|Number of Jobs:||706,300|
|This Job is Ranked in|
|Best Healthcare Jobs||#19|
|The 100 Best Jobs||#48|
Home health aides do more than sweep floors and wash clothes for patients unable to complete chores by themselves. In some instances, they meticulously administer care that can range from patching cuts and scrapes to bathing and grooming clients. These workers spend so much time with their patients that, in many instances, they become like family members. “Your patients become like your family and your friends, so you have to like what you do or else you can’t do it,” says Carolyn Gay, a certified nursing assistant and home care worker of 20 years. Andrea Devoti, chairman of the National Association for Home Care and Hospice, agrees, adding that the care and dedication of home health aides is impossible to quantify. “You can’t rate that,” she says. “Many of our patients will think of their [home care aide] as the nurse that really cured them because he or she helped them do the things they needed to do to get well.” Personal care aides have some duties that overlap with home health aides, although the latter might also perform nursing functions like dressing wounds.
The need for hearts and hands ready to heal in the home is in demand. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicts employment growth of about 69 percent between 2010 and 2020, which is significantly higher than the average for all occupations. There should be more than 700,000 new positions this decade.
According to the BLS, home health aides earned $20,610 in 2011, or approximately $9.91 per hour. The highest-paid earned about $29,530, while the lowest-paid earned about $16,410. An area of the industry that pays particularly well is ambulatory health care services. Some cities compensate better than others. Vineland, N.J., Ames, Iowa, and Binghamton, N.Y. are a few of them.
Many home health aides receive short-term, on-the-job training from nurses, other aides, and supervisors. But some states require formal training at a community college, vocational school, elder-care program, and home health care agency. Training tasks include housekeeping chores like cooking for clients who have special dietary needs, learning to control infections, and basic safety techniques like emergency readiness.
Aside from training—formal or otherwise—sound interpersonal skills and respect for others behoove anyone interested in breaking into this profession, says Lisa Gurgone, executive director for the Massachusetts Council for Home Care Aide Services. Unflappability is a particularly pertinent skill. “You come into a lot of awkward situations,” she says. “You’re in the home by yourself, so you have to think on your feet and be comfortable meeting a lot of new people.”
|Stress Level||Above Average|