with similar occupations.
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.
Home health aides and personal care aides typically do the following:
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.
Home health aides and personal care aides hold about 3.6 million jobs. The largest employers of home health aides and personal care aides are as follows:
|Individual and family services||47%|
|Home healthcare services||24%|
|Residential intellectual and developmental disability facilities||7%|
|Continuing care retirement communities and assisted living facilities for the elderly||7%|
Many home health and personal care aides work in clients' homes; others work in group homes or care communities. Some aides work with only one client, while others work with groups of clients. They sometimes stay with one client on a long-term basis or for a specific purpose, such as hospice care. They may work with other aides in shifts so that the client always has an aide.
Aides may travel as they help people with disabilities go to work and stay engaged in their communities.
Work as a home health or personal care aide can be physically and emotionally demanding. Because they often move clients into and out of bed or help with standing or walking, aides must use proper lifting techniques to guard against back injury.
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.
Most aides work full-time. They may work evening and weekend hours, depending on their clients' needs. Work schedules may vary.
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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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The median annual wage for home health and personal care aides is $29,430. 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 $22,290, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $37,010.
The median annual wages for home health aides and personal care aides in the top industries in which they worked were as follows:
|Individual and family services||$29,670|
|Residential intellectual and developmental disability facilities||$29,230|
|Continuing care retirement communities and assisted living facilities for the elderly||$29,140|
|Home healthcare services||$28,630|
Most aides work full-time, although part-time work is common. They may work evening and weekend hours, depending on their clients' needs. Work schedules may vary.
Overall employment of home health aides and personal care aides is projected to grow 25 percent over the next ten years, much faster than the average for all occupations.
About 711,700 openings for home health and personal care aides are projected each year, on average, over the decade. Many of those openings are expected to result from the need to replace workers who transfer to different occupations or exit the labor force, such as to retire.
The services that home health and personal care aides provide will be in high demand to care for the rising number of older people.
The locations in which care is offered are affected by both policy changes and lifestyle preferences of older adults and people with disabilities. Long-term care services are increasingly shifting from institutional settings, such as nursing homes, to home- and community-based settings. This shift is expected to create many new jobs for home health and personal care aides.
|Occupational Title||Employment, 2021||Projected Employment, 2031||Change, 2021-31|
|Home health aides and personal care aides||3,636,900||4,560,900||25||924,000|
A portion of the information on this page is used by permission of the U.S. Department of Labor.